Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

The "Nirvana Sutra" Continued (O)

"Also, next, O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, abiding in his heart of loving-kindness, gives away a house for someone to live in, he should vow: "I shall share what I now give with all beings and, by this means, I intend to have all beings dwell in the house of Mahayana and practise the Way as practised by good friends of the Way, so that they will be able to practise such as great compassion, the six paramitas, the great, true Enlightenment, the ways and practices that all Bodhisattvas follow, the boundlessly vast ways that are like space. I pray that all beings will attain the right [state of] mind and segregate themselves from all evil thoughts. I pray that all beings will peacefully abide in what is Eternal, Bliss, Self, and Purity, parting from the four inversions [of Truth]. I pray that all beings will learn what is written about the supramundane. I pray that all beings will unfailingly become the vessels of unsurpassed Wisdom. I pray that all beings will enter the house of amrta [immortality]. I pray that all beings will enter the house of Nirvana of Mahayana at their first thought, second thought, and last thought. I pray that all beings will, in the days to come, dwell in the place where the Bodhisattvas live."  O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, with his heart of loving-kindness, gives away houses, he should definitely always take such vows.

”Also, next, O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, from his heart of loving-kindness, gives away lamp-light [lamps], he should always pray: "I shall share what I now give with all beings, and through this shall enable beings to be blessed with limitless light and to abide in the Buddhist teaching. I pray that all beings will gain the light of the lamp. I pray that all beings will be blessed with the light that is all-wonderful and best. I pray that all beings will be blessed with eyes that are clear, bright, and unclouded. I pray that all beings will gain the great Light of Wisdom and grasp the fact that they have no self, no phase of a being, man, or life. I pray that all beings will see the pristine Buddha-Nature, which is as of space. I pray that all beings will be blessed with the pure fleshly eye, so that they will be able to see the depths of the worlds of the ten directions, which are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. I pray that all beings will be blessed with the light of the Buddha and will shine over all the ten directions. I pray that all beings will be blessed with unobstructed insight, so that they will be able to see the pristine Buddha-Nature. I pray that all beings will be blessed with the light of great Wisdom and destroy all gloom and the [state of mind of] the icchantika. I pray that the limited light of all beings will shine over all the innumerable Buddha-lands. I pray that all beings will light the lamp of Mahayana and be released from the lock of the two vehicles. I pray that the light with which all beings will be blessed will break the gloom of ignorance for over a thousand days. I pray that all beings will be blessed with the light of a fire-ball and will do away with the gloom of the 3,000 great-thousand worlds. I pray that all beings will perfect the Five Eyes [i.e. the physical eye, the deva-eye, the eye of Wisdom, the Dharma-eye, and the Eye of a Buddha] and will awaken to the true aspect of all things and attain the teacherless light. I pray that all beings will have no clinging views or ignorance. I pray that all beings will be blessed with the wonderful light of Great Nirvana of the Mahayana and will show all beings the Buddha-Nature.” O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, from his heart of loving-kindness, gives away lamp-light, he should always vow thus. O good man! “All the roots of good of all sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, and all Tathagatas have as their foundation loving-kindness”. O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises the heart of loving-kindness, he gains all such innumerable roots of good as: [mindfulness of] the impure [“asubha-smrti” - awareness of the impurity of the carnal body], [meditation upon] the exhalation and inhalation of the breath [“anapana-smrti”], [awareness of] impermanence, birth-and-death, the four mindfulnesses [“catursmrtyupasthana” - mindfulness of the impurity of the body, mindfulness of feeling as suffering, mindfulness of the mind as impermanent, and mindfulness of dharmas as contingent, without a separate, exclusive nature of their own], the seven expedients, the three views of existence, the twelve links of interdependent arising, meditation on impermanence, etc., “usmagata, ksanti” [patience], “laukikagradharma” [prime-in-the-world condition, or first-of-the-world-root-of-good], “darshana-marga” [the path of seeing], “bhavana-marga” [path of meditation], right-effort-and-at-willness, all roots and powers, the seven factors of Enlightenment [mindfulness, discriminative investigation of Dharma, vigour in practice, supersensuous rapture, pacification of body and mind, concentration, and equanimity], the eight paths [Noble Eightfold Path], the four dhyanas, the four limitless minds, the eight emancipations, the eight superior places, the ten-all-places, knowledge of mind-reading [“para-cetan-paryaya-jnana”], and other divine powers, the utmost-fathoming knowledge, the sravaka-knowledge, the pratyekabuddha-knowledge, Bodhisattva-knowledge, and Buddha-Knowledge. O good man! All such have as their foundation loving-kindness. O good man! For this reason, loving-kindness is true, and is not what is false. “If any person asks about the root of any aspect of good, say that it is loving-kindness. Thus, this is true and not false.

"O good man! A person who performs good is [one of] true thinking". True thinking is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. Loving-kindness is Mahayana. Mahayana is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. The Tathagata is loving-kindness. O good man! Loving-kindness is Great Brahma. Great Brahma is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness acts as the parent to all beings. The parent is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is what exists in the inconceivable world of all Buddhas. What exists in the inconceivable world of all Buddhas is at once loving-kindness. Know that loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is the Buddha-Nature of all beings. Such a Buddha-Nature has long been overshadowed by defilements. That is why all beings are unable to see. The Buddha-Nature is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is the great firmament. The great firmament is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is space. Space is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is the Eternal. The Eternal is Dharma. Dharma is the Sangha. The Sangha is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is Bliss. Bliss is Dharma. Dharma is the Sangha. The Sangha is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is the Pure. The Pure is Dharma. Dharma is the Sangha. The Sangha is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is the Self. The Self is Dharma. Dharma is the Sangha. The Sangha is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is amrta [immortality]. Amrta is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Buddha-Nature. The Buddha-Nature is Dharma. Dharma is the Sangha. The Sangha is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is the supreme Way of all Bodhisattvas. The Way is loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is the Tathagata. O good man! Loving-kindness is the limitless world of the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One. The limitless world is loving-kindness. Know that loving-kindness is the Tathagata."

"O good man! If loving-kindness is non-eternal, the non-eternal is loving-kindness. Know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka [i.e. inferior, not the Ultimate]. If loving-kindness is suffering, suffering is loving-kindness. Know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness is impure, the impure is loving-kindness. Know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness is non-Self, non-Self is loving-kindness. Know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness is the mind of defilement, the mind of defilement is loving-kindness. Know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness cannot be called danaparamita, this is the loving-kindness of non-dana. Know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka. And the same with prajnaparamita. O good man! If loving-kindness cannot benefit all beings, any such loving-kindness is none but that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness does not get into the one mode of the Way, know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness [does not] awaken to all dharmas, know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness cannot see the Tathagata-Nature, know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness is of the “asravas” [spiritual defilements], such loving-kindness of the “asravas” is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness is the created, the loving-kindness of the created is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness cannot gain the first “bhumi”  [first stage of a higher Bodhisattva], that loving-kindness which is not of the first “bhumi” is, know, that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness acquires the ten powers and the four fearlessnesses of the Buddha, know that this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka. O good man! If loving-kindness [merely] gains the four fruitions of Hinayana practice, this loving-kindness is that of the sravaka."     

"O good man! If loving-kindness is an is" or not-is", neither is nor not-is", such loving-kindness is not something that can be known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. O good man! If loving-kindness is inconceivable, Dharma is inconceivable. The Buddha-Nature is inconceivable. The Tathagata too is inconceivable. O good man! If the Bodhisattva-mahasattva abides in the Mahaparinirvana of Mahayana and practises loving-kindness, he is not asleep even when resting in sleep, because he is all-effort. Though awake, he is not awake, because there is no sleeping with him. Though the gods guard him, there is none that guards, since there is none that does evil. Though sleeping, there is no dreaming of evil, because he has no evil and is far from sleeping. After death, he is born in the heaven of Brahma, but there is no birth, as he is unmolested [unrestricted]. O good man! A person who practises loving-kindness indeed accomplishes such infinite and boundless virtues. O good man! This all-wonderful sutra of Mahaparinirvana, too, accomplishes such infinite and boundless virtues. O good man! The All-Buddha-Tathagata, too, is accomplished in such infinite and boundless virtues."

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "All thinkings of the Bodhisattva are all true and the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas are not true. Why are all beings not blessed with joy and bliss, with the divine powers of the Bodhisattvas? If all beings do not attain bliss, we can know that the loving-kindness practised by the Bodhisattva is fruitless."

The Buddha said: "O good man! It is not the case that the loving-kindness of the Bodhisattva does not generate benefit. O good man! Beings can be those who unfailingly suffer or who do not. To those beings who, without fail, have to suffer, the loving-kindness of the Bodhisattva has no benefit to bestow. This refers to the icchantika. To those for whom suffering is not unfailingly their lot, the loving-kindness of the Bodhisattva generates benefit and all beings enjoy happiness. O good man! It is, for example, like the case of a person who sees in the distance a lion, tiger, leopard, jackal, wolf, rakshasa [flesh-devouring demon] or other creature, and fear comes about of itself, or a person who is out walking at night and sees a pole sticking up out of the ground, and fear arises. O good man! All such people spontaneously gain fear. When beings see a person practising loving-kindness, bliss spontaneously arises. For this reason, we can say that the Bodhisattva's practising of loving-kindness is true thinking and is not without benefit.

"O good man! There are innumerable gates to the loving-kindness about which I speak. These are the divine powers. It is as in the case of Devadatta, who instigated Ajatasatru [to kill his own father] and who tried to harm the Tathagata. At that time, I was in Rajagriha, begging alms from house to house. King Ajatasatru let loose a crazed and maddened elephant that he used for protecting his household possessions, and tried to harm me and my disciples. At that time, the elephant trampled and killed a good hundred-thousand people. As the people were being killed, blood flowed. The elephant smelt it and his frenzy increased. I, on seeing the red colour on the clothing of the followers, said: Blood!" And I saw my disciples run. Those who had not yet done away with the mind of desire ran in all directions, except for Ananda. Then the people of Rajagriha wept and cried loudly and said: It is most certain that the Tathagata's life will come to an end today. How can the Truly Enlightened One die in the course of just a day?" Then Devadatta rejoiced: It is very good that Sramana Gautama is going to die. From now on, there truly will be no more of what obtained before. How good it is that things stand thus! I have gained my end!" O good man! With the intention of subduing the household elephant, I entered the samadhi of loving-kindness. I held out my hand and opened it, bringing out five lions from my five fingers. The elephant, on seeing these, released his urine and excrement, and threw his body down upon the ground and worshipped me. O good man! I did not [actually] have any lions on my fingers. Due to the power of good from practising loving-kindness, the elephant was thus subdued.

"Also, next, O good man! To enter Nirvana, I took my first steps towards Kusinagara. There were 500 wrestlers who were making the middle part of the road flat. There was a rock there. All were hard at it, trying to shift the rock, but they could not. I felt pity; loving-kindness arose. I then, with the big toe of my foot, lifted up this big stone and kicked it up into the air. It then fell back down upon the palm of my hand. I puffed and made it into powder. It again gathered itself together and became a stone. This was done to kill the wrestlers' arrogant minds. Thus effecting an expedient, I spoke to them of the Way and caused them to aspire to supreme Enlightenment. O good man! The Tathagata, at that time, kicked up that big stone with his toes, threw it up into the air and made it come down again onto my right-hand palm. I puffed on it and turned it into powder and made it join up again. O good man! Know that the power of goodness of loving-kindness enabled all the wrestlers to see this spectacle. Also, next, O good man! Here in South India, there is a big castle called Surparaka. In this castle lived a rich man whose name was Ruci. He led the people. He had already done much good in the past at the sites of innumerable Buddhas. O good man! All the inhabitants of that castle were pursuing wrong faiths, serving the Nirgranthas. As I desired to teach this rich man, I travelled on to this castle town. The distance was 65 yojanas [yojana=15-20 kilometres]. The Buddha covered the distance on foot, followed by his retinue. This was to teach the people. The Nirgranthas, on hearing that I was coming to the castle-town, thought: If Sramana Gautama comes here, everybody will abandon us and not give any more offerings to us. We shall be hard-pressed. How are we to sustain our lives?" All the Nirgranthas went here and there and said to the people of the castle-town: "Sramana Gautama is about to come here. But all sramanas are people who have deserted their parents and have gone east and west. Wherever they go, the cereal fails and the people suffer from hunger and many have died. Illnesses prevail and there is no means of saving people. Gautama is a vagabond and is followed by evil rakshasas and demons. All are lonely solitaries, without father or mother. They come and praise and follow him. He teaches emptiness. Wherever he goes, there is no peace." The people, on hearing this, became frightened and touched the feet of Nirgrantha, saying: O great one! What are we to do?" Nirgrantha answered: "Sramana Gautama, by nature, loves forests, rivers, ponds, and pure water. If there are any such things, have them destroyed. All of you go out of the town together, fell the trees, do not leave one standing. Fill the rivers, ponds, and wells with dirty things. Close the castle gates. Have soldiers with you, stick to the bulwarks and keep unrelenting watch! He may come, but do not allow him to enter. If he does not come, you will be safe.

We, too, shall think of some means and drive him back. All the people heard this and respectfully did as they were told. They felled all the trees, made all the watery places dirty, and strongly armed themselves for protection. O good man! When I arrived there, I could not see any trees or forest; all I could see were the people bearing arms and standing by the castle walls on guard. On seeing this, compassion welled up within me, and with a heart full of loving-kindness I stepped forward. Then all the trees came back and looked just as they had before. And all the trees, whose number was beyond reckoning, grew again. The water of the rivers, ponds, wells, and springs was all pure and full, like blue vaidurya. All kinds of flowers spread out in profusion. The bulwarks looked like dark-blue vaidurya. The people could all easily see me and my retinue. The gates opened by themselves, with nothing stopping them. All the weapons changed into various flowers. Led by Ruci, all the people came out to see me. I then spoke about many things connected with Dharma and caused them all to aspire to unsurpassed Enlightenment. O good man! I, at that time, called forth all those trees artificially and filled the streams, rivers, and ponds with pure water. I made the main castle transform itself and look like dark-blue vaidurya. I let the people all see through me. I made the gates open and caused all the weapons to be transformed into flowers. O good man! Know that the power of good of loving-kindness enabled those people to see such things.

"Also, next, O good man! There was in the castle of Sravasti a woman called Vasistha. She had a son whom she loved very much. This son died from an illness. Then sorrow poisoned her [mind] and she became mad. She stripped off all her clothing and felt no shame. She wandered about the crossways and wept and cried: O my child, my child! Where have you gone?" She walked [unceasingly] around the castle-town and there was no stopping her. But this woman had already amassed virtue at the place of the Buddha before. O good man! I could not help but sympathise with her. She saw me and thought of her son [i.e. thought I was her son] and came back to herself. She came up to me and embraced me as though I were her own son. I then said to my follower, Ananda: "Go and fetch some clothing and give it to her." After having given her some clothing, I told her various things of the Way. Having heard about the Way, the woman was overjoyed and aspired to unsurpassed Enlightenment. O good man! I, at that time, was not her son; she was not my mother. Also, there was no embracing. O good man! Know that this was but the power of the good act of loving-kindness, through which that woman saw such things."

"Also, next, O good man! At the castle of Varanasi, there was an upasika [female lay Buddhist] called Mahasenadatta, who had already done various good deeds at the places of innumerable Buddhas before. This upasika invited the Sangha [to be her guests] for 90 days in the summer and offered the Sangha medicine. At that time, there was a bhiksu who was seriously ill. A good doctor saw him and prescribed human flesh. If flesh were given, the illness would at once retreat. If not, his life would be at stake. On hearing the words of the doctor, the upasika took some gold and went about the town, saying: "Who can sell me human flesh? I want to buy some. I will give gold equal to the amount of flesh." She went about the town, but nobody gave her any. Then the upasika cut off some from her own thigh. She made a hot meal, scented it, and gave it to the bhiksu. After he had partaken of it, his illness was cured. [But] the pain the upasika had from her wound was so great that she could not stand it and cried out: "Namo Buddhaya, namo Buddhaya!" [adoration of Buddha]. I was in Sravasti at that time and heard her voice. Great pity took hold of me for this upasika. The woman, on receiving some good medicine from me, applied it to her wound. A cure ensued, and all was as before. I told her wonderful things about the Way. On hearing them, she was overjoyed and aspired to supreme Bodhi. O good man! I, at that time, did not go to Varanasi Castle, take medicine with me and smear it over the upasika's body. O good man! Know that all of this came from the power inherent in the good deed of loving-kindness, which enabled the upasika to experience these things.

"Also, next, O good man! Devadatta, the evil-hearted one, was greedy beyond measure. He ate a lot of butter and got a headache and a swollen belly, and the pain was so great that he could not endure it. He said: "Namo Buddhaya, namo Buddhaya!" At that time, I was living in the castle-town of Ujjaini. Hearing his voice, pity overtook me. Then Devadatta saw me come to him, rub his head and belly, give him hot salt water and make him partake of it. Having partaken of it, he regained his health. O good man! I did not go to where Devadatta was, rub his head and belly, or give him hot water. O good man! All of this arose from the power of virtue inherent in the good deed of loving-kindness, so that Devadatta was able to see all of this.

"Also, next, O good man! In the state of Kosala, there were 500 robbers. This robber-band plundered and wreaked much havoc. Worried over their misdeeds, King Prasenajit dispatched some soldiers who, hiding under cover, caught the band. Having been caught, their eyes were taken out, and they were taken to a dark forest and left there. These robbers had, in the past, planted virtue under the Buddha. Having lost their eyes and in great pain, they cried out: "Namo Buddhaya, namo Buddhaya! We now have no one to help us." They wept and cried out loudly. I was staying at Jetavana at that time. On hearing their cry, loving-kindness overcame me. Then a cool wind sprang up, which blew and filled the cavities of their eyes with fragrant medicine. Then their eyes returned, and there was no difference from before. The robbers opened their eyes and saw that the Buddha was standing before them, preaching Dharma. Having heard the sermon, the robbers aspired to unsurpassed Enlightenment. O good man! I, at that time, did not cause the cool wind to arise and waft fragrant medicine; nor did I stand before them. O good man! Know that this was all the result of the power of the goodness of loving-kindness that made things thus come about.

"Also, next, O good man! Prince Vidudabha, due to ignorance, did away with his father and ascended the throne. Also, recalling a long-standing hatred, he killed many of the Shakya clan [i.e. the Buddha's own clan]. 12,000 Shakya women were taken prisoner. As a punishment, their ears and noses were chopped off. Their hands and legs were cut off, and they were thrown into holes and trenches. Then the females, oppressed by pain, said: "Namo Buddhaya, namo Buddhaya! We are helpless." They also wept and cried. All of these females had already amassed virtue in [the time of] Buddhas before. On that occasion I was at the Bamboo Grove. Hearing their cry, loving-kindness overtook me. All the females saw that I, at that time, had come to Kapilavastu and that I was washing their wounds with water and applying medicine to them. Their pain gradually abated, and their ears, noses, hands and legs were restored to them, just as before. I then, in a simple way, spoke about the essence of Dharma and they all aspired to unsurpassed Enlightenment. They were ordained at the place of Mahaprajapati [i.e. the Buddha's aunt and adoptive mother] and received the upasampada. O good man! It was not the case that the Tathagata, at that time, went to Kapilavastu and washed their wounds with water, applied medicine and stopped the pain. O good man! Know that this came about as a result of the power of good inherent in loving-kindness, which enabled the women to experience these things.

"It is the same with compassion and sympathetic joy, too. O good man! For this reason, the thinking [mental state] of loving-kindness practised by the Bodhisattva-mahasattva is true and not false. O good man! "Limitless" means "inconceivable". What the Bodhisattva does is inconceivable. What the Buddha does, is also inconceivable. The same applies to this Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra, too, which is likewise inconceivable."