Then the Buddha said to Bodhisattva-mahasattva All-Shining Highly-Virtuous King: "O good man! Any Bodhisattva-mahasattva who practises this great Nirvana Sutra will gain ten virtues. He is not on the same level as the sravaka or pratyekabuddha. This is beyond knowing. Any person who hears this will be surprised. It is neither in nor out, neither difficult nor easy. It is neither outer expression nor non-expression. It is neither secular nor has it any form to represent it. It is not what one comes across in the world.
"What are the ten? The first contains five. What are the five? 1) One who has not heard this can hear it well, 2) having heard it, there is benefit, 3) it well cuts away doubt, 4) the mind of Wisdom is straight and has no bends, 5) one knows the closely-guarded store of the Tathagata. These are the five. How do we hear what we have not heard? This refers to the depths of the closely-guarded doctrine. All beings have the Buddha-Nature. There is no discrimination between Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The nature and characteristics of the Three Treasures are the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure. All Buddhas do not, to the very end, enter Nirvana, and are Eternal and Unchanging. The Nirvana of the Tathagata is: not " is" and not "is-not", not that which is created and not that which is not created, not something leakable [defiled] and not something unleakable [undefiled], not matter and not non-matter, not name and not non-name, not phenomenal and not non-phenomenal, not "is" and not "not-is", not substance and not non-substance, not cause and not result, not opposite and not non-opposite, not brightness and not darkness, not appearing and not non-appearing, not eternal and not non-eternal, not disruption and not non-disruption, no begininning and no non-beginning, no past, no future, and no present, no skandha and no non-skandha, no [sense-] sphere and no non-sphere, no [sense-] realm and no non-realm, no 12 links of interdependence and no non-12- links-of-interdependence. All such categorical items are of a nature deep and fine in implication. One can hear what one has not heard before. Also, there are yet things which do not reach one's ear, which are all the sutras of the tirthikas, i.e. the four Vedas, the vyakaranas, the sutras of the Vaisesikas and Kapilas, the works referring to charms, medical arts, handicrafts, the eclipses of sun and moon, the changes in the cycles of the constellations, books and prophecies. In none of these do we hear anything of what is secret. Now, we come to see this in this sutra. Also, there are the eleven types of sutra from which the vaipulya is excluded. And we see no deep and secret things stated there. But such we come to know from this sutra. O good man! That is why we say that we hear what we have not heard before.
"We say that we gain benefit when we hear. If we listen to this great Nirvana Sutra, we come to know all about the depths of what is said in all the vaipulya Mahayana sutras. For example, this is like a mirror, in which a man or woman can clearly see colour and form. It is the same with the great Nirvana Sutra. The Bodhisattva takes this up and clearly sees through all the depths of things stated in the Mahayana sutras. Also, this is like one with a great torch, who is able to see all in a dark room. It is the same with the torch of the Nirvana Sutra. The Bodhisattva takes this up and gains the depths of what is said in the Mahayana sutras. Also, it is like the sun. When it appears, thousands of lights shine over the mountains and gloomy places, and man can clearly see what is far off and distant. It is the same with the pure light of Wisdom of this Great Nirvana. It shines upon all the depths of Mahayana, enabling those of the two vehicles to see the Buddhist teaching. How? Because one hears the all-wonderful doctrine of this Great Nirvana Sutra. O good man! If the Bodhisattva-mahasattva listens to this Great Nirvana Sutra, he will come to know all about the names and letters of all things. If he writes, copies, recites, and explains it extensively to others, and thinks about the meaning, he will know all the significations of all things. O good man! One who hears knows only the name, but not what it signifies. If one truly writes, copies, holds, recites and explains it widely to others, and thinks of the meaning, then one can well know the signification. Also, next, O good man! One who hears this sutra hears that there is the Buddha-Nature, but he cannot easily see it. But if one indeed writes, copies, recites, explains it widely to others and thinks carefully about the meaning, such a one can well see it. A person who listens to this sutra hears about dana, but does not yet see danaparamita. If one indeed writes, copies, recites, explains it widely to others and thinks of the meaning, such a person will well see danaparamita. The same applies to prajnaparamita. O good man! If the Bodhisattva listens well to this Great Nirvana Sutra, he will come to know of Dharma and its meaning; he will become perfect in the two unhinderednesses and will not be afraid of any sramanas, Brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahma, or any of the world. He will expound the 12 types of sutra. There is nothing that differs. Not following and listening to others, he indeed knows and approaches unsurpassed Enlightenment. O good man! That is why we say that we listen and arrive at benefit.
"We say that a person cuts away doubt. Of doubt there are two kinds. One is doubting the name, and the other is doubting the meaning. A person who listens to this sutra does away with the mind that doubts the name; a person who thinks of the meaning cuts away the mind that doubts the meaning. Also, next, O good man! Of doubt, there are five kinds. One is doubting and wondering whether the Buddha truly enters Nirvana or not. The second is doubting whether the Buddha is Eternal or not. The third is doubting and wondering whether the Buddha is true Bliss or not. The fourth is doubting whether the Buddha is truly Pure or not. The fifth is doubting and wondering whether the Buddha is the True Self or not. When one listens to this sutra, one eternally segregates one’s self from these four doubts. Also, next, there are three kinds of doubt. First, one doubts whether there is the sravaka or not. Secondly, one doubts whether there is the pratyekabuddha or not. Thirdly, one doubts whether there is the Buddha Vehicle or not. Any person who listens to this sutra eternally excises his self from these three doubts, and no doubt remains. If one writes, copies, recites, and explains it widely to others, and thinks of the meaning, one comes to realise that all beings possess the Buddha- Nature. Also, next, O good man! Any person who does not hear this Great Nirvana Sutra will have much doubt regarding: eternal or non-eternal, bliss or non-bliss, pure or non-pure, Self or non-Self, life or non-life, being or non-being, ultimate or non-ultimate, the other world or the past world, is or nothingness, suffering or non-suffering, cause of suffering or non-cause- of suffering, Way or non-Way, extinction or non-extinction, Dharma or non-Dharma, good or non-good, or Void or non-Void. Any person who hears this sutra will eternally make away with such doubts. Also, next, O good man! Any person who does not hear such a sutra will have various doubts, such as: If matter is the Self? If feeling, perception, volition, or consciousness is the Self? If the eye indeed sees? If the self indeed sees?... down to if consciousness indeed knows? If the Self indeed knows? If matter indeed suffers from karmic results?... down to if consciousness suffers from karmic results? If the Self suffers from karmic results? If matter goes to the other world? If the Self goes to the other world?... down to if consciousness goes to the other world? And such as if the law of birth and death has beginning and end? If it has no beginning and end? Any person who hears this sutra will eternally do away with these kinds of doubt. Or there may be a person who might entertain doubt as to whether the icchantika, those who have committed the four grave offences, those who have enacted the five deadly sins, and those who have slandered Dharma have the Buddha-Nature or not? Any person who hears this sutra eternally does away with all such doubts. Or a person may doubt and wonder if there is a limit to the world or not? Or if there are the ten directions or not? Any person who hears this sutra will eternally do away with any such doubts. This is why we say that it indeed eternally does away with the doubting mind.
"We say that the mind of Wisdom is straight and without bends. If the mind doubts, what is seen cannot be straight. If all beings do not hear this all-wonderful Great Nirvana Sutra, what is seen becomes twisted. This applies down to sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, whose views must also be twisted. Why do we say that what all beings see is twisted? They see the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure in what is leakable, and impermanence, suffering, impurity, and the non-Self in the Tathagata, and they think that beings have life, and knowing, and seeing. They construe Nirvana as thoughtlessness-non-thoughtlessness, and construe Isvara as having the Noble Eightfold Path. What there is there is the "is" and the "not-is", and all such twisted views. If the Bodhisattva hears this Great Nirvana Sutra and practises the Noble Path, he can make away with all such twisted views. What are the twisted views of the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas? These are thinking that the Bodhisattva descends from Tushita Heaven, that he rides on a white elephant, that he finds himself in the womb of a mother, that the father’s name was Suddhodana, and the mother’s Maya, that for ten full months he was at Kapilavastu, and was born, that when born and not yet touching the earth Sakrodevendra takes him up, and the naga kings, Nanda and Upananda, shoot out water and bathe him, that the great demon, Manibhadra, holds a gem parasol and stands behind him, that the earth-god holds flowers on which the child places his feet, that he takes seven steps in the four directions, and is satisfied, that as he goes to the temple of the devas, the devas come out and welcome him, that Asita picks him up and prophesies, that having seen the signs he is all sorrow and says: " Woe that I will not be blessed with witnessing the rise of the Buddhist teaching" , that he goes to a teacher where he learns writing, reckoning, archery, reading omens, and handicrafts, that living in the royal harem he plays with the 60,000 maids and enjoys himself, that he comes out of the castle and finds himself in the Kapila garden, that on the way he sees an aged man and also a sramana going along the roadside, garbed in a priestly robe, that he returns to the royal palace, where he sees the bodies of the females of the palace looking like white bones, that all the palatial building were now no more to him than graves, that he despises these and renounces home, that at night he slips out of the castle, that he sees such great rishis as Udrakaramaputra and Aradakalama and hears from them about consciousness-boundlessness and thoughtlessness-non-thoughtlessness. Having heard and meditated upon these, he sees that all things are non-eternal, suffering, nonpure, and non-Self. He abandons these, practises penance under a tree and, after six years, sees that penance does not bring him unsurpassed Enlightenment. Then he bathes himself in the waters of River Hiranyavati [Nairanjana] and takes some milk-cooked porridge from the hands of a pasture woman. After taking this, he goes to the Bodhi Tree, where, crushing Marapapiyas, he attains unsurpassed Enlightenment; [then] at Varanasi he turns the Wheel of Dharma and sees that, here at Kusinagara, he enters Nirvana. All such are the twisted views of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, when he hears and understands the Great Nirvana Sutra, immediately cuts away all such views. And as he writes, copies, recites, understands, explains to others and thinks about the meaning, he becomes straight-minded and makes away with twisted views. O good man! As the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises the Way of this Great Nirvana Sutra, he comes to see clearly that the Bodhisattva had never for innumerable kalpas descended from Tushita Heaven into a motherly womb and entered Nirvana at Kusinagara. This is the right view of a Bodhisattva-mahasatttva.
"We say that we well gain the deep meaning of the Tathagata. This is none other than Parinirvana. All beings possess the Buddha-Nature. They repent of the four grave offences, make away with the mind which slanders Dharma, put an end to the five deadly sins, and do away with the icchantika [within themselves]. Then they can attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. This is what is meant by the extremely deep and closely-guarded thought. Also, next, O good man! What do we mean by the extremely deep meaning? Beings know that there is no such thing as self. Even so, they cannot make away with the karma fire of the days to come. Though they know that the five skandhas die out here, the karma of good and evil does not die out. Though there are all the actions of karma, there are now no doers. Though there are places to go, there is none who goes [there]. Though there is binding, there is no one who is bound. Though there is Nirvana, there is no one who has to die out. That is what is meant by the deepness of meaning."
Then Bodhisattva All-Shiniing Highly-Virtuous King said to the Buddha: "O World- Honoured One! It is difficult for me to arrive at the meaning of what the Buddha says regarding "hearing" and "non-hearing". Why? Because if Dharma is "is", what there must be [there] must be "is"; if it is "not-is", what there must be [there] is "is-not". Nothing can come from nothing; what "is" cannot die out. What is heard must be what is heard. If it is not heard, what there is is what one has not heard. How can one say that what one has heard is what one has not heard? O World-Honoured One! What one cannot hear is what one has not heard. If one has heard it, there is no more of hearing [no longer any yet-to-be-heard]. Why not? Because one has already heard it. How can one say that what one has heard is what one has not heard? For example, this is similar to the case where when a person who has gone has come, he is not gone; if he has gone, he has not come. If one is born, there is no being born; if not born, there is no being born. When something has been gained, there is no longer any gaining [of that]. If it is not gained, there is no gaining. If not heard, there is no more of hearing; if not heard, there is no hearing any more. The case is like this.
"O World-Honoured One! A person might say that he has heard what he has not heard. As all beings have not yet gained Enlightenment, this can well be had [can well happen]. When Nirvana has not yet been gained, one may well gain it. When the Buddha-Nature has not yet been seen, one might well see it. How can one say that the Bodhisattva of the stage of the ten “bhumis” sees the Buddha-Nature, but is not yet quite clear in [his seeing of] it? O World- Honoured One! One may well say that non-hearing is hearing. O Tathagata! From whom did you once hear in the past? If it is said that you did hear, how could you say in the Agamas that you had no teacher? If having not heard is not heard, and if the Tathagata did attain unsurpassed Enlightenment, beings' not having heard must mean the attaining of unsurpassed Enlightenment. O Tathagata! If one can see the Buddha-Nature even without having heard this Great Nirvana Sutra, all beings must also be able to see it, even though they have not heard it.
"O World-Honoured One! Colour is both visible and not visible. The same with sound. It is either audible or non-audible. This Great Nirvana is neither colour nor sound. How can one say that one can well see or hear [it]? O World-Honoured One! If the past is what is already gone, it is not audible. As the future has not yet arrived, one cannot hear it. One can say that one hears now, but one cannot say that one has heard. When heard, the voice dies out and one cannot possess it any longer. This Great Nirvana is not of past, future, or present. If not of the Three Times, there can be no explaining. If inexpressible, there can be no hearing. How can we say that the Bodhisattva practises the teaching of this Great Nirvana Sutra and say that he hears what he has not heard?"
Then the Buddha, praising Bodhisattva All-Shining Highly-Virtuous King, said: "Well said, well said! You now know well that all things are like phantoms, flames, a gandharvan castle, a picture on the surface of water, and also like foam and plantain trees, which are empty and contain nothing therein. All have no life, no Self, no suffering, and no bliss. This is similar to the case of the Bodhisattva of the stage of the ten “bhumis”, who knows and sees things."
Then, of a sudden, there flashed out over the congregation a great light. It was not blue, and yet it was blue; not yellow, and yet it was yellow; not red, and yet it was red; not white, and yet it was white; not a colour, and yet there was colour [there]; not bright, and yet it was bright; not visible, and yet it was visible. Then, the great congregation, on encountering this light, felt their bodies and minds all joy and happiness. This was as with a bhiksu who now dwells in the “Lion-King Dhyana”.
Then Bodhisattva Manjushri said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Who emits this light now?" Then the Tathagata was silent and said nothing. Bodhisattva Kasyapa also asked of Manjushri: "Why does this light shine upon us?" Manjushri was silent and did not reply. Then Bodhisattva Boundless-Body also asked Bodhisattva Kasyapa: "Whose is this light?" Bodhisattva Kasyapa was silent and said nothing. Bodhisattva Pure-Abode Prince asked Bodhisattva Boundless-Body: "Why does this great light appear to all this great congregation?" Bodhisattva Boundless-Body was silent and said nothing. So did it go with the 500 Bodhisattvas. Though asked, there was none there who made reply.
Then the World-Honoured One asked Manjushri: "Why is there this light over this great mass of people?" Manjushri said: "O World-Honoured One! We call this light Wisdom. Wisdom is what eternally is. The Dharma Eternal has no causal relations. Why do you, the Buddha, ask me about this light? This light is the Tathagata. The Tathagata is Eternal. The Dharma Eternal is not grounded on causal relations. How does it come, then, that the Tathagata asks me for the reason?
"This light is Great Loving-Kindness and Great Compassion. Great Loving-Kindness and Great Compassion are Eternal. The Dharma Eternal is not grounded on causal relations. Why does the Tathagata ask me about causal relations? This light is the meditation on the Buddha. The meditation on the Buddha is the Dharma Eternal. The Dharma Eternal is not erected upon the path of causal relations. Why should the Tathagata ask me about causal relations? This light is the Way that does not obtain with any sravakas or pratyekabuddhas. The Way that does not obtain with sravakas and pratyekabuddhas is Eternal. The Dharma Eternal is not built upon the path of causal relations. Why does the Tathagata ask me about causal relations? By doing away with ignorance, one gains the burning flame of unsurpassed Enlightenment."
The Buddha said: "O Manjushri! Do not enter into the all-wonderful depths of the “Paramartha-satya” of all dharmas. Explain things by means of secular truth." Manjushri said: "O World-Honoured One! To the east, beyond worlds as numerous as the sands of 20 Ganges, is a world called " Acala" . The site where the Buddha of that country resides is extensive and all-equal and is as large as 12,000 yojanas lengthwise and crosswise. The ground is made of jewels and has no earth or stones. All is flat and soft, and there are no ditches or pits. All the trees are made of the four gems, namely, gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. Flowers and fruits are in abundance, and there is no time when these are not present. As people come into contact with the flowers and their fragrance, their body and mind experience peace and bliss, which can be likened to a bhiksu sitting in the third dhyana. And there are 3,000 great rivers that surround the land. The water is delicate and wonderful and is perfect in the eight tastes. The people who bathe in it experience joy and bliss comparable to the state of a bhiksu in the second dhyana. The rivers contain various flowers, such as the utpala, padma, kumuda, pundarika, the fragrant, the greatly fragrant, the wonderfully fragrant, the nitya, and the bloom that unhinderedly protects all beings. Also, on both banks are numerous flowers, such as the atimuktaka, campaka, pataliputra, varsika, mallika, mahamallika, simmallika, sumana, yukthika, dhanika, nitya, and the bloom that unhinderedly protects all beings. The river-bed is of golden sand, and there are flights of stairs on the four sides, made of gold, silver, beryl, and crystal of mixed colours. Numerous birds fly over these. Also, there live many tigers, wolves, lions, and all kinds of evil birds and beasts [there], all of whom, however, regard one another with the mind of a baby. There is in that land no one who carries out the grave offences, nor are there those who slander Dharma, nor are there any icchantikas, nor those who have committed the five deadly sins. The land is good and fit, so that there is no cold or heat, and no sufferings from famine or thirst; no greed, anger, indolence or jealousy reign there; there is no talk of sun and moon, no day and night, and there are no seasons; all obtains as in Trayastrimsa Heaven. The people of that land shine and have no arrogance in their mind. All are Bodhisattva- mahasattvas; all possess divine powers and great virtues, and their minds look up to Wonderful Dharma. They ride in the Mahayana, love the Mahayana, die for, and protect, the Mahayana. They are accomplished in great Wisdom, are perfect in the Mahayana, and always pity all beings. The Buddha of that land is Tathagata-Full-Moonlight, who is an Alms-Deserving, AllEnlightened One, an All-Accomplished One, a Well-Gone, an All-Knower, an Unsurpassed One, Best Trainer, and Teacher of Gods and Humans, a Buddha-World-Honoured One. He delivers sermons where he resides. And there is not a single land that cannot indeed hear [them]. He delivers a sermon on the Great Nirvana Sutra to Bodhisattva Vaiduryaprabha. "O good man! If a Bodhisattva-mahasattva thoroughly practises the Way of the Great Nirvana Sutra, those who cannot actually hear can also hear." This Bodhisattva-mahasattva Vaiduryaprabha questions
Buddha Full-Moonlight as Bodhisattva All-Shining Highly-Virtuous King [questions me]. All is the same, and there is nothing different.
"Buddha Full-Moonlight said to Bodhisattva Vaiduryaprabha: "O good man! Far out to the west, beyond as many lands as sands of 20 Ganges, there is a land called "Saha". In that, there abound mountains, hills, mounds, sand, gravel, thorns, and poisonous thorns. There are always the sufferings of hunger, thirst, cold, and heat [there]. The people of that land do not respect sramanas, Brahmins, parents, teachers, or elders. They greedily cling to unlawful acts, practise wrong actions, and do not believe in Wonderful Dharma. Their life is short. Those who cunningly cheat others are cured [punished] by the king. The king possesses territories, but is not satisfied. He covets what others possess. He calls forth wars and fights, and many meet with untimely deaths. As the king acts thus, the four guardians of the earth and good devas cannot have an easy mind. So calamities and famines come about, and the five cereals do not grow well. People suffer from illnesses and suffering goes on unendingly. There lives a Buddha [there] called Tathagata Shakyamuni, an Alms-Deserving, an All-Enlightened One, an All-Accomplished One, a Well-Gone, an All-Knower, an Unsurpassed One, Best Trainer, Teacher of Gods and Humans, and a Buddha-World-Honoured One. All-compassionate and kind-hearted towards all beings, he is delivering sermons on the Great Nirvana Sutra to all beings, at Kusinagara, between the sal trees. There is a Bodhisattva there called All-Shining Highly-Virtuous King. Already he asks about this and nothing differs [here] from what you ask. The Buddha is now answering. Make haste and go there! You will hear [things] yourself." O World-Honoured One! That Bodhisattva Vaiduryaprabha, on hearing this, is coming with 84,000 Bodhisattva-mahasattvas. Hence this premonition. Because of this, we have this light. That is why. And yet it is not why."
Then Bodhisattva Vaiduryaprabha arrived, accompanied by 84,000 Bodhisattvas and bearing, along with various banners and parasols, incense, flowers, garlands, and various kinds of music, double that which had gone before. All came to Kusinagara, between the sal trees. Offering what they had brought to the Buddha, they touched his feet with their heads, folded their hands together, paid homage, and thrice walked around the Buddha. Having paid homage, they sat down to one side.
Then the World-Honoured one asked that Bodhisattva: " O good man! Have you arrived or not?" Bodhisattva Vaiduryaprabha said: "O World-Honoured One! "Arrived" is not "come", and " not arrived" is also not " come" . As I think of this, there is no coming at all. O World- Honoured One! Even if all things were eternal, it would also be not "come"; even if it is " non-eternal" , there is no coming. If one thinks that man has a nature, there is coming and no coming. I now do not see any eternally fixed nature in beings. How can I say " to have come" or " not to have come?" With an arrogant person, there can be going and coming; with one without arrogance, there can be no coming and going. With one who is leaving, there can be talk of going and coming; with one without the leaving mind, there is no talk of going and coming. If one thinks that the Tathagata ultimately enters Nirvana now, there is going and coming; if one does not think that the Tathagata ultimately enters Nirvana, there can be no going and coming. If one does not hear of the Buddha-Nature, there can be going and coming; with one who hears of the Buddha-Nature, there can be no going and coming. With one who thinks that there is Nirvana with the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, there is going and coming; with one who does not see any entering into Nirvana with the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, there can be no going and coming. If one sees the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure with the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, there is going and coming; if not, there is no going and coming. If one views the Tathagata as not the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure, there is going and coming; if one sees the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure with the Tathagata, there cannot be any going and coming. O World-Honoured One! Leave this matter as it is for the present. I desire to ask more. Please condescend to give ear to me!"
The Buddha said: "O good man! Ask as you wish to ask. It is now time. I shall now makes things clear and explain them to you. Why? Because it is hard to encounter a Buddha, as it is difficult to come across the blooming of the udumbara. It is the same with Dharma. It is difficult to hear it. Of the 12 types of sutra, the hardest to hear is the vaipulya. For this reason, listen with undivided attention."
Then Bodhisattva-mahasattva Vaiduryaprabha obtained permission and also admonition. And he said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! How can a Bodhisattva-mahasattva practise the Great Nirvana Sutra? I wish to hear what I have not heard before."
Then the Tathagata praised him, saying: "Well said, well said, O good man! You now desire to cross the sea of the Great Nirvana of Mahayana. And you rightly encounter my sermon. I shall now become a great doctor and thoroughly extract the poisonous arrows of diverse doubt. You are not yet clear as to the Buddha-Nature. I possess the torch of Wisdom and shall well enlighten you. You now desire to cross the great river of birth and death. I shall now become a mariner for you. You see in me the parent, and I see in you the small child. Your mind is now dying for the treasures of Wonderful Dharma. I have much and can stand giving. Listen clearly to me, listen clearly to me! Bethink yourself well! I shall now make things clear and explain them to you. O good man! It is now time for you to hear Dharma. Having heard it, believe it and gain a respectful mind. Listen with all your mind; venerate what you have heard. Do not seek to pick out something wrong in Wonderful Dharma! Think not of greed, anger, and ignorance. Think not of good and bad or of the caste of the priest. Having heard Dharma, be not arrogant. Do not do things for honour, fame, or profit. Make effort to save the world, and for the interest of sweet Dharma. Also, do not be worried in mind. Hear Dharma, save yourself, and then save others. First, understand yourself, and let others understand. First, ease yourself, and then ease others. First, gain Nirvana yourself, and then let others gain it. See with an equal mind Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. See birth and death as great suffering. See in Great Nirvana the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure. First act for others, and then for your own self. Act for Mahayana and not for the two vehicles. Do not cling to anything. Do not cling to the characteristics of any thing. Do not be greedy towards anything. Always try to understand and see Dharma. O good man! If you give ear to Dharma with such an attitude, this is how one hears what one has not heard before.
"O good man! There is a hearing, when one has not heard; there is a non-hearing when one has heard; there is a hearing when one has heard. O good man! There is a birth, without being born; there is no being born, without being born; there is no being born, having been born; there is a being born, having been born. Similarly, there is an arriving, not having arrived; there is no arriving, not having arrived; there is no arriving, having arrived; there is an arriving, having arrived."
"O World-Honoured One! What is being born, not having been born?"
"O good man! Abiding peacefully in secular truth, one first comes out of the womb. This is being born, having not yet been born."
"What is not being born, not having been born?"
"O good man! This Great Nirvana has no aspect of being born. This is not being born, having not been born."
"What is not being born, having been born?"
"O good man! Death comes in secular truth. This is not being born, having once been
"What is being born, having been born?"
"O good man! All common mortals are those who are born by having been born. Why? Because there is no disruption in being born and being born, and because all leakings [defilements] follow moment upon moment. This is being born, having been born. The Bodhisattva of the four abodes [“bhumis”] is no being born, having been born. Why? Because he is unmolested in being born. This is a non-being-born, having been born. O good man! This is what obtains within the Buddhist teaching."
"What are: being born, having not yet been born; not yet being born, having not yet been born; not being born, having been born; and being born, having been born, as said in other teachings?"
"O good man! Let us take the case of a seed. When it is not yet born, the great elements conjoin, man acts, and it first burgeons out into a bud. This is being born, having not yet been born."
"What is not being born, having not yet been born?"
"For example, the case of a dead seed and its not meeting with the [necessary] conditions is that of "not born, having not been born."
"What is not born, having been born?"
"This is as when the seed has shot forth its bud, but there is no growth. This is a case of not born, having been born?"
"What is being born, having been born?"
"This is as with the growing of the bud. If what is born does not grow, there is no increase. All such aspects of the leakable [i.e. the defiled] are cases of being born, having been born, as stated in the categories of other teachings."
Bodhisattva-mahasattva Vaiduryaprabha said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! If it is the case that any being is born in what is leakable, is it eternal or non-eternal? If what is born is eternal, then there cannot be any being born in what is leakable. If being born is non-eternal, what is leakable must be the eternal. O World-Honoured One! If what is born can well be born by itself, there cannot be any nature of its own. If it can well call forth another life, why can it not call forth the unleakable [i.e. that which is undefiled]? O World-Honoured One! If there is life when not yet born, how can we speak of being born? When there is no life when not yet born, why do we not call space life?"
The Buddha said: " Well said, well said, O good man! " Born, not having been born" is inexpressible; " born, having been born" is inexpressible; " not born, having been born" is inexpressible; " not born, not having been born" is also inexpressible; being born is also inexpressible; not being born is also inexpressible. As there are causal relations, we can well explain [things].
"How is it that being born, not having been born is inexpressible?
"Not born is born. How can we explain? Why? Because of the fact that there is being
"How is it that what is born is born is inexpressible?
"For there is the being born because what is born is born; for there is not being born because being born is born. Hence, inexpressible.
"Why is being born is not being born inexpressible?
"What is born is called born; being born does not come about by itself. Hence, inex-pressible.
"Why is not born, not having been born inexpressible?
"Not being born is Nirvana. As Nirvana is not being born, it is inexpressible. Why? Because one gains it by practising the Way.
"Why is being born inexpressible?
"Because being born is emptiness itself.
"Why is not being born inexpressible?
"Because there is the possibility of gaining it.
"Why is it expressible for causal reasons?
"Because the ten causal relations can constitute the cause of being born. Hence, it is possible to explain.
"O good man! Do not get into the deepest depths of the All-Void dhyana. Why not? Because the great mass of people is dull.
"O good man! In what is created, birth is eternal. As it lives in the non-eternal, birth too is non-eternal.
"Abiding, too, is eternal, because being born is being born. Abiding is also non-eternal.
"Difference [i.e. change], too, is eternal. As the law [a dharma] is non-eternal, difference is also non-eternal.
"Breaking up [dissolution] is also eternal. Because it is originally empty, but now exists. Hence, breaking up is also non-eternal.
"O good man! Being born, abiding, difference, and breaking up are all eternal. As there is extinction moment after moment, one must not say eternal. As this Great Nirvana is disrupted and dies out, we say non-eternal. O good man! Whatever is defiled already has the nature of being born, when it is not yet born. For this reason, being born comes about. What is undefiled has from the beginning no nature of being born. Hence, being born cannot come about.
"The original quality of fire calls forth fire when conditions so arise.
"The eye has the nature of seeing and sees by colour, light, and mind. The same applies to the being born of beings. As there is the original nature, it can come about, meeting with the causal relations of karma and by the coming together of the parents, which is life."
Then Bodhisattva Vaiduryaprabha and the 84,000 Bodhisattva-mahasattvas, on hearing this sermon, jumped for joy and remained suspended in the sky seven talas high. With respect and folding their hands, they said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Having been enlightened by the Tathagata in kindly ways, I now understand what one hears and what one does not hear of Great Nirvana. Also, the 84,000 Bodhisattvas have gained the depths of the being born and the not being born of all things. O World-Honoured One! I now understand all and have done away with all doubts. But among the Bodhisattvas congregated here, there is one called "Fearless". He respectfully desires to ask a question. Please deign to answer."
Then the World-Honoured One said to Bodhisattva Fearless: "O good man! Ask whatever you desire to ask. I shall now state things clearly to you."
Then Bodhisattva Fearless, along with his 64,000 Bodhisattvas, stood up from their seats, put their robes in order, prostrated themselves on the ground and said to the Buddha: " O World- Honoured One! How can the people of this world act and gain birth in that immovable world? By what Wisdom can the Bodhisattva of the land become the elephant king of all men? How can he possess great virtues and practise the Way, and how, with the sharpest of Wisdom, can he understand what he hears?"
Then the World-Honoured One said in a gatha:
"One who does not injure
The life of beings and strongly
Upholds the prohibitions,
And who learns the Buddha's all-wonderful teaching
Gains birth in the land immovable.
Not stealing the wealth of others,
And always giving to all others,
And erecting the catur-desa1,
One gains birth in the land immovable.
Not raping others’ women,
Not acting unduly towards one’s own wife,
And giving bedding to those who uphold sila,
One gains birth in the land immovable.
Not seeking profit for one’s own Or for others’ sake,
Not having fear, and guarding one’s own mouth,
Not telling lies, one will thus Be born in the land immovable.
Not hurting a good teacher of the Way,
Keeping evil kindred at a distance,
And using gentle words, one gains Birth in the land immovable.
Like all Bodhisattvas, one segregates One’s self from evil speech,
And people desire to hear what one says.
Such a person will gain birth In the land immovable.
Even in a joking way,
No untimely word is used,
And one always speaks at the apt time.
Such a person will gain birth In the land immovable.
One is always glad when one sees Others gaining benefit and one has No jealous mind. Such a person will Gain birth in the land immovable.
One causes no worries to others,
Is ever compassionate,
And never enacts evil as a means.
Such a person gains birth in the land immovable.
If not evil in mind,
Not saying that there can be no dana,
No parents, no past, and no future,
And if one does not hold such a view of life,
One gains birth in the land immovable.
On the wayside of a wide and extensive stretch of land,
One digs a good well, plants fruit trees,
And makes gardens and always gives food to those who beg. Such a person gains birth in the land immovable.
If one offers a fragrant lamp or a flower To the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha,
One gains birth in the land immovable.
If out of fear, or for profit, or for blessings A person writes even a gatha of this sutra,
Such a one will gain birth In the land immovable.
If, even for profit, a person in a day Recites this sutra, that person will gain Birth in that land immovable.
If one, for the sake of the unsurpassed Way,
For a day or night upholds the eight pure actions,
One gains birth in the land immovable.
If one does not sit together with those
Who commit the grave offences
And reproaches those who slander the vaipulya,
One gains birth in the land immovable.
If one gives even a piece of fruit To one who is suffering from illness
And looks upon such a person with happy and sweet looks,
Such a one will gain birth in the land immovable.
If one does not spoil [defile] the priestly robe,
Guards well the things that belong,
Or are offered to, the Buddha, and sweeps
The ground where the Buddha and the Sangha live,
Such a person will gain birth in the land immovable.
If one makes statues that are big And erects Buddhist stupas as large And if one is glad at heart,
Such a person gains birth in the land immovable.
If one, for this sutra,
Gives one's self or wealth to those who preach,
Such a one gains birth In the land immovable.
If one gives ear to,
And copies, the undisclosed store of all Buddhas,
Upholds and recites it,
Such a person gains birth In the land immovable."
Then Bodhisattva-mahasattva Fearless said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! I now see that by what I do I gain birth in that land. If the Tathagata will condescend to explain what Bodhisattva-mahasattva All-Shining Highly-Virtuous King asks for the sake of all beings, this will benefit and give peace to all such as humans, gods, asuras, gandharvas, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, and others."
Then the World-Honoured One said to Bodhisattva-mahasattva All-Shining Highly- Virtuous King: " Well said, well said! O good man! Listen well with all your mind. I shall now explain it to you in detail. By causal relations, there can be one not yet arrived, by not arriving; by causal relations, there is one arrived, not arriving; by causal relations, there can be one who has not yet arrived, having already arrived; by causal relations, there can be one who is arrived, having already arrived. How is there one who is not yet arrived, by not arriving?
"O good man! Now, "non-arriving" is Nirvana. Common mortals are not yet arrived, because of greed, anger, and ignorance, because their bodily and oral actions are impure, because a person receives all impure things, because he commits the four grave offences, because he slanders the vaipulya, because of his being an icchantika, because of his enacting the five deadly sins: for all these reasons, a person is one who is not yet arrived at " non-arriving" .
"O good man! How is one arrived, having not yet arrived? Non-arriving is Great Nirvana. Why is one arrived? Because one eternally cuts away greed, anger and ignorance, and all evil actions of body and mouth; because one does not receive impure things; because one does not perform the four grave offences; because one does not slander the vaipulya sutras; because one does not become an icchantika, and because one does not commit the five deadly sins. For these reasons, we say that one arrives, having not yet arrived. Now, the srotapanna arrvies after 80,000 kalpas, the sakrdagamin arrives after 60,000 kalpas, the anagamin after 40,000 kalpas, and the arhat after 20,000 kalpas, and the pratyekabuddha after 10,000 kalpas. For this reason, we say that one has arrived, while not yet having arrived.
"O good man! How is a person arrived, having already arrived? "To arrive" corresponds to the 25 existences. All beings are always overshadowed by innumerable defilements and bonds, which come and go, never parting, as with a rotating wheel. This is arriving. Sravakas, pratyek- abuddhas and all Bodhisattvas are eternally segregated from these. Hence, " non-arriving" . To succour beings, manifestation is enacted amidst them. Hence, " having arrived".
"O good man! Why do we say having arrived by having arrived? " To arrive" relates to the 25 existences. Such are the things of defilement of all common mortals, srotapannas, up to anagamins. Thus we say having arrived, having arrived.
"O good man! The same applies to what one has heard and what one has not heard. These are the instances of " hearing, not having heard" , " not hearing, having not heard" , " not hearing, having heard" , and " hearing, having heard" .
"What is " hearing, not having heard" ? O good man! " Not hearing" is Great Nirvana. Why " not hearing" ? Because of not being created, because it is not a sound, because it cannot be explained. Why " hearing" ? Because one can hear the names, which are the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure. Hence, "hearing, not having heard."
Then Bodhisattva-mahasattva All-Shining Highly-Virtuous King said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! You, the Buddha, say that Great Nirvana cannot be heard. How is it that the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure cannot be heard? Why not? O World-Honoured One! You say that a person who has made away with defilement is one who has attained Nirvana. One not yet cut free from defilement is one who has not yet gained it. Thus the nature of Nirvana is " what originally was, is not now" . If what applies in the world is " what originally was, is not now" , this is the non-Eternal. It is as with a pot, which is what originally was, but is not now, and what once was which now returns to not-is, and which is the non-Eternal. If Nirvana is thus, how could we speak of the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure? Also, next, O World-Honoured One! What can arise by adorning is non-Eternal. If Nirvana is such, it must be non-Eternal. What are the causal relaitons? The 37 elements assisting towards Enlightenment, the six paramitas, the four limitless minds, physiognomical forecasting, the anapana, the six thinkings all crush the six great elements. All these items constitute the cause and condition to call forth Nirvana. Hence, non-eternal. Also, next, O World-Honoured One! Whatever is "is" is non-Eternal. If Nirvana is "is”, Nirvana must be non-Eternal. This is what obtains in the agamas, in which you said that the sravaka, pratyekabuddha, and the All-Buddha-World- Honoured One all have Nirvana. Hence, non-Eternal. Also, next, O World-Honoured One!
Whatever is visible is non-Eternal. This is as when the Buddha said before that one who can see Nirvana can well cut away defilement. Also, next, O World-Honoured One! For example, this is like space, which does not molest [hinder] any beings. So, we say Eternal. If Nirvana is Eternal, why are there those who gain and who do not gain? If Nirvana is thus and is partial with beings, how can we call it Eternal? O World-Honoured One! For example, 100 people have an enemy. If this enemy is made away with, all have peace. If Nirvana is impartial, this must mean that if one gains it, many must gain it. If one person cuts off bondage, many persons must be able to cut off bondage. If things are not thus, how can there be the Eternal? For example, a man respects, makes offerings to, honours and praises the king, prince, his parents, teachers and elders, and there is benefit. This is not Eternal. The same is the case. Why? You, the Buddha, said in the agama to Ananda: "If one truly respects Nirvana, one cuts off bondage and perfects immeasurable bliss." So, we do not say Eternal. O World-Honoured One! If there are such as the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure, we cannot call Nirvana Eternal. If there are no such, how can we explain the matter?"
Then the World-Honoured One spoke to Bodhisattva-mahasattva All-Shining Highly- Virtuous King: " The true quality of Nirvana is not that of something that originally was not but now is. If Nirvana were what originally was not but now is, it could not be anything unleakable [undefiled] and Eternal. The nature and characteristics of the phenomenal Buddha and the noumenal Buddha are Eternal and all-abiding. As defilements spread over beings, they cannot see Nirvana. And they say that is does not exist. As the Bodhisattva makes effort and cultivates his mind with sila, meditation, and Wisdom, and excises defilement, he sees it. Know that Nirvana is what is Eternal. It is not what originally was not but now is. So, we say Eternal.
"O good man! There is a dark room, in which there is a well where there are seven different treasures. Though one knows that they are there, since it is dark, one cannot see them. One who is wise knows the means. He lights a big lamp, carries this [into the room], illuminates the place, and sees all. Now, this person does not think that there were orginally no water and seven treasures, but he thinks that they were there. It is the same with Nirvana. It is not that it originally was not but happens to come about now. Due to the darkness of defilement, beings do not see it. The Great WIsdom, the Tathagata, puts into effect the best expedients, lights the lamp of Wisdom, and enables all Bodhisattvas to see the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure of Nirvana. Thus the wise must not say that Nirvana is what originally was not, but now is.
"O good man! You say that Nirvana is made by adornment and that it must be non-Eternal. But this is not so. Why not? O good man! The body of Nirvana is not one that is born, that departs, that is actual, or that is false. It is not one worked out [bodied forth]. It is not defiled, not what is created. It is not hearing, nor anything visible, not something fallen: it is no death. It is not a different phase of phenomena, nor is it of the same form. It is no going and no returning. It is no past, no future, and no present. It is not one, not many, not long, not short, not round, not square, not pointed, not bent. It is no phenomenon, no mental image, no name, no matter, no cause, no result, no self, and not what one possesses. For this reason, Nirvana is Eternal and enduring, and does not change. Because of this, one practises good for innumerable asamkhyas of kalpas, one adorns ones's own self, and then one can see.
"O good man! As an example: there is an underground water of eight tastes, and yet no one can get at it. One who is wise devises a means, digs, and gets to it. The case is the same with Nirvana. For example, a blind person cannot see the sun or moon. But when a good doctor effects a cure, he can then see. And it is not that the sun and moon have come about but now. It is the same with Nirvana. It has already existed by itself, and it is not that it is something that happens to come into existence now.
"O good man! A man commits a crime and is chained up in a prison house. After a long time, he is released. Coming back home, he now sees his parents, brothers, wife, children and relatives. The case is the same with Nirvana.
"O good man! You say that Nirvana is non-Eternal due to causal relations. But this is not so. Why not?
"O good man! There are five kinds of cause. What are the five? They are: 1) cause of birth, 2) cause of harmonisation, 3) cause of being as it is, 4) cause of growth, and 5) cause of far out [indirect].
"What is the cause of birth? It is based on karma, defilements, etc., and all such seeds of the external category as plants and grass. These are the causes of birth.
"What is the cause of harmonisation? This is none other than the harmonisation between good and the good mind, non-good and the non-good mind, indefinable [“avyakrta”] and the indefinable mind. This is the cause that can be talked of as harmonisation.
"What is the cause of being as it is? Due to the pillars, the roof does not fall down. The mountains, rivers and trees rest on the great earth. And they can be as they are and stand. Man possesses, within, the four great elements, an innumerable and unending number of defilements. And beings continue to exist. This is the cause of being as it is.
"What is the cause of growth? Clothes, food and drink enable beings to grow. The seed of the external category is not burnt out or eaten up by birds. Hence, growth. The sramanas and Brahmins grow by depending upon the honoured ones [“upadhyaya”], the good teachers of the Way, etc. Or it is like a child that grows up by depending upon its parents. This is the cause of growth.
"What is the cause that is far out? For example, through charms, no demons or poison can cause one harm. Depending and relying on kings, there can be no robbers. Budding rests upon earth, water, fire, and wind. This is as when churning and a person become the far-out [distant, ultimate] cause of butter, or bright colour the far-off cause of consciousness, or dead bodies of parents the far-off cause of beings. Such as the seasons, too, become far-off causes.
"O good man! The body of Nirvana is not one that comes about from these five causes. How could one say that it arises from a cause of the non-Eternal?
"Also, next, O good man! There are two causes. One is the cause of doing and the other that of enlightening. It is as with the rope of the potter’s wheel. This is the cause of doing. A lamp illuminates things in the darkness. This is the cause of enlightening. O good man! Great Nirvana does not come about from the cause of doing. It only follows the cause of enlightening. By the cause of enlightening is meant such as the 37 elements of the Way assisting to Enlightenment and the six paramitas. These constitute the cause of enlightening.
"O good man! Dana [generous giving] is the cause of Nirvana, but not the cause of Great Nirvana. Danaparamita [perfected giving] is the cause of Great Nirvana. The 37 elements can be the cause of Nirvana, but not of Great Nirvana. The innumerable asamkhyas of assisting elements can be the cause of Great Nirvana."
Then, Bodhisattva-Mahasattva All-Shining Highly Virtuous King said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! In what way can dana not be danaparamita, and in what way can dana be danaparamita? And also, in what way can prajna [Wisdom] not be prajnaparamita, and in what way can it be so called? In what sense do we speak of Nirvana and of Great Nirvana?"
The Buddha said: " O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises the Vaipulya-Mahaparinirvana, he does not hear or see dana; nor does he hear or see danaparamita. Nor does he hear or see prajna; nor does he hear or see prajnaparamita. Nor does he hear or see Nirvana. Nor does he hear or see Great Nirvana. When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises Great Nirvana, he knows and sees the universe and he realises that the real state is all-void and that there is nothing that one possesses, and that there is nothing that has any mode of harmonisation or perception. And what he gains is such a phase [state of realisation] as the unleakable [i.e. undefiled], non-doing, the phantomic, the burning flame of the hot season, and the all-empty phase of a gandharvan castle. Then the Bodhisattva sees such a phase and has no greed, malevolence and ignorance. He does not hear or see. This is what we mean when we say that the Bodhisattva-mahasattva himself knows that this is dana, this danaparamita, this prajna, this prajnaparamita, this Nirvana, this Great Nirvana.
"O good man! What is dana, and what is not danaparamita? One sees one who begs, and one gives. This is giving, but not paramita. When there is none that begs, but one opens up one’s heart and gives of one’s own accord, this is danaparamita. One gives according to the time. This is giving, but not paramita. One practises eternal giving - this is danaparamita. One gives to others and later regrets it. This is giving, but not paramita. One gives and does not regret it. This is danaparamita.
"The Bodhisattva-mahasattva gains four fears in things. To the king, robber, water and fire, he is pleased to give. This is danaparamita. If one gives, expecting a return, this is giving, but not danaparamita. If one gives, but does not look for any recompense, that is danaparamita. One gives when one fears; one gives for fame and profit, for a family legacy, for satisfying the five desires in heaven, for pride, for the pride of being superior to others, for knowledge, for recompense in the life to come, all of which is like doing trade.
"O good man! This is like a person who plants trees to gain cool shade and flowers, fruit and wood. If one practises such giving, this is giving, but not any paramita.
"The Bodhisattva-mahasattva who practises Great Nirvana does not see giver, recipient, or thing given, nor time given, nor any field of blessings nor non-field of blessings, nor any cause, condition, result, doer, receiver, nor many nor less in number, nor purity nor non-purity. He does not belittle the recipient, himself, or the thing given. He does not care about who sees or who does not see. He makes no distinction between himself and others. He only practises dana for the sake of the Eternal Dharma of the vaipulya Mahaparinirvana. He gives to benefit all beings. He gives to cut off the defilements of all beings. He practises dana without seeing giver, recipient, or thing given.
"O good man! As an example: a man falls into the great sea, but as he holds on to a dead body, he is indeed able to be saved. When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises the Way of Great Nirvana and performs dana, things are as in the case of the dead body.
"O good man! There is a man, for example, who is shut up in prison. The gate is strongly guarded, but there is a hole in the privy. Through this, he gains an unhindered place [i.e. his freedom]. So does it obtain with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva as he practises Great Nirvana and performs giving.
"O good man! This is, for example, like unto a nobleman who has fear, feels unsafe, and has no one upon whom to rely, and who asks for help from the hand of a candala. So does it stand with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva when he practises Great Nirvana.
"O good man! This is like the situation of a sick person, who, in order to eliminate the pain of illness, partakes of what is unclean. So do things stand with the Bodhisattva when he practises Great Nirvana and performs giving.
"O good man! If the Brahmins come across a rise in the price of cereals, they will partake of dog’s meat, for the sake of their life. It is the same with the Bodhisattva when he practises Great Nirvana and performs giving. O good man! Nothing like this relative to Great Nirvana has been heard for innumerable kalpas past, and yet we hear it. As for sila, silaparamita, prajna, and prajnaparamita, things are as stated in the Avatamsaka Sutra.