Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

"Nirvana Sutra" Continued (Z27)


The Brahmacarin said: "O World-Honoured One! If all things exist due to causal relations, how can such a body come into being?"

The Buddha said: "The causal relations of this carnal body are grounded on defilement and karma."

The Brahmacarin said: "If this carnal body is based on defilement and karma, can we extirpate the defilement and karma?"

The Buddha said: "It is thus, it is thus!"

The Brahmacarin further said: "O World-Honoured One! Please be good enough to analyse and expound to me, so that I can truly hear and immediately cut away the bond."

The Buddha said: "O good man! If a person comes to know that the two sides and the in-between are unhindered [unobstructed], such a person indeed segregates [himself from] defilement and karma."

"O World-Honoured One! I now know and have gained the right Dharma-Eye."

The Buddha said: "In what manner do you know?"

"O World-Honoured One! The two sides are "material form" and "emancipation from material form", and the "in-between" is the Eightfold Right Path. So does it also obtain with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness."

The Buddha said: "Well said, well said, O good man! You have now come to know of the two sides and have cut away defilement and karma."

"O World-Honoured One! Please admit me into the Order and let me receive sila!"

The Buddha said: "Welcome, O bhiksu!"

Immediately he extirpated the defilements of the three worlds and arrived at the fruition of arhatship.

Then there was a Brahmin, named "Wide-Wide", who said: "O Gautama! Do you know what I have in my mind?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! Nirvana is Eternal and what is created is non-eternal. What is twisted is twisted views, and what is straight is the Noble Path."

The Brahmin said: "O Gautama! Why do you say so?"

"O good man! What you think is that to beg alms is eternal and singly-to-be-invited is non-eternal. What is twisted is to shut one's self in and what is straight is the imperial hanging-ensign. That is why I say: "Nirvana is Eternal; what is twisted is twisted views, and what is straight is the Eightfold Path." It is not as you think."

The Brahmin said: "O Gautama! You see well what is in my mind. Does this Noble Eightfold Path enable beings to attain extinction or not?"

Then, the World-Honoured One remained silent and did not answer.

The Brahmin said: "O Gautama! You see my mind well. Why do you remain silent and not answer me?"

Then Kaundinya said: "O great Brahmin! If any person asks about the limitedness or non-limitedness of the world, the Tathagata is silent and does not reply. The Noble Eightfold Path is what is straight, and Nirvana is what is Eternal. When the Noble Eightfold Path is practised, one attains extinction; if not, no such thing results.

"O great Brahmin! For example, a great castle has four walls, where there are no apertures, except for a gate. The gate-keeper is wise. He knows whom to let pass and whom to shut out. He may not know the number of those who come and go, but he knows that anyone who enters has to come through the gate. The situation is thus. O good man! It is the same with the Tathagata. The castle is Nirvana, the gate is the Noble Eightfold Path, and the gate-keeper is the Tathagata. O good man! Though the Tathagata does not reply [to questions] about [the world's being] finite or infinite, what ends must needs practise the Noble Eightfold Path."

The Brahmin said: "Well said, well said, O greatly virtuous Kaundinya! The Tathagata truly expounds All-Wonderful Dharma. I now know the castle, and the Way to it, and I desire to be the gate-keeper."

Kaundinya said: "Well said, well said! You now well aspire to the Great Mind."

The Buddha said: "Say not thus, say not thus, O Kaundinya! It is not the case that this Brahmin now aspires for the first time to this Mind. A long, long time ago, far back in the days of countless Buddhas, there was a Buddha called "Tathagata All-Shining", the Alms-Deserving, the All-Enlightened One, the All-Accomplished One, the Well-Gone, the All-Knower, the Unsurpassed One, the Best Trainer, the Teacher of Gods and Humans, the Buddha-World-Honoured One. This person [i.e. the Brahmin] had already aspired to unsurpassed Bodhichitta at the place of this Buddha. He will now attain Buddhahood in this Bhadrakalpa. He has long been versed in Dharma. For the sake of beings, he lives as a tirthika and presents himself as one not versed in Dharma. For this reason, Kaundinya, you should not say: "Well said, well said! You now aspire to the Great Mind."