"O good man! The vaipulya sutras are like amrta [ambrosia, nectar] and poison." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "Why, O Tathagata, do you say that the vaipulya sutras are [both] amrta and poison?" The Buddha said: "O good man! Do you desire to be informed about the hidden storehouse of the Tathagata?" Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "I now really do desire to learn the signification of the hidden store of the Tathagata."
Then the Tathagata said in a gatha:
"There is a person who takes amrta [ambrosia/ nectar], harms life, and dies early,
Or another, who takes amrta and gains a long life,
Or one who takes poison and gains life,
Or another who takes poison and dies.
The unhindered [unobstructed] Wisdom, which is amrta,
Is none other than the Mahayana sutras.
And such Mahayana sutras are what also contain poison.
It is like butter, sarpirmanda or rock candy,
Which, when taken and digested, act as medicine
If not digested, then they are nothing but poison.
It is the same with the vaipulya sutras.
The wise make of them amrta,
and the ignorant, not knowing
The value of the Buddha-Nature, make of them poison.
Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas make of the Mahayana amrta.
This is like milk, which is foremost in taste.
Those who work thus and make progress
Ride in the Mahayana, gain the shore of Nirvana, and become elephant kings of men. [Such] beings know of the Buddha-Nature, as with Kasyapa.
This superb amrta is birthlessness and deathlessness. O Kasyapa!
You whould now analyse the Three Refuges:
Just as is the intrinsic being [svabhava] of the Three Refuges,
So indeed is my intrinsic being [svabhava].
If a person is able truly to discern
That his/ her intrinsic being possesses the Buddha-dhatu [Buddha-Nature],
Then you should know that such a person
Will enter into the Secret Matrix [ = the Tathagatagarbha].
That person who knows the Self [atman] and what belongs to the Self [atmiya]
Has already transcended the mundane world.
The nature of the Three Jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma [and the Sangha]
Is supreme and most worthy of respect;
As in the verse which I have uttered,
The meaning of its nature is thus."
Then, Kasyapa said in a gatha:
"I do not know how to take refuge
In the Three Treasures, how
To take refuge in unsurpassed fearlessness.
Knowing not the place of the Three Treasures,
How can one Gain fearlessness? How can one who takes refuge In the Buddha gain peace, how can one take refuge in Dharma? Condescend to tell me of this! How does one gain Unmolestedness, and how non-unmolestedness?
How does one take refuge in the Sangha and thereby Attain unsurpassed benefit?
How does one gain true sermons, how Buddhahood in the days to come?
If one does not attain it in the days to come,
How can one take refuge in the Three Treasures?
I have nothing to foresee; I shall work my way up step by step.
Without conceiving, can a person think of having a child?
If it is definitely in embryo, we can indeed say that we have a child.
If the child is in the womb, it will not be long before it emerges.
This is the meaning vis-a-vis a child.
The same pertains to the karma of man.
The ignorant cannot know what the Buddha says.
By ignorance, the wheel of birth and death turns.
One who is an upasaka in name only cannot know the true meaning.
Condescend to explain [matters] to me and cut away the web of doubt.
Oh, the great Wisdom of the Tathagata!
Have pity and explain!
I pray, open the closed door
Of the treasure-house of the Tathagata."
"O Kasyapa! I will now for your sake
Open the closed door of the storehouse
and uproot your doubt.
Give ear to what I say with all your heart!
You, all you Bodhisattvas, and the seventh Buddha [i.e. Buddha Kasyapa] Have the same name.
One who takes refuge in the Buddha is a true upasaka.
He no longer takes refuge in all the other gods.
One who takes refuge in Dharma cuts himself away
From harming others.
One who takes refuge
In the holy Sangha does not take refuge in tirthikas.
Thus taking refuge in the Three Treasures,
One attains fearlessness."
Kasyapa said to the Buddha:
"I take refuge in the Three Treasures.
This is the right path,
and this is the world of all Buddhas.
The fact that the two Treasures are equal
Possesses always the nature of great Wisdom.
The nature of the Self and the Buddha-Nature do not differ.
This is the path the Buddha praises;
This is where man rightly steps forwards
And when one abides in peace.
This is true Enlightenment.
This is Buddhahood. I, too, am a “Sugata” [Well-Gone One = Buddha],
And am on the way to unsurpassed Enlightenment praised by all.
This is the best amrta.
This is where there is no [samsaric] existence to name."
Then, the Buddha said to Kasyapa: "O good man! Do not view the Three Treasures as all sravakas and common mortals do. In this Mahayana, there is no distinction between the Three Treasures. Why not? The Buddha-Nature contains within it the Dharma and Sangha. To teach sravakas and common mortals, discrimination is resorted to and the three different aspects are spoken of regarding the Three Treasures. Following the way of the world, distinction is talked about regarding the Three Treasures. O good man! The Bodhisattva will think: "This " I" now takes refuge in the Buddha. If this I attains Enlightenment and Buddhahood, I shall not pay respect, worship or make offerings to all the Buddhas. Why not? For all Buddhas are all-equal. They are all taken refuge in by all beings. If one desires to pay respect to the Dharma-Body and the sharira [relics], one should also pay respect to the stupas of all Buddhas. Why? To guide in all beings. It also makes beings conceive in me a thought of the stupa, to make them worship and make offerings. Such beings make my Dharma-Body the place wherein they take refuge. All beings are grounded upon what is not true and what is false. I shall now, step by step, reveal true Dharma. If there are people who take refuge in monks who are not of the right calibre, I shall become the true refuge for them. If there are those who see the three refuges as distinct, I shall become a single place wherein they can take refuge. So there cannot be any distinction between the three refuges. To one born blind, I shall be his eyes, and to sravakas and pratyekabuddhas I shall become the true refuge." O good man! Such Bodhisattvas enact the works of the Buddha for the sake of innumerable evil beings and all wise people. O good man! There is, as an example, a person here who goes to the battlefield and thinks: "I am the first of all the first of all of these. All soldiers depend on me." Also, it is like the prince who thinks: " I shall conquer all other princes, succeed to the works of a great emperor, gain unmolested [unrestricted] power, and make all other princes pay homage to me. So, let me not entertain a whit of thought of self-surrender." As with the prince of the king, so too with the minister. O good man! The case is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, and he thinks: "How do the three become one with me?" O good man! I make it [in my teaching] that the thre things are Nirvana. The Tathagata is the unsurpassed one. For example, the head is the highest part of a man’s body, not the other limbs or the hands and legs. The same is the case with the Buddha. He is the most respected, not Dharma or the Sangha. In order to teach the world, he manifests himself diversely. It is like going up a ladder. This being the case, do not regard the three refuges as different, as do common mortals and the ignorant. Abide in the Mahayana as bravely and decisively as a sharp sword."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "I ask about what I know, not what I do not know. I ask about untainted pure actions for the sake of the greatly courageous Bodhisattvas, so that the Tathagata will, for the sake of the Bodhisattvas, proclaim what is wonderful and expound [it], and thus [the Bodhisattvas will] desire to praise the Mahayana vaipulya sutras. The Tathagata, the great Compassionate One, now speaks. I too shall peacefully abide in it. The pure actions of the Bodhisattva are well proclaimed in the Great Nirvana Sutra. O World- Honoured One! I shall now, for the sake of all beings, disseminate the undisclosed store of the Tathagata. Also, I shall now well attest to, and know, the three refuges. If any being believes strongly in the teaching of the Great Nirvana Sutra, such a being will all-naturally clearly attain the three refuges. Why? Because the close-guarded store of the Tathagata possesses the Buddha- Nature. Any person who disseminates this sutra says that one possesses the Buddha-Nature within one’s body. Any such person does not, far out, take refuge in the three [treasures]. Why not? Because one in the life to come perfects the Three Treasures. Because of this, sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and all others come, worship and pay homage to me. O good man! Because of this, learn Mahayana sutras."
Kasyapa further said: "Buddha-Nature thus cannot be known. The 32 signs of perfection and the 80 minor marks of excellence are also of wonder."
Then the Buddha praised Bodhisattva Kasyapa: " Well said, well said, O good man! You have accomplished the deepest and sharpest of Wisdom. I shall now tell you how one enters the Tathagatagarbha. If Self lives, this is the teaching of " is" . It does not part from suffering. If Self does not exist, there can be no benefit, even if one practises pure actions. If one says that all things do not possess Self, this is but the "not-is" theory [“ucchedika-drsti” - i.e. the world-view of the total negation of any existence, which is the theory of sheer emptiness]. If one says that Self exists, this is the "ever is" theory [“sasvata-drsti” - an erroneous view of life which takes existence as concrete and changeless]. If one says that all things are non-eternal, this is the "not-is" view. If one says that all things exist, this is the "ever is" view. If one says that all is suffering, this is the "not-is". If one says that all things are bliss, this is the " ever is". If a person practises the Way of the "ever is" of all things, such a person falls into the heresy of "not-is". A person who practises the Way according to which all things become extinct falls into " ever is" . This is like the measuring worm, which carries its hind-legs forward by the action of its front-legs. It is the same with the person who practises the " ever is" and the "not-is". The "not-is" stands on [depends on, is based on] the "ever is". Because of this, those of other teachings who practise suffering are called "not-good". Those of other teachings who practise bliss are called " good" . Those of other teachings who practise non-Self are those of illusion. Those of other teachings who practise the " ever is" say that the Tathagata secretly stores [truths away]. So-called Nirvana does not have any grotto or house to live in. Those of other teachings who practise the "not-is" refers to property; those of other teachings who practise the " ever is" refers to Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and right emancipation. Know that the Middle Path of the Buddha negates the two planes and tells of true Dharma. Even common mortals and the dull abide in it and have no doubt. It is as when the weak and the sick take butter, as a result of which they feel light in spirit.
"The nature of the two of "is" and "not-is" is not definite. For example, the natures of the four elements [earth, water, fire and wind] are not the same. Each differs from the other. A good doctor well sees that each stands against [in contradistinction to, in opposition to, in contrast with] the other. He sees it through even by the one-sided phase of what takes place. O good man! It is the same with the Tathagata. He acts like a good doctor towards all beings. He knows the difference between the internal and external nature of illusion and crushes it out, and reveals the fact that the undisclosed store of the Tathagata is pure and that the Buddha-Nature is eternal and does not change. If a person says " is" , he must be on guard that his Wisdom does not get tainted; if a person says "not-is", this is nothing but falsehood. If one says "is", one cannot sit unsaid. Also, one could not play with words and dispute; only seek to know the true nature of all things. Common mortals play with words and dispute, betraying their own ignorance as to the Tathagata's undisclosed store. When it comes to the question of suffering, the ignorant say that the body is non-eternal and all is suffering. Also, they do not know that there is also the nature of Bliss in the body. If the Eternal is alluded to, common mortals say that all bodies are non-eternal, like unfired tiles. One with Wisdom discriminates things and does not say that all is non-eternal. Why not? Because man possesses the seed of the Buddha- Nature. When non-Self is talked about, common mortals say that there cannot be Self in the Buddhist teaching. One who is wise should know that non-Self is a temporary existence and is not true. Knowing thus, one should not have any doubt. When the hidden Tathagatagarbha is stated as being empty and quiet, common mortals will think of ceasing and extinction. “One who is wise knows that the Tathagata is Eternal and Unchanging.” “If Emancipation is stated to be something like a phantom, common mortals say that the person who attains Emancipation is one who wears away to nothingness; a person with Wisdom thinks that he is a man-lion and that, though he comes and goes, he is Eternal and does not change."
"If it is stated that ignorance resides in all things, common mortals hear this and think of two different existences, the "bright" and the "non-bright". The wise man sees that the nature is not-two and that the nature of the not-two is the real nature ["self-nature"]. If it is stated that things sit on [depend on] consciousness, common mortals say "two", which are “samskara” [volition, mental impulse] and “vijnana” [consciousness]. But the wise know that its nature is not-two and that the nature of the not-two is the "svabhavika" ["own-nature", "self-nature"]. If we speak of the " ten good deeds" and "ten evil deeds" , of what can be made and what cannot be made, of good realms and evil realms, white teaching [sukladharma=saddharma=Wonderful Dharma] and black teaching [krsnadharma =Pali kanhadhamma], common mortals conceive of two things. But the wise know that the nature is not-two and that the nature of the not-two is the real nature. When it is stated that all things end in suffering, common morals say that this is two. But the wise know that the nature is not-two and that the nature of the not-two is the real nature. If we state that all things made are non-eternal and that the undisclosed store of the Tathagata, too, is non-eternal, common mortals say two. But the wise know that the nature is not-two and that not-two is the real nature. If all things have no Self and the undisclosed store of the Tathagata has no Self, common mortals say that the nature is two. But the wise know that it is not-two and that not-two is the real nature. There cannot be the two things of Self and non-Self. This is what the undisclosed store of the Tathagata refers to. This is what is praised by uncountable, innumerable, boundless numbers of all Buddhas. I, now, in this all-perfect sutra, explain all. There is the not-two in the nature and characteristics of Self and non-Self. You should take things thus. O good man! You should strongly uphold and think about such sutras. I have already stated in the “Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra” that there are not the two phases [aspects, phenomena] of Self and non-Self. The case is thus. From fresh milk we get cream, from cream fresh butter, from fresh butter clarified butter, and from clarified butter sarpirmanda. Does the nature of the cream come from the milk itself, or from without? And the same is the case with sarpirmanda. If it comes from without, it is something made by another and not something come out of the milk itself. If it does not come out of the milk, the milk has nothing to do with its coming about. If it comes out of the milk itself, it cannot come out in a similar way and continuously. If it comes out continuously, it cannot come out together. If it does not come out together, the five tastes cannot be for once only. Though not for once only, it cannot definitely come about from other places. Know that in milk there is already the phase [element, aspect] of cream. As it possesses much sweetness, it cannot change. The same with sarpirmanda. When the cow feeds on the grass of watery places, its blood changes and we get milk. If the cow feeds on sweet grass, the milk becomes sweet, and if on bitter grass, the milk becomes bitter. In the Himalayas, there is a type of grass called pinodhni. If the cow feeds on this, it will produce pure sarpirmanda and there will be no such colour as blue, yellow, red, white or black. The grass and cereals work upon [affect] the colour and taste of the milk. Two aspects come out of all beings by the karmic relations of brightness and ignorance. When the gloom changes, brightness comes about. The case is the same with the good and not-good of all things. There can be no two aspects."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! You, the Buddha, say that there is cream in milk. What does this mean? O World-Honoured One! If there definitely is cream in milk and if it is true that it cannot be seen because of the minuteness of its size, how can we say that cream comes about through the causal relations of milk? When things orginally have no root element, we can say that a thing is born. If it exists already, how can we say that life comes about? It it is the case that there definitely is cream in milk, there must be milk in all grass. Likewise, there must be grass in milk, too. If the situation is that there definitely is no cream in milk, how can cream come out of the milk? If there is no root element but it later comes about, how could it be that grass cannot grow in milk?" " O good man! Do not say that there definitely is cream in milk or that there is not cream in milk. Also, do not say that it comes from outside. If there is definitely cream in milk, how can it be that thing and taste differ? That is why you should not say there definitely is cream in milk. If there definitely is no cream in milk, why is it that something different does not come about in the milk? If poison is put into milk, the cream will kill a person. That is why you should not say that there definitely is no cream in the milk. Further, if we say that cream comes from outside, why is it that cream does not come about in water? Because of this, do not say that cream comes from anywhere else. O good man! As the cow feeds on grass, its blood changes into white. Grass and blood die out and the power of virtue of beings changes and we gain milk. This milk comes out of grass and blood, but we cannot say that there are the two. All we can say is that conditions so bring it about. This we can say. From cream up to sarpirmanda, things go thus. The case [here] is the same. Because of this, we can rightly say that there is the taste of the cow. This milk dies away, and in consequence there comes about cream. What is the condition? It is sour or warm. Because of this, we can say that it comes from conditions. The situation is the same with the others, up to sarpirmanda. Because of this, we cannot say that there definitely is no cream in milk. If it comes from elsewhere, it must exist separately from the milk. This cannot be. O good man! The same is the case with brightness and ignorance. [Of that which is] bound up by all illusions, we say ignorant. If linked to all good things, there can be brightness. That is why we say that there can be no two things. So, I said: "There is a grass in the Himalayas called pinodhni, which, if eaten by the cow, produces sarpirmanda." The same is the case with the Buddha-Nature.
"O good man! Beings are sterile in fortune and do not come across this grass. The same applies to the Buddha-Nature. As defilement overspreds [them], beings cannot see. For example, the water of the great ocean tastes salty all the same, but it contains in it the best of water, as in the case of milk. Also, the Himalayas are perfect in various virtues and produce various medicines, but there are also poisonous herbs. It is the same with the bodies of all beings. There are the four poisonous serpents, but there is also present the great king of all-wonderful medicine. So-called Buddha-Nature is not something that has been made. Only, it is overspread by defilement. Only a person who thoroughly cuts it away, whether he be a Kshatriya, Brahmin, Vaishya or Sudra sees the Buddha-Nature and attains unsurpassed Enlightenment. For example, should the thunder roll in the sky, the clouds disperse and all the tusks of the elephant will be covered with flower-petals. If there is no thunder, the flowers do not come about. Also, this is as in the case where there is no denotative name. The same is also the case with the Buddha- Nature of [all] beings. It is always overspread by various defilements and is not seen. That is why I say that beings do not possess the Self. If one is blessed with hearing the all-wonderful “Mahaparinirvana Sutra”, one sees the Buddha-Nature. This is as in the case of the flowers on the tusks of the elephant. One may hear all about the samadhis of the sutras. But if one does not hear this sutra, one cannot get to the wonderful form of the Tathagata. If is as when there is no thunder, when one no longer sees flowers on the tusks of the elephant. On hearing this sutra, one comes to know of the undisclosed [latent] Buddha-Nature, about which the Tathagata speaks. This is like seeing the flowers on the tusks of the elephant. On hearing this sutra, all innumerable beings come to know that this is the Buddha-Nature. Because of this, I speak about Great Nirvana and say that I augment [expand] the Dharma-Body, the undisclosed store of the Tathagata. This is as with the thunder, when flowers fall upon the tusks of the elephant. As this long upholds and nurtures the great meaning, this is called "Mahaparinirvana". If any good man or woman learns this all-wonderful Sutra of Great Nirvana, they should know that they are doing a work of thanksgiving and are true disciples of the Buddha."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "It is exceptionally wonderful, O World- Honoured One! The so-called Buddha-Nature is profound to know; it is hard to see and attain. Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas cannot hope to partake of it." The Buddha siad: "O good man! It is thus, it is thus! It is just as you praise [it]; it does not differ from what I say."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! To what extent is the Buddha-Nature profound and how difficult is it to perceive and get into?" "O good man! [As an analogy]: 100 blind persons consult a good doctor for a cure. With that, the doctor opens up the membrane of the eye with a golden barb [blade] and then, holding up one finger, asks: "Can you see this?" The blind person says: "I cannot see it yet. " Then, the doctor holds up two fingers, and three fingers. Then, the person says that he can see to some extent. O good man! When this wonderful Sutra of Great Nirvana is one that has as yet not been delivered by the Tathagta, the same is the case. Although innumerable Bodhisattvas may well perfectly practise the paramitas [spiritual perfections], they might only reach the stage of the ten abodes [“bhumis”] and yet may not be able to see the Buddha-Nature. If the Tathagata speaks, they may see to some extent. When these Bodhisattvas have seen all, they will say: "Oh, wonderful, O World-Honoured One! We have been repeating birth and death and have been worried by selflessness. " O good man! Such Bodhisattvas may well reach the stage of the ten soils [“bhumis” - stages of Bodhisattva development], and yet they cannot clearly see the Buddha-Nature. How could sravakas and pratyekabuddhas well see [it]?
"Also, next, O good man! For example, one sees geese flying far off in the sky and wonders if they [really] are geese or the sky. One looks carefully and sees this indistinctly. The case of the Bodhisattvas may also be like this; they see but a small part of the nature of the Tathagata. How could sravakas and pratyekabuddhas well see [it]?
"O good man! The same is the case with an intoxicated man who has a long way to walk, but can only see the way indistinctly. This is the case with the Bodhisattvas at the stage of the ten abodes [“bhumis”] who can only see a small part of the nature of the Tathagata.
"O good man! There is a thirsty person who has to travel a long way through the wilderness. Thirst presses down upon him so much that he looks for water everywhere. Then, he sees the foliage of a tree with a white crane on it. Having lost his capacity to judge, the person cannot tell if this is a tree or water. He tries hard to see. Then he sees that it is a white crane and the foliage of a tree. It is similar to the Bodhisattvas of the stage of the ten abodes, who sees but a small part of the nature of the Tathagata.
"O good man! For example, there is here a man who is in the middle of a great ocean. Far out, an innumerable hundred thousand yojanas away, he sees a great galleon, the rudder tower and storied building [parts of the ship]. He looks and thinks to himself: "Is this a rudder tower or is it the sky?" He looks for a long time and his mind becomes fixed, and he comes to know that it is a rudder tower. The same is the case with the Bodhisattva of the stage of the ten “bhumis”, who sees within himself the nature of the Tathagata.
"For example, there is here a prince who is weak in physique and who passes the night in playing, and it is now dawn. He tries but cannot see clearly. The case is like this. The Bodhisattva of the stage of the ten “bumis” thus sees the nature of the Tathagata within himself. And, likewise, what he sees is not clear.
"Also, next, O good man! For example, a government official, driven by routine work of this kind, comes home late in the evening. There is a flash of lightning for a moment, and he sees a group of cows. Then he thinks: "Is this a group of cows, or a cloud, or a house?" He looks for a good while and comes to the conclusion that they are cows. And yet, he cannot be too sure. The Bodhisattva of the stage of the ten “bhumis” sees the nature of the Tathagata within himself, and yet he cannot see it clearly. The situation is like this.
"Also, next, O good man! A bhiksu who upholds the precepts looks at some water in which there are no worms. And yet, he sees a worm, and thinks to himself: "Is the thing that moves in the water a worm or a bit of dust?" He stares at it for a good while. Even after he has realised that it is a piece of dust, he is not quite sure. It seems so. The same is the case with the Bodhisattva of the stage of the ten “bhumis”, who thus sees within himself the nature of the Tathagata. Nothing is very clear.
"Also, next, O good man! For example, a man sees a child in the darkness, far off. He thinks: "Is this a cow, a man, or a bird?" He keeps gazing at it for a goodly while. He now sees that it is a child, and yet he does not see it very clearly. It is thus. The same applies to the Bodhisattva who is at the stage of the ten “bhumis” and who sees within himself the nature of the Tathagata. Nothing is completely clear.
"Also, next, O good man! There is a person who, in the darkness of the night, sees the image of a Bodhisattva and thinks: "Can this be the image of a Bodhisattva, of Mahesvara, of Great Brahma, or of someone in monastic garb?" The person gazes at it a good while and comes to think that it is the form of a Bodhisattva; and yet, he does not see it very clearly. It is the same with the Bodhisattva of the ten “bhumis” who sees within himself the nature of the Tathagata. Nothing seems to be very clear.
"O good man! The Buddha-Nature that one has is the deepest and the most difficult [thing] to see. Only the Buddha can know it well. It is not within the reach of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. O good man! The wise should see thus and know of the nature of the Tathagata."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! The Buddha-Nature is very delicate and difficult to know. How can one perceive it well with the fleshly eye?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: " O good man! Even Thoughtlessness-non-thoughtlessness Heaven is also not within reach of the two vehicles. When one accords with the sutras, one can well see it by dint of the power of faith. O good man! The same is the case with sravakas and pratyekabuddhas who accord with the Nirvana Sutra and who see in themselves the nature of the Tathagata. O good man! Because of this, one should make effort and learn the Great Nirvana Sutra. O good man! The Buddha Nature as such can only be known by the Buddha alone and is not within the reach of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Unholy common mortals possess the nature of common mortals and [yet] say that they possess Self." The Buddha said: "As an example of this: two persons are friends. One is a prince, and the other a poor man. They associate with each other. Then the poor man, on seeing that the Prince possesses a very bright sword, covets it. The Prince later flees to other countries, taking the sword with him. The poor man later puts up at the house of another person and, in his sleep, cries out: "The sword! The sword!" A person nearby hears this and goes to the king. The king says: "You said "sword". Tell me where it is." The person tells of it in detail. "O King! You can cut up my body and cut off my feet, and yet you will not be able to get the sword. I was once on close terms with the Prince. Before, we were together, and I saw it. But I did not touch it. And how could I take it?" The King asks further: "What was the sword like which you say you saw?" The man answers: "O great King! It was like a ewe’s horn." The King, on hearing this, smiles in amusement and says: "Don’t worry. In all my storehouse, we do not have any such sword. How could you have seen it with the Prince?" Then the King asks all his ministers: "Have you ever seen a sword of this kind?" So speaking, he dies.
"Then another prince ascends the throne. He also asks the ministers: " Have you ever seen in the governmental storehouse any sword of this kind?" All the ministers say: " We once saw it." "What was the sword like?" They replied: "It was like a ewe’s horn." "How could there be any such sword in my storehouse?" Four kings, one after the other, ask and check, but they cannot gain it.
"Some time later, the Prince who has fled the country returns and becomes King. On ascending the throne, he asks the ministers: ’Have you ever seen the sword?’ They reply: ’O great King! Its colour was pure, and it was like an utpala-lotus.’ They also answer: ’It was like the horn of a ram.’ They further reply: ’It was red and like a fire ball.’ They answer,too: ’It was like a black serpent.’ Then the King laughs: ’All of you have not, in truth, seen my sword.’
"Noble Son! A Bodhisattva-mahasattva is also like that - he appears in the world and expounds the true nature of the Self. After he has expounded it, he departs, as for example like the prince who takes the wondrous sword and flees to another country. Foolish ordinary people say, 'Everybody has Self! Everybody has Self", like the poor man who, lodging at another's house, cries out, ’The sword! The sword!’ Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas ask people, ’What attributes does the Self have?’, to which they reply, ’I have seen the attributes of the Self - it is the size of a thumb’ or they say, ’It is like [a grain of rice], or ’It is like [a grain of] millet’, or there are some who say, ’It is the Self’s attribute to abide within the heart, burning like the sun’. In this manner people do not know the nature of the Self, [just] as, for example, the various ministers do not know the nature of the sword. While a Bodhisattva discourses thus about the quality of the Self, ordinary people do not but impute various false concepts to the Self, just as when asked about the attributes of the sword the [ministers] reply that it is like the horn of a ram. These ordinary people generate false views in succession from one on to the other. In order to eliminate such false views, the Tathagata reveals and discourses on the non-existence of a self, just as when the prince tells his various ministers that there is no such sword in his treasury. Noble Son, the True Self that the Tathagata expounds today is called the Buddha- dhatu [Buddha-Nature]. This manner of Buddha-dhatu is shown in the Buddha-Dharma with the example of the real sword. Noble Son, should there be any ordinary person who is able well to expound this, then he [speaks] in accordance with unsurpassed Buddha-Dharma. Should there be anyone who is well able to distinguish this in accordance with what has been expounded regarding it, then you should know that he has the nature of a Bodhisattva.
Chapter Thirteen: On Letters
The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Kasyapa: "All such different opinions, fortune-telling, language, and letters are what the Buddha spoke and not what was said by tirthikas." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! How do you, the Tathagata, tell [of] the root concept of letters?" The Buddha said: "O good man! First, the half-letter1 is taught and is made the root-concept. This holds good for all written things, fortune-telling, sentences, all elements and realities. Common mortals learn the foundation of letters. Later, they come to know what is right and what is not."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! What is the meaning of the letter?" " O good man! It stands on fourteen phonic bases, which constitute the meanings. The so-called letter is Nirvana. Being Eternal, it does not flow away. What does not flow away knows no end. What knows no end is the Adamantine Body of the Tathagata. These fourteen constitute the foundation of letters.
"A" is so called because it does not get destroyed. What is indestructible is the Three Treasures. For example, this is like the diamond. It is also so called because it does not flow away. What does not flow away is the Tathagata. In the nine holes [i.e. outlets of the body: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, two outlets for excretion] of the Tathagata, there is nothing that flows away. So, it is the unflowing [“anasrava” - non-defilement]. And there are nine holes. Hence, it is " non-flowing" . Non-flowing is the Eternal; the Eternal is the Tathagata. The Tathagata is not that which has been created. Hence, he is non-flowing. Also, " a" is virtue. Virtue is the Three Treasures. For this reason, we say " a" .
"Next, "a" stands for "acarya". What does "acarya" mean? In worldly life, we can call him a " holy person" . Why do we say " holy person" ? " Holy" means " non-attached" . It means " of little desire" and " feeling contented" . Also, it is called " pure" . It thoroughly passes beings across the great sea of the three worlds of birth and death. That is why we say " holy" .
"Also, "a" means "institution" [implementation], which is to act in accordance with the pure precepts and observe deportment.
"Also, "a" means to depend upon a holy person. This is to learn his comings and goings and all that he does. The three holy ones are given offerings, respected and worshipped. One faithfully serves one’s parents and studies the Mahayana. Good men and women uphold the prohibitions. And all Bodhisattvas are called " holy ones" . " Aa " also means " order" . It says: "Come and do this; you should not do it like that." So do things go. One who checks and suppresses non-deportment is a holy one. That is why we say "a".
"I" is the Buddhist teaching. Pure action is extensive, pure and untainted. It is, for example, like the full moon. "Do thus, not like that; this is right, that is not right; this is a sermon of the Buddha, and this is what Mara says. " Hence, we say " i" .
"We say "I". The meaning of the Buddhist teaching is wonderful and profound. It is as when we call the laws [dharmas] of Mahesvara and Brahma unmolested [unlimited]. Well upheld, it [Buddhist teaching] is the protection of Dharma.
"Also, unmolestedness [unlimitedness, unrestrictedness] is called the four protections of the world. As these four are unmolested, one well takes in and protects the Great Nirvana Sutra, and one unmolestedly expounds and disseminates [it].
"Also, next, "I" stands for the unmolested [unhindered, unstinting] dissemination of Dharma to beings.
"Also, next, "I" is the unmolested [unconstrained]. It asks and says what is right. This is nothing other than the learning of the vaipulya sutras.
"Also, next, "T" stands for the crushing out of jealousy. When the barnyard grass has been thoroughly weeded out, everything changes into what is auspicious. So we say "T".
"U" stands for Great Nirvana, the Highest, the most superb, the pinnacle of pinnacles of all sutras.
"Also, next, "u" stands for the nature of the Tathagata, which no sravakas and pratyek- abuddhas hear about. This is like Uttarakuru being the best of all places. If any Bodhisattva indeed hears this sutra, he is the highest and most superb. Hence, we say " u" .
"U" is, for example, like cow’s milk, which is the best of all tastes. The nature of the Tathagata is also like that. Of all sutras, this is the holiest and best. Anyone who slanders [it] is none but a cow.
"Also, next, "T" is called "not-wise". A person thoroughly slanders the delicate and hidden storehouse of the Tathagata. Know that this person is most to be pitied. Parting from the hidden storehouse of the Tathagata, he speaks about no-Self. Henc, we say "T".
"E" is the “Dharmata” and Nirvana of all Buddhas. Hence, we say "e".
"Ai" means " Tathagata" .
"Also, " ai" refers to the goings and comings, bendings and stretchings, and the deeds of the Tathagata, by which not one amongst all beings is [not] benefited. Hence, "ai".
"O" stands for illusion; illusion is "asrava" [defilement]. The Tathagata is eternally free from illusion. Hence, "O" .
"Au" means Mahayana. It stands for the utmost of all the fourteen sounds. The case of the Mahayana sutras is also like this. They are the ultimate of all sutras and shastras. Hence, " au" .
"Am" makes away with all impurities. In the Buddhist teachings, all gold, silver and treasures are abandoned. Hence, "am".
"Air" means "superb vehicle". Why? This Mahayana sutra, this Great Nirvana Sutra, is the most superlative of all sutras. Hence, "all".
"Ka" calls forth great compassion towards all beings. The thought of a son arises, as towards Rahula. It means "wonderfully good". Hence, "ka".
"Kha" stands for " non-good friend" . " Non-good friend" means mixed and defiled. He does not believe in the hidden store of the Tathagata. Hence, "kha".
"Ga" means "store". "Store" means the undisclosed store of the Tathagata. All beings have the Buddha-Nature. Hence, "ga".
"Gha" is the eternal sound of the Tathagata. What is the eternal sound of the Tathagata? The so-called Tathagata is eternal and does not suffer change. Hence, "gha".
"Na" represents the breaking [destructible, impermanent] characterstics of all beings. Hence, "na".
"Ca" means "to practise". As it subdues all beings, we say "practise".
"Cha" means "Tathagata", who houses [shades, protects] all beings, as in the case of a great parasol. Hence, " cha" .
"Ja" means "right [true] emancipation". There arises [in this] no ageing. Hence, "ja".
"Jha" stands for the great proliferation of defilements, as in the case of a great forest. Hence, " jha" .
"Na" means "Wisdom". It means true “Dharmata”. Hence, "na".
"T. a" signifies speech delivered about dharmas in Jambudvipa, showing a half-body, as in the case of the half-moon. Hence, "ta".
"T. ha" represents the perfection of the Dharma-Body, as in the case of the full moon. Hence, "tha".
"Da" represents an ignorant bhiksu who does not know the Eternal and the non-Eternal, as in the case of a child. Hence, "da".
"Dha" represents a person who feels no obligation towards his teacher, as in the case of a ram. Hence, " d. ha" .
"N. a" represents lack of knowledge of the meaning of what is holy, as in the case of a tirthika. Hence, " n. a" .
"Ta" represents the Tathagata, who says to all bhiksus: "Come away from fright and fear. I shall now deliver sermons on Wonderful Dharma." Hence, "ta".
"Tha" means "ignorance". Beings repeat birth and death and bind themselves, as in the case of a silkworm or dung-beetle. Hence, " tha" .
"Da" means " great giving" . This is the so-called Mahayana. Hence, " da" .
"Dha" praises " virtue" . It is as in the case of the Three Treasures, which are like Mount Sumeru, soaring up, grand, extensive and, yet, not inclining to one side. Hence, "dha".
"Na" alludes to the Three Treasures, which stand peacefully rooted, not inclining to one side or moving, like the threshold of a gate. Hence, "na".
"Pa" means " inverted". If a person says that the Three Treasures expire, this shows that that person himself entertains doubt. Hence, "pa".
"Pha" refers to the ill-fortune of the world. If a person says that when ill-fortune arises in the world, the Three Treasures also expire, this indicates that that person is ignorant, that he has no knowledge, and that he acts against the holy will. Hence, " pha" .
"Ba" refers to the ten powers of the Buddha. Hence, " ba" .
"Bha" refers to the shouldering of what is heavy. It can stand bearing the heaviness of Wonderful Dharma. Know that such a person is a great Bodhisattva. Hence, "bha".
"Ma" refers to all Bodhisattvas who strictly uphold all the institutions [rules]. This is so-called Mahayana Mahaparinirvana. Hence, " ma" .
"Ya" alludes to all those Bodhisattvas who, for the benefit of beings, preach the Mahayana doctrine in all places. Hence, "ya".
"Ra" crushes out greed, anger and ignorance, and disseminates Wonderful Dharma. Hence, " ra" .
"La" relates to the sravaka vehicle, which moves, changes, and has no place to live in [i.e. no permanent abode]. Mahayana is safe and firm and there is no inclining or moving [with it]. Abandoning the sravaka vehicle, one makes effort and practises the unsurpassed Mahayana. Hence, " la" .
"Va" means that the World-Honoured One is he who showers down upon all beings the great rain of the Dharma. He is, as it were, a so-called fortune-telling sutra. Hence, "va".
"S" means to part from the three arrows [the three barbs of greed, malevolence and ignorance]. Hence, "sa".
"Sa" means "perfection". If one truly hears this Great Nirvana Sutra, one already hears and upholds all about Mahayana sutras. Hence, "sa".
"Sa" means that Wonderful Dharma is expounded to all beings, so that people feel blessed. Hence, " sa" .
"Ha" bespeaks the mind’s state of gladness. How wonderful is it that the World-Honoured One departs from all actions; strange is it that the Tathagata enters Parinirvana. Hence, "ha".
"Lham" signifies "Mara". Innumerable Maras are unable to destroy the hidden storehouse of the Tathagata. Hence, "lham".
"The four letters, r,r,l,T, have four meanings. These are Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and Abhidharma. Abhidharma relates to what obtains in the world. It shows that Devadatta destroys the Sangha. He transforms himself into various forms, faces and concrete forms. The case is like this. All this is to establish vinaya. The wise should clearly see through this and not entertain any fear. This is following what obtains in the world. Hence, r,r,l,L
"The inhalation of breath is the sound which one gets when the tongue accords with the nose. We gain the meaning by the long, short, or the one that supercedes the sound. All differ according to the actions of tongue and teeth.
"All such meanings of the letters well enable beings to purify their verbal actions. The Buddha-Nature of beings does not first become pure when assisted by letters. Why not? Because that nature is originally pure. Also, while co-existing with the five skandhas, the 18 realms and the 12 spheres [of the senses], the Buddha-Nature is not one with the five skandhas, the 18 realms and the 12 spheres. Because of this, all beings should take refuge in the Bodhisattvas and others. Because of the [existence of the] Buddha-Nature [within them], beings are viewed with equal [non-discriminating] eyes, and there is no difference. Hence, the half-letters form the basis of all sutras, all written material, and sentences.
"Also, the meaning of the half-letters refers to the root of all defilements. So they are called half-letters. The full letters are the root of all good dharmas and speech. For example, those of the world who do evil are called half-letters, and those who do good full-letters. Thus, all sutras and the Abhidharmas are based upon the half-letters. People may say that the Tathagata and true emancipation fall under the category of the half-letters. But this is not so. Why not? Because these [two] part from [i.e. are separate from] letters. Because of this, the Tathagata is unmolested [unconstrained], unattached, and fully emancipated in all things. How do we arrive at the meaning of the letters? If one comes to think that the Tathagata appears in the world and does away with the half-letters, this is understanding the meaning of the letters. Any person who follows the meaning of the half-letters is one who does not know the nature of the Tathagata. What is the the meaning of the letterless? One who associates with those who practise the teaching of evil belongs to the letterless. Also, although a person may associate with those who do good, if he does not know the difference between the Eternal and the non-Eternal, the constant and the non-constant of the Tathagata, and the two Treasures of Dharma and Sangha, between vinaya and non-vinaya, sutras and non-sutras, the words of Mara and those of the Buddha, such a person is one who is letterless. This do I state regarding how one is letterless. O good man! For this reason, you should part from the half-letter and arrive at the meaning of the complete letters."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! I shall now thoroughly learn the number of letters. I have encountered the unsurpassed teacher. I have now received the kindly injunctions of the Tathagata."
The Buddha praised Kasyapa and said: "Well said, well said. A person who is intent upon Wonderful Dharma should learn things thus."
Chapter Fourteen: On the Parable of the Birds
The Buddha said further to Kasyapa: "O good man! There are two species of birds, one the kacalindikaka and the other the mandarin duck. In playing or stopping [resting], they always act together; they do not separate. The same is the case with suffering, the non-eternal, and non-Self. They do not separate."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! In what way do things obtain with suffering, the non-eternal, and non-Self as with the mandarin duck and the kacalindikaka?" The Buddha said: "O good man! What is contrary to Dharma is suffering, and what is contrary to Dharma is bliss. What is contrary to Dharma is the eternal and what is contrary to Dharma is the non-eternal. What is contrary to Dharma is self and what is contrary to Dharma is non-Self. For example, it is as in the case in which rice differes from hemp and wheat, and hemp and wheat from beans, millet and sugar cane. With all of these, the noneternal are the buds, flowers and leaves. When the fruit ripens and when man uses it, we say eternal. Why? Because the nature is true."
Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! If these are eternal, are they equal to the Tathagata?" "O good man! Do not speak in such a way. Why not? If one says that the Tathagata is like Mount Sumeru, does this imply that he will break up, as Sumeru must break up when the time comes for it to disintegrate? O good man! Do not view things thus. O good man! “With all things, excepting Nirvana, not one thing is eternal”. Merely to conform with the ways of secular truth, we say that the fruit is eternal." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! It is good, it is good. It is as the Buddha says." The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "It is thus, it is thus, O good man! A person may be true to what the sutras say or may have practised all the samadhis, but until he has learned Mahaparinirvana, he will say that all is non-eternal. When a person has learned this sutra, he may have illusion, but he is, so to speak, without illusion. It [learning this sutra] well benefits man and heaven Why? Because “one clearly sees that one’s own body has the Buddha Nature within. This is the Eternal.”
"Also, next, O good man! It is like the case of the mango tree. When its flower first appears, what there is [at that time] is the changing phase. When it bears fruit and when it bestows much benefit, we speak of the eternal. O good man! A person may thus be true to all the sutras or may have practised samadhis, but when he has not yet given ear to this Great Nirvana Sutra, all is based on the non-eternal. When a person gives ear to this sutra, although [still] possessing illusion, it is as though he had no illusion. That is to say that it benefits both man and heaven. How? Because that person clearly knows that he has the Buddha-Nature within. This is the Eternal.
"Also, next, O good man! When an ingot of gold melts, this is the phase of the noneternal. Once molten, it becomes gold. When it greatly benefits a person, we say eternal. The case is like this. Thus, O good man, a person may be true to all sutras or may have practised all samadhis, but if he has not yet given ear to this Great Nirvana Sutra, all is non-eternal. When a person has given ear to this sutra, he may well have illusion, but it is as though he did not. It thus benefits all men and gods. Why? Because the person clearly comes to know that he has the Buddha-Nature within. This is the Eternal.
"Also, next, O good man! Sesame, for example, when not yet pressed, is non-eternal. Once the pressing has been done and the oil has been extracted, the sesame gives great benefit. This is the eternal. O good man! A person may be true to all sutras or may have practised samadhis, but not yet having heard of Great Nirvana, all is non-eternal [for that person]. Having heard this sutra, though yet bound by illusion, a person is equal [equivalent] to possessing no illusion. Benefits accrue to any human or god. Why? Because that person realises that he has the Buddha-Nature within him. This is the Eternal.
"Also, next, O good man! It is as in the case in which all rivers drain into the sea. All sutras and samadhis flow into the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra. How so? Because it ultimately expounds the Buddha-Nature. That is why I say: "Some dharmas are eternal; some dharmas are non-eternal. With non-Self, too, things amount to the same." It is thus that I say.
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! The Tathagata is already segregated from the poisonous arrows of apprehension and suffering. Apprehension and suffering are heaven [devas]; the Tathagata is no heaven [deva]. Apprehension and suffering are human; the Tathagata is no human. Apprehension and suffering are the 25 existences. Hence, there can exist no apprehension or suffering with the Tathagata. How could one say that the Tathagata is apprehension and suffering?" "O good man! In No-Thought Heaven [“avrha”], what obtains is thoughtlessness. If thoughtless, there can be no life. If there is no life, how can there be the five skandhas, the 18 realms and twelve spheres? Hence, we cannot say that the life of No-Thought Heaven has any place to exist. O good man! For example, the god of a tree lives in the tree. We cannot definitely say that he lives in the branch, the knot, the trunk, or the leaf. Though we cannot name the place, we cannot say that he does not exist. The life of No-Thought Heaven is also like that. O good man! The case of Buddha-Dharma is likewise thus. It is very deep and unfathomable. The Tathagata has no apprehension, suffering or worry. Yet, he evinces great compassion towards beings, has apprehension and sorrow, and views them as he views Rahula.
"Also, next, the life of No-Thought Heaven can only be known by the Buddha. It is beyond the ken of others. Also, the same applies to Thoughtlessness-non-Thoughtlessness Heaven. O Kasyapa! The nature of the Tathagata is pure and untainted, and is like a transformed body. How can there be any apprehension, suffering or worry? If the Tathagata has no apprehension or suffering, how can he bestow benefit upon beings and disseminate the Buddhist teaching? If " no", how can we say that he sees beings as he sees Rahula? If he does not see beings as he sees his Rahula, any such statement can only be false. Hence, O good man, the Buddha is inconceivable, Dharma is inconceivable, the nature of beings is inconceivable, and the life of No-Thought Heaven is inconceivable. Whether the Tathagata has any apprehension or not is for the world of the Buddha [to know]. It is not what sravakas or pratyekabuddhas can fathom out.
"O good man! For example, a house cannot stand in the air as it is for a moment. If one says that a house cannot remain in the air, this is not something that can be said. For this reason, one should not say: "A house in the air can stand or not." A common mortal may say that a house stands in the air. But there is no place in the air where it can remain. Why not? Because, by nature, it has no place to stay. O good man! The same is the case with the mind. Do not say that its abode is in the five skandhas, the 18 realms, or the 12 spheres. The same with the life of No-Thought Heaven. Regarding any apprehension and sorrow of the Tathagata it is also like this. If he has no apprehension and sorrow, how can we say that he views [all beings] with an all-equal eye, as though viewing Rahula? A person might well say that he has [apprehension and sorrow], yet how [then] can one say that his nature is like the Void?
"O good man! As an example: a magician may conjure up such diverse things as a palace, killing, long life, binding or undoing, gold, silver, beryl, treasures, forests, and trees. But these have no place where they exist. The same with the Tathagata. Following the way of the world, he displays apprehension and sorrow. There can be [in actuality] no such forms [i.e. no such things as these with him]. O good man! The Tathagata has already entered Parinirvana. How could there be any apprehension, sorrow, or worry? Now the Tathagata enters Nirvana. If anyone says that this is the non-eternal, know that this person has apprehension and sorrow. No one can truly know whether the Tathagata has apprehension or not.
"Also, next, O good man! As an example: a person who lives in a low social sphere can certainly know what obtains in the lower sphere of life. But he cannot know what obtains in the middle or upper spheres of life. A person of the middle sphere knows what obtains in the middle sphere, but not in the upper. A person of the upper sphere knows about that upper sphere, but not about the middle or lower spheres. It is the same with sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. Likewise, a person only knows what is of his own sphere. It is not thus with the Tathagata. He knows his own sphere, as well as those of others. That is why we say that the Tathagata is unhindered. He manifests phantoms and follows the ways of the world. The fleshly eyes of common mortals see this. They say that it is true. They may desire to know the unhindered and unsurpassed Wisdom of the Tathagata, but this never comes about. Only the Buddha knows what is apprehension and what is not. Hence, different things possess the Self and different things do not possess the Self. This is what we mean when we say that things obtain as in the case of the mandarin duck and the kacalindikaka.
"Also, next, O good man! The Buddhist teaching is like the mandarin duck [and ka- calindikaka] who go about together. The mandarin duck and the kacalindikaka seek out uplands in midsummer when the water is high and deposit their young there. This is to bring raise them. Later, they play as they originaly ought to. The same with the appearance of the Tathagata. He teaches innumerable beings and enables them to abide in Wonderful Dharma. This is like the mandarin duck and the kacalindikaka seeking out uplands and safely depositing their young ones there. The same with the Tathagata. He enables beings to act as they ought to act and enables them to enter Mahaparinirvana. O good man! That is to say that suffering is one teaching [dharma] and bliss is a different one [dharma]. All created things are sorrow; Nirvana is Bliss. It is most wonderful and destroys created things [i.e. lifts one beyond the created sphere]."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! How do beings attain Nirvana and gain the pre-eminent Bliss?" The Buddha said: " O good man! As stated, the fusion of composites is age-and-death.
"If strict in one's way of life and not indolent,
This is amrta [the deathless, ambrosia].
To be indolent and not strict
In one's way of life is death.
Non-indolence gains one the deathless place;
Indolence always leads one to death."
"Indolence is of the created, the foremost of suffering. Non-indolence is Nirvana, the foremost of amrta and Bliss. The created is a place of death, the foremost of suffering. Nirvana is deathlessness, the most wonderful Bliss. Indolence calls in [i.e. is generative of] the created. This too is spoken of: eternal Bliss, deathlessness, and the Body Indestructible. What is indolence and what is not? The unholy common mortal [i.e. a tirthika] is of indolence and eternal death; the world-fleeing holy one [“shramana”] belongs to the class of non-indolence, in whom age-and- death has no abode. Why not? He gains the foremost of eternal Bliss and Nirvana. The holy persons of the supramundane stage have no indolence and there exists [for them] no age-and- death. Why not? They enter into the foremost stage of eternal Nirvana. Hence, Suffering and Bliss are two different things; Self and non-Self are two different things.
"A man stands on the ground and looks up at the sky, where he can see no trace of where the birds have flown. The same is the case [here]. O good man! The same is the case with beings. They do not possess the heavenly eye. Immersed in illusion, they cannot see the nature of the Tathagata, which they possess. For this reason, I now expound the [hitherto] undisclosed teaching on selflessness. Why? “A person who lacks the heavenly eye does not know the True Self”. Because he estimates Self in the wrong way. All things created by illusion are non-eternal. That is why I say that the Eternal and the non-Eternal are two different things.
"If one with effort and courage
Gains the summit of a mountain,
One sees the plains, the expanse of the fields and all beings.
As one gains the great palace of Wisdom
And the seat that is topless [topmost] and wonderful,
One already makes away with apprehension and suffering
And sees the apprehension of beings.
"The Tathagata cuts off innumerable illusions, lives in the mountain of Wisdom, and sees beings who live amidst innumerable billions of illusions."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Things are not as stated in the gatha. Why not? One who enters Nirvana has no apprehension or joy. How can such a person gain the palace of Wisdom? Moreover, living on the summit of the mountain, how can one see beings?"
The Buddha said: " O good man! The palace of Wisdom is Nirvana. The person with no apprehension is the Tathagata; the person who has apprehension is the common mortal. The common mortal has apprehension and the Tathagata has not. The summit of Mount Sumeru is true emancipation. One who incessantly makes effort is like Mount Sumeru, which knows of no shaking. The earth is a thing created. All common mortals live peacefully on the earth and do all [manner of] things. Wisdom is true Awakening. A person away from existence is one eternal. This is the Tathagata. The Tathagata has pity for the innumerable beings who are exposed to the poisonous arrows of all existences. That is why we say that the Tathagata has apprehension."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! If the Tathagata has apprehension and sorrow, he could not be the All-Enlightened One."
The Buddha said to Kasyapa: " All depends on the circumstances. As he sees that his presence is called for to save beings, the Tathagata manifests himself. Though manifesting himself in life, there is yet [here] truly no life. That is why we call the Tathagata one who is Eternal. The case is like that of the kacalindikaka and the mandarin duck."