Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

The "Nirvana Sutra" Continued (Z1)

Chapter Thirty-Five: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (c)

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! You the Buddha say that all things have two causes. One is the right cause and the other the condition. Through these, there cannot be any breaking away from bondage. The five skandhas appear and die out moment after moment. If these appear and die out, who binds and unbinds? O World-Honoured One! The present five skandhas call forth the five skandhas that follow. This skandha dies out by itself and does not shift on to another skandha. Though not shifting on, this can well call forth the other skandha. From a seed, we gain a bud. But the seed does not shift on to the bud. Though it does not shift on to the bud, it indeed calls forth the bud. The same is the case with beings. How do we undo bondage?"

"O good man! Listen carefully, listen carefully. I shall now explain [matters] to you minutely. O good man! When a person is going to die and faces the greatest of sorrows, the relatives gather around, weep, and are lost in sorrow. The person himself is in fear and knows of no help. He has his five sense-organs, but the sense-function does not work. His limbs shake and he indeed cannot hold [maintain] his own body. The body is empty and cold, and warmth is about to depart. He sees before his own eyes all the karmic results of what he has done.

"O good man! The sun is about to go down over the horizon, and the mountains and hills and mounds present shadows which shift on to the east. Reason tells [us] that there cannot be any moving to the west. It is the same with the fruition of a man's karma. When this skandha dies, another arises. When light appears, gloom dies out; when the light vanishes, the gloom appears. O good man! When a stamp [seal] of wax is pressed into mud, the stamp becomes one with the mud. The stamp dies out, and there appear letters. And yet, this wax stamp does not change into mud, and those letters come about from mud. They do not come about from anywhere else. They come about by reason of the causal relations of the stamp. Things obtain thus.

"When the skandhas of the present life die out, an in-between existence comes about. It is not that the skandhas of the present life change into the skandhas of the in-between five skandhas. And, also, the in-between five skandhas do not come about by themselves. They do not come about from anywhere else. Through the present skandhas come about the in-between skandhas. The stamp presses upon the mud. It dies out and letters emerge. The name does not differ. But the time of each differs. Such is the case. That is why I say: "The in-between five skandhas cannot be seen with the fleshly eye; they are what can be seen with the heavenly eye." The in-between skandhas feed on three kinds of food:  1) food of thought,  2) food of touch,  3) food of will. The in-between skandhas are made up of two kinds, which are:  1) good karmic fruition, and  2) evil karmic fruition. From good action comes about the consciousness of good karma, and from evil action the consciousness of evil [results].

"When the parents join together in sexual union, the causal relations call forth the direction in which the life must proceed. The mother gains craving [“trishna”] and the father anger. When the semen of the father comes forth, he says: "This is mine." At that, his mind becomes pleased. These three kinds of defilement crush out the in-between skandhas of causal relations and the subsequent five skandhas come about. This is comparable to how the stamp gets impressed into the mud and letters emerge.

"When appearing, all the sense-organs are perfect or imperfect. One who is equipped thus sees "matter" [i.e. physical form] and acquires greed. Greed arises, which is craving. By madness, greed comes about. This is ignorance. Through the causal relations of greedy craving and ignorance, the world that is seen is all upside-down. The non-Eternal is viewed as Eternal, the non-Self as the Self, non-Bliss as Bliss, and the non-Pure as the Pure. From these four inversions, good and bad actions are committed. Defilement makes karma, and karma activates defilement. This is bondage. On this account, we say born of the five skandhas.

"For this person, when he befriends the Buddha, the Buddha's disciples, and the good teachers of the Way, and when he listens to the 12 types of sutra, because of his hearing Dharma, there comes about a realm of good. When he sees the realm of good, he gains great Wisdom. Great Wisdom is right seeing. When he gains [such] seeing, he repents of the life of birth and death. In consequence of this regret, no joy arises [regarding samsara - birth and death]. When he gains no joy, he truly destroys the greedy mind. When he destroys the greedy mind, he practises well the Noble Eightfold Path. When he practises the Noble Eightfold Path, he emerges from birth and death. When there is no birth and death, he gains Emancipation. When fire does not meet with fuel, this is extinction. When there is no more birth and death, we say that we cross over extinction. This is the extinction of the five skandhas."

Lion's Roar said: "There is no thorn in the Void. How can we speak of extracting? None chains the skandhas. How can there be any binding?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! The chain of defilement binds the five skandhas. Away from the five skandhas, there is no defilement; away from defilement, there are no five skandhas.

"O good man! Pillars support a house. Away from the house, there are no pillars, and without any pillars, there is no house. It is the same with the five skandhas of beings. When there is defilement, we speak of bondage. When there is no defilement, we speak of Emancipation. O good man! The fist contains the palm. The three items of bondage, meeting and dispersion, birth and death, are not different things. The same is the case with the five skandhas of beings. When there is defilement, we have bondage; when we have no defilement, there is Emancipation.

"O good man! We say that body-and-mind [“nama-rupa”] chains beings. But if body-and-mind have gone, there is no being. Other than body-and-mind, there is no being; other than the being, there is no other body-and-mind. Also, we say that body-and-mind chains the being, and the being chains the body-and-mind."

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! The eye does not see by itself, the finger does not touch by itself, the sword does not cut by itself, and feeling does not feel by itself. But why does the Tathagata say: "Body-and-mind chains the body-and-mind?" Why? Body-and-mind is none but the being; the being is body-and-mind. If we say that body-and-mind chains the being, this means that body-and-mind chains body-and-mind."

The Buddha said: "O good man! When two hands meet, there cannot be anything that comes in between. It is the same with body-and-mind. That is why I say: "Body-and-mind chains the being." If one is away from body-and-mind, what there is [then] is Emancipation. That is why I say: "The being attains emancipation."

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! If body-and-mind chains one, all arhats are not away from body-and-mind. So they may well be chained."

"O good man! There are two kinds of Emancipation, which are:  1) cutting off of the seed, and  2) cutting off of fruition. The cutting off of the seed is the cutting off of defilement. The arhats have already cut off defilement and the root of all bondage has been severed, so that the bondage of the seed cannot chain [the arhat]. When the root of fruition is not yet cut off, we say that there is yet the bondage of fruition. All arhats do not see the Buddha-Nature. Not seeing this, they cannot gain unsurpassed Enlightenment. For this reason, we may say that there is the bondage of fruition. So, we cannot say that there is a bondage of body-and-mind. O good man! For example, when the oil has not yet been spent, the light of the lamp does not expire. Once the oil is spent, the light goes out. In this, there is nothing to doubt. O good man! The so-called oil is defilement, and the light is the being. All beings do not gain Nirvana, due to the oil of defilement. If this is removed, they gain Nirvana."

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! The nature of light and oil differs. Defilement and the being are not thus. The being is defilement and defilement is the being. The being is the five skandhas and the five skandhas are the being. The five skandhas are defilement and defilement is the five skandhas. Why do you, the Tathagata, liken them to light?"

The Buddha said: "Of analogies, there are eight kinds, namely:  1) progressive analogy,  2) reverse analogy,  3) actual analogy,  4) non-analogy,  5) fore-going analogy,  6) aft-coming analogy,  7) fore-going-and-aft-coming analogy, and  8) all-pervading analogy.

"What is a progressive analogy? It is as when I say in the sutras, for example, heaven sends down great rain, and all the ditches become full. As they are full, small holes get full. As small holes get filled, the great holes too become full. As the great holes become full, small springs become full. As small springs become full, great springs become full. As great springs become full, small ponds become full. As small ponds become full, big ponds become full. When big ponds are full, small rivers become full. When small rivers become full, big rivers become full. When big rivers become full, the great seas become full. The same is the case with the rain of Dharma of the Tathagata.

"The silas [moral behaviour] of beings become full [i.e. perfect]. As the silas are full, the non-repenting mind becomes full. As the non-repenting mind becomes full, there arises joy. As joy arises, segregation [from attachment to the skandhas] comes about. As segregation becomes full, there comes about peace. As peace becomes full, samadhi becomes full. As samadhi becomes full, right seeing-and-knowing becomes full. As right seeing-and-knowing becomes full, renunciation becomes full. As renunciation becomes full, the reproach [i.e. aversion to worldly life] becomes full. As reproaching becomes full, Emancipation becomes full. As Emancipation becomes full, Nirvana becomes full. This is a progressive analogy.

"What is a reverse analogy? Originally there was a great sea. This was a big river. The big river was originally a small river. There was a small river, which was a big pond. There was a big pond originally, which was a small pond. There was a small pond originally, which was a big spring. There was a big spring originally, which was a small spring. There was a small spring, which was a big hole. There was a big hole originally, which was a small hole. There was a small hole originally, which was a ditch. There was a ditch originally, which was great rain.

"There was Nirvana originally, which was Emancipation. There was originally Emancipation, which was reproach. There was reproach originally, which was renunciation. There was renunciation originally, which was right seeing-and-knowing. There was right seeing-and-knowing originally, which was samadhi. There was samadhi originally, which was peace. There was peace originally, which was segregation. There was segregation originally, which was the mind of joy. There was joy originally, which was non-regret. There was non-regret originally, which was the upholding of the precepts. There was upholding of the precepts originally, which was the rain of Dharma. This is an analogy in reverse order.

"What is an actual analogy? It is as when I say in the sutras that the mind of a being is like that of a monkey. The nature of a monkey is to throw [things] away and pick [things] up. The nature of a being is the same. It clings to colour, sound, smell, touch, and law [taste], and there is not a moment when it is at rest. This is an actual analogy.

"What is a non-analogy? It is as when I said to Prasenajit: "O great King! There are intimate friends come from the four quarters, who say: [O great King! There are four great mountains which come from the four quarters and mean to cause harm to man]. Should you, the King, hear of this, what would you intend to do to deal with the situation?" The King said: "O World-Honoured One! They may come, but there is no place in which to take refuge. All one can do is exclusively uphold the precepts and give alms." I praised him and said: "Well said, well siad, O great King! I speak of four mountains. These are none other than the birth, old age, illness, and death of beings. Birth, old age, illness and death always come and press upon a person. How can one not practise the precepts and dana?" The King said: "O World-Honoured One! What does one gain from the precepts and dana?" I said: "One gains pleasure in the life of humans and heaven." The King said: "O World-Honoured One! If the nyagrodha were to practise the precepts and dana, could it call forth peace and bliss [for itself] in the world of humans and heaven?" I said: "The nyagrodha cannot uphold the precepts and give. If it could, there could result nothing that is different." This is a non-analogy.

"What is a fore-going analogy? This is as when I say in the sutra, for example, there is a wonderful flower to which a person clings [i.e. which that person desires].  Intending to take hold of it, he is taken by the water [i.e. falls into the river]. The same is the case with the being. He clings to the five desires and flounders in the river of birth, old age, and death. This is a fore-going analogy.

"What is an aft-coming analogy? It is as is given in the Dharmapada:

"Do not belittle any small evil

And say that no ill comes about therefrom.

Small is a drop of water,

Yet it fills a big vessel."

This is an aft-coming parable.

"What is a fore-and-aft analogy? This is as in the case of a plantain tree, which, when it bears fruit, dies. It is the same with the ignorant, who but receives support. It is as in the case of a mule, which, when it bears a child, cannot live long.

"What is an all-pervading analogy? This is as when I state in the sutra: In Trayastrimsa Heaven, there is a tree called parijata, whose roots go down into the earth five yojanas deep and whose height is as great as 100 yojanas. Its branches and leaves spread out as far as 50 yojanas. When the leaves ripen, they become yellow, and all the gods, on seeing this, are gladdened. These leaves, before long, fall off. When the leaves fall, there comes about joy. This branch changes colour, and joy arises. This branch, before long, gains pimples. Seeing this, joy again comes about. This pimple again calls forth a bill. Having seen this, joy arises again. Not long after the bill opens, a fragrance covers an area of 50 yojanas, and a light shines over a distance of 80 yojanas. All devas [gods], in the three summer months, come down, and there is joy down below.

"O good man! It is the same with all of my disciples. Saying that the leaves become yellow can be likened to my disciples who desire renunciation. Saying that the leaves fall down can be likened to my disciples' shaving their heads. Saying that the colour of the leaves changes refers to my disciples' taking to the “jnaticaturtha” and receiving the complete precepts. Saying that first a pimple appears refers to the disciples' minds aspiring to unsurpassed Bodhi and the bill to the Bodhisattvas of the ten abodes who now gain the Buddha-Nature. Saying that it opens refers to the Bodhisattvas' attaining of unsurpassed Bodhi. "Fragrance" refers to the innumerble beings of the ten directions upholding the precepts. "Light" is likened to the Buddha's name filling the ten directions unhindered. "The three summer months" are comparable to the three samadhis. Saying that in Trayastrimsa Heaven one enjoys bliss is likened to all Buddhas' gaining Great Nirvana and the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure. This is an all-pervading analogy.

"The analogies spoken of do not necessarily cover all [aspects]. They liken things in part, or in greater part, or to the whole. It is as when we say: "The face of the Tathagata is like the full moon." This refers to but a small part.

"O good man! There is a man, for example, who has not yet seen milk. He asks others what it is like: "What kind of thing is milk?" The others answer: "It is like water, honey, and a shell." The water represents moisture, the honey sweetness, and the shell colour. We may employ these three analogies and yet we may not be able to arrive at [an accurate idea of] what milk is. O good man! I may use the analogy of light. But the case will be thus. O good man! There cannot be any river apart from water. The same is the case with beings. Apart from the five skandhas, there can be no other separate being. O good man! Apart from the body, wheels, spokes, and hubs, there cannot be any cart. It is the same with beings.

"O good man! If you deisre to connect this with the analogy of light, listen carefully, listen carefully! I shall now explain it. The wick may be likened to the 25 existences, the oil is craving, and light Wisdom. To break means to exclude gloom and ignorance. Softness is likened to the Holy Way. When the oil is used up, the brightness of the light dies out. The same is the case [here]. When the craving of the being ends, there comes about the Buddha-Nature. There can be body-and-mind, but this cannot bind [one]. Living amidst the 25 existences, there is no defilement from any existence."

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! The five skandhas of the being are empty and there is no means of possessing. Who is there that receives the teaching and practises the Way?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! All beings have the remembering mind, the wisdom mind, the aspiring mind, the effort-making mind, the believing mind, and the meditating mind. All such, moment after moment, are born and die away. And yet, similarity and continuation go on. Hence, we speak of practising the Way."

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! All such die away moment after moment. All such extinctions that come about moment after moment also resemble [one another] and continue. How is one able to practise the Way?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! The light of the lamp dies out moment after moment. Yet, there is the light which dispels the gloom. It is the same with all such resemblings. O good man! The food a being eats dies away moment after moment, but hunger is satisfied. The case is the same. A good medicine dies away moment after moment. And yet it does indeed cure illness. The light of the sun and moon dies away moment after moment, and yet it truly enables the trees and plants of the forest to grow.

"O good man! You say: "A person dies moment after moment. How can there be any growing up?" But as the mind is not cut off, there is growing. O good man! A man recites. The letters [words] read cannot happen in a moment. What came first cannot extend to the middle, and what was read in the middle cannot go to the end. The man, the letters and the mental image die out moment after moment, and practising long we come to know.

"O good man! For example, with a goldsmith, from the day when he begins to learn his art up to those of his hoary old-age, one moment is followed by another moment, and what has preceded is what follows after. But by repeated practice, what comes about is wonderful. Due to this, the person is praised and is called the best goldsmith. It is the same with reading the sutras.

"O good man! For example, let us take the case of a seed. The earth does not teach it and say: "Put forth buds!" But by the law of nature, buds come about. And then the flower, too, does not teach and say: "Now, bear fruit!" But fruit comes about as it should by the law of nature. It is the same with the practice of the Way. O good man! For example, in counting, one is not two, and two is not three. Moment after moment, one shifts on to the other. Yet, this goes up to 1,000 and to 10,000. Thus does the practice of the Way by beings proceed. O good man! The light of a lamp dies moment after moment. When the first light dies out, it does not say to the flame that follows: "I am going now. You now appear and dispel the gloom!" The case is thus. O good man! When a calf is born, it seeks milk. None teaches it this wisdom of seeking milk. A moment is followed by a moment, but the first hunger leads to satisfaction with the food that follows. Hence, know that one cannot be the same as others. If the same, no difference can come about. The same applies to the practice of the Way by a being. By one action, one may not gain the end. But by long practice, one does away with all defilements."

Lion's Roar said: "Just as the Buddha says that when a person of the srotapanna stage [i.e. a person who has "entered the stream" of Dharma and will be reborn a maximum of only 7 further times] gains the fruition of the practice of the Way, even though born in evil lands, he upholds the precepts, does not kill, steal, seek after lust, practise double-tongue, or drink alcohol, the skandhas of the srotapanna die out here and do not gain the evil lands - the same applies to the practice of the Way. It does not lead to evil lands. Why can the person not get born in the Pure Land, if the same? If the skandhas of the evil land are not those of the srotapanna, how can it be that evil actions cannot come about?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! A person of the srotapanna stage may get born into evil lands, and yet he will not lose his attainment of srotapannahood. The skandhas are not the same. That is why I take up the analogy of the calf. A person of the srotapanna stage, though born in an evil land, because of the power of his practice of the Way, does not perform evil. O good man! For example, in Gandhamadana, there was a lion king, and all the birds and beasts left the mountain - none of them came near. Once, this king went into the Himalayas, and there, too, he saw that none was living there. That is how things stand with the srotapanna. Though not practising the Way, because of the power of the Way, he does not perform evil. For example, a man takes amrta [ambrosia of immortality]. And the amrta dies out. But the force of its remaining power causes the person to gain birthlessness and deathlessness. O good man! In Mount Sumeru, there is a wonderful medicine called langali. If one partakes of it, even though the effect of the medicine dies out moment after moment, one, due to the power of this medicine, will not encounter any harm. O good man! No one approaches where a Chakravartin lives, not even in his absence. Why not? Because of the power of this king. It is the same with the person of the srotapanna stage. He may be born in an evil land and may not be practising the Way, but because of the power of the Way, he does not do any evil. The skandhas of the srotapanna may be dead, and different skandhas may be present, and yet no skandha of the srotapanna is lost. O good man! Beings, because of what emerges from the fruit, do a good many things to the seed: they provide dung and irrigation. Although the fruit has not yet been gained and the seed is now dead, we nevertheless can say that we gain the fruit from the seed. It is the same with the skandhas of the srotapanna. O good man! For example, there is a man who is rich and has great wealth. He has only one son, who has already died. This son has a son, who is now abroad. This man, of a sudden, dies. The grandson, on hearing of this, comes back and takes over the property. It is not yet known where the wealth is. But there is no one who obstructs or protects the occupation. Why not? Because the stock is one. The case is the same with the skandhas of the srotapanna."

Bodhisattva Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! You, the Buddha, said in a gatha:

"If a bhiksu [monk] practises the Way

Of the moral precepts, samadhi and Wisdom,

Know that this is befriending

Unretrogressive and great Nirvana."

O World-Honoured One! How am I to practise the precepts, samadhi and Wisdom?

The Buddha said: "O good man! There is a man who upholds the prohibitions and precepts, but [does so] for the happiness that he can gain for his own self and for humans and gods, and not to save all beings, not for guarding unsurpassed Wonderful Dharma, but for profit and out of fear of the three unfortunate realms, for life, lust, power, safety, oratory, out of fear of state laws, evil fame, for fear of dirty names, and for worldly works. Such guarding and upholding of the precepts cannot be called practising the precepts. O good man! What is true upholding of sila? When one upholds sila, the object must be to pass beings to the other shore, to protect Wonderful Dharma, to save the unsaved, to enlighten the unenlightened, to enable those who have not yet taken refuge to take it, to enable those who have not yet attained Nirvana to attain it. Practising thus, a person does not see sila, how it is actually upheld, the person who upholds sila, the results to be attained [therefrom], whether the person has sinned or not. O good man! If one acts thus, this is the upholding of sila.

"How does one practise samadhi? If, when practising samadhi, one does it to enlighten one's own self, for profit, not for the sake of all beings, not for the practising of Dharma, but out of greed, for defiled food, for sexual reasons, because of the impurities of the nine holes, for disputes, for beating, and for killing others, anybody who practises samadhi thus is not one who practises samadhi.

"O good man! What is the true practice of samadhi? One practises it for the sake of all beings, to plant in the mind of beings the all-equal mind, unretrogressive Dharma, the holy mind, to enable beings to attain Mahayana, to guard unsurpassed Dharma, for beings not to retrogress from Enlightenment, for them to gain the Suramgama, the vajra-samadhi, dharanis [i.e. long mantras or magic spells], to enable beings to gain the four unhinderednesses, to enable beings to see the Buddha-Nature; and when practising thus, one sees no samadhi, no form of samadhi, nor a person practising this, nor any result to be arrived at. O good man! If things indeed proceed thus, we say that this person is practising samadhi.

"How does one practise Wisdom? One who practises Wisdom thinks: "If I practise such Wisdom, I shall attain Emancipation and save those in the three unfortunate realms. Who is it that indeed benefits all beings, passing them to the other shore beyond birth and death? It is difficult [to be present when] the Buddha appears in this world. It is as rare an event as one's coming across the flowering of the udumbara. I shall now thoroughly cut away the bonds of all defilements. I shall gain the fruition of Emancipation. On this account, I shall now learn to practise Wisdom and sever the bond of defilement and attain Emancipation." Any person who practises the Way thus is not one who practises Wisdom.

"How does a person truly practise Wisdom? The wise person meditates on the sorrows of birth, age, and death. All beings are overshadowed by ignorance and do not know how to practise the unsurpassed right path. He prays: "I pray that this body of mine will suffer great sorrows in lieu of all beings. Let all poverty, degredation, the mind of transgressing the precepts, all the actions of greed, anger and ignorance of all beings gather upon me. I pray that all beings will not gain a mind of greed, will not be bound up in body-and-mind. I pray that all beings will soon cross the sea of birth and death, so that I may not now need to face it and not feel the worry. I pray that all will gain unsurpassed Enlightenment." When a person practises the Way thus, he sees no Wisdom, no form of Wisdom, no one practising WIsdom, and no fruition to be arrived at. This is practising Wisdom.

"O good man! One who thus practises sila, samadhi, and Wisdom is a Bodhisattva; one who cannot thus practise sila, samadhi, and Wisdom is a sravaka.

"O good man! How does one practise sila [morality]? All sin by committing the 16 evil acts. What are the 16? They are: 1) keeping, feeding, and fattening sheep for profit, and seeling them,  2) buying and killing sheep for profit,  3) raising, fattening and selling pigs for profit,  4) buying and killing them for profit,  5) raising and selling calves for profit when fattened,  6) buying and killing them for profit,  7) raising hens for profit and, when they are grown up, selling them,  8) buying [them] for profit and killing them,  9) fishing,  10) hunting,  11) plundering,  12) selling fish,  13) catching birds with nets,  14) [having a] double-tongue,  15) [being a] jailer, and  16) charming snakes [“nagas”]. One [should] thoroughly segregate one's self eternally from such evil deeds. This is practising sila [morality]."

Chapter Thirty-Six: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (d)

 [The Buddha said:] "How does one practise samadhi [i.e. meditative absorption]? One truly does away with all the worldly samadhis. This is the bodilessness samadhi. Beings get an upside-down mind and wrongly call this Nirvana. Also, there are such samadhis as the boundless-mind samadhi, the pure-group samadhi, the worldlessness samadhi, the world-segregation samadhi, the world-nature samadhi, the skandha-samadhi, the thoughtlessness-non-thoughtlessness samadhi [which] indeed make beings acquire an upside-down mind and call such Nirvana. If one truly segregates one's own self from such samadhis, this is practising samadhi.

"How does one practise Wisdom? One thoroughly extirpates the evil views of the world. Beings all possess evil views. That is thinking that "matter" [form] is Self, and that this belongs to Self; that there is Self in matter and matter in Self; and it so goes with consciousness; that matter is the Self; that matter dies, but that the Self stays behind; that matter is the Self, and that when matter dies out, the Self dies out. And a certain person says: "The maker is the Self; the recipient is the Self." Also, a certain person says: "The doer is matter; the receiver is the Self." Also, a certain person says: "There is no doing and no receiving. A thing comes about by itself; it dies out by itself. Nothing is based on causal relations." Also, a certain person says: "There is no doing and no receiving. All is the work of Isvara [i.e. God]." Also, a certain person says: "There cannot be any doer or any receiver. All comes about according to the season." Also, a certain person says: "There are doers and receivers. The five elements beginning with the earth are the being." O good man! If anyone crushes such evil views, this is practising Wisdom.

"O good man! Practising sila [morality] is for the quietude of one's own body. Practising samadhi is for the quietude of one's mind; practising Wisdom is for crushing out doubt. To crush out doubt is to practise the Way. To practise the Way is to see the Buddha-Nature. To see the Buddha-Nature is to attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. To attain unsurpassed Enlightenment is to arrive at unsurpassed Great Nirvana. To arrive at Great Nirvana is to segregate all beings from birth and death, all defilements, all [worldly] existences, all realms, all truths of beings. To cut off [these] births and deaths and satya [truth; presumably "worldly truths"] is to attain to the Eternal, Bliss, the Self and the Pure."

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! If, as the Buddha says, birthlessness and deathlessness are Nirvana, life too is birthlessness and deathlessness. Why can we not say that this is Nirvana?"

"O good man! It is thus, it is thus. It is as you say. Although this life is birthlessness and deathlessness, there are beginnings and ends."

"O World-Honoured One! There is also no beginning and no end in this law of birth and death. If there is no beginning and end, this is eternal. The Eternal is Nirvana. Why do we not call birth and death Nirvana?"

"O good man! The law of this birth-and-death depends on causality. As there are causes and effects, we cannot call this Nirvana. Why not? Because the body of Nirvana has no cause and effect."

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! Nirvana has cause and effect, as you the Buddha say:

"Through cause one gains birth in heaven;

Through cause is one born into the unfortunate realms;

Through cause does one attain Nirvana.

Thus, everything has a cause."

You, the Buddha, said to the bhiksus: "I shall now speak to the sramanas about the fruition of the Way. "Sramana" means nothing other than practising well sila [morality], samadhi, and Wisdom. The Way is the Noble Eightfold Path. The fruition of sramana practice is Nirvana." O World-Honoured One! Nirvana is thus. Is this not fruition [i.e. result]? How can you say that Nirvana has no cause and no fruition?"

"O good man! What I refer to as the cause of Nirvana is the so-called Buddha-Nature. The nature of the Buddha-Nature does not call forth Nirvana. That is why I say that there is no cause in Nirvana. As it truly crushes defilement, I say "great fruition". It does not come about by the "Way". Hence I say that there is no fruition. For this reason, Nirvana has no cause and no fruition."

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! Is the Buddha-Nature of beings a thing of common possession or is it something individually possessed? If it is of common possession, all would have to gain it when one person gains it. O World-Honoured One! Twenty people have one enemy. If one falls out of the group, the remaining 19 may also mean to have no enemy. If the Buddha-Nature is thus, the remaining persons must gain it if one person gains it. If each has the Buddha-Nature, this is non-eternal. Why? The nature of beings is neither one nor two. We cannot say that all Buddhas are all-equal. Also, we cannot say that the Buddha is like the void."

The Buddha said: "O good man! The Buddha-Nature of beings is not-one and not-two. The equality spoken of regarding all Buddhas is like the Void. All beings possess it. Anybody who indeed practises the Noble Eightfold Path gains - one should know - a bright view. O good man! In the Himalayas, there is a grass called ninniku [Sanskrit “ksanti” = patience, forbearance]. A cow fed on this will gain sarpirmanda [the tastiest and most healthful of milk products]. It is the same with the Buddha-Nature of beings."

Lion's Roar said: "Is the ninniku grass, about which you the Buddha speak, one or many? If it is one, it will come to an end when the cow feeds on it. If many, how can you say that the Buddha-Nature is also like this? You, the Buddha, say that if one practises the Noble Eightfold Path, one will see the Buddha-Nature. But this is not so. Why not? If the Way is one, it must come to an end, as in the case of the ninniku grass. If it comes to an end, there is no further part left for others to practise. If the Way is many, how can we say that practice is perfected? And how can one speak of “sarvajnana” [omniscience]?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! [Suppose] there is a flat road. Beings walk [along it], and there is nothing to hinder their progress. There is in the middle of the road a tree, the shade of which is cool. The travellers make a stop here with their palanquin and take a rest. But there is always the shade of the tree here, and there is no difference. The shade does not die out, and no one takes it away. The road is the Holy Way, and the shade the Buddha-Nature.

"O good man! There is a great castle, which has only one gate. Many people come and go, and pass through it, without hindrance. And no one destroys it and takes it away. That is how matters stand.

"O good man! It is as with a bridge, which does not care who passes over it; there is no one there to obstruct [the way] or destroy [the bridge] or carry it off. O good man! For example, it is as with a good doctor, who cares all about illnesses. And there is no one who checks [him], either to allow him to cure [people] or forcing him to abandon this. It is the same with the Holy Way and the Buddha-Nature."

Lion's Roar said: "O good man! You put forward all [such] parables, which, however, do not apply Why not? If there is any person on the way before [i.e. up ahead, further on], that person must be hindering [obstructing] the way. How can one say that there is no hindrance? The same applies to the others. If the Holy Way and Buddha-Nature are thus, this, when one practises the Way, would cause hindrance to others."

The Buddha said: "O good man! What you say does not make sense. What is explained in parables regarding the Way refers only to a part, not to all. O good man! The way of the world has hindrances. This differs from others; none are equal. The Undefiled Way is not so. It is such that it enables beings to have no hindrance upon their way. All is the same and all-equal; there is no difference as to place, or this and that. Thus, the Right Way serves as the revealed cause for the Buddha-Nature of beings, and does not become the cause of birth. This is as in the case of a bright lamp that does indeed shine over all.

"O good man! All beings are chained to ignorant actions through causal relations. Do not say that if one is chained to the way of ignorance, there can be no more such. All beings are chained to the action of ignorance. That is why we say that the 12 links of interdependent arising work equal to all [apply equally to all]. It is the same with the Undefiled, Right Way which all beings practise. All-equally, it does away with the defilements of beings and those of the four lives and all the ways of existence of all realms [in samsara]. So, we say "equal". When one is Enlightened, there is no knowing and seeing of this and that. For this reason, we can well speak of “sarvajnana” [all-knowledge]."

Lion's Roar said: "All beings are not of one kind of body. There are devas [gods] and there are humans. And there are such others as those of the realms of the animals, the hungry pretas [ghosts], and hell. They are many, not one. How can we say that the Buddha-Nature can be one?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! For example, there is a man who adds poison to milk. Because of this, all [the milk products] up to sarpirmanda will contain poison. We do not call milk butter, and butter milk. The same applies to sarpirmanda. The name may change, but the nature of the poison is not lost. It will run across the five tastes of the milk all-equally. Even sarpirmanda, if taken, will kill a man. Just as poison is not placed in the sarpirmanda, so is it the case with the Buddha-Nature of beings. “One finds the Buddha-Nature of beings in the different bodies of the beings of the five realms. But the Buddha-Nature is always One, and there is No Change."      

Lion's Roar said: "O World-Honoured One! There are six great castles in the sixteen great states [i.e. the Gangetic states or castle-towns in the days of the Buddha], namely: Sravasti, Saketa, Campa, Vaisali, Varanasi, and Rajagriha. These big castles are the biggest in the world. Why is it that the Tathagata leaves these places and intends to enter Nirvana in this far-out, evil, very ugly and small Kusinagara Castle?"

"O good man! Do not say that Kusinagara is a castle which is far-out, evil, a most ugly and small place. This castle is one adorned with wonders and virtues. Why? Because this is a place all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have visited. O good man! Even the house of a humble person may be called "grand and perfect in virtue", worthy of the visit of a great king, should he happen to come past [and stay] there. O good man! [Imagine] a person who is seriously ill and who takes a dirty and mean medicine. His illness is cured, joy arises, and this medicine becomes the best and most wonderful [of medicines]. He praises it and says that it has truly cured his illness.

"O good man! A man is in a ship on the great ocean. Of a sudden, the ship breaks up, and there is nothing to depend upon. The man catches hold of a corpse and reaches the other shore. Gaining the other shore, he is very happy and praises the corpse greatly, saying that he was fortunate to meet with this corpse and has safely gained peace. It is the same case with Kusinagara Castle, which all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have visited. How could one say that it is a far-off, mean, narrow, and small castle?

"O good man! I call to mind that once, in far-ff days, as many kalpas back as there are sands to the river Ganges, there was a time called the  “Suprabuddha” kalpa [age, aeon]. At that time, there was a holy king called Kausika. Fully endowed with the Seven Treasures and 1,000 children, this king first made this castle. It measured 12 yojanas crosswise and lengthwise. It was adorned with the Seven Treasures. The soil was good. There were rivers here, the waters of which were pure and soft, and they tasted sweet. These were: Nairanjana, Airavati, Hiranyavati, Usmodaka , Vipasa. There were some 500 other such rivers. Both banks were fully grown with trees that had flowers and fruits - all fresh and pure. At that time, the life-span of the people was uncountable. Then, after the lapse of 100 years, the Chakravartin [mighty ruler] said: "Just as the Buddha says, all things are non-eternal. One who practises the ten good things does away with all such sorrows of the non-eternal." The people, on hearing this, all practised the ten good deeds. I, at that time, on hearing the name of the Buddha, practised the ten good deeds, meditated and aspired to unsurpassed Bodhi [Enlightenment]. My mind having aspired, I also transferred this Dharma to innumerable and boundless [numbers of] beings and said that all things are non-eternal and subject to change and dissolution. Because of this, I now continue and say that all things are non-eternal, are those that change and dissolve, and that only the Buddha-Body is Eternal. I recall what I did by [way of] causal relations. That is why I have now come here and mean to enter Nirvana and wish to repay what I owe to this place. For this reason, I say in the sutra: "My relatives know how to repay what they owe me."

"Also, next, O good man! In days past, when the life-span of people was immeasurable, this castle was called Kusanagaravati [probably the same as Kusinagara] and measured 50 yojanas crosswise and lengthwise. At that time in Jambudvipa, people lived shoulder to shoulder and fowl flew thereabout. There lived a Chakravartin named Zenken [Sudarsana]. He had the Seven Treasures and 1,000 children and was the king of the four lands. The first of his sons loved Wonderful Dharma and became a pratyekabuddha. Then, the Chakravartin saw that his crown prince was a pratyekabuddha, that his deportment was orderly, and that he was endowed with wonderful miraculous powers. On seeing this, he renounced his state, as though it were tears and spittle. He became a monk and lived here amidst the sal trees, and for 80,000 years he practised Loving-Kindness. The same applied for 80,000 years to [the practice of] Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity.

"O good man! If you should desire to know who that holy king, Zenken, was, then know that he was none other than I. That is why I now abide in the four laws, which are none but the samadhis. For this reason, “the Body of the Tathagata is the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure”.

"O good man! Because of this, I am now in this Kusinagara, in this forest of sal trees, and abide in samadhi. O good man! I recall to mind, after innumerable years, a castle-town called Kapilavastu. In that castle, there lived a king called Suddhodana. His consort was called Maya. They had a prince, who was called Siddhartha. The prince, at that time, took no teachers. He sought the Way by himself and attained unsurpassed Bodhi. He had two disciples, Sariputra and Mahamaudgalyayana. The disciple who attended the prince was called Ananda. At that time, he, under the sal trees, delivered the sermon of the Great Nirvana Sutra. At that time, I was one of the congregation and was able to be a witness to that sermon. There, I was told that all beings had the Buddha-Nature. On hearing this, I was unmoved in Bodhi. Then, I took a vow: "If I attain Buddhahood in days to come, it shall be as now. I shall be a teacher to my father and mother and the land; the names of the disciples and attendants will also be so, just as things stand with the present World-Honoured One. Nothing will differ." That is why I am now here and am delivering this sermon of the Great Nirvana Sutra.

"O good man! When I first abandoned home life, but had not yet attained unsurpassed Enlightenment, Bimbisara sent a messenger to me and said: "If you, Prince Siddhartha, become a Chakravartin, I shall become your subject. But if you leave home and attain unsurpassed Enlightenment, please come to this Rajagriha, deliver sermons, save people and accept my offerings." I then accepted his invitation in silence.

"O good man! On attaining unsurpassed Enlightenment, I then decided to go to Kosala. At that time, by the river Nairanjana there lived a Brahmin, Kasyapa, who had 500 disciples and who, by this river, sought of me the unsurpassed Way. I specially wended my way there to speak [to him] of Dharma. Kasyapa said: "O Gautama! I am 120 years old. Many people in Magadha, and the ministers and Bimbisara, say that I have attained arhatship. If I give ear to what you say, all the people might possibly gain inverted ideas and say: [Is not the virtuous Kasyapa already an arhat? Let Gautama speed to other places]. If the people come to know that Gautama's virtue surpasses mine, I shall possibly fail in [i.e. fail to receive] my own alms." I then said: "If you do not harbour any personal enmity towards me, please give me a night's rest. I shall start out early tomorrow morning." Kasyapa said: "O Gautama! I have nothing against you. I love and respect you. Only, in my place there lives a viper which is evil-tempered. It might possibly do some harm to you." "No poison is more poisonous than the three poisons [of greed, ill-will, and ignorance]. I have now done away with them. I do not fear worldly poison." Kasyapa said: "If you do not, please stay."

"O good man! I, at that time, displayed 18 miracles before Kasyapa. This is as stated in the sutra. Kasyapa and his 500 disciples saw this and they all attained arhatship.

"At that time, Kasyapa had two younger brothers. One was [called] Gayakasyapa, and the other Nadikasyapa. There were also 500 teachers and disciples. All attained arhatship. The people of the six masters of Rajagriha, fearing this, entertained a great evil mind towards me. Then, true to my word, I went to Rajagriha. On the way, the king came [along] with his people, innumerable hundreds and thousands [of them] in number, and he received me. I delivered a sermon to them. On hearing this, the devas of the world of desire, 86,000 [of them], all aspired to unsurpassed Bodhi. King Bimbisara's retinue of 120,000 guardsmen attained [the level of] srotapanna; an innumerable number of people gained the stage of ksanti [patience]. On reaching the castle, I taught Sariputra and Mahamaudgalyayana, along with their 250 disciples. They all cast aside everything they had had in their mind up till then and entered upon the Path. I lived there and received the king's offerings. The six tirthika masters came along and together we went to Sravasti.

"There was at that time a rich man named Sudatta. He wished to gain a wife for his son, and to that end he came to Rajagriha. Arriving at the castle, he put up at the house of Samdhana. Then, this rich man [i.e. Samdhana] got up at midnight and said to the people of his household: "All of you get up, adorn and sweep the house quickly, and prepare a meal!" Sudatta heard this and thought to himself: "Is he going to invite the king of Magadha? Or is it going to be a marriage and pleasure gathering?" Thinking thus, he stepped forward and asked: "Are you going to invite Bimbisara, King of Mgadha? Is there going to be a wedding and pleasure party? Why are you so busily occupied thus?" The rich man answered, saying: "Have you not yet heard of the son of the Sakyas of Kapilavastu called Siddhartha? Gautama is his family name. His father is called Suddhodana. Not long after his birth, the augur said that the boy would unfailingly become a Chakravartin and that this was as clear as if one could see an amra in the palm of one's hand. He sought no pleasures and abandoned domestic life. And untaught by any person, he attained unsurpassed Bodhi. He has done away with greed, ill-will, and ignorance. He is Eternal and knows no change. Nothing comes about and nothing dies out; and he is fearless. All beings are one to him. They are as a single son is to his parents, and his body and mind are unsurpassed. Though surpassing all, he has no arrogance in his mind. Wisdom is all around [him] and nothing hinders [him in his Wisdom]. And he is perfect in the ten powers, the four fearlessnesses, the five knowledges [“pancajnana”], samadhi, Great Loving-Kindness, Great Compassion, and the three thinkings. That is why he is the Buddha. Tomorrow, he will receive my offerings. That is why I am busy and do not have enough time to exchange greetings." Sudatta said: "Well said, O great one! The Buddha you speak of is unsurpassed in virtue. Where is he now?" The rich man said: "He is now in this great citadel of Rajagriha, staying with Venuvana-kalandakanivapa." Then, Sudatta meditated on the ten powers, the four fearlessnesses, the five knowledges, samadhi, Great Loving-Kindness, and the three thinkings which the Buddha possesses. As he so meditated, there arose a brightness, as a result of which everything looked as if in bright daylight. Wanting to know whence the light came, he went down to the gate. By the miraculous power of the Buddha, the gate opened of itself. On coming out of the gate, he saw a chapel on the roadside. Passing it, Sudatta did worship. Then, darkness arose again. Afraid, he decided to go back to where he was [before]. Then a deva met him at the chapel by the castle gate. The deva said to Sudatta: "Go to where the Tathagata is and you will gain much benefit." Sudatta said: "What benefit?" The deva said: "O rich man! As an illustration: a man may have 100 superb steeds, adorned with laces studded with gems, 100 gandhahastins, 100 carts of jewels, 100 human forms made of gold, beautiful females fully adorned with necklaces of gems, beautiful palaces and halls and houses studded with gems, with sculptured letters and figures on them, silver millet on golden trays, and golden millet on silver trays, 100 in number, and these are offered as dana [charity] to each person all over Jambudvipa. But the virtue [thus] arrived at cannot surpass a single step towards aspiring to Bodhi and going to the Tathagata." Sudatta said: "O good man! Who are you?" The deva said: "O rich man! I am the son of a right-lined Brahmin. I am a former teacher of the Way. In days gone by, I felt joy when I saw Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, and I discarded my body and became the son of Vaisravana, the guardian angel of the north. It is my special duty to guard this Rajagriha. I have gained this wonderful form through worship and have acquired joy thereby. And how much greater must things be if one meets such a great teacher as the Tathagata and worships him and makes offerings to him?"

"Sudatta, on hearing this, turned round his steps and came to the place where I was. On arriving, he fell to the ground and touched my feet. I then, as was appropriate, spoke of Dharma. Having listened to my sermon, the rich man attained the [stage of] srotapanna. Gaining this fruition, he invited me, saying: "O great teacher, Tathagata! I pray that you will condescend to come to Sravasti and accept my paltry offerings." I then asked him: "Can you, in your Sravasti, accommodate all?" Sudatta said: "If the Buddha is compassionate and condescends to accede to my request, I shall do my best." O good man! I then accepted his invitation. This rich man, Sudatta, his prayer having been answered, said to me: "Hitherto I have had no experience of laying out [a big meal]. O Tathagata! Please despatch Sariputra to my place, so that he can take the matter in hand and make the necessary arrangements to meet the requirements."

"Then, Sariputra went to Sravasti, riding together with Sudatta. By my miraculous power, they reached their destination in one day. Then, Sudatta said to Sariputra: "O greatly virtuous one! Outside this gate, there is a place best fitted for the purpose. It is neither near nor far, where there are many springs and ponds, and many forests, with flowers and fruit; and the place is pure and quiet and extensive. I shall build viharas [dwelling-places] there for the Buddha and his bhiksus [monks]." Sariputra said: "The forest of Prince Jeta is neither near nor far off. It is pure and quiet. There are springs and streams. There are seasonal flowers and fruit. This is the best place. Let us have a vihara built there."

"Then, on hearing this, Sudatta went to the great rich man, Jeta, and said to him: "I now desire to build a Buddhist vihara and dedicate it to one usurpassed in Dharma, at a place that belongs to you. I now desire to purchase it from you. Will you sell it to me?" Jeta said: "I will not sell it to you, even if you cover the ground with gold." Sudatta said: "Well said! The forest belongs to me. Take my gold." Jeta said: "I am not selling the forest to you. How can I take your gold?" Sudatta said: "If you are not satisfied, I will go to the magistrate." They both went together. The magistrate said: "The forest belongs to Sudatta. Jeta should take the gold." Sudatta at once despatched men with gold laden upon carts and horses. When it arrived, he covered the ground with gold. A single day saw an area of 500 “bu” [a Chinese unit of measurement of land, around 6 or 6.4 feet long] covered; not all was covered. Jeta said: "O rich ran! If you have any regret within you, you are quite free to cancel the deal." Sudatta said: "I do not feel any regret." He thought to himself which store he should now open, to get gold for the area left as yet uncovered with gold. Jeta thought to himself: "The Tathagata, King of Dharma, is truly one unsurpassed. The wonderful things that he teaches are pure and untainted. That is why this man thinks so lightly of this treasure." He then said to Sudatta: "I do not now need any gold for what remains uncovered. Please take it. I myself shall build a gate for the Tathagata, so that he may go in and out of it." Jeta built the gate, and in seven days, Sudatta built a great vihara on a site 300 “ken” [ken is about 6 feet] across and in length. There were quiet meditation quarters to the number of 63. The houses were different for winter and summer. There were kitchens, bathrooms, and a place to wash one's feet. There were two kinds of lavatory.

"The buildings completed, he took up an incense burner, and facing in the direction of Rajagriha, said: "The buildings are now completed. O Tathagata! Please have pity and take over this place and live here for the good of beings." I soon read the mind of this rich man from far off, and started out from Rajagriha. Within the short length of time it takes for a strong, youthful man to bend and extend his arm, I travelled to Sravasti, to Jetavana, and took possession of the Jetavana vihara. When I reached the place, Sudatta dedicated it to me. I then received it and lived in it."