Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

The "Nirvana Sutra" Continued (N)

Chapter Twenty-One: On Pure Actions-1

"O good man! What are the pure actions of a Bodhisattva-mahasattva? O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, abiding in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana, can be perfect in pure actions in seven categories. What are those seven? They are: 1) knowing Dharma,  2) knowing the meaning,  3) knowing the time,  4) being contented,  5)  knowing for oneself,  6)  knowing the masses,  7) knowing the difference between respectable and mean.

"O good man! How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva know Dharma? O good man! This Bodhisattva-mahasattva knows the twelve types of scripture, which are: 1) sutra,  2) geya,  3) vyakarana,  4) gatha,  5) udana,  6) nidana,  7) avadana,  8) itivrttaka,  9) jataka,  10) vaipulya,  11) adbhutadharma,  and  12) upadesa.

"O good man! What is meant by "sutra?"  A sutra begins with: "Thus have I heard"  and ends with: "practise with joy". All such are "sutras".

"What is "geya?" It goes like this: "The Buddha said to all bhiksus: In days gone by, I, like you, was ignorant and had no Wisdom, and could not see the Four Truths. For that reason, I had long transmigrated and repeated birth and death and floundered in the great sea of suffering. What are the Four? They are: 1) Suffering,  2) the Cause of Suffering, 3) Extinction,  4) the Way to the Extinction of Suffering. In days gone by, the Buddha spoke of the sutras. At that time, there was a sharp-witted person who came to the Buddha to be taught Dharma. He asked others: "What did the Tathagata speak about before?" The Tathagata, seeing this, said in a gatha, basing himself on the sutras:

"I, like you, did not see the Four Truths

And as a result floundered long in the sea

Of suffering of birth and death.

By seeing the Four Truths,

One well severs birth and death.

Birth and death done away with,

One no more gains any existence."

This is "geya."  

"What is "vyakarana"? There are sutras and vinayas [monastic rules] in which, when the Tathagata speaks, he gives prophecies to all the heavenly ones, such as: "O you, Ajita! In days to come, there will be a king named "Sankha". In his reign, you will practise the Way, attain Buddhahood, and be called Maitreya."  This is "vyakarana".  

"What is "gatha"? In addition to the sutras and vinaya, there are cases in which a four-line poem appears, such as:

"Do not do any evil;

Do all that is good.

Purify your mind.

This is the teaching of all Buddhas."  

This is "gatha"?

"What is "udana"? The Buddha, at about four in the afternoon, enters a dhyana [meditation]. He speaks about Dharma to the devas [gods]. At that time, the bhiksus [monks] think: "What is the Tathagata doing?"  The Tathagata awakes next morning from the dhyana and, without being asked by anyone, he, with the power of knowledge that can read the minds of others, speaks unasked: "O Bhiksus! Know that the life of all devas is extremely long. O all of you Bhiksus! It is good that you all act for others and do not seek your own profit. It is good that you seek but little; it is good that you feel contented; it is good that you are quiet [peaceful]!"  It goes like that. In all such scriptures, the Buddha speaks unasked. This is "udana".

"What is "nidana"? The gathas of all sutras speak for others about the basic roots of all causes. In Sravasti there was a man who caught a bird in a net. Having caught it, he put it in a cage, gave it water and cereal, and then let it go. The World-Honoured One knows all histories from beginning to end and talks about this in a gatha, such as:

"Do not belittle small evil acts,

And do not say that there is no evil that arises.

Small is a drop of water,

But [by accumulation] it fills a great vessel."  

This is "nidana".

"What is "avadana"? It is as in the case of the parables that occur in the vinaya. This is "avadana".

"What is "itivrttaka"? This is as when the Buddha says: "O Bhiksus! Know that what I speak when I am in the world is the sutras. In the days of Buddha Krakucchanda, it is called "amrta-drum" [drum of the Immortal]; what appears in the days of Kanakamuni is called "Dharma-mirror"; what appears in the days of Buddha Kasyapa is called "Void-discriminating". This is "itivrttaka".

"What is "jataka"? This is when the World-Honoured One [tells of how he], in days gone by, became a Bodhisattva and practised the Way, such as: "O Bhisksus! Know that, in days gone by, I gained life as a deer, a brown bear, a reindeer, a hare, the king of a small state, a chakravartin, a naga, and a garuda. Such are all the bodies one receives when one practises the Way of a Bodhisattva."  This is "jataka".

"What is "vaipulya sutra"? It is none other than the Mahayana vaipulya [extensive] sutras. What it states is on a large scale. It is like space. This is "vaipulya".

"What is "adbhutadharma"? After the Bodhisattva has just been born, he takes seven steps without any help from others, sending out great lights, which shine in all ten directions; or a monkey holds in its hand a pot of honey and offers it to the Tathagata; or a white-headed dog sits by the Buddha's side and listens to his sermons; Marapapiyans transforms himself into a blue cow and walks between tiles and bowls, touching but not damaging them; or, when the Buddha first enters the devas' temple, the devas come down and pay him homage. Any sutra such as this is called "adbhutadharma".

"What do we mean by "upadesa"? It is one [scripture] that discusses the sutras which contain the Buddha's sermons and analyses and widely explains the characteristics. Any such is an "upadesa".

"If any Bodhisattva is well versed in the twelve types of scripture, this is "knowing Dharma".

"How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva understand the meaning? A Bodhisattva knows the meaning of all words and languages. This is knowing the meaning.

"How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva know the [right] time? O good man! The Bodhisattva, at a given time, will practise quietude. At another time, he will make effort. At another time, he will practise equanimity and dhyana. At another time, he will make offerings to his teacher. At another time, he will practise dana [giving], upholding the moral precepts, forbearance, effort, and dhyana, thus perfecting prajnaparamita [transcendent Wisdom]. This is knowing the time.

"In what way does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva feel contented? O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva knows contentment in his meals, clothing, medicine, in going, coming, sitting, lying, sleeping, waking, talking and in silence. This is knowing contentment.

"O good man! How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva know things by himself? The Bodhisattva knows all about faith, the precepts, rich hearing, equanimity, Wisdom, going and coming, right remembrance, good deeds, questions and answers. This is knowing of one's own self.

"How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva know the masses? Such a Bodhisattva knows: "This is a Kshatriya, this a Brahmin, this an upasaka, this a sramana. Such a person goes thus, comes thus, sits thus, stands up thus, delivers sermons thus, and puts questions and answers thus."  This is knowing the masses.

"O good man! In what way does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva know the difference between "respectable"  and "mean"? O good man! There are two kinds of men: one who has faith, and the other, who has not. O Bodhisattva! Know that he with faith is one who is good, and that he who has no faith is one who is not good. Also, next, there are two kinds of faithful person. One always pays visits to viharas, and the other does not. O Bodhisattva! Know that he who goes is good, and the other who does not should not be called good. There are two kinds of people who go to viharas. One is he who worships, and the other is he who does not. O Bodhisattva! Know that he who worships is good, and the other who does not is not to be called good. There are two kinds of worshipper. One is he who listens to the sermons, and the other is he who does not listen to the sermons. O Bodhisattva! Know that he who listens to the sermons is one who is good, and that the other is one who cannot be called good. There are again two kinds of people who listen to sermons. The one is he who listens with a true mind, and the other is he who has no true mind. O Bodhisattva! Know that he who listens with a true mind is one who is good, and that he with no true mind is not to be called good. Of listeners with a true mind, there are two kinds. One thinks about the meaning, and the other does not think about the meaning. O Bodhisattva! Know that he who thinks about the meaning is good, and he who does not think about the meaning is not good. And there are two kinds amongst those who think about the meaning. One is he who practises the Way as told, and the other is he who does not practise the Way as told. He who practises the Way as told is one who is good, and he who does not practise the Way as told is one who is not good. There are, again, two kinds of people who practise the Way as told. One is he who takes to the Way of the sravaka, who is unable to releave all beings of all their worries and give them peace and benefit; the second is he who takes to the unsurpassed Mahayana and gives benefit and peace to the many. O Bodhisattva! Know that he who gives benefit and peace to the many is unsurpassed and the best.

"O good man! Of all jewels, the cintamani [wish-fulfilling gem] is the most superb; of all tastes, amrta [ambrosia] is the best. Such a Bodhisattva is the most superb and the best of all humans and devas. No comparison can express it. O good man! This is what we mean when we say that the Bodhisattva-mahasattva abides in the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra and lives in the seven good laws. The Bodhisattva, abiding in these seven good laws, can become perfect in pure action.

"Also, next, O good man! There are pure actions, which are: loving-kindness [“maitri”], compassion [“karuna”], sympathetic joy [“mudita”], and equanimity [“upeksha”]."

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "A person who practises kindness segregates himself from anger; a person who practises compassion segregates himself from anger. And yet we speak of the "limitless [immeasurable] minds". From the content of the meaning, there must be three. O World-Honoured One! There are three circumstantial factors in loving-kindness. One relates to beings, the second to dharmas, and the third to what is unrelated. The same with compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. Following this logic, there can only be one, not four. What relates to beings comes about relative to the five skandhas, and one prays to give bliss thereto. This is what relates to beings. By what relates to things [dharmas] is meant giving what beings desire to possess. This is what relates to things. By "unrelated"  comes about [is meant] the Tathagata. This is the "unrelated". Compassion has bearings on the poor and those in stressed circumstances. The Tathagata, the great teacher, is long since far removed from poverty and stressed circumstances and is blessed with the highest bliss. If any relation is had with beings, it obtains thus with the Buddha. The same is the case with things. That is why we say that any bearing that is had upon the Tathagata is the "relationless". O World-Honoured One! The field in which compassion becomes related to all beings has bearings upon parents, wife, children and relatives. Hence, we say "related to all beings."  We say "related to dharmas". Here, we see no parents, wife, children or relatives. We see here that all things arise from circumstantial factors. Hence, "related to dharmas". The "unrelated"  is not based on dharmas or beings. Hence, "unrelated". It is the same with compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. So there must be three things, and not four. O World-Honoured One! There are two kinds of people. One is a person who practises the Way using his own intellect, and the other is a person who practises the Way through faith and love. The person who practises the Way through the intellectual channel generally practises loving-kindness, and the person who practises the Way through faith and love practises sympathetic joy and equanimity. Hence, there must be two, and not four. O World-Honoured One! "Immeasurable"  means "boundless". The boundary is unattainable. Hence, "boundless". If [something is] "immeasurable", there can only be one, not four. If there were four, how could they be immeasurable? Therefore, there must be one, not four."

The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "O good man! The essence of what the All-Buddha-Tathagata says is undisclosed. For this reason, it is difficult to know. There are cases where he speaks about a set of causes and conditions. What there is [here] is just one. It is as when one says that all things are created things. Or there may be a case where it is said that there are two kinds. These are the direct and indirect causes, and the result. Or it may be spoken of as three. These are illusion, action and suffering. Or it may be spoken of as four. These are ignorance, created existence, birth, and age-and-death. Or it may be spoken of as five, such as: feeling, craving, cleaving, existence, and birth. Or it may be spoken of as six, which are the causes and results of the Three Times [past, present and future]. Or things may be spoken of in terms of seven, which are consciousness, mind-and-body, the six sphere, touch, feeling, craving, and cleaving. Or one might speak of eight things, which are those [of the twelve links of interdependent arising], minus the four elements of ignorance, action, birth, and age-and-death, which makes eight. Or one may speak of nine, as stated in the “Nagara Sutra”. This refers to the nine, excepting the three elements of ignorance, action, and consciousness. Or one may speak of eleven, as to Satyakanirgranthaputra. These are the eleven, excepting the one category of "birth". At times, the Buddha speaks fully of the twelve links of interdependent arising. This is as when he spoke at Rajagriha to Kasyapa and others about ignorance all the way down to birth, age, illness, and death. O good man! A single causal relation is, for the benefit of beings, expounded in various ways. It is the same with the innumerable phases [aspects] of the mind. O good man! For this reason, do not entertain doubt in regard to the deeply-hidden action of the All-Buddha-Tathagata."  

"O good man! The Tathagata-World-Honoured One enacts great expedients. He speaks of impermanence as Eternal, and of the Eternal as impermanent. He speaks of Bliss as suffering and suffering as Bliss; the impure as Pure and the Pure as impure. He speaks of the Self as selfless and of the selfless as the Self; of non-being as a beings and the real being as a non-being. A non-substance is spoken of as a substance and a substance as a non-substance. The non-real is spoken of as real and the real as non-real; the non-field of cognition as a field of cognition and the field of cognition as a non-field of cognition; non-birth as birth and birth as non-birth; ignorance as brightness and brightness as ignorance; rupa [form] as non-rupa and non-rupa as rupa; the non-Way as the Way and the Way as non-Way. O good man! The Tathagata, by using all such expedients, sets beings to rights. How could we say that anything is wrong with him?

"O good man! There may be a person who covets wealth. I then, for the sake of that person, transform myself into a chakravartin and for innumerable ages give things to him in various ways. Later, I teach him and enable him to abide in unsurpassed Enlightenment. If there is a person who clings to the five deisres, I fill up that person's clinging for innumerable ages with wonderful things that such a person desires to have, and later teach him and make him attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. If there is a rich person, strong and proud, I serve him for innumerable hundreds of thousands of years, running errands and waiting upon him, and after having won over such a person's mind, I will cause him to attain unsurpasssed Enlightenment. If there is a person who transgresses, is self-assertive, thinks he is on the right path and quarrels with others, I shall, for innumerable ages, advise him, remonstrate with him and bring him round, and then cause him to attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. O good man! The Tathagata, for innumerable ages, enacts various means, thus causing beings to achieve unsurpassed Enlightenment. How could anything be wrong here? The All-Buddha-Tathagata may live amidst all evils, but, like the lotus, he is not tainted [by them]. O good man! You should understand the four immeasurables [i.e.” Brahma-viharas”] thus.

"O good man! There are four qualities in this limitless mind. The practice accomplished, one gains birth in the world of Great Brahma. O good man! There are thus four kinds within the limitless mind. That is why we speak of four. By practising loving-kindness [“maitri”], a person thoroughly extirpates greed. Practising compassion [“karuna”], a person extirpates anger. Practising sympathetic joy [“mudita”], a person extirpates non-bliss. By practising equanimity, a person well segregates beings from greed and anger. O good man! For this reason, we speak of four. It is not one, not two, and not three.

"O good man! As you say, loving-kindness indeed cuts out anger. If things are thus with compassion, one may say three. Do mot make such a reproof. Why not?

"O good man! Of anger, there are two kinds. One takes life; the other encourages a person. O good man! Because of this, how could it be other than four?

"Also, next, of anger there are two kinds. One is being angry towards beings, and the other towards non-beings. By practising loving-kindness, one thoroughly dispels anger towards beings; by practising compassion, one thoroughly dispels anger towards non-beings.

"Also, next, of anger, there are two kinds. One is based on causal relations and the other is not. Practising loving-kindness, one cuts away that which is based on causal relations; practising compassion, one cuts away that which is based on causal relations.

"Also, next, there are two kinds of anger. One is anger that has been accumulated over a long period in the past, and the other is that which one has just gained. By practising loving-kindness, one severs the anger from the past, and by practising compassion, one severs the anger of the present.

"Also, next, there are two kinds of anger. One is anger at holy persons, and the other at common mortals. By practising loving-kindness, one casts off anger at holy persons; by practising compassion, one casts off anger at common mortals.

"Also, next, there are two types of anger. One is top-grade, and the other is middle-grade. The practising of loving-kindness dispels top-grade anger, while practising compassion dispels middle-grade anger. O good man! For this reason, I say four. How can you reproach me and speak of three and not four? Thus, O Kasyapa, in this limitless mind, antitheses stand against one another, and classified, we get four.

"Also, it is four because of the vessel. If there is loving-kindness in the vessel, there can be no compassion, joy, and equanimity. For this reason, it is four and nothing less.

"O good man! We discriminate according to action. Hence, four. When loving-kindness is acted upon, there can be no compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. Hence, four. O good man! Because of limitlessness, we say four. Now, of the limitless there are four kinds. There is the case where what there is is the relation of the limitless mind, but not unmolestedness [unimpededness]. Or there is the case where the limitless mind is unmolested and it does not stand [depend] upon relations; there is the case where things stand on the relations of the limitless mind and also on unmolestedness; there is the case where things do not stand on relations and also not on unmolestedness. What is the limitless that has relations, but is not unmolested? This is the case where causal relations are had with innumerable and boundless beings, and yet there is nothing of the kind as the unmolested state of samadhi. Even if gained, it does not remain. Or one gains and loses it. What is the limitless that is unmolested and has no causal relations? It is like desiring to have causal relations with parents, brothers and sisters and to give them peace and bliss. There can be no limitless causal relations [here]. What is the limitless that has causal relations and is unmolested? This refers to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. What is the limitless with no causal relations and no unmolestedness? The sravakas and pratyekabuddhas cannot have unlimited relations with beings. Also, they are not unmolested [i.e. they are constrained by limitations]. O good man! Because of this, we speak of the "four limitlessnesses". This is not something any sravakas or pratyekabuddhas can know. This is what applies to the world of the All-Buddha-Tathagata. O good man! The sravakas and pratyekabuddhas may call these four the things that are limitless. But petty is what is said [by them]; it is not worth talking of. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas should be called the "limitless limitless."

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! It is thus, it is thus! It is just as you, the Holy One, say. What obtains in the world of the All-Buddha-Tathagata does not come within the reach of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. O World-Honoured One! A Bodhisattva abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana and gains a heart of loving-kindness. Is this a great heart of loving-kindness and compassion or not?" The Buddha said: "It is! O good man! The Bodhisattva sees three things as he lives with all beings, which are: 1) people on intimate relations [with him],  2) people of hateful relations, and  3) people who are in between. With those on intimate relations, there are three classes, which are:  1) top,  2) middle,  and  3) low. The same with those involved in hateful relations. This Bodhisattva-mahasattva gives the highest bliss to those with whom he is on the most intimate relations. He also gives the highest bliss all-equally to those of the middle and low grades. He gives some degree of bliss to those whom he hates most, and to a person whose hatred is of middle grade he gives middle-grade bliss, and to him whose hatred is of a low level, he gives the highest bliss. The Bodhisattva thus practises from one to the other, and to the one he most hates he gives middle-grade bliss and to those whom he hates on a middling level and a low level, he gives the highest bliss. He practises and gives the highest bliss all-equally to those of the top, middle and low grades. When the highest bliss is given to one whom he most hates, we say that the heart of loving-kindness has been accomplished. The Bodhisattva, then, whether at the place of his parents or of those whom he most hates, is all-equal in mind, and there exists no mental state of discrimination. O good man! One obtains loving-kindness, but this is not called great loving-kindness."

"O World-Honoured One! Why is it that the Bodhisattva achieves such loving-kindness and yet we do not call it great loving-kindness?"  "O good man! We do not call loving-kindness great loving-kindness, because it [great loving-kindness] is hard to obtain. Why so? For a long time past, over innumerable kalpas, one has amassed “asravas” [defilements, illusions] and not practised what is good. For this reason, one is unable to subdue the mind in a day. O good man! When a pea is dried up, one might try to thrust an awl through it, but one cannot. It is like that. The “asravas” are as hard as that. Try as one might single-mindedly the whole day and night through, one cannot yet subdue them. Also, the dog of a house does not fear people, and the deer of the forest fears man and runs away. Anger is difficult to do away with, like the dog that guards a house; but the heart of loving-kindness easily flees, like the deer in the forest. It is therefore hard to subdue this mind. That is why we do not say "great loving-kindness". Also, next, O good man! When we draw a picture on stone, it always remains thus. But drawn on water, it disappears immediately and its strength does not remain there. Anger is hard to do away with, like a drawing that has been done in stone. A good deed easily disappears, like a picture drawn in water. That is why it is not easy to subdue this mind. A great ball of fire sustains light for a long while; the brightness of a flash of lightning cannot endure long. It is the same here. Anger is a fire-ball; loving-kindness is like lightning. That is why this mind is hard to subdue. Hence, we do not say "great loving-kindness".

"O good man! When a Bodhisattva-mahasattva attains the first soil [“bhumi” - level of a higher Bodhisattva], this is called "great loving-kindness". Why? O good man! The last [i.e. most] evil person is the icchantika. When a Bodhisattva of the first “bhumi” practises great loving-kindness, no discrimination exists in his mind - not even towards an icchantika. As no wrong is seen, no anger arises. For this reason, we indeed call this "great loving-kindness". O good man! He deprives all beings of what gives no benefit. This is great loving-kindness. He desires to give an uncountable amount of benefit and bliss to all beings. This is great compassion. He plants joy in the minds of all beings. This is great sympathetic joy. There is no guarding or protecting. This is great equanimity [“upeksha”]. My Dharma does not see one's own existence and self; what is seen is that all things are viewed all-equally and with no divided mind. This is great equanimity. One forsakes one's own bliss and gives it to others. This is great equanimity [or: great relinquishment].

"O good man! The only thing there is here is that these four limitless minds well enable the Bodhisattva to increase and perfect the six paramitas [perfections]. Things are not necessarily thus regarding others' actions. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva first gains the four limitless minds that pertain to the world. Later, he aspires to unsurpassed Bodhichitta [resolve to win Enlightenment]. And by degrees he gains what concerns those of the supramundane world. O good man! From the limitedness of the secular world, one obtains the unlimitedness of the supramundane world. Hence, we say "great limitlessness."

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! We say that the benefitless is done away with and that benefit and bliss are given. Truth to tell, nothing happens. Thinking thus is surely false. No real fruition comes about. O World-Honoured One! This is as when a bhiksu meditates on impurity and regards what he is wearing as leather, which it actually is not. He thinks that what he eats is worms. But here too, it is not really worms. He regards a beautiful soup as a defiled liquid, but it is not really anything defiled. He regards the cream that he eats as the marrow of the brain, but actually it is not a brain. He meditates on the crushed powder of bones and regards it as parched barley flour. And yet it is not really parched barley flour. The same with the case of the four limitless minds. There is not really any benefiting of beings, nor any giving to them of bliss. The mouth speaks about bliss being given. But no such thing comes about. It such a meditation not false? O World-Honoured One! If it is the case that falsehood does not exist here, but bliss [truly] is given, why is it that all beings do not gain bliss by the miraculous powers of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? If no bliss results in any true sense, it must be as the Buddha says: "I call to mind that in days gone by I practised loving-kindness and through seven successive stages of the dissolution and re-arising of the world in this kalpa aeon, I did not get born here. When the world was born, I saw my birth in the heaven of Brahma, and when the world underwent dissolution, I was born in the heaven of Abhasvara. Born in the heaven of Brahma, one has unmolested [i.e. unrestricted] power and cannot ever be subdued. Of the thousand Brahmas, the most superb is Great Brahma. All beings considered me as the most superb. Thirty-six times I became Sakrodevanamindra, the King of Trayastrimsa Heaven, and innumerable hundreds of thousands of times a chakravartin. Only by practising the Way of the heart of loving-kindness did I gain the fruits of man and heaven."  If not true, how could things be in accord with this meaning?"

The Buddha said: Well said, well said, O good man! You are, indeed, brave and fear nothing." And for Kasyapa's sake, he spoke in a gatha:

"If one does not feel anger

Even towards a single being

And prays to give bliss to such a being,

This is loving-kindness.

If one has compassion

For all beings,

This is the holy seed.

Endless is the recompense.

Even if the five-powered rishis filled this earth

And gave to Mahesvara elephants, horses

And their various possessions,

The reward gained would not equal

One sixteenth of one [impulse of] loving-kindness

That is practised."

"O good man! Practising loving-kindness is true and does not come from a false mind. It is clearly the truth. The loving-kindness of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas is that which is false. With all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, what there is [there] is the true, and not what is false. How do we know this? O good man! As the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises the Way of Great Nirvana, he meditates upon earth and [mentally] turns it into gold, and meditates upon gold and turns it into earth, earth into water, water into fire, fire into water, earth into wind, and wind into earth. All appears as willed, and nothing is false. He meditates upon real beings and makes them into non-beings, and turns non-beings into real beings. All appears as willed and nothing is false. O good man! Know that the four limitless minds of a Bodhisattva come about from true thinking and are not what is untrue.

"Also, next, O good man! Why is it called true thinking? Because it thoroughly does away with all defilements. O good man! Now, a person who practises loving-kindness uproots all greed; one who practises compassion uproots anger; one who practises sympathetic joy uproots unhappiness; one who practises equanimity uproots greed, anger and all the aspects of things that beings have. Hence, we call this true thinking.

"Also, next, O good man! The four limitless minds of a Bodhisattva-mahasattva form the root of all good deeds. O good man! If the Bodhisattva-mahasattva does not see a poverty-stricken being, there cannot be any arising of compassion. If the compassionate mind does not arise, there will not arise any thought of giving. By means of the causal relations of giving, he bestows on beings peace and bliss. These are drink, food, vehicles, clothing, flowers, incense, bedsteads, houses, and lamps. When giving is done in this way, there is no bond in the mind and no greed arises. He definitely transfers the merit hereof to unsurpassed Enlightenment. The mind does not sit on time. The false mind is forever done away with; what is done is not done out of fear, for fame or profit. It does not seek the world of humans or gods; whatever pleasure is gained does not evoke arrogance; it does not look for rewards; giving is not done to cheat others; it does not seek wealth or respect. When giving is performed, no discrimination [distinction] is made as to whether the recipient has upheld the moral precepts or transgressed, whether he is a true field of weal or a bad field of weal, whether learned or unlearned. When giving is performed, no discrimination is drawn between the right and wrong of the vessel; no difference is seen between the right or wrong time or place. One does not think about whether there is a famine or plenitude of things and bliss. No discrimination is made as to the cause or the result thereof, or to worrying about what is right [worthy] or not right about the recipient, or whether he is rich or not rich. Also, the Bodhisattva does not trouble to look into any difference as to whether the recipient is a person who gives or one who receives, what the thing is that is given, or ceasing, or the recompense for what is given. The only thing that is done is that giving is performed without cessation.

"O good man! If the Bodhisattva looked to the upholding or infringing of the precepts, or the results thereof, there could not be any giving to the end. If there is no giving, there cannot be perfection of the danaparamita [transcendent giving]. If there is no danaparamita, there cannot be any arriving at unsurpassed Enlightenment."  

"O good man! As an illustration: there is a man who has been struck by a poisoned arrow. His relatives call in a doctor to releave him of the poison and mean to extract the arrow. The man says: "Don't touch me for a moment! I shall think: [From where did such an arrow come? Who discharged it? Was it a Kshatriya, a Brahmin, a Vaishya or Sudra]."  He also thinks: "What type of wood is this? Bamboo or willow? By whom was the iron barb made? Is it strong or soft? What bird does the feather of the arrow come from? Is it from a crow, an owl, or an eagle? What is the poison made from? Is it man-made or natural? Is it a human poison or from a poisonous snake?"  An ignorant person like this can never reach the end of trying to know about all these things. Then, his life will depart. O good man! It is the same with the Bodhisattva. If, when giving, he were to seek to know whether the recipient had upheld or violated the precepts, what the effect of the gift might be - he would not be able to give, to the very end. If there is no giving, then danaparamita will not have been accomplished. If danaparamita is not accomplished, there cannot be the attainment of unsurpassed Enlightenment.

"Also, next, O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises giving, his kind heart sees all beings equally, like unto his own only son. Additionally when giving, his compassionate heart bestirs itself, as when a father and mother look at their own son who is ill. When giving, his heart feels joy, as when the father and mother see their child's illness cured. When giving is performed, his mind is away from [not attached to] what is given, as when a father and mother see their son already grown up and living by himself.

"This Bodhisattva-mahasattva always vows when he benevolently gives food: "I now give this and share it with all beings and intend that by the causal relations of this act all beings should attain the food of Great Wisdom and with effort transfer the merit thereof to unsurpassed Mahayana. I pray that all beings will gain the food of Good Wisdom and that they will not seek the food of the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. I pray that all beings will gain the food of the joy of Dharma and not seek the food of craving. I pray that all beings will gain the food of prajnaparamita [transcendent Wisdom] in abundance and that they will have the unobstructed and best root of good, which will grow greater. I pray that all beings will understand and attain the phase of the Void and perfect the unhindered body and become like space. I pray that all beings will always pity all for the sake of those who receive and will become a field of blessings."  O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, when practising the heart of loving-kindness, should firmly pray thus in regard to any food that is given.

"Also, next, O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, with a heart of loving-kindness, gives drink [to someone], he should always vow: "I share what I now give with all beings. By reason of this act, they will walk towards the river of Mahayana and partake of the water of the eight tastes, so that they can take to the path of unsurpassed Enlightenment, segregate themselves from the thirst of the sravakas and pratyeka-buddhas, and long for the unexcelled Buddha Vehicle. [I pray] that they will segregate themselves from the thirst of the defilements, and long for the food of Dharma, that they will part from the love of birth-and-death, entertain loving thoughts towards the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana, be perfect in the Dharma-Body, gain all samadhis and enter the great sea of Wisdom. I pray that all beings will partake of the taste of renunciation, abandon greed, and attain silence and quietude. I pray that all beings become perfect in the countless hundreds of thousands of tastes of Dharma. Perfect in the taste of Dharma, they will see the Buddha-Nature, and having seen the Buddha-Nature, they will rain down the rain of Dharma, and having rained down the rain of Dharma, the Buddha-Nature will overspread all like space. Also, [I pray that] all the other countless beings will attain the oneness of taste of the Dharma of Mahayana. This is not the taste of all the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. I pray that all beings will gain the oneness of sweet taste and that there will not be any discriminative difference of the six kinds. I pray that all will solely seek the taste of Dharma, the unhindered taste of Buddhist actions and that they will not seek other tastes."  O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, with a heart of loving-kindness, bestows drink [upon others], he should take such a vow."

"Also, next, O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, with his heart of loving-kindness, gives away vehicles, he should always pray: "I shall share what I now give with all beings, and by reason of this I shall cause all beings to become perfect in the Mahayana and abide in it. And they will not step back from the vehicle which will be unshakable and adamantine. What will be sought will not be the sravaka or pratyekabuddha vehicle, but the Buddha vehicle, an unbeaten [indestructible] vehicle, a vehicle that is not weak and is lacking in no part, one that does not fall over or sink down, the unsurpassed vehicle, the ten-powered vehicle, the great-virtue vehicle, the incomparable vehicle, the rarest of vehicles, the difficult-to-find vehicle, the boundless vehicle, and the omniscient vehicle."  O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, with his heart of loving-kindness, gives away a vehicle, he should always take such vows.

"Also, next, O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, with his heart of loving-kindness, gives clothing [to a person], he should always pray: "I shall always share what I now give with all beings, and through this I shall enable all beings to gain the clothing of repentance and let the Dharma-world cover their body and rend asunder the clothes of all twisted views. A robe will be put on parts of the body one foot and six inches. The body that shines is golden; its touch is soft and unobstructed; its colour is brilliant; its skin is soft and delicate. The Eternal Light is unending and is colourless. I pray that all beings will gain the colourless body and part from all colours, and attain Great Nirvana."  O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva gives away clothing, he should definitely take such vows.

"Also, next, O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, practising loving-kindness, gives flowers, incense, smearing incense, powdered incense or various other kinds of incense, he should always vow: "I share with all beings what I now give, and I pray that, through this, all beings will attain the Buddha-flower samadhi, and that I shall enable them to put on their head the wonderful wig of the seven Bodhi elements. I pray that all beings will look like the full moon and that their complexion will be wonderful and best. I pray that beings will look one and be adorned with a hundred blessings. I pray that all beings will gain whatever colour they desire to have. I pray that all beings will encounter a good friend of the Way and gain the incense of unhinderedness and do away with all evil smells and defilements. I pray that all beings will be armed with the roots of good and possess rare gems. I pray that, when they see, they will feel happy and have no apprehension or sorrow, that they will all be garbed in every good deed, and that they will have no anxieties. I pray that all beings will be completely perfect in the incense of the precepts and that the fragrance of this incense will fill all the ten directions. I pray that all beings will be perfect in the precepts that are stubborn [tenacious], the unrepenting precepts, and the precepts of all Wisdom; that they will segregate themselves from all acts of precept-violation, that they will gain a state totally away from the precepts [not separate from the precepts], the precepts that are unprecedented, the precepts that need no teacher, the precepts of non-action, the untainted precepts, the last-attained, absolute and all-equal precepts. There shall be undefiled shila [precepts], no favouring, no vengeance, no good, no bad, all will be equal, with no hating and no loving. I pray that all beings will gain the topmost, the Mahayana, and the non-Hinayana precepts. I pray that all beings will be perfect in shilaparamita [transcendent morality] and also be equal to the precepts attained by all Buddhas. I pray that all beings may be suffused with the incense of giving, precept-upholding, forbearance, effort, meditation, and Wisdom. I pray that all beings will be accomplished in the all-wonderful lotus of Great Nirvana, and that the fragrance thereof will fill the ten directions. I pray that all beings will partake of the unsurpassed dishes of Great Nirvana of Mahayana and that they will act as the bee does that calls at a flower, taking along with it only its fragrance. I pray that all beings will achieve a body suffused with the incense of innumerable virtues."  O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva should definitely always vow as in the above way when he abides in the heart of loving-kindness and bestows flowers and incense.

"Also, next, O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, with a heart of loving-kindness, gives away bedding, he should always vow: "I pray that I shall share amongst all beings what I now give and that, through this, all beings will obtain the bed which one sees in the Buddha-country, that they will attain great Wisdom and dwell in the four dhyanas [deep meditative states]; [I pray] that they will sleep on the bed which the Bodhisattva uses, not sleeping on those of the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. I pray that all beings will sleep on peaceful beds, abandoning the bed of birth-and-death and will sleep in the lion's bed of Great Nirvana. I pray that all beings will gain this bed, and later, for the sake of innumerable other beings, will move from place to place and manifest the lion's play [sport] of all divine powers. I pray that all beings will live in the great palace of Mahayana and will preach the Buddha-Nature for the benefit of all beings. I pray that all beings will sleep in the unexcelled bed, one not subject to worldy dharmas. I pray that all beings will gain the bed of patience, thus parting from birth and death, famine, frost, and hunger. I pray that all beings will attain the bed of fearlessness and part from all the worries of the vengeance of defilement. I pray that all beings will gain the untainted bed and look for the unsurpassed right Way. I pray that all beings will gain the bed of Wonderful Dharma and always be under the protection of a good friend of the teaching. I pray that all beings will be able to sleep on their right side and abide in the Dharma of all Buddhas."  O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, with a heart of loving-kindness, gives away bedding, he should vow thus.