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Sūtra 20  (posted 09/2008, updated 04/2009)


無量義經
Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Xiao Qi Dynasty
by
The Indian Tripiṭaka Master Dharmagatayaśas

Chapter 1
The Virtuous Actions

Thus I have heard:
    At one time the Buddha was staying on the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain, near the city of Rājagṛha, together with a multitude of 12,000 great bhikṣus and 80,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, as well as gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas. Also present were bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, as well as great Wheel-Turning Kings, lesser Wheel-Turning Kings, and other wheel kings, such as the gold wheel and silver wheel, as well as kings, princes, state ministers, citizens, men, women, and elders, surrounded by their retinues in the billions. They all came to the place where the Buddha was, bowed their heads down at the feet of the Buddha, and circumambulated Him 100,000 times. They burned incense, scattered flowers, and presented various kinds of offerings. Having made their offerings to the Buddha, they stepped back and sat on one side.
    Among the 80,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas were Mañjuśrī the Dharma Prince; Great Awesome Virtue Store the Dharma Prince; Carefree Store the Dharma Prince; Great Eloquence Store the Dharma Prince; Maitreya Bodhisattva; Guiding Chief Bodhisattva; Medicine King Bodhisattva; Medicine Superior Bodhisattva; Flower Banner Bodhisattva; Flower Radiance Banner Bodhisattva; Dhāraṇī Sovereign King Bodhisattva; Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva; Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva; Persistent Energetic Progress Bodhisattva; Jewel Seal Hand Bodhisattva; Treasure Heap Bodhisattva; Jewel Staff Bodhisattva; Beyond the Three Realms Bodhisattva; Vimalabhadra Bodhisattva; Fragrant Elephant Bodhisattva; Great Fragrant Elephant Bodhisattva; Lion's Roar King Bodhisattva; Lion Frolic World Bodhisattva; Lion Vigor Bodhisattva; Lion Advance Bodhisattva; Valiant Force Bodhisattva; Lion Fierce Subjugation Bodhisattva; Magnificence Bodhisattva, and Great Magnificence Bodhisattva. All of these Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas are the great ones who have realized the dharma body through perfecting precepts, samādhi, wisdom, liberation, and knowledge and views of liberation. Their minds, silent and meditative, are constantly in samādhi, peaceful, reserved, asaṁskṛta, and free from desire. Inverted thoughts and perceptions no longer prevail. Silent, lucid, profound, and vast, their minds can remain still for 100,000 koṭi kalpas as immeasurable Dharma Doors are all present before them. Having unfolded great wisdom and penetrated all dharmas, they understand the true reality of differentiated natures and appearances of dharmas, which are clearly manifested as existence or nonexistence, long or short. Moreover, they are adept in identifying the capacities, natures, and desires of sentient beings. Equipped with dhāraṇīs and unimpeded eloquence, they always request Buddhas to turn the Dharma wheel.
    They are also able to turn it likewise. They first dampen the desire-dust with drizzling drops of teachings. As they open the door to nirvāṇa and fan the wind of liberation, they turn the heat of the afflictions of the world into the coolness of the Dharma. They next rain down the profound principle of the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising upon the blazing, glowing sunlight of suffering that runs from ignorance to old age, illness, and death. Then, they cascade a downpour of unexcelled Mahāyāna [teachings] to water the roots of goodness of sentient beings in [realms of] existence. They scatter the seeds of goodness everywhere in virtue fields, enabling all to germinate bodhi sprouts. With their wisdom like the sun and the moon, using suitable approaches and timing, they promote and expand the mission of the Mahāyāna, enabling sentient beings to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly and to abide in bliss and wondrous true reality. As these Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas rescue longsuffering sentient beings with immeasurable great compassion, they are their true beneficent learned friends, their great fortune fields, and their uninvited teachers. For sentient beings, they serve as sanctuaries of peace and joy and as places of rescue, protection, and reliance. In every way they are the great guiding teachers to sentient beings. They can be the eye for those who are born blind and be the ear, nose, and tongue for those who are deaf, olfaction impaired, and mute. They can complete those who are incomplete in their sense organs and can make the deranged think straight. Like the captain, the great captain, of a ship, they carry sentient beings across the river of life and death to the shore of nirvāṇa. Like the medicine king, the great medicine king, they differentiate the symptoms of diseases, know the properties of medicines, dispense medicines according to the diseases, and make patients take them. Like the animal trainer who can train elephants and horses without fail, they, the tamers, the great tamers, always disengage from unrestrained actions. Like the brave fierce lion that subdues all animals, totally undefeatable, they playfully cultivate the Bodhisattva pāramitās. Unshakably resolved to attain the Tathāgata Ground, they rely on the power of their vows to purify Buddha Lands. Before long, they will attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. These Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas all have such inconceivable merits as described.
    Among the 12,000 bhikṣus were Śāripūtra the Great Wisdom, Maudgalyāyana the Transcendental Power, Subhūti the Wisdom Life, Mahākātyāyana, Pūrṇa (the son of Maitrāyaṇī), Ajñātakauṇḍinya, Aniruddha the God-eye, Upāli the Upholder of the Vinaya, Ānanda the Attendant, Rāhula (the son of the Buddha), Upananda, Revata, Kapphiṇa, Vakula, Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Svāgata, Mahākāśyapa (the foremost in dhūta training), Uruvilvākāśyapa, Gayākāśyapa, and Nadīkāśyapa. All of them were Arhats, who, having ended afflictions and discharges, were free from bondage and truly liberated.
    At that time Great Magnificence Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, seeing the multitude settled calmly, rose from his seat, together with the 80,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas in the assembly, came to the place where the Buddha was. They bowed their heads down at the feet of the Buddha, and they circumambulated him 100,000 times. As an offering to the Buddha, celestial incense smoke, flowers, garments, necklaces, and priceless jewels fell spiraling down from the sky and gathered around like clouds. Celestial serving dishes and bowls were filled with delicacies of 100 celestial flavors, gratifying all with their looks and aromas. Placed everywhere were celestial banners, flags, and canopies, as well as wonderful musical instruments, playing celestial music to entertain the Buddha.
    Before the Buddha, they joined their palms and knelt on their right knees. With one mind and one voice, they presented their tribute in verse:

"Sublime is the holy lord, the great enlightened one!
With no taint, no defilement, and no attachment,
He is the tamer of gods and men as well as of elephants and horses.
The influence of His Way and the fragrance of His virtue permeate everywhere.
His wisdom is peaceful; His emotions serene; and His cares at rest,
His manas and mental consciousness are still, and His mind silent.
Having ceased forever deluded dreaming, thinking, and perception,
He no longer takes as real the domains, aggregates, spheres, and faculties.
His body is neither existent nor nonexistent.
Born from neither causes nor conditions, nor from self or others,
It is neither square nor round, neither long nor short,
Neither appearing nor disappearing, neither born nor perishing,
Neither created nor arisen, neither made nor formed,
Neither sitting nor lying, neither walking nor standing still,
Neither moving nor turning, neither noisy nor tranquil,
Neither advancing nor retreating, neither safe nor perilous,
Neither right nor wrong, neither gain nor loss,
Neither this nor that, neither coming nor going,
Neither blue nor yellow, neither red nor white,
Neither scarlet nor purple, nor in a variety of colors.
It is born from precepts, samādhi, wisdom, liberation, and knowledge and views of liberation.
Activated are the three clarities, the six transcendental powers, and the bodhi factors.
Arisen are lovingkindness, compassion, fearlessness, and the Ten Powers.
In response to the conditions of the good karma of sentient beings,
He has appeared in a body ten feet and six inches tall, purple-tinged golden,
Resplendent, radiant, and well proportioned.
The white hair between His eyebrows curls like the new moon, and His halo is like sunlight.
His curling hair is dark blue, and a fleshy mound is on his crown.
His clear eyes are bright, gently looking up and down.
His eyebrows and eyelashes are dark blue, and His mouth and cheeks well formed.
His lips and tongue are red, like a crimson flower.
His forty teeth are white like snow.
His forehead is broad, His nose straight, and His face open.
On His lion chest is the symbol of a swastika.
His palms and soles are soft, lined with a thousand spokes.
His armpits are not hollow, His fingers are webbed,
His arms are long, and His fingers straight and slender.
His skin is fine and smooth, with hair curling to the right.
His ankles and knees are not bony, and His male organ is hidden like that of a horse.
Fine muscles wrap His leg bones, like those of the deer-king.
His body is radiant, pure, and fresh,
Untainted by clean water and untouched by dust.
The thirty-two physical marks
And the eighty excellent characteristics seem to be visible.
In truth, there is no appearance, neither appearance nor form,
As appearances before the eye are empty and nonexistent.
No-appearance is manifested in His appearance.
The physical appearances of sentient beings are the same way.
His appearance enables sentient beings to make obeisance joyfully,
And to pay their respects sincerely and earnestly.
By ceasing self-elevation and self-arrogance,
He has achieved such a wonderful body.
All of us together, in the multitude of 80,000,
Make obeisance to and take refuge in the holy one who, without attachment,
Has skillfully transformed His thinking, mind, manas, and mental consciousnesses,
As well as tamed elephants and horses.
We bow down to take refuge in the physical form of the dharma body,
A combination of precepts, samādhi, wisdom, liberation, and knowledge and views of liberation.
We bow down to take refuge in the appearance of the wondrous being.
We bow down to take refuge in the inconceivable one.
His Brahma tone thunders in eight ways,
Subtle, pure, and far-reaching,
Announcing the Four Noble Truths, the six pāramitās, and the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising,
According to the mental karma of sentient beings.
None of the hearers will fail to open their minds,
To shatter the bondage of the immeasurable cycle of life and death.
Some voice-hearers become Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, Anāgāmins, or Arhats.
Some become Pratyekabuddhas, free from afflictions and from that which is saṁskṛta.
Some ascend to the Bodhisattva Grounds, realizing that nothing is born or perishes.
Some acquire immeasurable dhāraṇīs and unimpeded eloquence.
They expound profound wonderful stanzas,
Playing and bathing in the pure lake of the Dharma.
Some manifest transcendental powers as they jump up and fly
Or freely go in and out of water or fire.
Such are the appearances of the Dharma wheel,
Pure, boundless, and inconceivable!
Again we all bow down together to take refuge
In the Dharma wheel that turns at the right time.
We all bow down to take refuge in the Brahma tone.
We all bow down to take refuge in the Twelve Linked Causations, the Four Truths, and the six pāramitās.
For infinite kalpas in the past, the World-Honored One arduously trained in virtuous actions.
For self, humans, gods, dragons, spirits, kings, and other sentient beings,
He was able to abandon all that was hard to abandon,
Such as riches, wife, children, throne, and kingdom.
Never begrudging dharmas whether internal or external,
He gave others his head, eyes, bone marrow, and brain.
Observing the pure precepts of Buddhas,
He never caused any harm, even to save His life.
He never became angry when struck by knives or clubs
Or attacked by insults and abusive words.
For kalpas, He was never tired or indolent in His endeavor.
Day and night, He has kept his mind in meditation.
Having learned all the ways in the Dharma,
He can penetrate the capacities of sentient beings with His wisdom.
Hence, He has now attained sovereign power,
Becoming the Dharma King in command of dharmas.
We all bow down together to take refuge
So that we can endeavor to do what is hard to achieve."

Chapter 2
Expounding the Dharma

At that time Great Magnificence Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and 80,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, having finished the stanza in praise of the Buddha, asked the Buddha, "World-Honored One, this multitude of 80,000 Bodhisattvas would now like to ask about the Dharma of the Tathāgata. We do not know whether the World-Honored One will grant us permission."
    The Buddha told Great Magnificence Bodhisattva and the 80,000 Bodhisattvas: "Very good! Very good! Good men, you best know this is the time. You may ask any questions. Before long, the Tathāgata will enter parinirvāṇa, and there should be no doubts remaining after my parinirvāṇa. You may ask me any questions you want."
    Then, Great Magnificence Bodhisattva and the 80,000 Bodhisattvas asked the Buddha with one voice, "World-Honored One, if Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas want to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly, through what Dharma Door should they train? What Dharma Door will enable Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly?"
    The Buddha replied to Great Magnificence Bodhisattva and the 80,000 Bodhisattvas: "Good men, there is one Dharma Door through which Bodhisattvas can attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly. If there are Bodhisattvas who learn this Dharma Door, they can attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly."
    "World-Honored One! What is this Dharma Door called? What is its meaning? How should Bodhisattvas train themselves?"
    The Buddha replied, "Good men, this one Dharma Door is called Immeasurable Meaning. Bodhisattvas who want to study and learn the immeasurable meaning should observe that dharmas have always been empty in their nature and appearance. They are neither large nor small, neither appearing nor disappearing, neither standing still nor moving, neither advancing nor retreating. Like space, they are non-dual. However, sentient beings mistakenly calculate this versus that, gain versus loss. They entertain unwholesome thoughts, create evil karma, and hence transmigrate through the six life-journeys, undergoing dreadful suffering. For immeasurable koṭis of kalpas, they are unable to transcend the cycle by themselves. Having observed them carefully in this way and wanting to rescue them, Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas feel sympathy and exude great lovingkindness and compassion. Furthermore, they deeply penetrate all dharmas—with such a dharma-appearance, such a dharma is born; with such a dharma-appearance, such a dharma is staying; with such a dharma-appearance, such a dharma is changing; with such a dharma-appearance, such a dharma is perishing; such a dharma-appearance can produce evil dharmas; such a dharma-appearance can produce good dharmas; and in the same way each dharma stays, changes, and perishes. Having observed and understood fully the beginning and ending of these four appearances, Bodhisattvas should next observe attentively that all dharmas are born and perish instantly, as thoughts, one after another, never stay. They should also observe the instantaneous birth, stay, change, and obliteration of all dharmas. Having made these observations, Bodhisattvas then penetrate the capacities, natures, and desires of sentient beings. Because their capacities, natures, and desires are immeasurable, Bodhisattvas pronounce immeasurable Dharmas. As the Dharmas pronounced are immeasurable, their meanings are also immeasurable. The immeasurable meanings are born from one dharma. This one dharma is no-appearance. Such no-appearance is not apart from appearance. No-appearance being not apart from appearance is called true reality. As Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas abide in such true reality, the lovingkindness and compassion they exude are genuine, not false. They can truly pull sentient beings out of their suffering. Having rescued them from suffering, Bodhisattvas pronounce the Dharma to them, enabling them to experience happiness.
    "Good men, if Bodhisattvas can train in this one Dharma Door of Immeasurable Meaning, they will quickly attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Good men, such a profound unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning is true in its principle and supreme in its dignity. It is protected by all Buddhas of the past, present, and future. No māras or non-Buddhists can enter it, nor can it be corrupted by the wrong views that perpetuate life and death. Therefore, good men, Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who want to attain the unsurpassed bodhi should study and learn such a profound unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning."
    At that time Great Magnificence Bodhisattva next said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, the Dharma pronounced by the World-Honored One is inconceivable, the capacities of sentient beings are also inconceivable, and the explanations of the Dharma Doors are inconceivable as well. We no longer have doubts about the Dharma pronounced by the Buddha. However, I need to restate my question because sentient beings have bewildered minds. World-Honored One, since the Tathāgata's enlightenment, for over forty years, You have expounded to sentient beings the meaning of the four appearances of dharmas, whether suffering, emptiness, impermanence, and no-self, whether neither large nor small, neither birth nor death, whether the one appearance of no-appearance, whether emptiness of dharma-nature and dharma-appearance, neither coming nor going, neither appearing nor disappearing. Of those who have heard these teachings, some have achieved [one of the Four Preparatory Trainings]—Warmth, Pinnacle, Endurance, and Foremost in the World; some have become Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, Anāgāmins, or Arhats; some have activated the bodhi mind and ascended the First, Second, Third, or even Tenth Ground. What is the difference in the meaning between the Dharma You have pronounced in the past and what You have stated today that prompted You to say that Bodhisattvas who train according to this profound unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning will attain the unsurpassed bodhi quickly? What is the reason? I pray only that the World-Honored One, out of His lovingkindness and sympathy for all, will explicate it to sentient beings widely, enabling present and future hearers of the Dharma not to have a net of doubts remaining."
    Then, the Buddha said to Great Magnificence Bodhisattva, "Very good! Very good! Man of great goodness, you are able to ask the Tathāgata about such wondrous meaning of the profound unexcelled Mahāyāna. We know that you are able to bring a great many benefits, giving peace and joy to gods and humans and removing suffering from sentient beings. Your great lovingkindness and compassion are truly trustworthy, not false. Because of these causes and conditions, you will definitely attain the unsurpassed bodhi quickly. You will also enable sentient beings in realms of existence to attain the unsurpassed bodhi in their present or future lives.
    "Good man, after sitting properly for six years under the bodhi tree in my bodhimaṇḍa, I attained anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. I then observed all dharmas with my Buddha-eye and decided that some of them should not yet be pronounced. Why? Because the natures and desires of sentient beings are diverse. As their natures and desires are varied, my teachings have also been varied. Pronouncing various Dharmas with the power of suitable means for over forty years, I did not reveal the definitive meaning. As a result, there are differences in the bodhi attained by sentient beings, and they are unable to attain the unsurpassed bodhi quickly.
    "Good man, the Dharma is like water which can wash off filth and dirt. Whether water comes from a well, a lake, a stream, a river, a brook, a channel, or an immense ocean, it all can wash off different kinds of dirt. Likewise, the Dharma water can cleanse the affliction-filth of sentient beings.
    "Good man, the nature of water is the same even though a stream, a river, a well, a pool, a channel, and an immense ocean are different from one another. The nature of the Dharma is the same. Although there is no difference in washing off the affliction-filth, the Three Vehicles, the four [voice-hearer] fruits, and the two paths are not the same.
    "Good man, although water from any source washes off dirt just the same, a well is not a pool, a pool is neither a stream nor a river, and a brook or a channel is not an immense ocean. The Dharma pronounced by the Tathāgata, the hero in the world, who has command of all dharmas, is like water. Although what is taught at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end can all cleanse sentient beings' afflictions, the beginning is not the middle, nor is the middle the end. The teachings given at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end use the same words but their meanings are different.
    "Good man, after I rose from under the tree-king, I went to Deer Park in Vārāṇasī and turned the Dharma wheel of the Four Noble Truths for the five monks including Ajñātakauṇḍinya. I pronounced that dharmas have always been empty, changing nonstop, as thoughts are born and perish, thought after thought. During the middle period of my teachings, I expounded everywhere to bhikṣus and Bodhisattvas the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising and the six pāramitās. I also pronounced that dharmas have always been empty, changing nonstop, as thoughts are born and perish, thought after thought. As I now expound here this Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning, I again pronounce that dharmas have always been empty, changing nonstop, as thoughts are born and perish, thought after thought. Good man, therefore, the teachings at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end use the same words, but with different meanings. Because the meanings are different, the understandings of sentient beings are different. Because their understandings are different, the Dharma, fruit, and bodhi they achieve are also different.
    "Good man, at the beginning, as I pronounced the Four Truths to those who wanted to be voice-hearers, eight koṭi gods who descended [from their heavens] to hear the Dharma activated the bodhi mind. In the middle period [of my teaching], as I pronounced everywhere the profound Twelve Links of Dependent Arising to those who wanted to become Pratyekabuddhas, innumerable sentient beings activated their bodhi mind while others remained as voice-hearers. Then I pronounced the vaipulya sūtras included in the twelve categories of sūtras, the Mahāprajñā Sūtras, and the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment, which is like an ocean of clouds, and I expounded how Bodhisattvas train themselves for kalpas. However, of the hundreds of thousands of bhikṣus and tens of thousands of koṭis of gods and humans, an uncountable number have become Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, Anāgāmins, or Arhats, abiding in the Dharma of Dependent Arising realized by Pratyekabuddhas. Good man, for this reason, we know that although the words are the same, their meanings vary. Because the meanings are different, the understandings of sentient beings are different. As their understandings differ, the Dharma, fruit, and bodhi they achieve are also different. Good man, after attaining the great bodhi, from the time I started pronouncing the Dharma to this day when I expound the Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning, I have never stopped explaining suffering, emptiness, impermanence, and no-self. Nor have I stopped explaining that dharmas, neither real nor unreal, neither large nor small, have never been in existence, nor do they perish. Nor have I withdrawn my teaching that the one appearance is no-appearance or that dharma-appearance and dharma-nature are neither coming nor going. However, sentient beings continue to be driven by the four appearances they perceive [in dharmas].
    "Good man, this means that Buddhas, who never speak contradictory words, can respond with one tone universally to all sounds. They each can use one body to manifest as many copies of that body as the immeasurable, uncountable sands of billions, koṭis, and nayutas of Ganges Rivers. Each copy can in turn manifest as many kinds of forms as the sands of Billions, koṭis, and asaṁkhyeyas of Ganges Rivers. Each form can further manifest as many shapes as the sands of billions, koṭis, and asaṁkhyeyas of Ganges Rivers. Good man, the inconceivable profound state of Buddhas is unknowable to riders of the Two Vehicles and beyond Bodhisattvas on the Tenth Ground. It is understood only among Buddhas.
    "Good man, therefore, I pronounce this wondrous, profound unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning, which is true in its principle and supreme in its dignity. It is protected by all Buddhas of the past, present, and future. No māras or non-Buddhists can enter it, nor can it be corrupted by the wrong views that perpetuate life and death. If Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas want to attain the unsurpassed bodhi quickly, they should study and learn such profound unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning."
    After the Buddha had finished His words, the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World quaked in six ways. The sky spontaneously rained down various kinds of celestial flowers, such as utpala, padma, kumuda, and puṇḍarīka. As an offering to the Buddha and the huge multitude of Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers, innumerable kinds of celestial incense, garments, necklaces, and priceless jewels fell spiraling down from the sky. Celestial serving dishes and bowls were filled with delicacies of 100 celestial flavors. Placed everywhere were celestial banners, flags, canopies, and musical instruments. As celestial music and songs were performed to praise the Buddha, the world again quaked in six ways.
    In the east, in Buddha Lands as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, their sky also rained down celestial flowers, incense, garments, necklaces, and priceless jewels. Their celestial serving dishes and bowls too were filled with delicacies of 100 celestial flavors. Also placed everywhere were celestial banners, flags, canopies, and musical instruments. Celestial music and songs were performed as well, praising their Buddhas and their huge multitude of Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers. Just the same were the worlds in the south, west, and north, as well as in the four in-between directions, and toward the zenith and nadir.
    Then, 32,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas in the multitude attained the Samādhi of Immeasurable Meaning, and 24,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas acquired immeasurable, innumerable Dhāraṇī Doors and were enabled to turn the no-regress Dharma wheel of Buddhas of the past, present, and future. The bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, upāsikās, gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas, as well as Wheel-Turning Kings, such as great Wheel-Turning Kings, lesser Wheel-Turning Kings, and other wheel kings, including silver wheel and iron wheel, as well as kings, princes, state ministers, citizens, men, women, and elders, together with their retinues in the hundreds of thousands, having heard the Buddha pronounce this sūtra, all received benefits. Some achieved [one of the Four Preparatory Trainings]—Warmth, Pinnacle, Endurance, and Foremost in the World. Some achieved the [voice-hearer] fruits, becoming Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, Anāgāmins, or Arhats. Some became Pratyekabuddhas. Some attained the Bodhisattva Enduring Realization of the No-birth of Dharmas. Some acquired one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, or even ten dhāraṇīs; some acquired a billion koṭi dhāraṇīs; some acquired as many dhāraṇīs as the sands of immeasurable, uncountable asaṁkhyeyas of Ganges Rivers. All were enabled to turn with the no-regress Dharma wheel. Innumerable sentient beings activated the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind.

Chapter 3
The Ten Virtues

At that time Great Magnificence Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva next said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, the World-Honored One has pronounced this wondrous, profound, unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning. It is very profound, truly profound, and totally profound! Why? In this multitude of Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, the four groups of disciples, gods, dragons, spirits, kings, state ministers, citizens, and sentient beings that have heard this profound unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning, no one has failed to acquire any of the Dhāraṇī Doors, three Dharmas [precepts, samādhi, and wisdom], four [voice-hearer] fruits, or the bodhi mind. We should know that this sūtra is true in its principle and supreme in its dignity. It is protected by all Buddhas of the past, present, and future. No māras or non-Buddhists can enter it, nor can it be corrupted by the wrong views that perpetuate life and death. Why not? By hearing it only once, one is enabled to uphold all Dharmas.
    "If there are sentient beings that have heard this sūtra, it is to their great benefit. Why? If they train accordingly, they will attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly. If there are sentient beings that are unable to hear this sūtra, we should know that it is a great loss to them. Even after passing immeasurable, boundless, inconceivable asaṁkhyeyas of kalpas, they still will not attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Why not? Not knowing the great Way to bodhi, they take perilous paths which lead to many tribulations.
    "World-Honored One, this sūtra is inconceivable! I pray only that the World-Honored One, out of lovingkindness and sympathy, will expound to this huge multitude broadly the profound and inconceivable things about this sūtra. World-Honored One, where does this sūtra come from, where does it go to, and where does it stay, to have such immeasurable virtue and inconceivable power, enabling sentient beings to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly?"
    At that time the World-Honored One told Great Magnificence Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, "Very good! Very good! Good man, indeed, indeed, it is just as you say. Good man, I say that this sūtra is very profound, truly profound, and totally profound. Why? Because it enables sentient beings to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly. Hearing it once enables them to uphold all Dharmas. It brings great benefits to sentient beings, and it enables them to walk the great straight path without tribulations. Good man, you ask where this sūtra comes from, where it goes to, and where it stays. Hearken well! Good man, this sūtra comes from the abode of Buddhas, goes to sentient beings for them to activate the bodhi mind, and stays in the action field of Bodhisattvas. Good man, this sūtra comes this way, goes this way, and stays this way. Indeed, this sūtra has such immeasurable virtue and inconceivable power and can enable sentient beings to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly.
    "Good man, would you like to hear the ten inconceivable powers of this sūtra's virtue?"
    Great Magnificence Bodhisattva replied, "I would be delighted to hear."
    The Buddha said: "Good man, first, this sūtra can enable Bodhisattvas who have not activated the bodhi mind to activate the bodhi mind. It enables those who have no lovingkindness to invoke the mind of lovingkindness. It enables those who enjoy killing to awaken the mind of compassion. It enables those who are jealous to open the mind of sympathetic joy. It enables those who have love and attachment to cultivate the mind of equability. It enables those who are miserly and greedy to release the mind of generosity. It enables those who are arrogant to observe their precepts. It enables those who are easily angered to endure [their own displeasure]. It enables those who are negligent and indolent to strive for energetic progress. It enables those who are disorderly to develop the meditative mind. It enables those who are foolish to unfold the wisdom mind. It enables those who are unable to deliver others to have the will to deliver others. It enables those who commit the ten evil deeds to be motivated for the ten good deeds. It enables those who delight in that which is saṁskṛta to realize the assaṁskṛta mind. It enables those with a regressive mind to kindle the mind of no regress. It enables those with discharges to develop the mind with no affliction to discharge. It enables those who have a great many afflictions to resolve to eradicate them. Good man, these are called the first inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, here is the second inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue. If there are sentient beings that have acquired this sūtra, whether in its entirety or just one stanza or one verse, they will be enabled to penetrate 100,000 koṭi meanings in the Dharma which, for immeasurable kalpas, they have upheld but are unable to expound. Why? The Dharma in this sūtra has immeasurable meaning. Good man, by analogy, a seed can produce hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of seeds. Each seed in turn can produce hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of seeds. The number of seeds successively produced in this way can be immeasurable. This sūtra is the same. One Dharma gives rise to hundreds and thousands of meanings. Each meaning in turn produces hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of meanings. Churning in this way, immeasurable, boundless meanings are revealed. Therefore, this sūtra is called Immeasurable Meaning. Good man, these are called the second inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, here is the third inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue. If there are sentient beings that have heard this sūtra, whether in its entirety or just one stanza or one verse, they will be enabled to penetrate a billion koṭi meanings. Although they still have afflictions, they will carry on as if without affliction. They will go through life and death without thoughts of fear. They will have sympathy for sentient beings and courage to face all dharmas. As a strong man can carry heavy loads, so too can the upholders of this sūtra shoulder the onerous undertaking for the unsurpassed bodhi and carry sentient beings away from the journey of life and death. Although they have not delivered themselves, they will be able to deliver others. As an analogy, a severely ill captain of the ship stays on this shore because of his physical disability, but he owns a sturdy ship equipped for transporting people, so he gives it to others to sail away. The upholders of this sūtra are the same. Transmigrating through the five life-paths, with their bodies fettered by 108 grave diseases, they will continue their ignorance, grow old, and die on this shore [of saṁsāra]. However, they have this sturdy Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning and can deliver others. Sentient beings that train according to what they say will be delivered from life and death. Good man, these are called the third inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, here is the fourth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue. If there are sentient beings that have heard this sūtra, whether in its entirety or just one stanza or one verse, they will acquire bravery. Although they have not delivered themselves, they will be enabled to deliver others and have Bodhisattvas as their spiritual family. Buddha-Tathāgatas will constantly expound the Dharma to them. After having heard it, they will be able to accept and uphold it accordingly, not countering it. They will in turn pronounce it widely to others where appropriate. Good man, they are like the youngest prince born to the king and queen, whether one, two, up to seven days old, whether one, two, up to seven months old, whether one, two, up to seven years old. Although he is unable to administer the affairs of the state, he is already respected by his people. He is in the company of older princes; the king and queen, with doting love, regularly talk to him. Why? Because he is very young. Good man, the upholders of this sūtra are the same. Buddhas are the king and this sūtra is the queen. Their union gives birth to Bodhisattva-sons. If these Bodhisattvas have heard this sūtra, whether in one verse or one stanza, whether once or twice, whether as innumerable, uncountable times as the sands of tens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, koṭis, tens of thousands of koṭis of Ganges Rivers, although they are yet unable to realize the ultimate truth, nor can they turn the great Dharma wheel with the thundering Brahma tone to shake the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, they are already respected by all in the four groups of disciples and the eight classes of Dharma protectors and have great Bodhisattvas as their spiritual family. Penetrating deeply into the secret Dharma of Buddhas, they can expound it without contradictions or faults. Because they are beginning students, they are always protected and remembered by Buddhas and embraced in their lovingkindness. Good man, these are called the fourth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, here is the fifth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue. If good men and good women, during the Buddha's life or after His parinirvāṇa, accept and uphold this profound unsurpassed Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning and recite and copy it, they will be able to indicate the great Bodhi Way even though they are still fettered by afflictions and unable to keep away from the matters of ordinary beings. They will be able to lengthen one day to 100 kalpas and shorten 100 kalpas into one day, winning the appreciation and trust of sentient beings. Good man, these good men and good women are like a dragon-son, which, only seven days old, already can stir up clouds and pour down rains. Good man, these are called the fifth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, here is the sixth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue. If good men and good women, during the Buddha's life or after His parinirvāṇa, accept and uphold this sūtra and read and recite it, although still with afflictions, they will pronounce the Dharma to sentient beings, enabling them to stay far away from afflictions and saṁsāra and to cease all suffering. After having heard it, sentient beings that train accordingly will acquire the Dharma, fruit, and bodhi, as if they were taught by Buddha-Tathāgatas, without any difference. As an analogy, although the prince is still very young, if the king is traveling or ill, he appoints the prince to administer the affairs of the state. The prince, following the great king's order, properly commands his retinues and 100 state ministers to proclaim the true Dharma. His kingdom and people live in peace, just as if ruled by the great king, without any difference. The good men and good women who uphold this sūtra are the same. Whether during the Buddha's life or after his parinirvāṇa, although they have not ascendedto the First Bodhisattva Ground called Joy, they will be able expound the teachings by relying on the Buddha's spoken words. Sentient beings that train single-mindedly, after hearing the teachings from them, will be able to eradicate their afflictions and acquire the Dharma, fruit, and even bodhi. Good man, these are called the sixth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, here is the seventh inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue. If good men and good women, during the Buddha's life or after His parinirvāṇa, have heard this sūtra, with joy and faith, they appreciate its precious rarity. Also, they accept and uphold it, read and recite it, and copy and explain it; they train in accord with the Dharma and activate the bodhi mind; and they develop their roots of goodness and invoke the mind of great compassion, resolved to deliver all suffering sentient beings. Although they have not cultivated the six pāramitās, the six pāramitās will spontaneously be present before them. Then they will attain in their present lives the Enduring Realization of the No-birth of Dharmas. Eradicating at once the afflictions of life and death, they ascend to the Seventh Ground, each assuming the position of a great Bodhisattva. By analogy, a strong man vanquishes the enemy for the king. With the enemy eliminated, the king in his delight bestows half of his kingdom on him. Men and women who uphold this sūtra are the same. These spiritual trainees are truly courageous and vigorous. The Dharma treasure of the six pāramitās will come to them without their quest, the life-and-death enemy will perish spontaneously, and they will attain the Enduring Realization of the No-birth of Dharmas. They will also receive peace and bliss as well as half of the treasures of a Buddha Land as an award. Good man, these are called the seventh power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, here is the eighth power of this sūtra's virtue. Suppose good men and good women, during the Buddha's life or after His parinirvāṇa, having acquired this sūtra, revere and believe it, regarding it as the Buddha's body, without any difference. Delighting in this sūtra, they accept and uphold it, read and recite it, copy it, and respectfully carry out its teachings in accord with the Dharma. They fortify their observance of precepts and their endurance as they actively give alms. Invoking profound lovingkindness and compassion, they widely pronounce this unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning. They will show the hearers this sūtra and devise various kinds of intensive ways to help them believe if the hearers initially do not believe in sin and merit. By virtue of the awesome power of this sūtra, the minds [of nonbelievers] will be turned around. Once their faith is kindled, they will courageously make energetic progress. Because of the awesome power and virtue of this sūtra, they will acquire the Way and fruit. On the other hand, these good men and good women, because of their merit of converting others, will in their present lives attain the Enduring Realization of the No-birth of Dharmas and ascend to the next high Ground, and they will have Bodhisattvas as their spiritual family. They will be able to turn out accomplished sentient beings and purify Buddha Lands. Before long, they will attain the unsurpassed bodhi. Good men, these are called the eighth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, here is the ninth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue. If good men and good women, during the Buddha's life or after His parinirvāṇa, have acquired this sūtra, with joy and exuberance, they appreciate it as something that never existed before. If they accept and uphold it, read and recite it, copy it and make offerings to it, and explicate its meaning to others, their past karma, remaining sin, and severe obstructions will all be expunged at once. They will acquire purity and great eloquence and sequentially fulfill the pāramitās, attaining samādhis. Through the Śūraṅgama Samādhi, they will enter the great Door of Total Retention. Having gained the power of energetic progress, they will quickly pass through the next high Ground. They will be adept in manifesting copies of their bodies everywhere in lands in the ten directions. They will be able to rescue sentient beings under extreme suffering in the twenty-five forms of existence, enabling them to achieve liberation. Indeed, this sūtra has such powers. Good man, these are called the ninth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, here is the tenth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue. Suppose good men and good women, during the Buddha's life or after His parinirvāṇa, having received this sūtra, exude great joy and appreciate its precious rarity. They not only accept and uphold it, read and recite it, copy it and make offerings to it, and train accordingly, but also convince lay and monastic people to accept and uphold it, read and recite it, copy and explain it, make offerings to it, and train in accord with the Dharma. Those people will acquire the Way and achieve the fruit because of their training and the power of this sūtra. Their achievement is credited to the mind of lovingkindness and the power of persuasion of these good men and good women. For this reason, these good men and good women will in their present lives acquire immeasurable Dhāraṇī Doors. Though still standing on the ground of ordinary beings, they will be able to make innumerable asaṁkhyeyas of great vows spontaneously and to invoke great compassion. Resolved to rescue widely all sentient beings from their suffering, they will be able to bulk up their roots of goodness and benefit all. They will be able to expound the Dharma, like channeling water to parched land, to offer Dharma medicine to sentient beings, and to give peace and joy to all. They will gradually ascend to the Dharma Cloud Ground, [the Tenth Bodhisattva Ground]. Hereupon, their charity will be universal and their lovingkindness all-encompassing, drawing suffering sentient beings to the right path. Therefore, before long, these good men and good women will attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Good man, these are called the tenth inconceivable power of this sūtra's virtue.
    "Good man, such an unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning has great awesome spiritual power. Supreme in its dignity, it can enable ordinary beings to achieve the holy fruit, commandingly leaving life and death forever. Therefore, this sūtra is called Immeasurable Meaning. It can cause sentient beings on the ground of ordinary beings to germinate immeasurable Bodhisattva bodhi sprouts. It can cause the tree of virtue to flourish and spread. Hence, this sūtra is called the Inconceivable Power of Virtue."
    Then, Great Magnificence Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and 80,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas said to the Buddha with one voice: "World-Honored One, this profound, wondrous, unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning pronounced by the Buddha is true in its principle and supreme its dignity. It is protected by Buddhas of the past, present, and future. No māras or non-Buddhists can enter it, nor can it be corrupted by the wrong views that perpetuate life and death. Hence, this sūtra has these ten inconceivable powers of virtue, to give immeasurable great benefits to all sentient beings. It can enable Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas each to attain the Samādhi of Immeasurable Meaning. Some will acquire 100,000 Dhāraṇī Doors; some will achieve endurance on the Bodhisattva Grounds; some will become Pratyekabuddhas or achieve the four voice-hearer fruits. World-Honored One, out of lovingkindness and sympathy, You have openly pronounced to us such teachings, giving us great Dharma benefits. This is so extraordinary, so unprecedented. The kindness and mercy of the World-Honored One are really hard to requite."
    That having been said, at that time the Three-Thousand Thousandfold World quaked in six ways. The sky rained down various kinds of celestial flowers—utpala, padma, kumuda, and puṇḍarīka. As an offering to the Buddha and the huge multitude of Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers, various kinds of celestial incense, garments, necklaces, and priceless jewels all spiraled down from the sky. Celestial serving dishes and bowls were filled with delicacies of 100 celestial flavors, which gratified all with their looks and aromas. Placed everywhere were celestial banners, flags, and canopies, as well as wonderful musical instruments. As celestial music and songs were performed to praise the Buddha, the world again quaked in six ways.
    In the east, in Buddha Lands as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, their sky also rained down celestial flowers, incense, garments, necklaces, and priceless jewels. Their celestial serving dishes and bowls too were filled with delicacies of 100 celestial flavors, which gratified all with their colors and aromas. Placed everywhere as well were celestial banners, flags, and canopies. Their wonderful celestial musical instruments also played celestial music, praising their Buddhas and their huge multitudes of Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers. Just the same were the worlds in the south, west, north, as well as in the four in-between directions, and toward the zenith and nadir.
    At that time the Buddha told Great Magnificence Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas and 80,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas: "You all should invoke the reverent mind for this sūtra and train in accord with the Dharma, in order to circulate this sūtra widely and convert all people. Day and night you should protect this sūtra diligently, enabling sentient beings each to receive Dharma benefits. You all truly have great lovingkindness and great compassion! Use your transcendental powers and the power of your vows to protect this sūtra. Do not allow it to be liable to doubts and stagnation. Promote it widely in Jambudvīpa far into the future and enable all sentient beings to see and hear it, read and recite it, copy it, and make offerings to it. Because of your effort, you will all be able to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi quickly."
    At that time Great Magnificence Bodhisattva and 80,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas rose from their seats, came forward to the place where the Buddha was, and bowed their heads down at the feet of the Buddha. They circumambulated the Buddha 100,000 times. Then they knelt on their right knees and said to the Buddha with one voice, "World-Honored One, we are so fortunate that the World-Honored One, bestowing His loving sympathy on us, has pronounced to us this profound, wondrous, unexcelled Mahāyāna Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning. We respectfully accept the Buddha's command. After the parinirvāṇa of the Tathāgata, we will widely circulate this sūtra, enabling all to accept and uphold it, read and recite it, copy it, and make offerings to it. We pray only that the World-Honored One will not be worried. We will use the power of our vows to enable all sentient beings to acquire the awesome spiritual power of this sūtra."
    At that time the Buddha praised, "Very good! Very good! Good men, you now are truly the sons of the Buddha and able to rescue, with great lovingkindness and great compassion, those who are in suffering and tribulations. As you widely give Dharma benefits to all, you are the good fortune field for all sentient beings, the competent guide for all sentient beings, the great refuge for all sentient beings, and the noble benefactor to all sentient beings."
    At that time all in the huge assembly greatly rejoiced. They made obeisance to the Buddha, accepted and upheld the teachings, and departed.

Sūtra of Immeasurable Meaning
Translated from the Chinese Canon (CBETA, T09n0276)


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