Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Nineteen: On Holy Actions-1
Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Translated by KOSHO YAMAMOTO
FROM Dharmakshema's Chinese version
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The Complete Kosho Yamamoto English Translation of the "Nirvana Sutra", edited and revised by Dr. Tony Page, typographically improved by Jay and Gabriele Mazo
Chapter Nineteen: On Holy Actions-1
Then, the Buddha said to Bodhisattva Kasyapa: "O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva should, in accordance with this “Mahaparinirvana Sutra”, meditate exclusively on the five kinds of action. What are the five? They are: 1) holy actions, 2) pure actions, 3) heavenly actions, 4) childlike actions, 5) actions of illness. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva should practise these five actions. Also, there is one action, which is the action of the Tathagata, the so-called Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra. O Kasyapa! What are the holy actions which a Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises? The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, following a sravaka or the Tathagata, hears the Great Nirvana Sutra. Having heard it, he gains faith and, on believing, thinks: "The All-Buddha-World-Honoured One has the unsurpassed Way, the greatly Wonderful Dharma, right action for the great congregation. Also, there are the Mahayana vaipulya sutras. As I now love and seek zealously after the Mahayana sutras, I shall sever myself from my wife and children whom I love, my relatives, the palace where I live, gold, silver and all rare jewelleries, wonderful necklaces, incense, flowers, dancing and music, servants male and female, men and women, pages big and small, people, elephants, horses, vehicles, cows, sheep, hens, dogs, hogs and pigs." Also, he thinks: "One's living-quarters so bear down upon one that they resemble a prison-house. All worries arise from this. When one's home has been abandoned, all is silent and open like the Void. All good increases as a result of this. In one's home, one cannot - to the end - practise pure actions with a pure mind. I shall now shave off my hair, leave home and practise the Way." Also he thinks: "I shall now definitely leave home and practise the Way of unsurpassed right and true Enlightenment." When the Bodhisattva desires to renounce the world, Marapapiyas becomes greatly worried and says: "Now, this Bodhisattva will have a great battle with me." O good man! How would such a Bodhisattva fight with men? Then, the Bodhisattva goes at once to a Buddhist vihara and sees the Tathagata and his disciples there, who are all correct in their deportment and serene in their sense-organs and soft and calm in their minds. So he goes there and seeks to get ordained. He shaves off his hair and puts on the three kinds of monastic robe. After having been ordained, he upholds the prohibitional precepts, and he is not lacking in deportment. His movements are peaceful, and nothing is violated. Even a small sin he fears, and his mind to be true (his truthful attitude of mind) is strict and unbroken like a diamond.
"O good man! Here is a man who wants to cross the sea on a floating bag. Then there is a rakshasa (flesh-eating demon) in the sea. He follows the man and begs the bag of him. Hearing this, the man thinks: "If I give (it him), I will certainly sink and die." He replies: "O rakshasa! You can kill me, but you cannot have the floating bag." The rakshasa says: "If you cannot give all of the bag to me, give me half." But still the man will not give (him the bag). The rakshasa says again: "If you cannot give me half, give me one third." The man does not say "yes". The rakshasa continues: "If you cannot, give me the bit where your hand rests, I shall be hard-pressed by hunger and worry. Please give me just a bit." The man further says: "What you seek to have is, indeed, not much. But I must cross the sea this very day. I don't know how far it is. If I give (you) any part, the air will gradually go out. How could I (then) hope to cross this difficult sea? If the air goes out, I shall sink and die half-way."
"O good man! The same is the case with the Bodhisattva who upholds the precepts. He is like the man who desires to cross the sea and who is very solicitous of guarding the floating bag and grudges (giving it away). When the Bodhisattva thus cares to protect the precepts, there will always appear in his way the rakshasas of all evil illusions, who will say to the Bodhisattva: "Believe me, I am not going to cheat you. Just commit the four grave offences and take care of the other precepts. For this, I will give you peace, and you will awaken in Nirvana." The Bodhisattva will then say: "I would rather uphold the precepts and gain Avichi Hell than break them and be born in heaven." The rakshasa of illusion will say: "If you cannot commit the four grave offences, commit the samghavasesa. For this, I will make you attain Nirvana easily." The Bodhisattva will not comply. The rakshasa will again say: "If you cannot commit the samghavasesa, commit the sthulatyaya. For this, you will have a peaceful Nirvana." Again, the Bodhisattva will not comply. The rakshasa will again say: "If you cannot commit the sthulatyaya, break the (rules of the) naihsargika-prayascittika. For this, you will have a peaceful Nirvana." The Bodhisattva will again refuse to comply. Then the rakshasa will say again: "If you cannot commit the prayascittika, please commit the duskrta. For this, you will have a peaceful Nirvana." Then the Bodhisattva will say to himself: "If I commit the duskrta and do not confess before the assembly (of monks), I may not be able to cross the sea of birth and death and attain Nirvana." The Bodhisattva-mahasattva is (thus) very strict in avoiding these very petty offences (prohibited by the precepts), and his mind is like a diamond. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva respectfully and indifferently (calmly) observes the precept against the four grave offences and the duskrta.
"If the Bodhisattva upholds the precepts thus, he is known to have observed the five kinds of shilas (obligations, moral precepts), which are: 1) the precept for the purity of the Bodhisattva's basic actions, 2) the precept for the purity of the fore-and-aft relative actions and others, 3) the precept for awakening to purity and not awakening to things of the evil categories, 4) the precept for protecting (maintaining) right mindfulness and for praying for purity, and 5) the precept for transferring (merit) to unsurpassed Bodhi.
"O Kasyapa! Now, there are two kinds of precept for the Bodhisattva. One relates to secular teaching, and the other is for attaining Wonderful Dharma. If a Bodhisattva gains the precepts for Wonderful Dharma, he does not do evil to the end. The secular precepts can be gained after the proceedings of the jnapticaturtha (one of the ways of arriving at a decision in the Buddhist Sangha). Also, next, O good man! There are two kinds of precept. One (set) is the precepts against originally grave offences and the other is (those) to stop the ill-speaking and hatred that obtain in secular life. The precepts against the originally grave offences are those regarding the four offences. We say "precepts to stop the ill-speaking and hatred that obtain in secular life." That is: not cheating others during trade by making the weight of the scales less or making the measure smaller (i.e. not giving as much of the product as one should) or gaining wealth by taking advantage of another's circumstances, by binding others with ill-will, by destroying another's success, by sleeping with the light on, by having one's own house and sowing seeds, and by not sticking to one's household duties (requirements, necessities) in a shop (when shopping). One does not keep an elephant, horse, vehicle, cow, sheep, camel, donkey, hen, dog, monkey, peacock, parrot, jivamjivaka, kokila, jackal, wolf, cat, racoon, wild boar, pig, or other bad beast, boy, girl, grown-up man or woman (slaves), male or female servant, boy servant, gold, silver, beryl, crystal, pearls, lapis lazuli, agate, coral, jade, horse-shoe shell, or other gems; a bowl of copper alloy, solder, brass; the “kusu” (square mattress on which the emperor sits to pray or worship) and “toto” (woollen carpet), or woollen clothing that fits in well with the body (that hugs the body? fits well). He never stores up cereal and rice, wheat and beans of any size, millet, Italian millet, rice, hemp, and the utensils for raw or cooked food. He receives (food) once a day, and never eats twice a day. His meal is what is gained from alms-begging or is that for the Sangha (food donated to the Sangha). He always knows just how to slow down his steps, but never accepts a special invitation (for himself alone). “He does not eat meat or take intoxicating drinks”, “nor vegetables of the five kinds of astringent smell” (including garlic, leeks, onions). Hence, no unpleasant smell comes about (on the breath). He is always respected and given offerings, honoured and praised by gods and humans. He receives only what will satisfy his appetite and does not stay (waiting for food to be offered) long. The clothes he receives are just to cover his body. In going and coming, what he has are the three kasayas (robes) and his begging-bowl. He never parts from these, just as birds do not part from their wings. He never stores up any produce as of the categories of the root, stem, joint, knot or seed (such as radish roots and bamboo shoots). He has no larder for food, no accessories for dressing, never sits or lies on high or big beds, on a golden bed of ivory, or possesses any kinds of knitted clothing of varying colours, no mattresses delicate and soft to the touch; he never sits on elephant or horse skins, nor does he recline on a bed spread across with delicately made, soft and beautiful bedclothes, or put a double pillow on the bedstead or keep a red-coloured pillow; nor does he sleep on a yellow-coloured pillow; nor does he enjoy himself looking at the fights of elephants, horses, vehicles, soldiers, men, women, cows, sheep, cocks, pheasants, parrots, etc.; nor does he specially go and look at military camps; nor does he listen to the trumpet shell, drum, horn, “ch'in”, “shã”, “chãng” (lutes), flute, harp, singing and crying, dance music of females, except on occasions when offerings are being made to the Buddha. He does not watch such games as the “chobo” (type of gambling), “go” (chess), “prasaka” (gambling game), nor the fights of lions and elephants, the “danki” (type of game), “rikuhaku” (kind of gambling), ball-game, throwing of stones and pots, running, the “hachidogyojo”, nor any kinds of amusement. Throughout his life, he does not practise the likes of fortune-telling by looking at a person's hands, feet, face, or eyes; nor does he use such things as the “sokyä” (used in fortune-telling), divining sticks, tooth picks, bowls, or carcasses; nor does he look up at the sky and the constellations, except when checking drowsiness. He will not become the messenger of a kingly house or say that to this person or this to that. He does not flatter or live by evil ways. Also, he does not talk about such as kings, ministers, robbers, fights, meals, land, famines, fear, good harvests, pleasure or ease. O good man! All such are the precepts for checking the rise of worldly rumours about a Bodhisattva-mahasattva. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva strongly upholds the prohibitional precepts. And this does not depart from the originally grave offences.
"O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva observes all these prohibitions, he takes such vows as these: "I might well place my body into the burning fire of the deepest depths of hell, but I will not break the prohibitions of all the Buddhas of the past, future and present, and will not perform impure actions with females, Kshatriyas, Brahmins and upasakas." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner bind myself with a piece of heated iron than receive clothing from the faithful, (in a way that) breaks the precepts." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner swallow a ball of heated iron than take a meal offered by the faithful, my mouth breaking the precepts." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner lie on a greatly heated iron bed than receive from the hands of the faithful such things as bedstead and bedding, myself breaking the precepts." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner have this body of mine thrust through with 300 spears than receive from the hands of the faithful medicine that causes me to break the precepts." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner throw myself upon a tripod (trident) than receive from the faithful a shed or house that causes me to break the precepts." Also, he vows: "I would sooner have my head and legs crushed into motes with an iron hammer than have myself respected and worshipped by Kshatriyas, Brahmins and upasakas who cause me to break the precepts." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner have my face cut off or both my eyes taken out than look upon the beauty of other persons with a defiled mind." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner have my ears thrust through from all sides with iron awls than give ear to beautiful sounds with a defiled mind." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner have my nose cut off with a sharp sword than enjoy any beautiful fragrances with a defiled mind." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner have my tongue torn into shreds with a sharp sword than greedily taste beautiful dishes with a defiled mind." Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva vows: "I would sooner have my body cut into pieces with a sharp hatchet than greedily covet with a defiled mind whatever is touchable. Why? Because all this carries those who practise the Way into such realms as those of hell, the animals, and hungry ghosts." O Kasyapa! This is the Bodhisattva-mahasattva's guarding of the prohibitions.
"When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva acts in accordance with the prohibitions mentioned above, he transfers all the merits hereof to all beings. He prays that, through this, they will be able to accomplish the precepts for purity, those for goodness, those for non-falling, those for non-breaking, the Mahayana precepts, the precepts for non-retrogression, those for obedience, those for the Ultimate, those for the perfection and accomplishment of the paramitas (perfections of virtue).
"O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva thus practises the precepts for purity, he first attains a state from which he never more moves away. Why do we call it being one who is immovable? When a Bodhisattva lives in this state, he is immovable, non-retrogressive, and non-dispersive. For example, it is like Mount Sumeru, which not even the sharpest wind (“vairambhaka”) can move, cause to blow over or move back. The same is the case with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva when he lives in this “bhumi”. He is not shaken by colour, voice, smell, or taste; he does not fall into such realms as those of hell, beast or hungry preta; he does not fall back to the state of sravaka or pratyekabuddha; he is not shaken by different views and evil winds, and he does not live the wrong life. Also, next, O good man! "Immovable" also means not being shaken by greed and anger; "not falling" means not falling into the four grave offences. "Not retrogressing" means that one does not retrogress and come back home (to worldly life). "Not being dispersed" means not being shaken or destroyed by those who act against the Mahayana. Also, next, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva is not beaten by the Mara of illusion, not shaken by the Mara of the five skandhas. Even though the king Mara is there under the shade of the Bodhi Tree, he cannot cause the Bodhisattva to retrogress from attaining unsurpassed Enlightenment. Also, the Bodhisattva does not get beaten by the Mara of death. O good man! This is how the Bodhisattva practises the holy Way.
"O good man! Why do we say "holy actions"? It is so called because what is done is what the Buddha and Bodhisattvas do. Why do we call the Buddha and Bodhisattvas "holy persons"? They are so called because they always meditate on “Dharmata”, on the quietude of the Void. For this reason, we say that they are holy persons. As they uphold the holy precepts, they are holy persons. As they have the holy dhyana and Wisdom, they are holy persons. They possess the seven holy properties, which are: faith, precepts, repentance, rich-hearing, Wisdom, equanimity, and segregation. That is why they are called holy persons. As they possess the seven holy awakenings, they are holy persons. For this reason, too, we say "holy persons". Also, next, O good man! The holy actions of the Bodhisattva-mahasattvas are what they do in observing the body from head to foot. And these are: hair, nails, teeth, impurities, dirt, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, spleen, kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, intestines and stomach, i.e. stomach and large intestines, faeces, urine, spittle, tears, fat, membrane, marrow, pus, blood, skull, and all the veins. When the Bodhisattva thus observes things, who (here) can be the Self, or to whom can the Self belong? Where does it live and who can belong to the Self? Also, he thinks: "Is the bone the Self? Or is what is other than bone the Self?" The Bodhisattva then meditates, and excludes the skin and flesh. What he sees is white bone. He also thinks: "The colour of bone is various: blue, yellow, white, dove-colour." Thus what the bone displays is not "I". Why not? Because the Self is not blue, yellow, white or dove-colour. As the Bodhisattva meditates thus, with full mind, he is away from all desire for what is physical. Also, he thinks: "Such bone comes about from causal relations (causal constellations, causal concatenations). The foot-bone supports the ankle-bone; the ankle-bone supports the calf-bone; the calf-bone supports the knee-bone, the knee-bone supports the thigh-bone; the thigh-bone supports the rump-bone; the rump-bone supports the loin-bone; the loin-bone supports the backbone; the backbone supports the rib-bones. Also, the backbone supports the bone of the nape; the bone of the nape supports the chin-bone (jaw); the chin-bone supports the canine and other teeth. And above that there is the skull. Also, the bone of the nape supports the shoulder-blade; the shoulder-blade supports the bone of the upper arm; the bone of the upper arm supports the bone of the lower arm; the bone of the lower arm supports the wrist-bone; the wrist-bone supports the finger-bone. When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva thus meditates, all the bones of the body dispart (separate out). Having thus meditated, the Bodhisattva cuts off the three desires: for facial form, for bodily form, and for minor touches.
"When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva thus meditates on the blue bones, he sees the earth look all blue to the east, west, south, north, up and down, and the four corners. The same is the case with the meditations on the colours of yellow, white, and dove as with the meditation on the colour blue. When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva thus meditates, from his brow issues forth the fragrance of the colours of blue, yellow, white, and dove-colour. The Bodhisattva sees in each of the lights the form of the Buddha. Having seen the Buddha, he asks: "Something such as this body of mine comes about from a combination of impurities. How could we sit and stand, walk and stop, bend and look up, see and wink, pant and breathe, grieve and weep, be happy and laugh? There is none that rules over (the body). What causes things to be thus?" As he thus thinks, all the Buddha figures disappear from the lights. Also, he thinks: "Or consciousness might be my Self. That is why the Buddhas will not speak to me." Again, as he meditates on consciousness, he sees that things gradually disappear, as in the case of running water. So, this is not one's Self. Also, he thinks: "Now, this in-and-out breathing of mine is nothing but of the nature of the wind. The nature of the wind is nothing but one of the four great elements. Which of the four great elements can be my Self? The natures of water, fire and wind, too, are not my Self." Also, he thinks: "With this body of mine, there is nothing that could be called Self. Only the causal relations of the wind of mind join things together and there are various works and things. For example, this is as in the case of charms or tricks, or the sound of the harp that comes out followoing the wind of the mind of the one who plays. Thus is this body impure. Various causal relations join together and things go thus. For what might we have greed? If one bears ill-speaking, how could there arise anger? It would seem that the 36 things (i.e. the 36 defilements that a human body possesses) of my body are nothing but what is impure and defiled. Where can there be one who has to bear ill-speaking? When one is spoken ill of, one may well think: "Whose voice is it that thus speaks ill of (me)? No one's voice can be the one that speaks ill of (me). If one person does not speak ill, the same applies to many voices. For this reason, one should not get angry." When other persons come and beat one up, one should think: "From where comes this beating?" Also, one might think: "When hands, the sword or staff come into contact with my body, we say that we get beaten. How could we ever get angry at others? This shows that I myself have invited the sin of my own accord. This comes from the fact that I have this body of the five skandhas. This is as in the case of a target which an arrow can hit, and there comes about (such) hitting. The same is the case with this body of mine. As I have a body, there is (the possibility of) a beating. If I do not bear down (upon it), my mind will break up. If my mind gets dispersed, I shall lose my right mind. If I lose my right mind, I may not be able to see what is good and what is not. If I cannot distinguish good and not-good in a thing, I shall do evil. Evil done will take one to the realms of hell, animals and hungry ghosts."
"The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, having done this meditation, attains the four remembrances. As he gains the four remembrances, he now can live in the forbearance soil (“bhumi”). As the Bodhisattva-mahasattva attains this state, he bears down upon greed, anger and ignorance; also, he is able to stand the cold, heat, hunger, thirst, mosquitoes, gadflies, fleas, lice, storms, impure meals (meals made impure by being touched by others' hands), illness, plague, ill-speaking, abuse, beatings, and slashings with thorns. He will bear down upon all the pains and worries of the body. That is why we say that he lives in the forbearance soil."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! When the Bodhisattva as yet does not dwell in the immovable soil, but upholds purity, could he, if the occasion arose, break the precepts or not?" "O good man! When the Bodhisattva has not yet attained the state of the immovable soil, he may well break the precepts when the occasion arises."
Kasyapa said: "So it is, indeed! O World-Honoured One! Who can be such a person?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "The Bodhisattva may have occasion to transgress against the precepts if he knows that he can indeed make others possess the Mahayana sutras, make them like them, understand, copy and expound them widely to others, and make them attain unsurpassed Enlightenment and not retrogress from it. On such an occasion, he may well transgress the precepts. At that time, the Bodhisattva will think: "Even though I may fall into Avichi Hell for a kalpa or less and may have to expiate my sin there, I shall surely make this person attain unsurpassed Enlightenment and not retrogress therefrom". O Kasyapa! In such circumstances, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva may transgress against the purity of the precepts."
Then Bodhisattva Manjushri said to the Buddha: "Any Bodhisattva who takes in such persons, protects them, and makes them aspire to Enlightenment and makes them not retrogress from it and who, for this purpose, transgresses against the precepts, cannot fall into Avichi Hell." At that, the Buddha praised Manjushri, saying: "Well said, well said! I recall that in days gone by I was born in Jambudvipa as a great king named Senyo. He loved the Mahayana sutras and respected them. He was pure and good, and there was no coarseness in him; no jealousy, no stinginess could find any room inside him. What issued forth from him was loving words, words that spoke of good. He always protected the poor and the lonely; with him there was no end of giving and of making effort. At that time, there was no Buddha, no sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. I, at that time, loved the Mahayana vaipulya sutras. For 12 years I served the Brahmins, catering fully to their needs. After that, when giving and peace had been gained, I said: "O you teachers! You should now aspire to unsurpassed Enlightenment." The Brahmins said: "O great King! There is no such thing as the nature of Enlightenment; the same is the case with the Mahayana sutras. O great King! How is it that you wish to make us equal to the Void"? O good man! I, at that time, greatly respected Mahayana. I heard the Brahmins slandering the vaipulya. Having heard this, I did away with my life. O good man! I have never once fallen into hell because of this (i.e. despite this). O good man! When we accept and protect the Mahayana sutras, we have innumerable virtues.
"Also, next, O Kasyapa! There are also (other) holy actions. These are the Four Noble Truths, which are: Suffering, the Cause (of Suffering), the Extinction (of Suffering), and the Way (to the Extinction of that Suffering). O Kasyapa! Suffering is oppressive circumstance. The cause of suffering contains the phases of growth and expansion. Extinction is the phase of quietness and annihilation, the Way is Mahayana. Also, next, O good man! Suffering is what actually stands before one; the cause is a phase of change; extinction is exclusion; the Way is what we can well exclude. Also, next, O good man! Suffering has three phases (modes), which are: 1) suffering-suffering, 2) the suffering of what is made, and 3) the suffering of breaking away (i.e. disintegration, separation from what one likes). The cause of suffering relates to the 25 existences. The Way relates to the precepts, meditation, and Wisdom. Also, next, O good man! Of “asravas” (defilements), there are two kinds, which are: cause and result. “Anasrava” (non-defilement - the absence of desire, "becoming" and ignorance) is of two kinds, which are: cause and result. The result of “asrava” is suffering; the cause of “asrava” is “samudaya” (=cause of suffering, which = “trishna”, craving). The result of “anasrava” is extinction (of suffering) and the cause of “anasrava” is the Way.
"Also, next, O good man! There are eight modes of suffering, which are: 1) the suffering of being born, 2) the suffering of ageing, 3) the suffering of illness, 4) the suffering of death, 5) the suffering of parting from what one loves, 6) the suffering of encountering what one hates, 7) the suffering of not being able to obtain what one desires, and 8) the suffering of the burning urges of the skandhas. The cause of these eight modes of suffering is (called) “samudaya”. Where these eight sufferings do not exist, that is extinction. The ten powers, the four fearlessnesses, the three mental states, and Great Compassion are the Way.
"What is ageing? This has two aspects: 1) hourly ageing and 2) physical ageing. Again, there are two kinds: 1) increasing ageing and 2) extinguishing and breaking ageing. Thus do things stand with ageing.
"What is illness? By illness is meant the non-conforming (non-harmonisation) of the poisonous serpents of the four great elements, which is of two kinds: 1) illness of the body and 2) illness of the mind. In illness of the body, there are five kinds of cause, which are: 1) water, 2) wind, 3) heat, 4) various diseases, and 5) illnesses from external causes. Illnesses from external causes comprise: 1) unremitting labour, 2) forgetfulness, misdemeanours, and degeneration, 3) sword, staff, tiles, stones, and 4) devils and phantoms. Illness of the mind is also of four kinds, which are: 1) unbounded joy (manic state), 2) fear, 3) anxiety, and 4) ignorance. Also, next, O good man! Of illness of body and mind, there are three kinds. What are the three? These are: 1) karma results, 2) being unable to segregate oneself from what is evil, and 3) change resultant from the course of time. All such as causal relations, the categorical nature, and differences in feeling call forth illnesses. Causal relations refer to such illnesses as of wind, etc., the categorical nature refers to swellings in (as a result of) worry, coughs by dizziness, and soft (loose) bowels due to mental surprise, differences in feeling refers to headaches, pains in the eys, hands, feet, etc. Such are illnesses.
"What is death? By death is meant the relinquishing of the carnal body which one has been given. In relinquishing the body which one has received, there are two kinds, which are: 1) death through the expiration of life (i.e. from one's life naturally coming to an end) and 2) death from external causes. In death through expiration of life, there are three kinds, which are: 1) ending of life, which, however, is not the ending of fortune; 2) ending of wealth, which, however, is not the ending of life; 3) ending of both fortune and life. There are three kinds of death from external causes, which are: 1) unnatural suicide, 2) death caused by others, and 3) death from both causes. Also, there are three kinds of death, which are: 1) death from indolence, 2) death from violating the precepts, and 3) death from severing the life-root. What is death from indolence? If one slanders the Mahayana-vaipulya-prajnaparamita, this is death from indolence. What is death from violating the precepts? When one breaches the prohibitions laid down by the Buddhas of the past, future and present, this is violating the precepts. What is death from severing the life-root? Forsaking the body of the five skandhas is death from severing the life-root. That is why we say that death is great suffering.
"What is the suffering of parting from what one loves? What one loves breaks up and becomes dispersed. There are two kinds of parting from what one loves, which are: 1) breaking-up of the five skandhas of a human and 2) breaking-up of the heavenly world. If we count up the kinds of five skandhas of the things of heaven and earth, they are innumerable. This is the suffering of parting from what one loves.
"What is the suffering of encountering what one hates? There are masses of things which one does not love, which come together. In such massings together of what one does not love, there are three kinds, which are the realms of hell, hungry ghosts, and animals. Such three are innumerable, even though we may try to enumerate them. Such is the suffering of encountering what one hates to encounter.
"What is the suffering of not being able to gain what one desires? There are two kinds of this suffering of not being able to gain what one desires to have, which are: 1) desiring something, but not being able to get it, and 2) the result that does not come about, even after much effort, which is the case of suffering from not being able to get what one desires to have.
"What is the suffering of the burning urge of the five skandhas? The suffering of the burning urge of the five skandhas refers to the suffering of birth, the suffering of ageing, the suffering of illness, the suffering of death, the suffering of parting from what one loves, the suffering of encountering what one hates, and the suffering of not being able to gain what one wishes to have. That is why we speak of the suffering of the burning urge of the five skandhas.
"O Kasyapa! The root of life has these seven kinds of suffering. This extends from the suffering of ageing to the suffering of the burning urge of the five skandhas. O Kasyapa! This does not mean that ageing comes to all. It definitely does not come to the Buddha and the gods. With man, it is indefinite: it may exist or it may not. O Kasyapa! Those who exist in the three worlds have life. Ageing is not always definite. That is why the root rests in life. O Kasyapa! The men of the world are upside down, which fact beclouds their minds. They cling to what obtains in life and hate ageing and death. It is otherwise with the Bodhisattva. When he first looks at birth, he already sees illness.
"O Kasyapa! There was once a woman, who came into the house of another. She bore herself spendidly. She looked beautiful and her body was adorned with necklaces of various stones. The master of the house saw her and asked: "What is your name? To whom do you belong?" The woman answered: "I am Gunamahadevi". The man of the house asked: "What do you do wherever you go?" The devi answered: "Wherever I go, I give people various things such as gold, silver, beryl, crystal, pearl, coral, lapis lazuli, agate, elephants, horses, vehicles, male or female servants, messenger boys." On hearing this, the man of the house felt extremely pleased: "Now, fortune is on my side. That is why you are in my house." He burnt incense, strew flowers, made offerings, and worshipped her. Also, outside the gate, he encountered a woman, ugly and mean, whose clothes were tattered, torn, defiled by fat and were dirty. Her skin was chapped and she looked pale and white. On seeing her, he asked: "What is your name? To whom do you belong?" The woman answered: "My name is "Darkness." He asked further: "Why "Darkness?" The woman answered: "Wherever I go, the wealth of that house disappears." Hearing this, the man brandished a sharp sword and said: "Go away! If you don't, I will kill you." The woman said: "You are a fool and lack wisdom." The man asked: "Why am I a fool, and why do I lack wisdom?" The woman answered: "The woman in your house is my elder sister. I always accompany her. If you drive me away, she will leave you." The master of the house entered the house and asked Gunadevi: "°Outside the house there is a woman who says that she is your sister. Is this true?" Gunadevi said: "She truly is my sister. I am always accompanied by her, in going and coming; we never part. Wherever I am, I always do good and she always does evil. I give benefit and she loss. If you love me, love her also. If you respect me, respect her too." The man at once said: "If there have to be both, good and evil, I won't have either. Go on your way, both of you!" Then the two women went to where they had been before. When they had left for where they had first been, the man of the house was glad and greatly rejoiced. Then the two women went to a poor man's hut. On seeing them, the man invited them in and said: "Henceforth stay in my house." Gunadevi said: "We were driven away. Why do you invite us to come in?" The poor man said: "You now think of me. I respect your sister because of you. So, I allow both of you to come in." The situation is like this. O Kasyapa! It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. He does not desire to be born in heaven. Being born means that there, too, there are ageing, illness and death. So he abandons both; he is not minded to receive them. Common mortals and the ignorant do not realise the ills of ageing, illness and death. So they greedily seek birth and death.
"Also, next, O Kasyapa! The child of a Brahmin, oppressed by hunger, picks up a mango fruit which is lying in excrement. A man who knows what is what sees this and reproaches the child: "You who come from a Brahmin family and whose blood is pure! Why do you pick up that dirty fruit which was lying in excrement?" The child flushes, after being so reprimanded. Then he replies: "I do not want to eat this, to tell you the truth. I just wanted to wash it and throw it away." The wise man says: "What you say does not make any sense. If you wanted to throw it away, what was the good of picking it up in the first place?" The situation is like this. O good man! It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. There is no receiving and no abandoning (with him) from the very beginning. This is as in the case of the wise man who reproaches the Brahmin child. The case of the common mortal who prays for life and hates death is similar to that of the child who picks up the fruit and later abandons it.
"Also, next, O Kasyapa! For example, there is a man who spreads out utensils filled with food at a crossroads; the colour, fragrance and taste are perfect. And he wishes to sell them. A man comes from a far-off place and is hungry and wasted. He is taken with the perfect colour, fragrance and taste. He points to the food and asks: "What food is this?" The man selling the food says: "This is the best of food; it has colour and fragrance. If one eats it, one's physique and strength will increase. It indeed does away with hunger, and one (who eats it) will certainly see heaven. But there is a snag. That is, that one has to die!" On hearing this, the man says to himself: "I may not need any physical strength to see heaven, and also I don't care for death." And he says: "If I eat this food, I will die. How can you sell this food here at all?" The food-seller says: "He who is wise does not buy it at all. Only the ignorant do not know this. They give me a lot and greedily eat this food." So might he say. The same is the case with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. He does not wish to be born in heaven. He does not wish to have (a powerful) physique and strength, and to see all the devas. Why not? Because he knows that they are not removed from all worries there. Common mortals and the ignorant greedily devour wherever there is life to be lived, since they do not see ageing, sickness and death.
"Also, next, O Kasyapa! For example, there is a poisonous tree, the root of which will certainly kill a man. So, too, the branches, trunk, knots, bark, leaves, flowers and fruit. O good man! Also, wherever the 25 existences obtain, it is the case with the five skandhas. Death always follows them.
"Also, next, O Kasyapa! It is like the defilement of excrement, which gives off a horrible smell, no matter how small the amount is. O good man! The same with life. Whether one gains a life of 8,000 years or as little as 10 years, suffering accompanies it all the same.
"Also, next, O Kasyapa! As an example: a precipice is fully overgrown by grass. And on the edge of the precipice, there is a lot of amrta (ambrosia). If one eats it, one will live for 1,000 years. This will do away with disease for good, and all will proceed in peace. Common mortals and the ignorant greedily covet the taste and forget about the great pit that awaits them down below. They advance forwards, but unfortunately lose their footing, fall into the pit and die. But the wise know how things stand; they do not come near. Instead, they keep away. O good man! The same with he Bodhisattva-mahasattva. He does not care for the wonderful dishes of heaven. How could he care for those of man? Common mortals swallow an iron ball in hell. How could he desire to receive the all-wonderful dishes of the world of humans or of heaven? O Kasyapa! You will certainly be able to know from this and all other innumerable parables that this life is really nothing but a thing of great suffering. O Kasyapa! This is how a Bodhisattva sees the suffering of life, abiding in what is said in the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra.
"O Kasyapa! How does the Bodhisattva, abiding in this Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra, see the suffering of ageing? Age truly does call forth coughs and dizziness. It diminishes courage (spirit), memory, positive steps forward, manhood, joy, pride, high-brow (height), peace, and unmolestedness (freedom). Age indeed brings with it back swellings, forgetfulness and lassitude, and is looked down upon by others. O Kasyapa! A pond is full of lotuses, with their flowers wide open and with freshness filling all around. All is lovely. But if hail comes, all will be destroyed. It is like that. O good man! Ageing is thus. It destroys manhood and beauty. Also, next, O Kasyapa! A king has a wise minister who is well up in military tactics. An enemy king rises against him. The king sends this minister to go and conquer the enemy king. This king is taken prisoner, and the minister returns home and sees the king. The case is thus. The same with ageing. It takes prisoners of one's manhood and brilliancy (alertness of mind) and hands them over to the king of death. Also, next, O Kasyapa! It is as in the case of a rich man who owns such various tresures as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, red pearl and carnelian. But when robbers come and steal them, nothing more remains behind. O good man! It is the same with manhood and brilliancy. The thief, old age, always comes and plunders (everything). Also, next, O Kasyapa! For example, a poor man greedily covets beautiful dishes and soft clothes. He seeks to possesss such, but cannot. O good man! The case is the same with ageing too. A greedy mind covets wealth and the satisfaction of the five (sense) desires, but it cannot (find satisfaction). Also, next, O Kasyapa! It is like the tortoise on dry land that always thinks of water. O good man! The same is the case with human beings. Dried up with emaciation and age, the mind always thinks back to the pleasures of the five desires which one enjoyed in the prime of one's life. Also, next, O Kasyapa! It is as in the case of the autumn moon which, though looked up to by all the lotus flowers, is looked down upon when it wanes in its yellow. O good man! The same is the case with the prime of life and youthful colours. Though loved by all, all look down upon (one) when old age comes. Also, next, O Kasyapa! The same is the case with sugar cane. When it is pressed, what remains behind has no taste. The same regarding the prime of life and youthful colours. When old-age presses down on one, nothing remains of the three tastes, which are: 1) the taste of renunciation, 2) the taste of recitation, and 3) the taste of dhyana (meditation). Also, next, O Kasyapa! This is as in the case of a night of the full moon, when there is an abundance of light, but in the daytime there is not. O good man! The same with human beings. In the prime of life, one looks splendidly austere; one's form and face are rare and grand, but as one grows old, one becomes weaker and one's godliness of form dries up. Also, next, O Kasyapa! As an example: there is a king who governs the land with just law and reigns over his subjects. He is upright and honest; nothing about him is devious. He has compassion and loves to give. Then, the enemy comes and overruns the land. The king flees and goes to another country. The people of the other country see this and have pity and say: "O great King! In days gone by, you reigned over a kingdom, basing yourself on right law and doing no crooked thing to anyone. How is it that you had to leave your country and come to this one?" It is like this. O good man! The same with human beings. When age comes and one once gets broken down (by it), one can only praise what obtained when one was in the prime of one's life. Also, next, O Kasyapa! It is, for example, like the wick of a lamp, which depends solely on grease and oil. When the grease and oil have gone, the power of the lamp does not endure long. The same with human beings. One depends on the oil of manhood. When the oil of manhood is spent, how long can the wick of weak old age give out light? Also, next, O Kasyapa! For example, a dried-up river cannot benefit humans, non-humans, flying birds or running beasts. The same with human beings. Dried up by old age, man cannot be of use for any (kind of) work. Also, next, O Kasyapa! For example, it is as with a tree hanging over the edge of a precipice. If a storm comes, it is sure to come toppling down. O good man! The same with the human being. If the storm of old age comes to the precipice of old age, nothing can check the force. Also, next, O Kasyapa! It is as with a broken shaft, by which no heavy burden can be borne. O good man! The same with old age. No good thing can be of any benefit to one. Also, next, it is as with a child who is slighted. O good man! Age, too, does thus. All people always make light of, and neglect, one (when one is old). O Kasyapa! Know from this and all other innumerable and boundless parables that old age is truly great suffering. O Kasyapa! That is why the Bodhisattva studies the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra and meditates on the suffering of old age.
"O Kasyapa! How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva study the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra and meditate on the suffering of illness? So-called illness destroys all peace and joy. For example, it is as with the hail and rain that destroy the young buds of cereal. Also, it is as in the case of a person against whom someone has a grudge: that person's mind is always apprehensive and fearful. O good man! The same with all beings. They always fear the suffering of illness and are apprehensive. Also, next, O Kasyapa! There is a man who looks glorious and austere. The king's consort, due to sensual desire, means to have him. Letters arrive, and pressed by her, he has intercourse (with her). The king catches him, cuts away one of each eye, ear, hand and leg. The appearance of this person changes. People dislike and slight him. O good man! The same applies to the human being. A person may have a good set of ears and eyes. But caught and pressed by illness, people will slight him. Also, next, O Kasyapa! For example, the plantain, bamboo, reed, and mule have to die when they have offspring. O good man! The same with human beings. From illness, they have to die. Also, next, O Kasyapa! The main body of soldiers and ministers of a chakravartin always go in front and lead the way, and the chakravartin follows. Likewise, the kings of fish, ants, whelks, cows, and head merchants go before and the others all follow and never part (from them). Also, next, O good man! The same with the chakravartin of death. He always follows his subjects, illnesses, and never parts (from them). The same with the kings of fish, ants, whelks, cows, and merchants. Always they are followed by the subjects of death. O Kasyapa! The causal relations of illness are worry, apprehension, suffering, and uneasiness in body and mind. One may be attacked by someone bearing ill-will, the floating bag may get rent, or the bridge may be dug away, so that the foundations of life will be endangered. Or the prime of life and bright complexion, vitality, peace, repentance may be destroyed or may disappear, or the body and mind may get burnt out. One can indeed see from this parable and from innumerable, boundless other parables how great the pain of illness is. All this is to show how the Bodhisattva-mahasattva studies this Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra and meditates on the suffering of illness. "
"O Kasyapa! How does the Bodhisattva study the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra and meditate on the suffering of death? We say "death", because it thoroughly burns out and annuls things. O Kasyapa! It is as when a fire burns out everything, except that it cannot exclude the second dhyana. O good man! The same is the case with the fire of death. It burns out everything, excepting the Bodhisattva who abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana. Because the strength (of the Bodhisattva) reaches this stage. Also, next, O Kasyapa! If a flood comes, all sinks under the water, excepting the third dhyana, which it cannot make away with. O good man! The same is the case with the water of death, which submerges everything, except for the Bodhisattva who abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana.
"Also, next, O Kasyapa! A storm blows up, scatters and destroys everything, excepting the fourth dhyana, which its power cannot reach. O good man! The same is the case with the wind of death. It destroys all that one has, except for the Bodhisattva who abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Why is it that the wind cannot blow away, the flood cannot wash away, and the fire cannot burn out the fourth dhyana?" The Buddha said: "O good man! This comes from the fact that in the fourth dhyana there does not remain a speck of sin, in or out of it. The first dhyana has sin and illness in it. Within, it has enlightened meditation, but outside, there is fire. The second dhyana has sin and illness in it. Within, there is joy; but outside, it has the sufferings of the flood. The third dhyana has sin and illness in it. Within, it has asthma and, outside, the sufferings from the wind. O good man! The fourth dhyana has, within and without, no sin or illness at all. Because of this, no calamity can reach it. O good man! The same is the situation with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. He peacefully abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana, and all sins and illness come to an end. Because of this, the king of death cannot reach him. Also, next, O good man! For example, the garuda indeed devours all nagas, fish, and all treasures such as gold and silver, except for the diamond. The same with the garuda of death. It indeed devours and does away with all beings, except for the Bodhisattva-mahasattva who abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana, whom it cannot make away with. Also, next, for example, all grass and trees are swept down to the great sea if the volume of water increases in size and if the ravaging increases, except for the bitter willow and the willow, since these are soft and pliant. O good man! The same is the case with all beings. All follow and get into the sea of death, excepting the Bodhisattva who abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana and whom it cannot do away with. Also, next, O Kasyapa! Narayana beats all wrestlers, except the great wind. Why? Because of unhiunderedness. O good man! The same is the case with the Narayana of death. He indeed conquers all beings, except the Bodhisattva who abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana. Why? Because of unhinderedness. Also, next, O Kasyapa! There is a person who deceives and feigns friendliness, though entertaining enmity. He always follows others, just as a shadow does its object, and looks for a chance to kill them. But the person to whom enmity is borne is wary and stubborn, so that no opportunity for being killed is provided. O good man! The same is the case with the enemy of death. It always looks for a chance to kill beings, excepting the Bodhisattva-mahasattva who abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana. Why? Because this Bodhisattva is not indolent. Also, next, O Kasyapa! For example, suddenly a great storm arises, carrying storm and rain of adamantine force, by which all medicinal trees, all trees, forests, sand, tiles, stones, gold, silver and beryl get crushed, except for the true treasure of the diamond. O good man! The same is the case with the adamantine rain of death. It wholly destroys beings, except for the Bodhisattva of adamantine mind who abides in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana. Also, next, O Kasyapa! It is like the garuda that devours all nagas, excepting those who take refuge in the Three Treasures. O good man! The same is the case with the garuda of death that truly devours all innumerable beings, except the Bodhisattva who dwells in the three dhyanas. What are the three dhyanas? These are those of the Void, of formlessness, and desirelessness. Also, next, O Kasyapa! If one is bitten by a Mara-viper, no good charm or medicine of any superior quality can have any power to heal (one), except for the charm of agasti, which indeed cures (one). It is the same with a person caught by the poison of death. No medical treatment is of any help, except for the case of the Bodhisattva charm of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana. Also, next, there is a man who has aroused the anger of a king. But should he present treasures to the king with gentle words, he might well gain the king's pardon. The case is like this. O good man! The case of the king of death is not like that. One may offer money or wealth in a gently spoken manner, but no release will ensue.
"O good man! Now, death is a precipice where there is no guaranty of life. The way to it is far. One may walk day and night, and there is no end of walking. The path of gloom hangs on (oppresses) one and there is no light. There is no gate through which one may enter, and there is a place that exists. No place of pain exists, but there is no means of cure. There is nothing that bars the way. Once in, there is no getting out. There is nothing to break, but what meets one's eyes is nothing but what is sorrowful and poisonous. It has no bad colour, but people are afraid. It sits close to one. But one cannot know or feel where it is. O Kasyapa! You may know from this and from innumerable and boundless other parables that life and death are great suffering to a person. O Kasyapa! This is how a Bodhisattva practises the Way by (means of) the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra and how he meditates on death."
"O Kasyapa! How does a Bodhisattva abide in the teaching of the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra and meditate on the suffering of parting from what one loves? The suffering of parting from what one loves is the root suffering of all sufferings, about which it is said:
"From craving one gains apprehension;
Through the causal relations of craving comes about the suffering of apprehension. From the suffering of apprehension, beings become weak and old. The suffering of parting from what one loves accompanies one to the end of one's life. O good man! As a result of parting, various minor sufferings arise. I shall clearly explain this for your good.
"O good man! In ages past, humans had an immeasurably long life. At that time, there was a king called "Good-Abiding". This king, at that time, was a child. As a prince, he attended to the business of the state. Then he became king. At that time, a human being's life lasted 84,000 years. Then, on top of his head a pimple appeared. It looked like a cotton “tula” or soft “karpasa” (cotton). This grew bigger by the day. But he did not worry one whit about it. After ten months, this boil broke open and a child was born. His form was well proportioned and nothing was as wonderful as this. His colour and form were clear, and the child was the foremost amongst humans. His father, the king, was glad and named him "Head-Born". Then King Good-Abiding handed over the government of the state to this Head-Born, and abandoning the royal palace, his wife, children and relatives, he entered the forest and studied the Way and lived for 84,000 years. Then Head-Born, fifteen days after his birth, was given the rite of abhiseka (annointing) on a high building. And to the east was the treasure wheel of gold (one of the seven treasures which a chakravartin is said to possess). The wheel had 1,000 spokes and was perfect in its hub. It was not one made by an artisan, but one that had come about naturally. The great king, Head-Born, thought: "In ages past, I heard what was said by a rishi who was accomplished in divine powers. If a Kshatriya king gets bathed (baptised), receives the rite of purification on top of a high building; if the number of spokes of the golden wheel is not one too few, and if the hub is correctly set, and if it is not one made by an artisan, but one arisen naturally, one may know that this indicates a king who will become a chakravartin." He also said to himself: "I shall now try (it out). I shall hold the wheel in my left hand, and my right hand will hold the incense burner, and I shall place my right knee on the ground and take my vows: (If this wheel is genuine and not false, I pray that things will be as in the olden days regarding what accrues to a chakravartin)." When he vowed thus, this treasure wheel of gold flew up and went in all the ten directions, and came back to the left hand of Head-Born. Then he rejoiced unendingly. Also, he said: "I shall now surely become a chakravartin."
"Then, not long after, there came to him a treasure-elephant, which looked grand and grave like a white lotus, and whose seven limbs stood firmly upon the ground. Seeing this, Head-Born thought to himself: "In days gone by, I heard a rishi who possessed the five powers say that if a chakravartin receives the abhikseka rite on a high building on the fifteenth day after his birth, and if there is an elephant whose seven libs stand (firmly) upon the ground, this indicates - one should know - a sacred king." Also, he thought: "I shall now try (it out)." He held the incense burner in his left hand, placed his right knee on the ground and vowed: "If this treasure-elephant is not false, let all proceed as in the olden days." When this vow had been taken, this white treasure-elephant travelled from morning till evening in the eight directions, and gaining the boundary line of the great sea, came back and sat as it was meant to sit. Then King Head-Born was greatly and inexpressibly pleased. Also, he said: "I am definitely now a chakravartin."
"Then, not long afterwards, a treasure horse came, whose colour was bright blue and who had a golden-coloured hairy tail. Head-Born, on seeing it, thought to himself: "In days gone by, I heard a rishi who had the five powers say that when a chakravartin, fifteen days after (his birth), sits on a high building and receives the rite of abhiseka, and if a treasure horse comes whose colour is bright blue and whose hairy tail is of the colour of gold, we should know that this is a sacred king." Also, he thought to himself: "I shall now test it out." He took up the incense burner, placed his right knee on the ground and vowed: "If this horse is genuine and not false, let all happen as is proper regarding a chakravartin." After he had thus uttered his prayer, the blue horse travelled from morning to evening in the eight directions and having gained the boundary line of the great sea, came back and remained where it was supposed to remain. Then Head-Born was greatly pleased and rejoiced inexpressibly. Also, he said: "Now I am definitely a chakravartin."
"Then, not long afterwards, there appeared a treasure woman whose form was all perfect and most beautiful. She was not tall, not short; not white, nor black. From all the pores of her skin wafted the fragrance of sandalwood; she smelled sweet and clear (fresh), and looked like a blue lotus. Her eyes could see as far as a yojana. The same with her ears' hearing ability and her nose's smelling power. Her tongue was so big that, when it stretched out, it thoroughly covered her face. Her form and colour were delicate as leaves of copper. Her mind and consciousness were transparent, and she had great wisdom. Always gentle were the words which she spoke to all beings. When this woman's hand touched the king's robes, it could see through the course of illness (whether illness was present) and what the king was thinking. Then Head-Born again thought: "If this woman can read the king's mind, this is a treasure-woman?"
"Then, not long after, there appeared a mani (jewel, gem) which was of pure blue beryl. It resembled the hub of a wheel, and in the gloom its radiance extended for one yojana in distance. If it happened to rain cats and dogs, the power of that mani was so great that it could well have served as a parasol and covered a space one yojana in extent, and not a drop of the heavy rain would have passed through. Then Head-Born thought to himself: "If the chakravartin obtains this mani, this is the sign of a sacred emperor."
"Then, not long afterwards, there spontaneously appeared a treasure minister, whose wealth was so great that it could not be counted. His storehouse was full and was lacking in nothing. The power of his eyes, which was the fruit of his personal virtue, was able to penetrate all the wealth hidden under the earth. Whatever the king desired to have, the minister could answer his need. Head-Born again resolved to test things out. He sailed forth on a boat in the sea and said to the treasure-minister: "I now desire to have something rare." The minister stirred up the surface of the water with both his hands. The ten tips of his fingers (then) held all (sorts of) treasure. Presenting these to the king, he said: "Please use these as you will and throw away what is left over." Head-Born was delighted and rejoiced inexpressibly. And he thought to himself: "I now surely am a chakravartin."
"And not long after that, there spontaneously appeared an army general. He was brave and strong and pre-eminent in tactics, knowing well the four armies (the four military forces of 1) elephants, 2) horses, 3) chariots, and 4) infantry). Should there be anyone who could stand battle, this was shown to the holy king; one not worthy of it was made to draw back and not to come about (come near, attack); any not yet conquered was conquered; anyone already conquered was well protected. Then Head-Born thought to himself: "If this general possesses the treasure of military prowess, I must certainly be a chakravartin."
"Then the chakravartin, Head-Born, spoke to his ministers: "You should know that this Jambudvipa is peaceful and prosperous. I now have the seven treasures and 1,000 sons. What more should I do?" All the ministers answered: "Yes, indeed, O great King! Purvavideha (i.e. one of the four lands of the Sumeru cosmos, the one which is situated to the east) is not yet at peace. You should now go (there)." Then the king flew through the air to Purvavideha with all his retinue of seven treasures. The people of that land were glad and became his subjects.
"And he said to his ministers: "Jambudvipa and Purvavideha are at peace, prosperous and vigorous. All has been subjugated. The seven treasures are perfect and the thousand children are full (complete). What more do I need to do?" All the ministers answered: "Yes, indeed, O great King! Aparagodaniya (i.e. a land to the west of Mount Sumeru) is not yet under your banner." Then the sacred king flew through the air to Aparagodaniya with all his seven treasures. When he reached there, the people of that land all came under his banner.
"And he said to his ministers: "My Jambudvipa, Purvavideha and Aparagodaniya are at peace. The people are rich and vigorous. All have been subjugated. The seven treasures are all perfect and the thousand children are full. What more do I need do?" All the ministers said: "Yes, indeed, O great King! Uttarakuru (i.e. a land to the north of Mount Sumeru) is not yet under your banner." Then the sacred king flew through the air to Uttarakuru, taking all his seven treasures with him. When the king reached there, the people of that land rejoiced and came under his banner.
"And he said to his ministers: "My four lands are now at peace. The people are vigorous. All have come under my banner; the seven treasures have been obtained, and the thousand children are full. What more do I need to do?" All the ministers said: "Yes, indeed, O sacred King! The people of Trayastrimsa Heaven enjoy long life. They are at peace. The form of those devas is splendid and incomparable. The palace where they live and their benches, chairs and bedsteads are of jewels. They sit on these and enjoy celestial happiness. They have not yet come to pay homage. You should now go and bring them under your banner." Then the king flew through the air, taking all the retinue of his seven treasures with him, and went up to the top of Trayastrimsa Heaven. There he saw a tree, the colour of which was blue and green. The sacred king, having seen it, asked his minister: "What is this thing of this colour?" The minister made answer: "This is a tree called “paricitra”. All the devas of Trayastrimsa Heven, in the three months of summer, always amuse themselves under this tree." Also, he saw a thing white like a cloud. Again he asked his minister: "What is this, of this colour?" "This is called the "Hall of Good Dharma". All the devas of Trayastrimsa Heaven always gather here and discuss what obtains in the worlds of humans and gods." Then Shakrodevanamindra, the chief of the gods, saw that King Head-Born was outside the hall. He went out and welcomed him. Having met him, he took the king's hand and entered the Hall of Good Dharma and shared his seat. Then, the two looked the same in form and countenance, with no difference. Only by winks (small gestures) could one tell them apart. Then the sacred king thought to himself: "Would it not be right for me now to abdicate the throne and come and become King of this heaven?" O good man! At that time, Shakra was holding the Mahayana sutras in his hand, reciting and expounding them to others. Only he was now so proficient in their depths of meaning. But because of this reciting, upholding, expounding and promulgating of the sutras to others, there is great virtue. O good man! This Head-Born entertained ill-will towards Shakra. Because of this depravity, he had to return to this Jambudvipa and part from the humans and devas he had loved, and had a greatly troubled mind. That Shakra at the time was Buddha Kasyapa, and the chakravartin was I. O good man! Know that the suffering of parting from what one loves is great suffering. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva remembers (is mindful of) all such cases of suffering due to parting from what one loves. How could it be otherwise when the Bodhisattva, abiding in the teaching of the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra, meditates on the real suffering of parting from what one loves?
"O good man! How does a Bodhisattva practise the Way of the Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra and meditate on the suffering of encountering what one hates to see? O good man! This Bodhisattva-mahasattva sees that this suffering of encountering what one hates exists in the realms of hell, animals, hungry pretas, humans and heaven. It is like a person who is bound up in prison feeling great sorrow as he sees his fetters, chains and handcuffs. The same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. He sees all living beings of the five realms as being the objects of great suffering concomitant with encountering what is hateful. Also, next, O good man! It is like a person who, fearing the fetters, chains and handcuffs of someone who has feelings of enmity towards him, abandons his parents, wife, children, relatives, rare jewels and his own profession and flees to distant places. O good man! It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. He fears birth and death, fully practises the six paramitas and enters Nirvana. O Kasyapa! This is how a Bodhisattva practises the Way of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana and meditates on the suffering of encoutering what one hates.
"O good man! How does a Bodhisattva practise the teaching of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana and meditate on the suffering of not gaining what one desires to have? "Seeking to have" is to have all that exists. There are two kinds of seeking to possess. One is seeking to have what is good to have, and the other is seeking to have what is not good. There is suffering if what is good is not gained, and suffering if what is not good is not removed. Stated simply, this is the suffering of the burning urge of the five skandhas. O Kasyapa! This is the truth of Suffering."
Then Bodhisattva-mahasattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! The suffering of the burning urge of the five skandhas does not mean this. Why not? In days past, the Buddha said to Kolita (one of the five bhiksus): "If “rupa” (form, matter) is suffering, do not seek “rupa”; if “rupa” is something to be sought, it is not suffering." The Buddha said to all bhiksus that there are three feelings (“vedana”), which are: 1) the feeling of suffering, 2) the feeling of bliss, and 3) the feeling of non-suffering and non-bliss. The Buddha said to all the bhiksus before that if one practises Wonderful Dharma, one will encounter bliss. Also, the Buddha said that in good realms one gains six blisses of touch. The eye sees beautiful things. This is bliss. The same with the ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind which feels pleasure. The Buddha said in a gatha:
Awake, the mind is glad.
When one receives clothing and food,
Recites, walks about, and lives alone
In mountains and forests,
This is the greatest bliss.
To beings, day and night,
One is compassionate, and this
Gives one unending bliss.
It is bliss to seek little and be satisfied;
And to disseminate it; arhathood
The Bodhisattva-mahasattva finally
Reaches the yonder shore.
Whatever is done gains one an end.
This is the greatest of bliss."
"O World-Honoured One! The meaning of bliss as stated in all the sutras is thus. How might what the Buddha says now be in accordance with this?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Well said, well said, O good man! You do well to ask the Tathagata this question. O good man! All beings, even when in the deepest depths of suffering, willingly entertain the thought of bliss. Because of this, there is no difference (there) from the thought of suffering about which I now speak."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "You say that one gains bliss even amidst the deepest depths of suffering. If so, this must mean that the lowest point in birth, the lowest point in old age, the lowest point in illness, the lowest point in death, the lowest point in the suffering of parting from what one loves, the lowest point in the suffering of not being able to gain what one desires, the lowest point in the suffering of encountering what one hates, and the lowest point in the suffering of the burning urge of the five skandhas may be said to possess bliss. O World-Honoured One! The lowest grade of birth is none but the three unfortunate realms; the middle grade of birth means human life, and the highest of births is that of heaven. If there is a man who asks, "Is it true that one gains the thought (experience) of suffering in the lowest state of bliss, the thought of non-bliss and non-suffering in the middle state of bliss, and in the highest state of bliss the thought of bliss?", how should we answer this? O World-Honoured One! We might well say that one gains the thought of bliss when in the lowest state of suffering. But we see that one who has to receive 1,000 punishments does not yet, at the first stage of the lowest suffering, gain the thought of bliss. But if not, how can we say that we gain the thought of bliss in the lowest stage of suffering?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "It is thus, it is thus! It is just as you say. Because of this, there can be no occasion on which there comes about the thought of bliss. Why not? If a man who is to have 1,000 punishments is able to escape those punishments after receiving just one of the least of them, that person will, at that instant, gain the thought of bliss. Hence, we should know that the thought of bliss arises in circumstances in which there is no ground for it."
Kasyapa said: "O World-Honoured One! That person does not gain the thought of bliss in the lowest (state of suffering). It is from emancipation that he gains the thought of bliss." "O Kasyapa! Because of this, in times gone by, I spoke about the bliss of the five skandhas to Kolita. It was true, not false."
"O Kasyapa! There are three feelings: 1) the feeling of bliss, 2) the feeling of suffering, and 3) the feeling of non-suffering and non-bliss. The three sufferings are: 1) suffering-suffering (bodily pain), 2) suffering of what is made (suffering arising out of phenomena changing), and 3) suffering of disintegration (mental pain caused by destruction). O good man! The feeling of suffering is based on these three sufferings, which are those of suffering-suffering, the suffering of what is made, and the suffering of disintegration. The other two feelings are the suffering of what is made and the suffering of disintegration. O good man! Because of this, there is in birth and death really the feeling of bliss. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva says that all is suffering, because the intrinsic nature and the outer expressions of suffering and bliss do not part. Truth to tell, there is no bliss in birth and death. It is only in order to accord with the ways of the world that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas say that there is bliss."
"One who does good harvests bliss;
Does not harvest suffering.
All others are likewise.
This is the greatest of bliss."
"Are the feelings of bliss which the sutras speak of all false or are they not? If false, how are we to explain the fact that the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One, already long ago, innumerable hundred thousand million billion nayuta asamkhyas of kalpas in the past, practised the Way of Enlightenment and did away with false speech, and that he now says this? Why?" The Buddha said: "O good man! The gatha cited above referring to the feeling of bliss constitutes the root concept of Enlightenment. Also, it well nurtures unsurpassed Enlightenment over a long course. That is why the phases of bliss are spoken about in the sutras. O good man! For example, what supports life forms all the causes of bliss. So, we say bliss. These are such as female beauty, abandoning one's self to intoxicating drinks, beautiful dishes and sweets, drinking water when thirsty, and having fire when cold; clothing, necklaces, elephants, horses, vehicles, servants, pages, gold, silver, beryl, coral, pearls, storehouses, and rice. All such things that pertain to the world form the cause of bliss. This is bliss. O good man! (But) even such things can call forth suffering, too. From a female, a man's suffering comes about. Apprehension, sorrow, weeping, loss of life, intoxicating drinks, sweets, and storehouses do also call forth suffering. Because of this, all is suffering; there can be no phase of bliss. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva takes it that the eight sufferings possess no suffering. O good man! All sravakas and pratyekabuddhas do not know the cause of bliss. To such persons, he (the Tathagata) says that the lowest of suffering also contains a phase of bliss. Only the Bodhisattva, abiding in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana, is able to know the causes of suffering and bliss."
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter One Introductory
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Two: On Cunda
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Three: On Grief
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Four: On Long Life
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Five: On the Adamantine Body
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Six: On the Virtue of the Name
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Seven: On the Four Aspects
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Eight: On the Four Dependables
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Nine: On Wrong and Right
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Ten: On the Four Truths
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Eleven: On the Four Inversions
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twelve: On the Tathagata-DHATU
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirteen: On Letters
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Fourteen: On the Parable of the Birds
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Fifteen: On the Parable of the Moon
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Sixteen: On the Bodhisattva
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Seventeen: On the Questions Raised by the Crowd
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Eighteen: On Actual Illness
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Nineteen: On Holy Actions-1
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty: On Holy Actions-2
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-One: On Pure Actions-1
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Two: On Pure Actions-2
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Three: On Pure Actions-3
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Four: On Pure Actions-4
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Five: On Pure Actions-5
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Six: On the Action of the Child
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Seven: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King-1
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Eight: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King-2
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Nine: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (c)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (d)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-One: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (e)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Two: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (f)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Three: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (A)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Four: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (b)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Five: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (c)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Six: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (d)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Seven: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (e)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Eight: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (f)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Nine: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (g)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (a)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-One: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (b)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Two: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (c)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Three: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (d)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Four: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (e)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Five: On Kaundinya (a)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Six: On Kaundinya (b)