Thus I have heard:
At one time the Bhagavān was in the Karaṇḍa Bamboo Garden of the city of Rājagṛha, together with an innumerable multitude of great Bodhisattvas, bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, as well as gods, dragons, asuras, yakṣas, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas. All were seated in the huge assembly.
At that time Bhadrapāla Bodhisattva rose from his seat, arranged his attire, and fell on his knees. He joined his palms and asked the Buddha, "I would like to ask some questions. May I have Your permission to ask them now?"
The Buddha replied, "Very good! Ask any questions as you wish. I will answer them to you."
Bhadrapāla Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, "What Dharmas should Bodhisattvas carry out in order to develop wisdom, like the immense ocean accepting myriads of streams? What should they do in order to acquire broad knowledge and understand what they have heard without doubts? What should they do in order to know their past lives and the reasons why they have been reborn? What should they do in order to live a long life? What should they do in order to be reborn into a family with a great name and to be loved and respected by their parents, brothers, relatives, and friends? What should they do in order to be endowed with even, comely good features? What should they do in order to acquire superb talents, outstanding in the multitude, and to develop penetrating and all-encompassing wisdom? What should they do in order to fulfill the merit and the sublime appearance of a Buddha, to have immeasurable awesome powers, and to form a magnificent Buddha Land? What should they do in order to subjugate the hostile māras? What should they do in order to achieve self-mastery so that their vows will never fail? What should they do in order to enter the Door of Total Retention? What should they do in order to acquire the transcendental powers to travel to Buddha Lands everywhere? What should they do in order to acquire fierce valiance like that of a lion, with nothing to fear, untouchable by māras? What should they do in order to realize their holy Buddha nature and to accept and uphold the Dharma in the sūtras with understanding, without forgetting? What should they do in order to have contentment, free from sycophancy and flattery and untouched by the three forces—arrogance, the five desires, and the wrong views? What should they do in order to hold the overall wisdom-knowledge without any hindrance, never deviating from the Buddha's intention? What should they do in order to win people's trust? What should they do in order to acquire the eight tones [of a Buddha] and master 10,000 koṭi tones? What should they do in order to fulfill the sublime appearance of a Buddha? What should they do in order to acquire the power of all-hearing? What should they do in order to acquire the Bodhi-eye for seeing into the future? What should they do in order to acquire the Ten Powers and the true wisdom? What should they do in order to see, with a single thought, all Buddhas from the ten directions appearing before them? What should they do in order to know that the four appearances of dharmas have never had any reality? What should they do in order to see right here innumerable Buddha Lands in the ten directions and to know the good and evil life-journeys there of the people, gods, dragons, spirits, and wriggly insects? These are my questions. I pray that the Buddha will explain and resolve all of my doubts."
The Buddha said to Bhadrapāla, "Very good! Your questions are so comprehensive that they are beyond measure. The reason why you are able to ask these questions is that you have achieved merit in your past lives under past Buddhas. It is because you have made offerings to Buddhas, delighted in the Dharma in the sūtras, observed your precepts, and lived in purity. It is because you have always begged for food, not accepting meal invitations, convened the assemblies of Bodhisattvas, taught people to stop doing evil, and seen the equality in all. It is because you have always had great lovingkindness and great compassion. Your merit is beyond measure."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "There is a samādhi called Buddhas from the Ten Directions All Standing Before One. If you can train in this Dharma, you will have the answers to all of your questions."
Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, "I pray that You will pronounce it. What the Buddha will now pronounce is all-encompassing. It will give peace to sentient beings in the ten directions and present great illumination to Bodhisattvas."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "There is a samādhi called Concentrated Mind. Bodhisattvas should constantly guard, learn, and uphold it, never to follow other ways. Of all virtuous ways, this is the foremost."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "If Bodhisattvas wish to attain this samādhi quickly, they should stand in great faith. Those who implement it in accord with the Dharma can attain this samādhi. Do not allow any doubt to arise, even as slight as a hair. This Dharma of Concentrated Mind is also called the Bodhisattva Way Surpassing All Others."
[The Buddha then spoke in verse:]
"With a single thought, believe in this Dharma.
Following the teachings heard, think only of one course.
Keep only one thought, ceasing all other thoughts.
Stand firm in your faith, without any doubts.
Progress energetically, never negligent or indolent.
Think of neither existence nor nonexistence, neither progress nor regress.
Think of neither front nor back, neither left nor right.
Think of neither nonexistence nor existence, neither far nor near.
Think of neither pain nor itch, neither hunger nor thirst.
Think of neither cold nor hot, neither suffering nor pleasure.
Think of neither birth nor old age, neither illness nor death.
Think of neither body nor life, nor longevity.
Think of neither wealth nor poverty, neither nobility nor lowliness.
Think of neither sense objects nor desires.
Think of neither large nor small, neither long nor short.
Think of neither fineness nor coarseness.
Think of neither evil nor goodness, neither anger nor delight.
Think of neither rising nor sitting, neither proceeding nor stopping.
Think of neither the sūtras nor the Dharma.
Think of neither right nor wrong, neither grasping nor abandoning.
Think of neither perception nor consciousness.
Think of neither cessation nor continuation.
Think of neither emptiness nor true reality.
Think of neither heavy nor light, neither hard nor easy.
Think of neither deep nor shallow, neither broad nor narrow.
Think of neither father nor mother, neither wife nor children.
Think of neither friends nor acquaintances, neither love nor hatred.
Think of neither gain nor loss, neither success nor failure.
Think of neither clarity nor confusion.
Cease all thoughts and be vigilant for a period of time, never distracted.
Progress energetically, never negligent or indolent.
Do not count the years, nor feel tired in a single day.
Hold one thought, never losing it.
Avoid sleep and keep the mind alert.
Always live alone and avoid gatherings.
Shun evil ones but link with beneficent friends.
Stay close to illuminated teachers, regarding them as a Buddha.
Hold firm your resolve, but always be gentle.
Meditate on equality in all things.
Evade hometown and keep distance from relatives.
Abandon love and desire and live in purity.
Train for that which is asaṁskṛta and cease desires.
Drop distracting thoughts and learn the way of concentration.
Gain wisdom from words in accord with dhyāna.
Remove the three defilements and purify the six faculties.
Cease lustful pursuits and leave sensory experiences behind.
Do not be greedy for wealth or accumulate things.
Know contentment in eating food and do not covet flavors.
Be cautious never to eat any sentient being, dead or alive.
Dress in accord with the Dharma, and do not be ornately adorned.
Do not tease others, nor be proud or arrogant.
Do not be conceited, nor elevate yourself.
Expound sūtras in accord with the Dharma.
Understand that the body has always been like an illusion.
Do not be engrossed by the aggregates, nor revel in the sensory fields.
The five aggregates are like bandits, and the four domains are like snakes.
All are impermanent and all are unstable.
Recognize that there has never been an everlasting lord,
Only meetings and partings of causes and conditions.
Understand and know that nothing in existence is real.
Bestow lovingkindness and sympathy on all.
Give alms to the poor and relief to the unfortunate.
This is meditative concentration in the Bodhisattva Way, which
Unfolds the fundamental wisdom and elicits myriads of knowledge."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "Those who train in this way will attain this samādhi, during which present Buddhas all stand before them. If, among bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, there are those who want to train according to this Dharma, they should observe their precepts completely and live alone in a place to think of Amitābha Buddha, who is in the west. According to the teachings heard, one should also think of His land called Sukhāvatī, which is 10 million koṭi Buddha Lands away from here. Contemplate single-mindedly for one day and one night, or even seven days and seven nights. After the seventh day, one will see Him.
"By analogy, one sees things in a dream, not knowing whether it is day or night, indoors or outdoors, and one's sight is impervious to darkness or obstructions. Bhadrapāla, Bodhisattvas should do this contemplation. Then huge mountains, Sumeru Mountains, and dark places in the intervening Buddha Lands will all open wide, not posing any obstruction. These Bodhisattvas will see across without having the God-eye, hear across without having the God-ear, and travel to that Buddha Land without possessing transcendental powers. It is not that they have died here and been reborn there, but that they can sit here and see everything there.
"As an analogy, a man hears that, in the kingdom of Vaiśālī, there is a prostitute named Sumanā; a second man hears of a prostitute called Āmrapālī; and a third man hears that Utpalavarṇā has become a prostitute. These three men have never seen those three women, but they have heard of them and their lust is ignited. They all live in Rājagṛha, and they have lustful thoughts concurrently. Each of them goes, in a dream, to the woman he thinks of and spends the night with her. When they wake up, they all remember their own dreams."
The Buddha said to Bhadrapāla, "The three women I have mentioned serve as an analogy. You may use suitable ways to expound the Dharma, enabling others to unfold their wisdom so that they will arrive at the Ground of No Regress on the unsurpassed true Way. When they attain Buddhahood eventually, they all will be called Superb Enlightenment."
The Buddha continued, "Bodhisattvas in this land can see Amitābha Buddha by thinking intently only of Him. When they see Him, they can ask, 'What Dharma should I uphold in order to be reborn in Your land?' Amitābha Buddha will reply, 'Those who desire to be reborn in my land should think of my name. If they can continue without taking rest, they will succeed in being reborn here.'"
The Buddha said, "Because of concentrated thinking, one will achieve rebirth there. One should always think of Amitābha Buddha's body with thirty-two major marks and eighty excellent characteristics, unequaled in its sublimity, radiating enormous bright light to illuminate everywhere. He teaches, in the assembly of Bodhisattvas and bhikṣus, that dharmas [in true reality] are empty and indestructible. Why? Indestructible are all [empty] dharmas, such as form, pain, itch, thinking, perception, birth, death, consciousness, spirit, earth, water, fire, and wind, the human world, Brahma Heaven, and Great Brahma Heaven. By thinking of a Buddha, one attains the Samādhi of Emptiness."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "Who have attained this Bodhisattva samādhi? My disciple Mahākāśyapa, Indraguṇa Bodhisattva, the god-son Good Virtue, and those who already know this samādhi have attained it by training. Hence, Bhadrapāla, those who wish to see present Buddhas in the ten directions should think in their directions single-mindedly, without other thoughts. Then they will be able to see them. As an analogy, one travels to distant lands and thinks of family and kin in one's hometown. In a dream, one returns home, sees one's family and relatives, and enjoys talking to them. After waking, one tells one's dream to friends."
The Buddha said, "If Bodhisattvas hear of a Buddha's name and desire to see Him, they will be able to see Him by continuously thinking of Him and His land. For example, a bhikṣu visualizes before him the bones of a corpse, turning blue, white, red, or black. The colors are not brought by anyone, but are imagined by his mind. Likewise, by virtue of the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, Bodhisattvas who commandingly abide in this samādhi can see Buddhas in any directions as they wish. Why? They are able to see them by virtue of three powers—the power of Buddhas, the power of the samādhi, and the power of their own merit.
"As an analogy, a handsome young man dressed in fine clothes wants to see his own image. He can see his reflection by looking into a hand mirror, hemp oil, clear water, or a crystal. Does his reflection come from the outside into the mirror, oil, water, or crystal?"
Bhadrapāla replied, "No, it does not. God of Gods, it is because of the clarity of the mirror, oil, water, or crystal, that the man can see his reflection. His reflection comes from neither the inside [of the medium] nor the outside."
The Buddha said, "Very good, Bhadrapāla. Because the medium is clear, the reflection is clear. Likewise, if one wishes to see a Buddha, one with a pure mind will be able to see. When one sees Him, one can ask questions, and He will give a reply. Having heard the teachings, one will be exultant and think this thought: 'Where does this Buddha come from and where am I going? As I think of this Buddha, He comes from nowhere. Nor am I going anywhere. As I think of the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm, these three realms are formed by my mind. I can see what I think of. The mind creates a Buddha for itself to see. The mind is the Buddha mind. My mind forms the Buddha. My mind is the Buddha, the Tathāgata, and my body.'
"Although the mind sees a Buddha, the mind neither knows itself nor sees itself. The mind with perception is the false mind; the mind without perception is nirvāṇa. Dharmas as perceived are not something pleasurable. They are empty thoughts, nothing real in existence. This is what is seen by Bodhisattvas who abide in this samādhi."
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:
"The mind does not know itself; the mind does not see itself.
The mind that fabricates perception is false; the mind without perception is nirvāṇa.
Dharmas are not firm, always founded upon thinking.
Those who see emptiness with this understanding
Are free from perceptions and expectations."
The Buddha continued, "There are four things through which Bodhisattvas can quickly attain this samādhi. First, have indestructible faith. Second, make energetic progress that nothing can deter. Third, have wisdom-knowledge that no one can compare. Fourth, always work under a beneficent teacher. These are the four things. There are another four things which will enable one to acquire this samādhi quickly. First, do not engage in worldly thinking for three months, not even during a finger snap. Second, do not sleep for three months, not even during a finger snap. Third, do walking meditation for three months without any rest, except for eating food and so forth. Fourth, expound sūtras to others, not expecting their offerings. These are the four things. There are another four things which will enable one to attain this samādhi quickly. First, take people to the place where the Buddha is. Second, gather people to have them hear the teachings. Third, have no jealousy. Fourth, have people learn the Buddha Way. These are the four things. There are another four things which will enable one to acquire this samādhi quickly. First, construct the images of Buddhas and persuade people to make offerings. Second, copy this sūtra on fine fabric and have people read and recite it. Third, teach the self-elevated ones to enter the Buddha Way. Fourth, protect and uphold the true Dharma to make it endure as long as possible. These are the four things."
At that time the Buddha spoke in verse:
"Always believe and delight in the Buddha Dharma.
Progress energetically to attain profound wisdom.
Disseminate and pronounce the Dharma to others.
Guard against greed for offerings.
With good understanding, turn away from desires.
Always think of the Buddha,
Who has awesome virtues, sees, and knows countless diversities of dharmas.
Past Buddhas, future Buddhas,
And present Buddhas revered among men,
With no afflictions to discharge,
Are golden in color and have superb physical marks.
Their teachings are firm, and their wisdom beyond the ultimate.
Listen to this Dharma with an undistracted mind.
Forever discard the way of negligence and indolence.
Never bear malice toward others.
Respect teachers like a Buddha.
Be cautious not to have doubts about this sūtra,
Which is praised by all Buddhas.
Always construct the images of Buddhas.
Always persuade people to learn this Dharma
And implement it to attain this samādhi."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "Those who want to learn this samādhi should respect their teachers, serve them, and make offerings to them, regarding them as a Buddha. Those who see their teachers as less than a Buddha will have difficulty attaining this samādhi. Bodhisattvas who respect teachers from whom they have learned this samādhi can advance, relying on the Buddha's awesome spiritual power. As they face the east, they will see a billion koṭi Buddhas. In the same way, they will see Buddhas in the ten directions. By analogy, one observes the night sky and sees myriads of stars. Bodhisattvas who desire to see present Buddhas all standing before them should respect beneficent teachers, not looking for their faults. Never negligent or indolent, they should perfect their training in giving alms, observing their precepts, enduring adversities, and making energetic progress single-mindedly.
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "Bodhisattvas who have attained this samādhi but do not progress energetically are like those who are shipwrecked midway crossing an immense ocean on a ship fully loaded with treasures. People in Jambudvīpa will all be in tremendous anguish, concerned about the loss of their treasures. If Bodhisattvas have heard this samādhi but do not learn it, gods will all sadly say, 'This is a loss to our treasured sūtra.'"
The Buddha said, "This samādhi is entrusted and praised by all Buddhas. If those who have heard this profound samādhi sūtra do not copy, study, recite, or uphold it in accord with the Dharma, they are foolish. As an analogy, someone gives sandalwood incense to a fool, but he refuses to accept it, saying that the incense is impure. The donor says, 'This is sandalwood incense. Do not say that it is impure. If you smell it, you will know that it is fragrant. If you look at it, you will know that it is pure.' That fool closes his eyes, refusing to smell or see it."
The Budddha said, "Those who have heard this samādhi sūtra but refuse to accept it are as ignorant as that fool. They instead argue that the world is existent. Not having realized emptiness, they do not know nonexistence. Alleging that their views were in accord with the Dharma, they say in mockery, 'Does the Buddha have profound sūtras? Does He have awesome spiritual powers?' They say these contradictory words: 'Are there bhikṣus in the world who are like Ānanda?'"
The Buddha said, "Those people walk away from the ones who uphold this samādhi. In twos and threes, they say to one another, 'What do these words mean? Where did they obtain these words? They must have gathered together to forge this sūtra. It is not pronounced by the Buddha.'"
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "As an analogy, a merchant shows a precious gem to a foolish farm boy. The boy asks, 'How much is this gem worth?' The merchant replies, 'If you place this gem in the dark, its light shines on the treasures that fill up an area.'"
The Buddha continued, "The foolish boy still does not know that this gem is precious. He asks, 'Can its value be compared with that of a cow? I would rather trade it for a cow. If you agree, it is good. If you disagree, forget it.' Bhadrapāla, Bodhisattvas who, having heard this samādhi, do not believe it and make contradictory remarks are like that foolish boy."
The Buddha said, "Bodhisattvas who, having heard this samādhi sūtra, believe it, accept and uphold it, and train accordingly are supported by those around them, and they have nothing to fear. Complete in observance of their precepts, they are brilliant, and their wisdom is profound. They disseminate the Dharma, telling people to teach one another successively, enabling this samādhi sūtra to remain as long as possible in the world."
The Buddha said, "The fools have not made offerings or cultivated virtues in their past lives. They have instead elevated themselves, carrying out slanderous and jealous ways. Greedy for wealth and benefits, they seek fame and reputation. They only want to make noisy remarks because they do not believe in profound sūtras. Having heard this samādhi sūtra, they neither believe nor appreciate it, nor learn it. Instead, they malign this sūtra, alleging that it is not pronounced by the Buddha."
The Buddha said to Bhadrapāla, "Now I tell you the way it is. If good men and good women take treasures that fill up the Three-Thousand Great Thousandfold World to give away as alms, their merit is less than that of those who hear this samādhi sūtra and believe and delight in it. Their merit is greater than that of the almsgivers."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "My words never change. I now say these words. Setting aside those who in future lives will follow evil teachers, if there are those who now have doubts about this samādhi I have pronounced, their merit are not worth mentioning even if they in future lives follow good teachers. These people will still turn to work under evil teachers. What is the reason why they, having heard this samādhi, neither believe nor appreciate it, and choose not to learn it? They disbelieve because they have seen few Buddhas in the past and have little wisdom."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "I have the foresight and foreknowledge of those who, having heard this samādhi sūtra, will not laugh in contempt, malign, doubt, or suddenly believe and suddenly disbelieve, but will delight in copying, learning, reciting, and upholding it. They not only have accumulated merit under one or two Buddhas, but have heard this samādhi at the places where 100 Buddhas were. When they hear this samādhi sūtra in their future lives, if they copy, learn, recite, and uphold it even for only one day and one night, their merit is beyond calculation. They will arrive at the spiritual level of avinivartanīya on their own as they wish."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "Hear this analogy. Suppose someone crushes a Buddha Land into dust, and then further pulverizes each dust particle into more particles. Is the number of dust particles produced from a Buddha Land very huge?"
Bhadrapāla replied, "Very huge, God of Gods."
The Buddha said, "Suppose a Bodhisattva takes all these dust particles and places each in a Buddha Land. Then, he takes treasures that fill up all these Buddha Lands to make an offering to Buddhas. His merit is very little in comparison with that of those who have heard this samādhi sūtra and have learned, copied, recited, and upheld it. Even if they only advise others to guard it, enabling them to hear it for a short while, this merit is beyond calculation. Even more is the merit of those who have fully attained this samādhi."
At that time the Buddha spoke in verse:
"If there are Bodhisattvas who seek merit,
They should pronounce and train in this samādhi.
Those who believe, delight in, and recite it without doubts
Have immeasurable merit.
Crushing one Buddha Land into dust particles,
One can give as alms treasures filling Buddha Lands that are
As numerous as dust particles.
Those who have heard this samādhi
Have merit greater than that of the almsgiver.
Their merit is beyond analogy.
I entrust you all to teach others
To progress energetically without negligence or indolence.
Those who recite and uphold this samādhi sūtra
Have already seen 100,000 Buddhas.
As for the huge dread at the final moment of life,
Those abiding in this samādhi will have no fear.
Bhikṣus who go this way have already seen me.
They always follow the Buddha, never far from Him.
The Buddha's words never change.
Bodhisattvas should always follow His teachings
To attain quickly samyak-saṁbodhi, the ocean of wisdom."
Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, "Unrivaled God of Gods, if there are those who, having abandoned love and desires to become bhikṣus, have heard this samādhi, how should they learn, uphold, and implement it?"
The Buddha said, "Those who, having abandoned love and desires and become bhikṣus, want to learn this samādhi should observe their precepts purely without any flaw even as slight as a hair. To be pure, they should dread the suffering of hell and refrain from sycophancy.
"What is a flaw in observing the precepts?"
The Buddha replied, "Seeking form."
"What is meant by seeking form?"
The Buddha replied, "If the motive of a person who observes his precepts with self-control is to be reborn in the next life as a god or a Wheel-Turning King, such intent for pleasures, loves, and desires is called a flaw in his observance of the precepts."
The Buddha continued, "Those who restrain themselves properly, observe their precepts completely, and do not flatter others are always praised by the wise. They should give alms and progress energetically in accordance with the sūtras. Their resolve should be strong, and they should have a great deal of faith and sympathetic joy. Those who serve their teachers like a Buddha will attain this samādhi quickly. Those who are disrespectful and readily deceitful to their teachers will quickly lose this samādhi even if they have been training for a long time."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "Bodhisattvas who have heard this samādhi from bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, or upāsikās should regard them as respectfully as a Buddha, without any intent for sycophancy. Bodhisattvas should always be earnest. They should always delight in living alone. Though not begrudging even their lives, they should not hope for others to make requests to them. They should always beg for food, not accepting meal invitations. They should guard their moral integrity and be content with what they have. They should do walking meditation, not lying down to relax. Those who are learning this samādhi should abide by the teachings in the sūtras."
Bhadrapāla said to the Buddha, "Unrivaled God of Gods, in future times, if there are Bodhisattvas who want to learn this samādhi and progress energetically, we will teach them according to this sūtra. If there are negligent and indolent Bodhisattvas who, after hearing this samādhi, do not learn it diligently, what can be done?"
The Buddha said, "Very good, Bhadrapāla, I will aid them to have joy. All Buddhas of the past, future, and present will also aid them to have joy. At that time the Buddha spoke in verse:
Accept and uphold all that I say.
Always live alone and cultivate virtues.
Guarding your moral integrity, do not join crowds.
Always beg for food, not accepting meal invitations.
Respect Dharma masters and regard them as a Buddha.
Avoid sleep and strengthen aspirations.
Always progress energetically, without negligence or indolence.
Those who train in this way will attain this samādhi."
Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, "If bhikṣuṇīs, seeking the Bodhisattva Way, want to learn this samādhi, what should they do?"
The Buddha replied, "Bhikṣuṇīs who seek this samādhi should not elevate themselves. They should be humble, neither self-dignified nor self-aggrandized. They should harbor neither jealousy nor anger, nor greed for wealth, benefits, or sense objects. They should protect their purity, even at the cost of their lives. They should always delight in the Dharma in the sūtras and learn as much as possible. They should discard desire, anger, and delusion, and they should not be greedy for fine clothing or adornments, such as necklaces of gems. Then they will be praised by the wise. They should respect beneficent teachers and regard them as a Buddha, without any intent for sycophancy."
At that time the Buddha spoke in verse:
"If bhikṣuṇīs seek this samādhi,
They should progress energetically, never negligent or indolent.
Forbid the mind of greed.
Remove anger and self-glorification.
Do not be arrogant, deceitful, or playful.
Always act in earnest, standing in the one faith.
Respect beneficent teachers and regard them as a Buddha.
Those who train in this way will attain this samādhi."
Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, "If upāsakas, training in the Way, have heard this samādhi and want to learn it, what should they do?"
The Buddha replied, "Upāsakas who desire to learn this samādhi should firmly observe the five precepts. They should not drink alcohol, nor should they have others drink it. They should not be intimate with women, nor should they have others do so. They should not be attached to their wives, nor men or other women. They should not have greed for assets. They should constantly think of renouncing family life to become śramaṇas. They should regularly observe the eight precepts in a Buddhist temple. They should always remember to give alms. After giving alms, they should not think, 'I have gained merit,' because alms should be given to others for their benefit. They should have great lovingkindness and respect for their beneficent teachers. When they see bhikṣus who observe their precepts, they should not readily talk about their faults. Having carried out these actions, they should learn to abide in this samādhi."
At that time the Buddha spoke in verse:
"Upāsakas who desire to learn this samādhi
Should observe the five precepts without breach or flaw.
They should always think of becoming śramaṇas,
Not greedy for wives, riches, or sense objects.
They should regularly observe the eight precepts in a Buddhist temple.
Neither self-elevated nor contemptuous of others,
Their minds do not expect glory, nor think of wants.
They should carry out the Dharma in the sūtras, without a sycophantic mind.
Abandoning stinginess and greed, they should give generous alms.
They should always respect bhikṣus and make offerings to them.
Resolved to take the one training, they should never be negligent or indolent.
Those who are learning this samādhi should act in this way."
Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, "If upāsikās have heard of this samādhi and want to learn it, what should they do?"
The Buddha replied, "If upāsikās desire to learn this samādhi, they should observe the five precepts and willingly take refuge in the Three Jewels. What are these three? They should take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha, never to follow other paths. They should not make obeisance to gods, nor worship spirits. They should not select auspicious dates. They should not tease others, be indulgent, or think of sensory pleasures. Subjugating the mind of greed and desire, they should remember to give alms. Delighting in hearing the sūtras, they should remember to study hard and respect beneficent teachers. Their minds should be vigilant, never negligent or indolent. They should offer a sit-down meal to bhikṣus or bhikṣuṇīs who pass by."
At that time the Buddha spoke in verse:
"Upāsikās who desire to learn this samādhi
Should observe the five precepts without breach or flaw.
They should serve beneficent teachers and regard them as a Buddha.
They should not make obeisance to gods, nor worship spirits.
They should stop killing, stealing, and jealousy,
Never saying divisive words to incite conflict among people.
They should be neither stingy nor greedy,
Always remembering to give alms.
Not publicizing the evil, they should praise the good.
They should refrain from sycophancy and sexual misconduct.
They should respectfully serve bhikṣus and bhikṣuṇīs.
Those who train in this way will attain this samādhi."
The eight Bodhisattvas—Bhadrapāla, Ralinnāga, Gaujata, Naradatta, Suṣama, Mahāsusaha, Indrada, and Harandha—having heard the Buddha's words, greatly rejoiced. They gave away 500 cotton garments as alms. They willingly took refuge and made offerings of precious jewels. The Buddha said to Ānanda, "These 500 people, including Bhadrapāla, are teachers among men. They will uphold the true Dharma and teach and transform others accordingly, and all will be joyful. Those who delight in serving them will have pure minds without desires."
At that time these 500 people joined their palms, standing before the Buddha. Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, "How many things should Bodhisattvas uphold in order to attain this samādhi quickly?
The Buddha replied, "There are four things. First, do not believe in other paths. Second, cease love and desires. Third, carry out the pure ways. Fourth, have no greed. These are the four. Those who implement them will earn 500 merits in their present life. For example, bhikṣus with the mind of lovingkindness will never be poisoned, subjected to knives or weapons, burned in fire, or drowned or harmed in water. Even when a kalpa is burning away, if they fall into that fire, it will extinguish, just like a small fire put out by a massive amount of water. Whether kings, bandits, water, or fire, whether dragons, yakṣas, serpents, lions, tigers, or wolves, whether forest phantoms, hungry ghosts, or kumbhānḍas, those who, targeting at Bodhisattvas who abide in this samādhi, desire to bewitch them, kill them, rob their monastic robe and bowl, or destroy their meditation and mindfulness will never succeed. Unless such misfortune is summoned by their past karma, things will be as I say, not different."
The Buddha said, "Those who uphold this samādhi will not have ailments of the eye, ear, nose, mouth, or body, nor will they have anxiety in their minds, except for misfortune in response to deeds in their past lives."
The Buddha continued, "Gods, dragons, asuras, yakṣas, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas, as well as humans and nonhumans, will all acclaim these Bodhisattvas. They all will support, protect, and serve these Bodhisattvas, and make offering to them. As they regard these Bodhisattvas with respect and want to see them, so too do Buddha-Bhagavāns. If there are sūtras that these Bodhisattvas did not hear or uphold before, they will obtain them because of the awesome power of this samādhi. If they do not obtain them during the day, they will receive them in a night dream."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "I can describe, for one kalpa after another, the merit of those who abide in this samādhi, but still cannot cover them all. I have only briefly mentioned a few essential ones."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "Bodhisattvas who uphold this samādhi can think four thoughts to activate their sympathetic joy: First, past Buddhas who upheld this samādhi with sympathetic joy all attained, through self-realization, anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi, fulfilling their wisdom-knowledge. Second, the innumerable present Buddhas in the ten directions, by thinking these four thoughts, have attained Buddhahood by upholding this samādhi with sympathetic joy. Third, future Buddhas will attain Buddhahood by thinking these four thoughts as well to activate their sympathetic joy. Fourth, I too have sympathetic joy."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "In regard to the four thoughts to activate one's sympathetic joy, I will use a few analogies. A person walks during his 100-year life span without any rest, and he walks faster than the wind. Can you figure out the area he has covered?"
Bhadrapāla replied, "No one can calculate this. Only the Buddha's disciple Śāriputra and Bodhisattvas at the spiritual level of avinivartanīya can figure this out."
The Buddha said, "Therefore, I say to Bodhisattvas that if there are good men and good women who give away as alms treasures that fill up the area traversed by that person, this merit is less than that of hearing this samādhi and having sympathetic joy by thinking these four thoughts. The merit of the latter is a billion koṭi times more than that from giving alms. Know that the merit of having sympathetic joy is great."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "Far back, incalculable asaṁkhyeyas of kalpas ago, in a remote place, there was a Buddha called Siṁhamati, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Teacher to Gods and Men, Buddha the World-Honored One. At that time the continent of Jambudvīpa was 180,000 koṭi lis in length and width. There were 6,400,000 kingdoms, prosperous and densely populated. There was a great kingdom called Bhadrakara, ruled by a Wheel-Turning King named Vaiścin. He went to the place where that Buddha was, made obeisance, and stepped back to sit on one side. That Buddha knew his intent and pronounced this samādhi sūtra to him. Having heard it, the King, with sympathetic joy, scattered jewels over that Buddha as he thought to himself: 'I should transfer this merit to people in the ten directions to give them peace.'
"After Siṁhamati Buddha entered parinirvāṇa, the king Vaiścin died. He was reborn in his own family and became the crown prince called Brahmada. At that time there was a bhikṣu called Jewel, who was pronouncing this samādhi sūtra to his four groups of disciples. Brahmada heard of it, and sympathetic joy arose in him. Exuberantly he took jewels worth hundreds of koṭis of great price and scattered them over that bhikṣu, and he also offered him fine clothing. Resolved to seek the Buddha Way, together with 1,000 people, Brahmada became a śramaṇa under that bhikṣu. To hear this samādhi sūtra, he and the 1,000 people served their teacher tirelessly for 8,000 years. Because of hearing this samādhi sūtra, albeit only once, and having the four thoughts that activated his sympathetic joy, he acquired excellent knowledge. For this reason, he subsequently saw 68,000 Buddhas. At the place of each of these Buddhas, he heard this samādhi sūtra again. Through self-realization, he has become a Buddha called Tilavida, the Tathāgata, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Teacher to Gods and Humans, Buddha the World-Honored One. Those 1,000 bhikṣus have also attained Samyak-Saṁbodhi, and all of them are called Tilajuṣa. They have taught innumerable people to seek the Buddha Way."
The Buddha asked Bhadrapāla, "After hearing this samādhi sūtra, who would not have sympathetic joy? Who would rather not learn, uphold, and recite it, and explain it to others?"
The Buddha said, "Those who abide in this samādhi will quickly attain Buddhahood. Even the merit of hearing it is incalculable, much more from learning and upholding it. One should seek for it even if this samādhi teaching is 100 or 1,000 lis away. How can one not seek to learn it when it is close by? Those who have heard of this samādhi and want to learn and uphold it should serve their teachers for ten years, paying visits and making offerings, which they dare not use for themselves. They should follow the teachings of their teachers and always remember their kindness."
The Buddha said, "Therefore, I tell you this. If one travels 4,000 lis to hear this samādhi sūtra, one's merit is incalculable even though one fails to hear it. Why? Because of one's motivation to progress, one will attain Buddhahood through self-realization."
The Buddha said, "In the distant past, there was a Buddha called Sacanama, the Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Unsurpassed One, Teacher to Gods and Men, Buddha the World-Honored One. At that time there was a bhikṣu named Halan. After that Buddha entered parinirvāṇa, that bhikṣu upheld this samādhi sūtra. At that time I was a king, in the kṣatriya caste, and I heard of this samādhi sūtra in a dream. Upon waking, I immediately went to that bhikṣu and became a śramaṇa under him. For the sake of hearing this samādhi sūtra, I served that teacher for 36,000 years. However, I was unable to hear it because time and again māra matters arose."
The Buddha told the bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās: "Hence I tell you all to learn this samādhi as soon as possible, never to lose it. You should properly serve your teacher and uphold this samādhi sūtra for one kalpa, 100 kalpas, or even 100,000 kalpas, never negligent or indolent. You should stay with a beneficent teacher, never leaving him. Do not begrudge food, drink, life-supporting goods, clothing, bedding, beds, and precious jewels. If you do not have any, you should beg for food and offer it to your teacher. Work tirelessly for attaining this samādhi. You should even cut off your own flesh to offer to your beneficent teacher, not to mention giving precious things. Serve your beneficent teacher, like a slave serving a great family. Those who seek this samādhi should act in this way.
"Having attained this samādhi, one should abide in it and always remember the kindness of one's teacher. This samādhi is hard to encounter. There are those who seek for 100,000 kalpas but cannot even hear the name of this samādhi. How could anyone who has learned it not progress diligently? If there are those who give as alms treasures filling as many Buddha Lands as the sands of the Ganges, they cannot be compared to the one who is learning this samādhi or the one who has attained it, is progressing energetically, and is teaching it to others."
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, "If there are those who want to learn this samādhi, they need to have sympathetic joy in order to succeed. Students are enabled to learn it by virtue of the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha. They should copy this samādhi sūtra on fine fabric, seal the copies with the Buddha Seal, and make offerings. What is the Buddha Seal? It refers to actions that should not be taken—no greed, no quest, no thinking, no attachment, no wish for rebirth, no intended life form for rebirth, no grasping, no concern, no abiding, no obstruction, no bondage, no existence, no desire, no birth, no death, no destruction, and no decay. This seal is the essentials and the base of bodhi. Even Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas cannot access, not to mention the foolish ones. This seal is the Buddha Seal."
The Buddha said, "As I now pronounce this samādhi, 1,800 koṭi gods, asuras, spirits, dragons, and their retinues have entered the holy stream, becoming Srotāpannas, and 800 bhikṣus and 500 bhikṣuṇīs have become Arhats. Ten thousand Bodhisattvas have attained this samādhi, realizing the Dharma of No-birth. Twelve thousand Bodhisattvas have attained the spiritual level of no regress."
The Buddha told the bhikṣus Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana, as well as Bhadrapāla Bodhisattva and others: "I sought the Way for uncountable kalpas, and I now have attained Buddhahood. I uphold this sūtra and entrust it to you all. Study and recite it, uphold and guard it, and do not forget or lose it. If there are those who want to learn it, you should teach them completely in accord with the Dharma. You should pronounce it completely to those who want to hear it."
After the Buddha had pronounced this sūtra, Bhadrapāla Bodhisattva and the bhikṣus Śāriputra, Maudgalyāyana, and Ānanda, as well as gods, asuras, dragons, spirits, and their retinues, greatly rejoiced. They made obeisance to the Buddha and departed.