Thus I have heard:
At one time the Buddha was dwelling in the Anathapi??ika Garden of Jetavana Park in the city kingdom of Sravasti, together with 500 great bhikius, as well as 100,000 Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas and a multitude of gods, dragons, yak?as, and gandharvas. Also present were 100,000 upasakas and upasikas. In attendance too were the Brahma-kings, rulers of this Saha world, as well as the god-king Sakra, the four god-kings, and their retinues. From worlds in the ten directions came innumerable bhikhius, bhikhiunis, upasakas, and upasikas, as well as Bodhisattvas.
At that time the Tathagata pronounced the Dharma to His four groups of disciples, telling them, “With existence, there are pain and pleasure. Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure. Therefore, keeping away from pain and pleasure is the foremost bliss of nirvara.”
All these 500 voice-hearer bhik?us were Arhats. They had ended their afflictions and the discharges thereof, and their minds had acquired command and ease. Like the great dragon, with their minds liberated and their wisdom unfolded, they had completed their undertaking [for Arhatship]. Having shed the heavy burden, they had acquired benefits for themselves, ending the bondage of existence. Liberated by true knowledge, they had acquired total command of their minds and the foremost paramita.
Of those who were still learning, an uncountable number had achieved the [voice-hearer] fruits, becoming Srotapannas, Sak?dagamins, or Anagamins. An innumerable multitude of bhikhius had achieved dharmas with discharges.
Also from the ten directions came an innumerable multitude of Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas who had achieved immeasurable asa?khyeyas of merits. Their number was beyond calculation or analogy, unknowable to voice-hearers or Pretyekabuddhas. The exceptions were Mañjusri Bodhisattva, Great Strength Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, and Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahasattva. Such leading Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas were in asa?khyeya multitudes. Bodhisattvas who came from other lands were as immeasurable in number as grasses and trees grown from the earth. Also present was the bhikhiuni K?ema, together with a group of bhikhiunis. Present as well were Lady Visakha and Queen Mallika, together with their innumerable attendants. Also present was the Elder Sudatta, together with innumerable upasakas.
The World-Honored One, in the midst of this huge multitude, introduced the Dharma Door of Existence and Nonexistence.
Meanwhile, King Prasenajit, rising from his sleep, had this thought, “I should go to the World-Honored One.” Having had this thought, he immediately set off, with drums beating and conch shells blowing, going to the Buddha. The World-Honored One, knowing the reason, still asked, “Ananda, why is there the sound of drums and conch shells?”
Ananda replied to the Buddha, “King Prasenajit is coming to the Buddha. Hence the sound of drums and conch shells.”
The Buddha told Ananda, “You should also beat the great Dharma drum because I now will pronounce the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
Ananda asked the Buddha, “I have never heard of the name of this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum. Why is it called the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum?”
The Buddha told Ananda, “How can you know it? Not even one of the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas in this assembly knows this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum, which has a [Sanskrit] six-syllable name. Much less have you heard of it.”
Ananda said to the Buddha, “This is unprecedented. The name of this Dharma is truly hard to know.”
“Indeed, Ananda, the fact is not different from your statement. Ananda, this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum, like the bloom of the udumbara tree, is rare in the world.”
Ananda asked the Buddha, “Not all Buddhas have this Dharma?”
The Buddha told Ananda, “Buddhas of the past, present, and future all have this Dharma.”
Ananda asked the Buddha, “If so, why did these Bodhisattvas, the heroes among men, all come to gather here? Why do their Tathagatas not expound this Dharma in their own lands?”
The Buddha told Ananda, “For example, an ara?yaka bhikhiu lives alone in a mountain cave. On his way to the village to beg for food, he sees various human and animal corpses. Having seen them, he feels disgusted and returns without food, thinking, ‘Alas, I will definitely be like that.’ Then he feels happy, thinking this thought: ‘I should go there again to observe corpses to intensify my revulsion.’ Again he heads for that village, looking to see corpses in order to strengthen his perception of impurity. Seeing them, he continues to observe them. Then he achieves the holy fruit, becoming an Arhat.
“Buddhas in other worlds do not teach impermanence, suffering, emptiness, and impurity. Why? The Dharma in those Buddha Lands should be their way. Those Tathagatas say to their Bodhisattvas, ‘How marvelous! Sakyamuni the World-Honored One, taking the hard way, appears in the land of the five turbidities. For the sake of longsuffering sentient beings, using various viable approaches, he pronounces the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum. Therefore, good men, you should learn in that way.’ Those Bodhisattvas have come to this assembly because they all want to see me, to pay respects, and to make obeisance. Having come to this assembly, they will attain the First Ground, even up to the Tenth Ground [on the Bodhisattva Way]. Hence the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum is very hard to encounter. Hence multitudes of great Bodhisattvas from the ten directions, for the sake of hearing the Dharma, have all gathered here.”
Ananda said to the Buddha, “Very good! Very good! All who attend will benefit. They all will receive the hard-to-acquire Dharma in this sutra.”
The Buddha told Ananda, “Such a profound sutra cannot be received by all. Therefore, you should not say that all who attend will benefit.”
Ananda asked the Buddha, “Why will not all who attend benefit?”
The Buddha told Ananda, “This sutra is the secret Dharma store of Tathagatas. It is profound and wondrous, hard to understand and hard to believe. Therefore, Ananda, you should not say that all who attend will benefit.”
Ananda said to the Buddha, “Then is it not like King Prasenajit beating the huge war drum to launch a battle? When the sound is heard, all [enemy] arrows fall away.”
The Buddha told Ananda, “When King Prasenajit beats the war drum, not all delight in hearing the sound of the drum. The cowardly ones are scared to death, or nearly to death. Indeed, Ananda, the name of this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum is the Dharma Door in which riders of the Two Vehicles disbelieve. Therefore, Ananda, as the huge war drum is beaten only by the king before fighting a battle, so too can this great Dharma drum, the secret of Buddhas, be expounded only by a Buddha who has appeared in the world.”
Then the World-Honored One asked Mahakasyapa, “The bhikhius here, having left all the scum and chaff, are pure, alike, and truly strong. Are they capable of hearing this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum?”
Mahakasyapa replied to the Buddha, “If there are bhikhius who have breached the precepts or violated the regulations, they are rebuked by Mahamaudgalyayana. Even I do not accommodate such bhik?us, much less would the World-Honored One. The multitude in this assembly is like the sandalwood grove, pure and unvaried.”
The Buddha told Mahakasyapa, “The multitude in this assembly is all pure and homogeneous. However, they do not have good understanding of my veiled statements.”
Mahakasyapa asked the Buddha, “What is meant by veiled statements?”
The Buddha told Mahakasyapa, “Saying that the Tathagata enters the ultimate nirvara is making a veiled statement. In truth the Tathagata abides eternally, never extinct, because parinirva?a is not a dharma of destruction. This sutra leaves the veiled approach and expounds with entirely explicit tones through hundreds of thousands of causes and conditions. Therefore, Mahakasyapa, you should survey this huge multitude again.”
Mahakasyapa again observed those present and their reason for coming. In the time of a k?a?a, sentient beings of weak faith, voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and novice Bodhisattvas, who considered themselves incapable, had the thought of giving up.
As an analogy, a man named Thousand Strong Men stands up in the midst of a multitude of strong men owned by the royal family. Beating a drum, he chants, “Who is capable of wrestling with me?” The incapable ones remain silent, thinking to themselves, “I am incapable of wrestling with him. I might be injured or even lose my life.” The one against whom no one in the group dares to fight is the brave, indomitable strong man who can erect the great victory banner.
Thus, inadequate sentient beings, voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and novice Bodhisattvas each had this thought: “I am incapable of hearing and accepting this Dharma, which says that the Tathagata has entered parinirvara and then that He is eternally abiding, never extinct.”
Having heard in the midst of the multitude what they had never heard before, they left their seats and departed. Why? They had cultivated in the long night the view of void with respect to parinirvara. Upon hearing of this pure sutra, which is free from obscurity, they left their seats and departed. Among the voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and novice Bodhisattvas, who came from the ten directions, on the scale of a million ko?i parts, only one part remained.
The Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas who stayed on believed in the eternal abiding and changelessness of the dharma body. They then could settle in, accept, and uphold all the sutras about the Tathagata store. They could also explain to and comfort the world, enabling others to understand all the veiled statements [in these sutras]. They could well discern sutras of definitive meaning versus sutras of non-definitive meaning. They all could subdue sentient beings that violated the prohibitions, and they all could respect and serve the pure virtuous ones. With great pure faith in the Mahayana, they would not consider the Two Vehicles as extraordinary. They would pronounce only mahavaipulya sutras, not other sutras. They would pronounce only that the Tathagata is eternally abiding and that there is the Tathagata store, without abandoning emptiness—not only the emptiness of the self-view but also the emptiness of the self-essence of all sa?sk?ta dharmas.
The Buddha told Mahakasyapa, “Ask the huge multitude again whether they want to hear this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum, the hard-to-believe Mahayana sutra, from the vast One Vehicle. Ask all of them this three times.”
Mahaksyapa said to the Buddha, “Very good, World-Honored One.”
Forthwith he rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, and bowed down at the feet of the Buddha. He then circled the Buddha three times and questioned the huge multitude: “Do you all want to hear this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum? The Tathagata now will expound to all of you the One Vehicle, the Mahayana, which surpasses the state of all voice-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas.”
Three times he asked them, and they all replied, “We would be delighted to hear it. Yes, Mahakasyapa, we all have come here to hear the Dharma. Very good, have sympathy! May the Buddha pronounce to us the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum!”
Kasyapa next asked, “Why do you all believe?”
They then replied, “As an analogy, a man 20 years of age has a son 100 years old. If the Buddha says so, we will believe that it is so. Much more will we believe in the true Dharma He is going to pronounce. Why? The Tathagata acts in accordance with His words. The Tathagata’s pure eye shines, perfectly hindrance-free. Seeing with His Buddha-eye, He knows our minds.”
Kasyapa praised, “Very good! Very good! You worthy ones are capable of hearing the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum, to uphold or pronounce it.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “As an analogy, a man only 20 years of age has a 100-year-old son. The Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum conveys a similar teaching. Why? The Tathagata enters parinirva?a and still abides eternally. Nothing has a self, but the Tathagata still speaks of a self.”
They immediately responded, “Only the Buddha can know. Whatever the World-Honored One says, we will accept and uphold it accordingly.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “I pray only that the World-Honored One will pronounce the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum, beat the great Dharma drum, and blow the great Dharma conch shell.”
The Buddha said, “Very good! Very good! Kasyapa, you now want to hear me pronounce the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “Affirmatively I accept Your teachings. Why? Because of my [spiritual] state, the Tathagata regards me highly and treats me with respect. What kind of respect? He once said to me, ‘Come and sit together with me.’ For this reason, I should recognize His kindness.”
The Buddha said, “Very good! Kasyapa, for a good reason, I treat you with respect. For example, King Prasenajit takes good care of his four types armed forces. When they fight, they beat the huge war drums and blow the huge war conch shells, standing their ground against the enemy. Because of the king’s kind caring, they fight, sparing no strength, to defeat the enemy so as to bring peace to the country. Therefore, bhikhius, after my parinirvara, Mahakasyapa should protect and uphold this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum. For this reason, I let him use half of my seat. Accordingly, he should carry on my Way. After my parinirva?a, he will be capable of widely expounding the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “I am the eldest son born from the mouth of the World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told the bhikhius, “As an analogy, King Prasenajit teaches his sons to engage in the [five] studies, so that they will one day be capable of continuing the royal line. Thus, bhikhius, after my parinirvara, in the same way the bhikhiu Kasyapa will protect and uphold this sutra.
“Furthermore, Kasyapa, for example, King Prasenajit and other kings are enemies, and they battle against one another. During those times, his warriors in the four types of armed forces—elephants, cavalry, chariots, and infantry—upon hearing the sound of the great drum, have no fear, and they hold firm their armor and weapons. The king, out of kindness, regularly bestows on them good food. During a war they are in addition given jewels and even cities. If they have defeated the enemy, they are each crowned with a white silk scarf, decorated as kings. If, among my voice-hearer bhikhius and bhikhiunis as well as upasakas and upasikas, there are those who learn their precepts according to the Pratimok?a and become accomplished in observing the rules of conduct, the Tathagata will give them the peace and joy of human or celestial life. If there are those who have achieved great merit by subduing the four maras, the Tathagata will crown their heads with the white silk scarf of liberation, made of the Four Noble Truths. If there are those who, with enhanced faith and understanding, seek the Buddha store, the true self, and the eternally abiding dharma body, the Tathagata will pour the water of sarvajña [overall wisdom-knowledge] on their heads and crown them with the white silk scarf of the Mahayana. Mahakasyapa, in the same way I now crown your head with the white silk scarf of the Mahayana. You should protect and uphold this sutra in the places where innumerable future Buddhas will be. Kasyapa, know that, after my parinirvra, you are capable of protecting and upholding such sutras.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “It will be as You instruct.”
He further said to the Buddha, “From today on, and after Your parinirvara, I will always protect, uphold, and widely pronounce this sutra.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Very good! Very good! I now will pronounce to you the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
Then gods and dragons in the sky praised with one voice, “Very good! Very good! Kasyapa, today gods rain down celestial flowers, and dragon-kings rain down sweet nectar and finely powdered incense. To comfort and delight all sentient beings, you should be established by the World-Honored One as the eldest son of the Dharma.”
Then the multitude of gods and dragons, with one voice, spoke in verse:
As the king in the city of Sravasti
Beats the war drum and blows the war conch shell,
The Dharma King in Jetavana Park
Beats the great Dharma drum.
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “You should now use questioning as the drumstick
to beat the great Dharma drum. The Tathagata, the Dharma King, will explain
to you. The God of Gods will resolve your doubts.”
Then the World-Honored One told Mahakasyapa, “There is a bhikhiu called Faith in the Mahavaipulya. If, among my four groups of disciples, there are those who hear his name, the arrows of their greed, anger, and delusion will all be pulled out. Why? Kasyapa, for example, King Prasenajit has [a physician called] Superior Medicine, who is the son of Jiva. When King Prasenajit is battling an enemy country, he tells Superior Medicine, ‘Quickly bring me the medicine which can pull the arrows out for sentient beings [that are shot].’ Then Superior Medicine brings the anti-poison medicine, and the king smears his war drum with the medicine. He beats the drum as he smears it with medicine and suffuses it with the smoke of burning medicine. If sentient beings that have been shot by poisonous arrows hear the sound of the drum, one or two yojanas away, their arrows will all be pulled out.
“Thus, Kasyapa, if there are those who hear the name of the bhik?u Faith in the Mahavaipulya, the arrows of their greed, anger, and delusion will all be pulled out. Why? That bhikhiu has acquired this great fruit because of his present accomplishment in using this sutra to propagate the true Dharma. Mahakasyapa, you should note that even beating a mindless ordinary drum smeared with mindless medicine and suffused with its smoke has such power to benefit sentient beings. Much more, sentient beings that hear the name of a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva or the name of the bhikhiu Faith in the Mahavaipulya are enabled to remove their three poisons.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “If hearing the name of a Bodhisattva can remove the three poisonous arrows for sentient beings, it will be more effective if they praise the name and merit of the World-Honored One by saying, ‘Namo Sakyamuni.’ If praising the name and merit of Sakyamuni can pull the three poisonous arrows out of sentient beings, it will be even more effective if they hear this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum and expound its verses and stanzas to comfort others. Furthermore, if they expound it widely, it will be impossible for their three poisonous arrows not to be pulled out.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “As I just mentioned, bhikhius who observe their precepts purely can fulfill their wishes at will because of their original vows. All Buddhas have this Dharma, as taught in the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum, that dharmas, which [in true reality] are not made [through causes and conditions], neither arise nor perish. Therefore, Kasyapa, in a future life, you will be like me. Why? If there are four groups of disciples who hear your name, their three poisonous arrows will all be pulled out. Therefore, Kasyapa, you now should request the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum, and then, after my parinirvara, protect, uphold, and pronounce it for a long time in the world.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Very good! World-Honored One, please pronounce for my sake the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “You should spare no question about this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “Very good! World-Honored One, I will ask about my doubts. The World-Honored One says, ‘With existence, there are pain and pleasure. Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure.’ What is meant by that?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Without existence means the foremost bliss of parinirvara. Therefore, having left pain and pleasure, one acquires the foremost bliss of parinirva?a. Pain and pleasure mean that there is existence. Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure. Therefore, those who wish to attain parinirva?a should seek to cease existing.”
Then the World-Honored One, to restate this meaning, spoke in verse:
Existence is impermanent,
Nor is it changeless.
With existence, there are pain and pleasure.
Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure.
No act brings neither pain nor pleasure;
Acting brings pain and pleasure.
Do not delight in that which is sa?sk?ta,
Nor be involved with it.
If one acquires pleasure,
One will nevertheless fall into pain.
Before attaining nirvara,
One does not abide in peace and bliss.
Then Kasyapa replied in verse:
If sentient beings do not effect their existence,
Nirva?a will be their foremost bliss.
That bliss is merely a name
As there is no one experiencing bliss.
Then the World-Honored One again spoke in verse:
The eternal liberation is not just a name,
The wondrous form [of a Buddha] evidently standing.
This is not the state of voice-hearers or Pratyekabuddhas,
Nor that of Bodhisattvas.
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, why do you speak of form
and then say it is eternally abiding?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “I will give you an analogy. A person comes from Mathura in the south. Someone asks him, ‘Where do you come from?’ He answers, ‘From Mathura.’ He is next asked, ‘Where is Mathura?’ Then this person points to the south. Kasyapa, will the questioner not believe him? Why? This person has seen himself come from the south. Thus, Kasyapa, because I have seen it, you should believe me.”
Then the World-Honored One again spoke in verse:
By analogy, there is a person
Who points his finger to the sky.
I now do the same,
Who pronounce liberation by name.
Analogous to the person
Who comes from the distant south,
I now do the same,
Who come from nirvara.
“However, Kasyapa, those who see the meaning do not need causes and conditions.
If they do not see the meaning, they need causes and conditions. Indeed, Kasyapa,
Buddha-Bhagavans always indicate liberation through innumerable causes and conditions.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What is cause?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Cause is the reason.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What is condition?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Condition is a contributing factor.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “I pray that you will further clarify with an analogy.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “For example, a child is born from parents. The mother is the cause,1 and the father is the condition. Thus, a dharma born through causes and conditions is called a formation.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What is meant by formation?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Formation refers to a worldly formation.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What is world?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “It is constructed with an assembly of sentient beings.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What is a sentient being?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “A sentient being is constructed with an assemblage of dharmas.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What is dharma?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Non-dharma is dharma, and dharma is non-dharma. There are two kinds of dharmas. What are these two? Sa?sk?ta and asa?sk?ta; form and non-form. There is no third kind.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What does dharma look like?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Dharma is non-form.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What does non-dharma look like?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Non-dharma is also non-form.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “If both dharma and non-dharma have neither form nor appearance, then what is dharma and what is non-dharma?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Dharma is nirvara, and non-dharma is sa?sara.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “If both dharma and non-dharma have neither form nor appearance, how, what, and why can the wise know about their appearances?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Through the cycle of life and death, sentient beings that develop various kinds of meritorious, pure roots of goodness are in the right ways. If they carry out these dharmas, pure appearances will arise. Those who perform these dharmas are dharma sentient beings. If they carry out non-dharmas, impure appearances will arise. Those who perform these non-dharmas are non-dharma sentient beings.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, what is a sentient being?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “A sentient beings is constructed by assembling the four domains—earth, water, fire, and wind—as well as the five faculties, the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising, sensory reception, perception, thinking, mind, mental faculty, and mental consciousness. It is called the sentient-being dharma. Kasyapa, know that it means all dharmas.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Which of these component dharmas is a sentient being?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “None of them alone is called a sentient being. Why? Kasyapa, taking the king Prasenajit’s drum as an example, what is a drum?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “A so-called drum includes a membrane, wood, and a drumstick. The assemblage of these three dharmas is called a drum.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Likewise a construction with an assemblage of dharmas is called a sentient being.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Is the sound-producing drum not the drum?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Besides the sound-producing drum, any drum makes sound to be carried by the wind.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Is the drum a dharma or a non-dharma?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “The drum is neither a dharma nor a non-dharma.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What is its name?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “What is neither a dharma nor a non-dharma is called a nonspecific dharma.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “Including the nonspecific dharma, there should be three kinds of dharmas in the world.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “An example of a nonspecific appearance would be a person who is neither male nor female. Such a person is called a non-man. The drum is nonspecific in the same way.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “As the World-Honored One says, a child is born from the union of his parents. If they do not have the seeds for forming sentient beings, they are not the parental causes and conditions.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “That which does not have the seeds for forming sentient beings is called nirva?a. So too is the great eternal non-man. Why? As an analogy, when King Prasenajit battles an enemy country, his warriors who eat men’s meals are not called men if they are not bold and fierce. Therefore, those who do not have the seeds of sentient beings are not called parents. Neither is the great eternal non-man.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, there are good dharmas, bad dharmas, and nonspecific dharmas. What are good, bad, and nonspecific dharmas?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “A pleasurable experience is a good dharma. A painful experience is a bad dharma. An experience that is neither pleasurable nor painful is a nonspecific dharma. Sentient beings are always in contact with these three dharmas. Pleasurable experiences relate to gods or humans gratifying the five desires as requital for their merit. Painful experiences relate to [the life of] hell dwellers, animals, hungry ghosts, or asuras. Experience in neither pleasure nor pain is like a minor skin disease.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “This is not right.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Pleasure as a cause of pain, and pain as a cause of pain, are also called a nonspecific experience.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What would be an analogy?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “For example, one becomes ill because of eating food. Eating food is pleasure, but illness is pain. Like a minor skin disease, this is called a nonspecific experience.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “If both pleasure and pain can be called a nonspecific experience, then parents’ giving birth to a child is also a nonspecific experience.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “This is not right.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What would be an analogy?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Formless gods in Neither Perception nor Non-perception Heaven, and gods with form in No-perception Heaven, still abide by karmic laws. So does goodness.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, as the Buddha says, those with sensory reception and perception are sentient beings. Then, formless gods in Neither Perception nor Non-perception Heaven must not be sentient beings.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “They still have mental processing. The dharma of sentient beings that I describe excludes the gods with form in No-perception Heaven.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Are sentient beings form or non-form?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Sentient beings are neither form nor non-form.2 Those who accomplish this dharma are called sentient beings.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “If there are sentient beings formed by a different dharma, formless gods should not be included. Then, there should not be these two realms of existence called the form realm and the formless realm.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Dharmas are non-form, and non-dharmas are also non-form.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Does it mean that dharmas are attuned to liberation and that non-dharmas are as well? Are formless gods already liberated?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Not true. There are only sa?sk?ta and asa?sk?ta dharmas, and liberation is an asa?sk?ta dharma. Formless gods are in the domain of sa?sk?ta dharmas because they still have the disposition to assume form.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, all sa?sk?ta dharmas are form, and asa?sk?ta dharmas are non-form. Seeing the form of formless gods is the state of the Buddha, not our state.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Very good! Very good! It is my state, not yours. Indeed, Buddha-Bhagavans, having achieved liberation, are free from form but still have form.”
The Buddha then asked Kasyapa, “What are formless gods? Do you know what these gods do? Kasyapa, can gods with form be considered formless?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “This is beyond our state.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Indeed, Buddha-Bhagavans, who have achieved liberation, all assume form. You should observe them.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “If one achieves liberation in this way, one should still experience pain and pleasure.”
The Buddha asked Kasyapa, “If sick sentient beings take medicine and are cured of their diseases, will they be sick again?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “If they have karma, they will still have illnesses.”
The Buddha asked Kasyapa, “Will those who have no karma have illnesses?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Indeed, leaving pain and pleasure is liberation. Know that pain and pleasure are illness. A great man is one who has attained nirva?a.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “If leaving pain and pleasure is liberation, will illness end with the exhaustion of karma?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Worldly pleasures are in effect pain. Liberation is achieved by leaving them and ending karma.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Is liberation the final ending?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “One may liken space to the ocean. Is space really like the ocean? As space is beyond analogy, so too is liberation. No one can know that formless gods have form. Nor can one know whether they are like this or like that, whether they stand this way or frolic that way. As this [knowledge] is beyond the state of voice-hearers or Pratyekabuddhas, so too is liberation.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, who forms sentient beings?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Sentient beings are formed by themselves.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What does that mean?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Those who do good are Buddhas. Those who do evil are sentient beings.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Who made the very first sentient being?”
The Buddha asked Kasyapa, “Who made the formless gods, such as those in Neither Perception nor Non-perception Heaven? How do formless gods live and how do they carry themselves?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “Although their karmas cannot be known, they are formed by their own karmas. Then who makes sentient beings black in sa?sara, or white in nirvara?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “It is made by their karmas. Karma gives rise to innumerable dharmas; goodness also gives rise to innumerable dharmas.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What arises from karma? What arises from goodness?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Existence arises from karma. Liberation arises from goodness.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “How does goodness arise from no-birth?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “These two are not different.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “If goodness arises, how can it arrive at no-birth?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “By doing good karmas.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Who taught this?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “It has been taught by Buddhas since time without a beginning.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Who taught and transformed all Buddhas without a beginning in time?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Time without a beginning is not what voice-hearers or Pratyekabuddhas can know by thinking. If a person who is as wise and well-informed as Sariputra appears in the world, he can think throughout the long night but still cannot know who is the very first of Buddhas, who are without a beginning. Nor can he know His nirva?a or the interval in between. Furthermore, Kasyapa, even Mahamaudgalyayana, using his transcendental powers, can never find the very first Buddha World without a beginning. Thus, none of the voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, or Bodhisattvas on the Tenth Ground, such as Maitreya Bodhisattva, can know it. As the origin of Buddhas is hard to know, so too is the origin of sentient beings.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “Therefore, World-Honored One, there is neither a doer [of karma] nor a recipient [of karmic fruit].”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Causation is the doer and the recipient.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Does the world have an ending, or have no ending?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “The world has not ended. There is nothing to end, nor is there a time of ending.”
Then the Buddha asked Kasyapa, “Suppose you use a hair to draw water from the immense ocean by the drop. Can you deplete the ocean water?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “Yes, it can be finished.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Immeasurable asa?khyeyas of great kalpas ago, a Buddha called Kelava appeared in the world, who widely expounded the Dharma. At that time in the Licchavi clan, there was a youth called Entire World Delighted to See. He was a Wheel-Turning King who ruled with the true Dharma. This king, together with his retinue in the hundreds of thousands, went to that Buddha. He bowed down at the feet of that Buddha and circled Him three times. After presenting his offerings, he asked that Buddha, ‘How long will it take me to acquire the Bodhisattva Way?’ That Buddha told the great king, ‘A Wheel-Turning King is a Bodhisattva. There is no difference. Why? No one else can be the god-king Sakra, a Brahma-king, or a Wheel-Turning King. A Bodhisattva is the god-king Sakra, a Brahma-king, or a Wheel-Turning King. First, he is reborn as the god-king Sakra or a Brahma-king many times, and then he is reborn as a Wheel-Turning King to rule and deliver people through the true Dharma. You have already been the god-king Sakra or a Brahma-king as many times as the sands of asa?khyeya Ganges Rivers. Now you are a Wheel-Turning King.’
“Then the king asked, ‘What does the god-king Sakra or a Brahma-king look like?’ Kevala Buddha told the great king, ‘The god-king Sakra or a Brahma-king looks just like you now, wearing a celestial crown, but their magnificence does not match yours. For example, the form of a Buddha is so sublime and extraordinary that voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas can never compare. As a Buddha is sublime, you in your way are magnificent.’
“Kasyapa, the noble king next asked Kevala Buddha, ‘How long will it take me to attain Buddhahood?’ That Buddha replied, ‘Great King, attaining Buddhahood requires a vastly long time. Why? Suppose you, Great King, abandon your merit, become an ordinary person, and use a hair to draw water from the immense ocean by the drop. When the ocean water is almost completely gone, and the remaining water is like [puddles in] cow tracks, in the world will appear a Tathagata called Lamp Light, the Tathagata, Arhat, Samyak-Sa?buddha. At that time there will be a king named Earth Sovereign, and Lamp Light Tathagata will bestow upon him a prophecy that he will be a Buddha. Great King [Entire World Delighted to See], you will be that king’s first-born son, upon whom Lamp Light Buddha will also bestow a prophecy. He will say these words: “Great King, your first-born son is born to you as the water in the immense ocean, diminishing since the past, is near depletion. During this period, he has never been a lesser king, but has been the god-king Sakra, a Brahma-king, or a noble Wheel-Turning King ruling and transforming the world with the true Dharma. This first-born son of yours is boldly valiant and energetically diligent. Great King Earth Sovereign, bodhi is hard to attain. Because of these causes and conditions, I give you an analogy. Earth Sovereign, this first-born son of yours has 60,000 lady attendants. Like goddesses, they are shapely, beautiful, adorned with necklaces of jewels. He will abandon them all like spit. Knowing that desire is impermanent, precarious, and fickle, he will say, ‘I will renounce family life.’ Having said this, believing that family is not his way of life, he will renounce family life to learn the Way.” Therefore, Lamp Light Buddha will bestow a prophecy upon that youth: “In the future, there will be a Buddha called Sakyamuni. His world will be called Endurance. Young man, you will then be reborn in the Licchavi clan and become a youth called Entire World Delighted to See. After the parinirva?a of Sakyamuni Buddha, the true Dharma will be perishing. When eighty years still remain, you will be [reborn as] a bhik?u who upholds this Buddha’s name and disseminates this sutra, not caring even about his own life. After this bhik?u dies at age one hundred, he will be reborn in the Pure Land of Peace and Bliss and will acquire great spiritual powers, standing on the Eighth Ground. He will manifest one body in Tu?ita Heaven, another body in the Pure Land of Peace and Bliss, and a third body to ask Ajita Buddha questions about this sutra.” Then King Earth Sovereign, having heard the prophecy of his son, will be exultant and exuberant, saying, “Today the Tathagata has prophesied that my son will be on the Eighth Ground.” That youth, having heard the prophecy, will make energetic progress.’”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “Therefore, World-Honored One, drawing water by the drop with a hair can deplete the water in the immense ocean.”
The Buddha asked Kasyapa, “What is meant by that?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, as an analogy, a merchant keeps his gold coins in a container. When his son cries, he gives him a coin. [He knows how] the money in the container decreases day by day. Likewise, Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas know how the water in the immense ocean decreases drop by drop, as well as how much still remains. Even more, the World-Honored One should know the ending of the infinite mass of sentient beings. However, sentient beings have no ending. All voice-hearers and Pretyekabuddhas are unable to know this. Only Buddha-Bhagavans can know this.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Very good! Very good! As you say, the infinite mass of sentient beings has no ending.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Do sentient beings have an ending or not? Does parinirva?a mean the end or not?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Sentient beings have no ending.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Why do sentient beings not have an ending?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “The ending of sentient beings would mean decrease [in number]. Then this sutra would be meaningless. Therefore, Kasyapa, Buddha-Bhagavans after parinirva?a are eternally abiding. Because of this meaning, Buddha-Bhagavans, having entered parinirva?a, are never extinct.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Why do Buddha-Bhagavans enter parinirva?a, but are not ultimately extinct?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Indeed! Indeed! When a house is destroyed, space is revealed. Indeed! Indeed! The nirvara of Buddhas is liberation.”
Fascicle 2 (of 2)
Then the World-Honored One told Mahakasyapa, “As an analogy, a king is
active in giving alms, and many hidden treasures are uncovered in his kingdom.
Why? Because the king widely gives various kinds of relief to unfortunate sentient
beings, hidden treasure stores spontaneously turn up. Thus, Kasyapa, Bodhisattvas
who use skillful ways to pronounce the profound Dharma treasure widely will
acquire this profound sutra, which is in accord with [the Three Liberation Doors
of] emptiness, no appearance, and no act, and it is a sutra apart from non-dharmas.
They will acquire sutras about the Tathagata store as well.
“Kasyapa, in the northern continent of Uttarakuru, food grows naturally, and it never diminishes as the multitudes continue to partake of it. Why? The people there, in their entire lives, never have thoughts of belongings, stinginess, or greed. Likewise, Kasyapa, here in this southern continent of Jambudvipa, if, among the bhikhius, bhikhiunis, upasakas, and upasikas, there are those who, having acquired this profound sutra, read and recite it, copy and uphold it, thoroughly penetrate it, and widely pronounce it to others, never maligning it or feeling bored or doubtful, they will always naturally receive, by virtue of Buddhas’ spiritual power, offerings to their satisfaction. Until their attainment of bodhi, the offerings will be without any shortage, continuing endlessly, except for those in firm karmic requitals. During their entire lives, as long as bhikhius observe their precepts without being lax, gods and spirits will serve them and make offerings to them. If they can refrain from thinking even one maligning thought of this profound sutra, they will gain knowledge of the Tathagata store and of the eternal abiding of Tathagatas, and they will often see Buddhas, be close to them, and make offerings to them.
“As the seven treasures always follow the Wheel-Turning King wherever he goes, likewise this sutra is always where its comforting presenter stays. The seven treasures stay only where the Wheel-Turning King stays, not elsewhere, while lesser treasures stay elsewhere. Likewise, where a comforting presenter stays, this sutra will come to him from elsewhere, while sutras in accord with the non-definitive meaning of emptiness will stay elsewhere. When the comforting presenter goes away from his location, this sutra always accompanies him. Wherever the Wheel-Turning King goes, sentient beings that follow him each have this thought, ‘Where the king stays, I too should be there.’ Likewise, wherever the comforting presenter goes, this sutra always follows him. When a Wheel-Turning King appears in the world, the seven treasures appear. Likewise, when a comforting presenter appears in the world, this sutra appears. If one of the seven treasures owned by the Wheel-Turning King is lost and the king seeks it, he will definitely arrive in the place where that one treasure is. Likewise, if the comforting presenter, for the sake of hearing this sutra, seeks everywhere, he will definitely arrive in the place where this sutra is.
“Furthermore, when a Wheel-Turning King does not appear in the world, the lesser kings, acting like Wheel-Turning Kings, appear in the world along with other kings. However, nowhere does anyone expound this profound sutra. There are those who pronounce kindred sutras, primary or secondary; sentient beings study and follow them. In the course of their study, when they hear of this ultimate profound sutra about the Tathagata store and the eternal abiding of the Tathagata, they elicit doubts in their minds. They bear malice toward the comforting presenter, and dishonor and scorn him. Without any appreciation, they insult and criticize, making such statements as: ‘These words are spoken by maras.’ Judging this sutra as destructive to the Dharma, they all reject it and return to their own locations. Because they damage the Dharma, breach the precepts, and hold the wrong views, they will never acquire such a sutra. Why not? This sutra stays only with its comforting presenter.
“There will be many sentient beings that malign the Mahayana sutras they see or hear. Do not have fear. Why not? As the true Dharma declines during the times of the five turbidities, there will be sentient beings that malign the Mahayana. As in a village of seven families, there must be a dhayini ghost, so too wherever this sutra is, in a seven-member group, there must be a maligner.
“Kasyapa, as those who observe the same precepts are delighted to see one another, likewise are those who violate the precepts. When, in the midst of the multitude, they hear this sutra, they look at one another and scornfully say, ‘What is the realm of sentient beings? What is eternal?’ Viewing one another’s facial expressions, they think, ‘These are my companions.’ They empathize with one another, keep their ways, and go their ways. As an analogy, an elder in the Brahmin caste has a son who has learned evil ways. After being reproached and admonished by his parents, he neither regrets nor changes his ways. He abandons his family to follow his evil friends, entertaining themselves with bird fights and animal fights. He goes to other lands, banding with his kind and doing non-dharma things together. They are mates. Those who do not appreciate this sutra do the same. When they see others recite or pronounce this sutra, they laugh at them. Why? Most sentient beings will be negligent and indolent. Lax in observing their precepts, they will cause difficulties in preserving the Dharma. Following one another, those mates viciously criticize.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “Alas! Truly that will be an evil time!”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “As for the comforting presenters [of this sutra], what should they do? Kasyapa, as an analogy, the roadside fields near a city are encroached upon by people, elephants, and horses. The landowner sends a man to guard the fields, but the guard is not vigilant in protecting them. He then increases the number of guards to two, three, four, five, ten, twelve, and even a hundred. The more guards that are sent, the more trespassers arrive. The last guard has this thought: ‘Guarding the fields in this way does not really protect them all. There should be a skillful way to keep them from raids.’ He then takes the seedlings from the fields and personally hands them out as alms. The recipients are grateful, and the seedlings in the fields are saved. Kasyapa, likewise those who have skillful means will be able to protect this sutra after my parinirvara.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, I can never accommodate those evil ones. I would rather carry Mount Sumeru on my shoulders for 100,000 kalpas than tolerate those evil ones violating the precepts, destroying the Dharma, maligning the Dharma, or defiling the Dharma. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma. World-Honored One, I would rather be owned by someone as a slave than tolerate those evil ones violating the precepts, countering the Dharma, abandoning the Dharma, or damaging the Dharma. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma. World-Honored One, I would rather carry on my head the great earth, mountains, and oceans for 100,000 kalpas than tolerate those evil ones violating the precepts, destroying the Dharma, elevating themselves, or slandering others. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma. World-Honored One, I would rather be deaf, blind, and mute than tolerate those evil ones damaging and violating the pure precepts, or renouncing family life for benefits, such as others’ trust and offerings. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma. World-Honored One, I would rather quickly abandon my body and enter parinirva?a than tolerate those evil ones damaging and violating the pure precepts, committing insidious acts, fawning with their bodies, or telling lies with their mouths. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Your parinirvara would be that of a voice-hearer, not the ultimate parinirvara.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “If the parinirva?a of a voice-hearer or of a Pratyekabuddha is not the ultimate, why does the World-Honored One pronounce the Three Vehicles—the Voice-Hearer Vehicle, the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, and the Buddha Vehicle? Why does the World-Honored One, having entered parinirvara, enter parinirvara again?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “A voice-hearer enters parinirvara as a voice-hearer, and this parinirvara is not the ultimate. A Pratyekabuddha enters parinirvara as a Pratyekabuddha, and this parinirvara is not the ultimate. If one acquires the merit of all merit, the knowledge of all knowledge, and the Mahayana parinirvra, then this is ultimate, or no different from the ultimate.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, what does this mean?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “For example, cream is produced from milk; fresh butter is produced from cream; melted butter is produced from fresh butter; and ghee is produced from melted butter. Ordinary beings holding the wrong views are like an impure mixture of milk and blood. Those who have taken refuge in the Three Jewels are like pure milk. Those who act according to their faith and newly-resolved Bodhisattvas who stand on the Ground of Training for Understanding are like cream. Voice-hearers in seven ranks who are still learning and Bodhisattvas from the First Ground to the Seventh Ground are like fresh butter. Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas, who can manifest their mind-created bodies, and Bodhisattvas on the Ninth and Tenth Grounds are like melted butter. Tathagatas, also called Arhats, Samyak-Sa?buddhas, are like ghee.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, why does the Tathagata say that there are the Three Vehicles?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “As an analogy, a valiant, heroic guiding teacher takes his retinue and a huge multitude from their homes to another location. As they pass through wilderness and treacherous, perilous paths, he thinks this thought: ‘This group is fatigued, and they might want to turn back.’ In order for them to take a rest, he conjures up a great city ahead of them. He points at it in the distance and says to the huge multitude, ‘There is a great city ahead, and we should quickly go there.’ Those in the multitude, seeing that they are approaching the city, say to one another, ‘This is where I can rest.’ They all enter into the city to rest and enjoy their stay, unwilling to proceed further. Then the guiding teacher thinks this thought: ‘This huge multitude has gained this small pleasure and is satisfied with it. Weak and indolent, they have no intention of advancing further.’ Forthwith the guiding teacher dissolves the conjured city. When the huge multitude sees the city vanish, they ask their guiding teacher, ‘What was it? An illusion or a dream, or something real?’ Hearing this, the guiding teacher tells the huge multitude, ‘It was for your respite that I conjured up that great city. We now should go to the next city. We should quickly get there to have peace and joy.’ The huge multitude responded, ‘We affirmatively accept your instruction. Why should we enjoy this sordid small place? Together we should go to the great city of peace and joy.’ The guiding teacher tells them, ‘Very good! We should proceed.’ As they advance together, he further tells the huge multitude, ‘This great city we go toward is appearing. You should observe that this great city ahead is prosperous and joyous.’ As they gradually go forward, they all see the great city. Thereupon the guiding teacher tells the huge multitude, ‘Kindly People, know that before you is the great city.’ Then all in the huge multitude, seeing the great city in the distance, peaceful, prosperous, and joyous, find delight in their minds. They look at one another with curiosity and ask, ‘Is this city real or just another illusion?’ The guiding teacher replies, ‘This city is real, with all its extraordinary peace, prosperity, and joy.’ He tells the multitude to enter this great city, for this is the foremost, ultimate great city. There is no other city beyond this one. After the huge multitude has entered into the city, with wonder and happiness they praise their guiding teacher, ‘Very good! Very good! The one with true great wisdom treats us in skillful ways with great compassion!’
“Kasyapa, know that the conjured city is like the pure knowledge of the Voice-Hearer Vehicle and the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle: the wisdom-knowledge of liberation in emptiness, no appearance, and no act. The real great city is like the liberation of a Tathagata. Therefore, the Tathagata indicates the Three Vehicles and reveals the two nirvaras. He then pronounces the One Vehicle.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “If there are those who say that this sutra is nonexistent, they are not my disciples, nor am I their teacher.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, Mahayana sutras mostly state the meaning of emptiness.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “All sutras about emptiness have unrevealed aspects. Only this sutra is the unsurpassed pronouncement, without any unrevealed aspect. For example, Kasyapa, King Prasenajit always sponsors a great assembly of almsgiving in the eleventh month of the year. He first feeds the hungry ghosts, the forlorn ones, and the poor mendicants. He next gives to srama?as and Brahmins fine food in various flavors as they wish. In the same way Buddha-Bhagavans expound various kinds of Dharmas in the sutras according to the desires and preferences of sentient beings.
“There are sentient beings that breach their precepts, are negligent and indolent in training and learning, and reject the wondrous texts concerning the eternal abiding of the Tathagata store. They prefer to study and learn various sutras that teach emptiness, whether following the words and phrases, or adding or altering some words and phrases. Why? They say these words: ‘The sutras of the Buddha all declare no-self.’ Nevertheless, they do not know the true meaning of emptiness and no-self. Those without wisdom pursue extinction.
“Indeed, emptiness and no-self are the Buddha’s words. Why? Immeasurable defilements in the store of afflictions have always been empty, in nirva?a. Indeed, nirvara is the all-encompassing word. It is the word for the great parinirva?a attained by Buddhas, eternally in peace and bliss.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “How does one discard [the view of] cessation or perpetuity?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Sentient beings each transmigrate through the cycle of life and death without a commanding self. Therefore, I explain to them the meaning of no-self. However, the great parinirva?a attained by Buddhas is eternal peace and bliss. This meaning shatters the view of cessation or perpetuity.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “Please turn to no-self, having talked about self for a while.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “I explain the meaning of no-self to destroy the worldly view of self. If I did not say so, how could I induce people to accept the Dharma of the great teacher? When the Buddha pronounces no-self, sentient beings become curious. To hear what they have never heard before, they come to the Buddha. Then I enable them to enter the Buddha Dharma through hundreds of thousands of causes and conditions. Once they have entered the Buddha Dharma with growing faith, they diligently train and energetically progress in their learning of the Dharma of Emptiness. Then I pronounce to them the eternal peace and bliss, and the liberation that still manifests form. There are worldly doctrines asserting that existence is liberation. To destroy them, I pronounce that liberation leads to nonexistence. If I did not say so, how could I induce people to accept the Dharma of the great teacher? Through hundreds of thousands of causes and conditions, I explain to them liberation, nirva?a, and no-self. Then I see sentient beings mistake liberation for ultimate extinction. Those without wisdom pursue extinction. Then I pronounce, through hundreds of thousands of causes and conditions, that there still is form after achieving liberation.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, achieving liberation and command means that sentient beings must be eternal. By analogy, upon seeing smoke, one deduces that there must be fire. If there is a [true] self in one, then there can be liberation. Saying that there is a [true] self means that there is form after achieving liberation. This is not the worldly self-view, nor is it the statement of cessation or perpetuity.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, why does the Tathagata, who never enters [extinction through] parinirva?a, manifest entering parinirvara? Why does He who is never born manifest birth?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “It is for destroying the idea of perpetuity in sentient beings’ calculating minds. The Tathagata never enters [extinction through] parinirva?a but manifests entering parinirva?a. He is never born but manifests birth. Why? Sentient beings would say, ‘Even a Buddha has an ending in life and is not in command, not to mention any of us, who has a self and belongings of self.’ As an analogy, a king is seized by a neighboring nation. In cangue and shackles, he thinks this thought: ‘Am I now still the king, the lord? I now am neither the king nor the lord.’ Why does he have such tribulations? It is caused by dissipation. Every sentient being that transmigrates through the cycle of life and death has no commanding self. The lack of command is the meaning of no-self that I have explained.
“As another analogy, a person is pursued by bandits who will harm him with knives. He thinks this thought: ‘I now have no strength. How can I avoid death?’ With such concerns about the suffering of birth, aging, illness, and death, sentient beings wish to become the god-king Sakra or a Brahma-king. To destroy this kind of mentality, the Tathagata manifests death. The Tathagata is the god of gods. If His parinirva?a meant extinction, then the world should also go extinct. If it is not extinction, then it means eternal peace and bliss. To be in eternal peace and bliss, there must be a [true] self, as smoke implies fire. If there is no self and one claims to have a self, the world should be filled with selves. [The true] self does not invalidate no-self. If there were no [true] self, a [nominal] self could not be established.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “What is existence?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Existence refers to the twenty-five forms of existence as sentient beings. Nonexistence refers to the state of any no-thinking thing or any sentient being, before its birth or after its death. If thinking beings could be destroyed, sentient beings would eventually be extinct. Because sentient beings [in true reality] have neither birth nor death, they neither increase nor decrease in number.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, if there is a [true] self in one, why is it covered up by one’s afflictions, like dirt?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Very good! Very good! You should ask the Tathagata this question. As an analogy, a goldsmith perceives the purity of gold. He thinks about why such pure gold is mixed with dirt and seeks the origin of the dirt. Will he find its origin?”
Kasyapa replied, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “If he spends his entire lifetime thinking about the initial cause of the dirt since time without a beginning, will he find the original state? He will acquire neither gold nor the origin of dirt. However, if he diligently uses skillful means to remove the dirt mixed with the gold, he will acquire the gold.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Thus [true] self is covered up by one’s afflictions, like dirt. If a person who wants to see his [true] self thinks this thought, ‘I should search for this self and the origin of afflictions,’ will that person find the origin?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “If one diligently uses skillful means to remove one’s afflictions, which are like dirt, one will realize one’s [true] self. If one, having heard this sutra, with profound faith and delight, uses skillful means, neither leisurely nor rushed, to do good karmas with one’s body, voice, and mind, through these causes and conditions, one will realize one’s [true] self.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “If there is true self, why it is not seen?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “I will now give you an analogy. For example, a beginning student is learning the five letters [five sets of five consonants], which are used to compose stanzas of verses. If one wants to know the meanings [of the verses] before learning [the letters], can one know them? One should first learn [the letters], and then one will know [the meanings]. Having learned [the letters], one needs to be taught by the teacher, who uses examples to indicate the meanings of verses composed of words. If one can listen to and accept the teacher, one will acquire understanding of the meanings of the verses, and then believe and appreciate them. The [true] self is now covered up by the store of afflictions. If someone says, ‘Good man, the Tathagata store is such and such,’ then the hearer immediately wants to see it. Is he able to see it?”
Kasyapa replied, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “For example, the student who does not know the meanings of the verses should follow the teacher on faith. Kasyapa, know that the Tathagata is the speaker of truthful words. He truthfully describes the existence of sentient beings. You will know later, like that student who has learned [from his teacher]. I now explain to you the realm of sentient beings by four veiled analogies. These four are the eye blinded by a disease, the moon covered by heavy clouds, the water in a well to be dug, and the flame of a lamp inside a container. Know that these four analogies involve the causes and conditions for realizing one’s Buddha store. All sentient beings have Buddha nature with immeasurable excellent appearance, majesty, and radiance. Because of Buddha nature, all sentient beings can attain parinirvara. For example, the disease of the eye can be cured. Before one has encountered a good physician, one’s eye is sightless. Once a good physician appears, one will quickly perceive sights. Indeed, the immeasurable store of afflictions covers and obstructs one’s Tathagata nature. Unless one encounters Buddhas, [holy] voice-hearers, or Pratyekabuddha, one mistakes no-self for self, and non-self for belongings of self. After encountering Buddhas, [holy] voice-hearers, or Pratyekabuddhas, one then knows about one’s true self. As if cured of a disease, one’s eye opens and sees clearly. The eye disease refers to one’s afflictions, and the eye refers to one’s Tathagata nature. When the moon is covered by clouds, it is not bright and clear. Likewise, when one’s Tathagata nature is covered up by afflictions, it is not bright and clear. If one discards the cloud of afflictions, one’s Tathagata nature will be bright and clear, like the full moon. When one digs a well, dry dirt indicates that water is still far away. When one gets wet dirt, one knows that water is near. If one gets the water, then it is the ultimate [end]. If one encounters Buddhas, [holy] voice-hearers, or Pratyekabuddhas, and learns to perform good actions and to dig out the affliction dirt, one will realize one’s Tathagata nature, which is like the water. This nature is also like the flame of a lamp inside a container. It is useless to sentient beings when its brilliance is hidden. If the container is removed, then the light of the lamp will shine everywhere. Likewise, the affliction container hides one’s Tathagata store, which is useless to sentient beings when its appearance and majesty are not bright and clear. If one discards the store of afflictions, eradicating them all forever, then one’s Tathagata nature will fully manifest its excellent appearance and radiance for Buddha work. It is like shattering the container so that sentient beings can enjoy the lamplight. Thus these four analogies illustrate the causes and conditions. As one’s [true] self encompasses the realm of sentient beings, the same is true for all sentient beings. The realm of sentient beings is boundless, radiant, and pure.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, if all sentient beings have the Tathagata store in one nature and on the One Vehicle, why does the Tathagata say there are the Three Vehicles—the Voice-Hearer Vehicle, the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, and the Buddha Vehicle?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “I should now use an analogy. An elder of great wealth has an only son who, under the care of his wet nurse, was lost in the midst of a crowd. As the elder is near his time, he has this thought: ‘It has been a long time since I lost my only son. I do not have other sons, nor parents or relatives. Once I die, all my assets will go to the king.’ As he is feeling concerned, the lost son, begging on his way, arrives at his original home. He does not recognize his father’s house. Why? The son has been lost since childhood. His father recognizes him but does not tell him so. Why? He is afraid that his son might run away. He gives him some things and says to him, ‘I have no offspring, and you can be my son. Do not go elsewhere.’ The son answers, ‘I cannot bear staying here. Why? My staying here would be as painful as if in shackles.’ The elder asks, ‘What would you like to do?’ The son answers, ‘I would rather remove filth, tend livestock, or work in the fields.’ The elder thinks, ‘This child has little fortune, but I should be patient. I will go along with his wish for now.’ Then he tells him to remove feces. A long time has passed, and the son has seen the elder gratify the five desires. Delight rising in his heart, he thinks this thought: ‘I hope this great elder will, out of pity, accept me as his son and give me riches and treasures.’ With this idea in mind, he no longer works diligently. The elder, having seen the change, has this thought, ‘Before long, he will definitely be my son.’ Then the elder finds him and asks, ‘Do you now have different ideas which cause you not to work hard?’ The son replies, ‘My heart wishes to be your son.’ The elder says, ‘Very good! I am your father, and you are my son. I am really your father though you did not know it. I now give you all that is in my treasure store.’ He then makes an announcement in the midst of a huge multitude: ‘This is my long-lost son. Unwittingly, he happened to return home. I asked him to be my son, and he refused. Today he willingly asks to be my son.’
“Kasyapa, that elder tactfully entices his humble-minded son, first telling him to remove feces and next giving him wealth. Then he makes an announcement in the midst of a huge multitude, saying these words: ‘He is originally my son who, after having been lost for a long time, has come back by luck and has reckoned that he is my son.’ Likewise, Kasyapa, to those who do not appreciate the One Vehicle, I pronounce the Three Vehicles. Why? This is the Tathagata’s skillful approach. All voice-hearers are my sons, just like the feces remover who has come to know his identity only today.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “Alas! Strange! How inferior is the Voice-Hearer Vehicle! [Its riders] are really the sons of the Buddha, but they do not recognize their father.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “You should learn [from that elder]. If you cannot bear to rebuke or reprove them, then you should refrain from doing so. When they come to maturity later, you will know it. Furthermore, Kasyapa, the Voice-Hearer Vehicle and the Mahayana often counter each other, like the worldly versus that which is free from afflictions and their discharges, or folly versus wisdom. Moreover, Kasyapa, you should accommodate those who malign this sutra. Why? Because the maligners, after death, will fall into boundless darkness. Out of pity for them, you should devise some ways to bring them to maturity through the Dharma of the Mahayana. While those who are beyond cure will fall into hell, the faithful ones will believe. As for other sentient beings, you should use the Four Drawing-in Dharmas to help them achieve liberation. Moreover, Kasyapa, if there is a man who has just developed fever, he should not immediately be given medicine or other treatments. Why? The time has not come. One should bide the right time to treat the patient. A physician who knows neither the right treatment nor its timing is a failure. Therefore, treatment should be given when the disease has come to a head. If it is not yet ready, one should wait for its time. Likewise, for sentient beings that malign this sutra, when they come to maturity, they will reprove themselves in remorse, saying, ‘Alas! Agony! I now finally realize what I have done.’ At that time you should rescue them and draw them in by means of the Four Drawing-in Dharmas.”
“Moreover, Kasyapa, suppose there is a man who, crossing an expanse of wilderness, hears the call of a flock of birds. Dreading that the bird call means there are bandits, he takes another path. He enters an empty marshland and arrives at where tigers and wolves lurk. He is eaten by a tiger. Kasyapa, likewise, when bhikhius, bhikhiunis, upasakas, and upasikas in future times hear the talk of self as well as the talk of no-self, they fear the talk of self. They then enter the vast void, the view of cessation, to study and learn no-self. They do not appreciate the profound sutras that teach the Tathagata store and the eternal abiding of Buddhas. Furthermore, Kasyapa, you ask me what I have said to Ananda: ‘With existence, there are pain and pleasure. Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure.’ Hearken now! Kasyapa, the Tathagata is neither existence nor a sentient being, nor does He perish.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Why not, World-Honored One?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “As an analogy, under the snow mountain, there is a precious jewel radiating pure light. A person who is skilled in identifying precious jewels can recognize one on sight and seize it. It is like the process of refining gold. When the impurities and rubbish are eliminated, pure gold is revealed, which has never been tainted by the filth initially with it. Why? It is like the lamp carried by a person walking. Wherever he goes, darkness is dispelled by the bright light of the lamp. As refined pure gold is never tainted by filth, neither is the precious jewel. When moonlight and starlight shine on it, it rains down pure water. When sunlight shines on it, it blazes fire. Indeed, Kasyapa, the Tathagata, also called Arhat, Samyak-Sa?buddha, who appears in the world, has forever left birth, aging, illness, and death, and has eradicated all afflictions and habits. He always radiates great light, like a luminous jewel, and He is never tainted, like a pure lotus flower never touched by dirt or water. Furthermore, Kasyapa, the Tathagata responsively appears in the world, manifesting an ordinary body with such and such an appearance at such and such a time. He is never tainted by the filth in the birthplace of ordinary beings, nor does He experience the pain or pleasure of the world. The pleasures in the five desires of gods and humans as requital for one’s merit are in effect pains. Only liberation is the ultimate eternal bliss.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “Very good! Very good! World-Honored One, I just realize that beginning today I have truly renounced family life, accepted the complete monastic precepts, become a bhikhiu, and attained Arhatship. I should recognize the kindness of the Tathagata and requite His kindness because the Tathagata once shared His seat with me. Moreover, today in the midst of His four large groups [of disciples], He poured the Dharma water of the Mahayana on the crown of my head.”
Among the multitude were those assuming the appearance and deportment of bhik?us, those assuming the appearance and deportment of upasakas, and those assuming the appearance and deportment of non-upasakas. Leaning sideways, bending forward or back, they all were in disguise under the power of the mara. Then Ananda asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, this huge multitude, having left the scum, are firm and true like the sandalwood grove. Why do those others stay in this multitude?”
The Buddha advised Ananda, “Ask Mahakasyapa.”
Ananda said, “Yes, very good. I should ask him.”
He then asked Kasyapa, “Why do they stay in this multitude?”
Kasyapa replied, “Those fools are the retinue of the mara, and they have come along with him. That is why, Ananda, I said earlier that, after the Tathagata’s parinirvara, I would be incapable of protecting the true Dharma by skillful means as if competently guarding the fields. That is why I said earlier, with other details, that I would rather carry the great earth. Thereupon the Tathagata told me, ‘After my parinirvara, you should be capable of protecting and upholding the true Dharma until its end.’ I then said to the Buddha, ‘I will be capable of protecting and upholding the true Dharma for forty years.’ And the Buddha rebuked me, ‘Why are you too lazy to protect the Dharma until its end?’”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Identify the mara [in the multitude]. If you can find him, you are capable of protecting the Dharma.”
Kasyapa then searched with his God-eye, but was unable to see the mara. He was like that savage in the city kingdom of Sravasti who had lost his son. Searching through a huge multitude, the savage failed to find his son, and he returned tired. Likewise, Kasyapa searched with his God-eye for the mara in the multitude but could not find him. Forthwith he said to the Buddha, “I am incapable of finding the evil mara.”
For the same reason, the 80 great voice-hearers all said that they were incapable. Kasyapa also ordered the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector Bodhisattva, to find the evil mara. Except for a Bodhisattva called Entire World Delighted to See, all were unable to find him.
Then the World-Honored One told Kasyapa, “You are incapable of protecting and upholding the Dharma for the last eighty years as the Dharma perishes. A Bodhisattva from the south will be able to protect and uphold it. You will at last find him among the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector Bodhisattva.”
Kasyapa replied, “Very good! I will look for him.”
Then he found the youth, called Entire World Delighted to See, who was of the Licchavi clan.
[He said] “World-Honored One, this Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See must be the one.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “You should go ask him to find the evil mara.”
Then Kasyapa, together with the 80 great voice-hearers and the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector Bodhisattva, jointly said to the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See: “Young man, you are designated by the World-Honored One as the one who is capable of finding the evil mara.”
This youth in the huge multitude said to Kasyapa, “I am capable of finding the evil mara. However, there are 80 great voice-hearers and 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector, as well as Bodhisattvas Mañjusri, Avalokitesvara, Great Might Arrived, Annihilating All Evil Life-Journey, and Maitreya. Why do they not look for him, and why do you make me look for him? It would be appropriate first to have them do it, and next to have me do it.”
Kasyapa asked, “Is subjugating the evil mara not a merit?”
He replied, “Kasyapa, since you know there is merit, you should do it yourself. I cannot do it for now.”
Then Kasyapa reported the story to the Buddha. The Buddha asked Kasyapa, “Why did this youth say these words?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “This youth said, ‘The great virtuous ones have precedence, and I am next in line. I am a worldly person, in a humble caste. These great virtuous ones, such as the 80 great voice-hearers and the 500 leading Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector, should go first. I am next.’”
However, these voice-hearers as well as Worthy Protector and others all searched but could not find the mara. Like that savage who had been unable to find his son, they all admitted that they were incapable, and retired to one side.
Then the World-Honored One further told Kasyapa, “You now have heard this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum. For forty years after my parinirvara, you should protect and uphold the true Dharma as you do today. You should beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner. Then, during the next eighty years, as the true Dharma perishes, the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See will bind that evil mara and each of his retinue with five strings, like tying up a little rabbit. He will widely pronounce and recite the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum. He will beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “When will this happen?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “During the last eighty years of the true Dharma, as it perishes.”
Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “I would like to see the evil mara.”
The Buddha told the youth, “Quickly show the evil mara to the huge multitude.”
Then the youth, gazing reverently at the Buddha, said, “Look at this evil mara that has come from elsewhere and is seated among the multitude in the way Bodhisattvas assume the forms of bhikhius.”
The huge multitude all saw him bound by five strings. The mara said, “Young man, I will no longer be a hindrance to this sutra.” Three times he said it.
Then the World-Honored One told the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See as well as the multitude of Bodhisattvas: “Mahakasyapa will be able to protect and uphold the true Dharma for forty years after my parinirva?a. Who among you all can be the final Dharma protector after I am gone?”
Three times the Buddha asked them, and no one was capable. The Buddha told the multitude, “Do not think less of yourselves. In this multitude I have many disciples who, after my parinirvara, will be able to protect the true Dharma and pronounce this sutra. The last one among the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector, is the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See. After my parinirvara, he will beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner.”
Then the youth released the base mara. Then the huge multitude said to the youth, “You have received a prophecy from the Buddha.”
The Buddha told Mahakasyapa, “Kasyapa, like a man guarding the fields without effective skills, you are incapable of protecting and upholding this sutra. This youth has now heard this sutra. He will excel in reading and reciting it, will step forward to protect and uphold it, and will expound it to others. He will always assume the form of an ordinary man though he stands on the Seventh Ground. When eighty years still remain for the true Dharma as it perishes, he will be reborn in the south into the family of Kayale, on the bank of the Skillful Means River, in the village of Mahapari, in the kingdom of Ma??ala. He will be the bhikhiu who upholds my name as if skillfully guarding and protecting the seedlings in the fields.
“In the midst of an arrogant, negligent, indolent multitude, he will renounce family life, the secular life. He will draw in that multitude by means of the Four Drawing-in Dharmas. After receiving this profound sutra, he will read, recite, and penetrate it. He will purify the Sa?gha, enabling its members to abandon the impure ways they have accepted. First, he will pronounce to them the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum. Second, he will pronounce to them the Mahayana sutras about emptiness. Third, he will pronounce to them the eternal abiding of the Tathagata and the realm of sentient beings, according to the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum. He will beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner. In my presence, he will don the armor of great vows. He will pour down the Dharma rain in his entire 100-year lifespan. After living 100 years, he will manifest great spiritual powers and demonstrate parinirvara. He will say these words: ‘Sakyamuni Buddha now has come here. All should regard Him reverently, pay respects, and make obeisance. Indeed, the Tathagata is eternally abiding in peace and bliss. You kindly people should observe that true reality is eternal and blissful as I say.’ Thereupon Buddhas from the ten directions will all appear and say these words, ‘Indeed! Indeed! It is just as you say. All should believe in what you have said so well.’”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, what merits should a Bodhisattva achieve in order to see the eternal, indestructible dharma body of the Tathatgata and, upon dying, to demonstrate great spiritual powers?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas who have achieved eight merits can presently see the eternal, indestructible dharma body of the Tathagata. What are these eight merits? First, pronounce this profound sutra tirelessly. Second, pronounce the teachings of the Three Vehicles also tirelessly. Third, never abandon those who should be delivered. Fourth, bring harmony and unity to disrupted Sanghas. Fifth, never be intimate with bhikhiunis, women, or eunuchs. Sixth, stay far away from kings or those in power. Seventh, always delight in dhyana and samadhi. Eighth, ponder and observe impurity and no-self. These are the eight merits to achieve.
“There are four more things. What are these four? First, excel in upholding the Dharma. Second, always celebrate the good and joyful things one has done. Third, willingly take refuge [in the Three Jewels] and recognize it as a gain of great benefits. Fourth, resolutely have no doubts about the eternal abiding of the Tathagata and, day and night, think of the merit of the Tathagata.
“Through these causes and conditions, before one’s death, one will presently see one’s eternally abiding dharma body and manifest great spiritual powers. Kasyapa, wherever such good men and good women stay in cities or villages, I will reveal the dharma body to them and say these words: ‘Good men and good women, the Tathagata is eternally abiding.’ From today on, you should accept and uphold, and read and recite this sutra. You should explain it to others, saying these words: ‘Know that the Tathagata always abides in peace and bliss. You should wish to see [your dharma body] with an upright mind, neither sycophantic nor deceitful.’ You should know that the World-Honored One is indeed eternally abiding. For the pure ones who wish to see me, I will manifest myself to them.
“Mahakasyapa, you should believe and deliberate. If one does not train in the Dharma accordingly, how can one see me [one’s own dharma body]? How can one acquire transcendental powers and demonstrate them? As I have said to the voice-hearers, if a bhik?u can abandon one dharma [of affliction], I assure him that he will achieve a [voice-hearer] fruit, becoming an Anagamin. In the same way he will achieve merits. As I said earlier, a bhik?u who observes his precepts will have gods following and serving him for life. Therefore, you all should never be greedy for benefits and worship. You should cultivate disgust as you meditate on your [physical] body. Furthermore, Kasyapa, that bhik?u, who will uphold my name, will bring purity to the Sangha.”
Kasyapa asked the Buddha, “Why do you say that?”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “Because he will skillfully guard and protect the Four Drawing-in Dharmas, he will draw in the entire multitude of those who are greedy and corrupt, and who violate the precepts. Each of the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector, initially considered himself incapable of being the final protector of the Dharma after my parinirva?a. They now are still incapable. When that bhikhiu, who will uphold my name, carries out the Drawing-in Dharmas, he will include the bhik?us who are negligent and indolent and have them learn to make offerings. He will give sutras to them, diminishing their afflictions and protecting their minds, like a ranger who tames cattle when they are ready. Those who do not reform after inclusion and training should be abandoned. Do not allow poisonous arrows to touch and harm good and pure people. He will also think these thoughts: ‘Do not allow bhik?us who are pure in their ways to breach their precepts because of the seamy ones. Nor should they pay respects to those who expound the non-Dharma and carry out the evil ways. Nor should they perform together with the seamy ones the Sangha duties, such as Dharma assembly, recitation of precepts, confession, and repentance.’ Just as a king subjugates his enemies, he will tame the bhikhius by skillful means. Having tamed them, for 100 years he will always pour down the Dharma rain, beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner. He will demonstrate great spiritual powers and, at death, enter parinirvara. After the appearance of 1,000 Buddhas and 100,000 Pratyekabuddhas, and the parinirvara of 8 Tathagatas in 62 kalpas, he will then attain Buddhahood. He will be called Knowledge Accumulation Radiance, the Tathagata, Arhat, Samyak-Sanbuddha. That bhikhiu, who will uphold my name and then ultimately attain Samyak-Sanbodhi in this land, is now the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See.
“Kasyapa, know that it is hard to attain the unsurpassed bodhi. Kasyapa, is it something an ordinary being can attain?”
Kasyapa replied to the Buddha, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kasyapa, “As a Buddha does His Buddha work in a one-Buddha world, so too do a second Buddha and a third Buddha [in their respective worlds]. Within a mustard seed, there is a multitude of worlds. Sentient beings are not aware that they move to and fro among worlds, and they do not know who is in command of their comings and goings or who places them somewhere. They cannot help doing things according to what they know. Some know there is [true] self while others do not. In this world, on the G?dhraku?a Mountain, there is Sakyamuni Buddha, and in the same place, there will be Ajita Buddha. Events may manifest in this world, whether the burning of a kalpa or the pronouncement of the Dharma by a Buddha. Such extraordinary manifestations are rare occurrences.
“What is the foremost extraordinary event? It is the youth Entire World Delighted to See, who has never been reborn into an ordinary family. The families into which he has been reborn are Bodhisattvas. Kasyapa, know that his supporting family and attendants are all delighted. His loving kin all say these words: ’such [an extraordinary] person has been born into our family.’ These people are all sent by me. Kasyapa, know that if my remaining four groups of disciples become the retinue of that Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, they all will hear him pronounce this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum. They all will attain the unsurpassed bodhi.
“Kasyapa, in a life far in the past, I was a Wheel-Turning King called Nandisena, in the city of Vaisali. At that time the city of Vaisali was like this Saha world, the continent of Jambudvipa among the four continents [of a small world] in this Three-Thousand Great Thousandfold World. My lifespan was inconceivable. As the Wheel-Turning King, I gave generous alms and cultivated virtues in asa?khyeya ways. My observance of the precepts was pure, and I trained in good actions, gathering immeasurable merit. However, if good men and good women, hearing of the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum, the One Vehicle, go laughing to its presentation or remember it in one thought only, the merit they will earn surpasses mine as described. It will be beyond reckoning by measurement or calculation, or by analogy. For example, when the mantra-king Blazing Flame recites a mantra, he will be well protected by its power for four months. Kasyapa, know that the power of even a worldly ordinary mantra can be such. If one reads this Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum, it is impossible that its power cannot protect one for life. Therefore, if there are sentient beings that can make offerings to this sutra, they have the definite cause for attaining the unsurpassed bodhi. Until their attainment of the ultimate bodhi, they will not stop pronouncing this sutra.”
Then the huge multitude chanted with one voice, “Very good! Very good! How amazing! World-Honored One, this youth will be [reborn as] the bhikhiu who will uphold the Buddha’s name. If this bhikhiu enters parinirvara in the south, the spirits of Jetavana Park here will have nothing to rely on. Why? Have him come from the south to the place where the Buddha was, and then enter parinirvara.”
The Buddha told the huge multitude, “He will not take the initiative to come here. I will go to him, manifesting myself. I will first have this sutra sent to him, and then go there. Why? If this sutra is not in his hands, his mind will regress. If he knows sentient beings that should be tamed, I, together with a huge multitude, will stand before him. After he has seen me, he will come here. Having been received here, he will enter parinirva?a. He will enter parinirva?a in the place where he wishes to deliver sentient beings.”
A son of the god-king Sakra called Abhima?ru had come to this assembly by means of his transcendental powers. Although he was young, he believed and delighted in the Mahayana with a truly pure mind. Unique and unmatched, he upheld among the gods this profound Mahayana sutra. Because he explained to them the right cause of liberation, he received a prophecy from the Buddha.
Then the huge multitude, with one voice, spoke in verse:
The youth Entire World Delighted to See
Will be [reborn as] a bhikhiu,
To beat the great Dharma drum
And to protect the Buddha Dharma,
Enabling it to abide for long.
After his parinirvara,
The world will be empty like space.
After his parinirvara,
No one can take his place.
Such a bhikhiu,
Rare in the world,
Can pronounce to the world
The ultimate Way.
Kasyapa, Ananda, Worthy Protector Bodhisattva, and the innumerable multitude, having heard the Buddha’s words, rejoiced and reverently carried out the teachings.
—Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum
Translated from the Chinese Canon
1. Usually, in the Buddhist doctrine, one’s karmic seed is the cause for one’s rebirth, and both parents are the conditions (see Sutra 18). In this passage, the Buddha is leading up to the exhaustion of karmic causes and conditions for one’s rebirth, as He states later that “those who do not have the seeds of sentient beings are not called parents.”
2. The first of the five aggregates that make up a sentient being is form, and the other four are non-form (mental functions). As stated in the Heart Sutra (see Sutras 15-17), form is emptiness. Hence sentient beings are not form. The sutra then states that emptiness is form. Hence sentient beings are not non-form. It is also possible to interpret at the relative level that sentient beings are not just form because they have mental functions and that they are not just mental functions because they have form.