Larger Sutra


Illustrations from the Larger Sutra Mandala

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva
Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land

[28] The Buddha said to Ananda, "All the bodhisattvas in the land of Amitayus will ultimately attain the Stage of Becoming a Buddha After One More Life. Excepted are those who have made original vows for the sake of sentient beings, resolving to cultivate the merit of realizing their great vows to save all sentient beings. Ananda, each shravaka in the Buddha-land of Amitayus emits light for one fathom around his body. The light of a bodhisattva shines a hundred yojanas. There are two bodhisattvas who are the most dignified; their majestic light shines everywhere in the universe of a thousand million worlds."
Ananda asked, "What are the names of those two bodhisattvas?"
The Buddha replied, "One is called Avalokiteshvara and the other, Mahasthamaprapta. They had both performed Bodhisattva practices in this world, and, at the end of their lives, were born by transformation in that Buddha-land. Ananda, the sentient beings born there all fully possess the thirty-two physical characteristics of a Great Man as well as perfect wisdom, with which they penetrate deeply into the nature of all dharmas and reach their subtle essence. Their supernatural powers know no obstruction, and their physical senses are sharp and clear. The bodhisattvas of lesser capacities attain two insights. [273c] Those with superior capacities attain innumerable [merits by the] insights into the non-arising of all dharmas. Those bodhisattvas will not be subject to rebirth in evil realms before they become Buddhas. Excepted are those who seek birth in the worlds of other quarters during the turbulent period of the five defilements, manifesting their forms in the likeness of the beings there, as in this world. They can freely exercise supernatural powers and always remember their past lives."

Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva

The Buddha said to Ananda, "By the Buddha's power, bodhisattvas of that land go to innumerable worlds of the ten quarters, in as short a time as it takes to eat a meal, in order to pay homage and make offerings to the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones. If those bodhisattvas so wish, uncountable and innumerable offerings, such as flowers, incense, music, silken canopies and banners, spontaneously appear before them as soon as they are imagined. They are rare and marvelous, unlike anything in this world. They are, accordingly, offered to the assemblies of Buddhas, bodhisattvas and shravakas. The flowers remain in the sky and gather into canopies. Their brilliance is dazzling and their fragrance pervades everywhere. The flower-canopies range in size, from those of four hundred li in circumference up to those large enough to cover the universe of a thousand million worlds. As new flower-canopies appear, old ones disappear. These bodhisattvas all rejoice together, and, while poised in mid-air, play heavenly music and praise the virtues of the Buddhas with hymns accompanied by wonderful sounds. They listen to the Dharma and attain immeasurable joy. After thus worshipping the Buddhas, they quickly return home to the Pure Land before their meal."

Amida's preaching and exquisite sounds produced by the trees, etc.

[29] The Buddha said to Ananda, "When Amitayus expounds the Dharma to shravakas and bodhisattvas, they all assemble in the seven-jewelled lecture-hall. There he fully expounds the teachings of the Way and proclaims the wonderful Dharma. The whole audience rejoices, comprehends, and attains Enlightenment. At that time a breeze spontaneously arises in each of the four directions and wafts over the jewelled trees, producing sounds of the pentatonic scales and causing innumerable exquisite flowers to fall like rain and scatter everywhere. Natural ways of glorification such as these are endlessly repeated. All the devas bring with them a hundred thousand flowers and pieces of aromatic wood and thousands of musical instruments to use as offerings to the Buddha and the assembly of bodhisattvas and shravakas; they scatter flowers, diffuse perfumes everywhere and play various kinds of music. They come and go in succession, giving way to each other. At such times their joy and happiness are beyond description."

Amida preaching the Dharma.
Bodhisattvas' virtues

[30] The Buddha said to Ananda, "The bodhisattvas born in that Buddha-land expound the right Dharma whenever appropriate and, because they are in accord with the wisdom of enlightenment, their expositions are infallible and free of error. In regard to the myriads of things in that land, they have no thought of possession or attachment. Whether going or coming, proceeding or remaining, their hearts are unattached, their acts are in accordance with their will and are unrestricted, and they have no thought of discrimination. In them there is no idea of self or others, no idea of competition or dispute. With the heart of great compassion to benefit all living beings and with tenderness and self-control, they bear no enmity or grudge against anyone. Free of mental hindrances, they are pure in mind and without indolence. Unbiased, noble-minded, sincere and tranquil, [274a] their hearts can revere, appreciate and enjoy the Dharma.
"Having extinguished all evil passions, they are free of those tendencies which cause one to fall into evil realms. They have accomplished all the duties of a bodhisattva and are fully endowed with immeasurable virtues. Having reached deep meditation and gained supernatural powers, transcendent knowledge and wisdom, they are established in the seven practices leading to Enlightenment and are devoted to the Buddha Dharma.
"With the physical eye they see clearly, discerning objects without error; the sight of their heavenly eye reaches everywhere without limit; with the Dharma-eye they observe and know thoroughly the teachings of the Way; with the wisdom-eye they see truth and attain the Other Shore; with the Buddha-eye they completely realize the nature of dharmas; and with unhindered wisdom they expound the Dharma to others.
"Although they observe with the eye of equality that the three worlds are empty and non-existent, they strive to learn the Buddha Dharma and acquire varied eloquence in order to rid living beings of affliction caused by evil passions. Since all dharmas have arisen from Suchness, the bodhisattvas see them as they really are and know skillful means of speech that will develop good habits and destroy bad ones in living beings. They dislike secular talk, enjoying only right discourse on the Dharma.
"They cultivate roots of virtue, revere the Path of the Buddha, and know that all dharmas are completely tranquil and non-existent. Their samsaric bodies and evil passions have been extinguished together with their remaining karmic tendencies. When they hear the profound Dharma, their minds are free of doubt and fear. They are always able to cultivate great compassion which is deep and subtle, embracing everything like the sky and bearing all like the earth. Having reached the end of the Single Path, they have gone to the Other Shore. Having cut the net of doubt, wisdom arises in their minds. Within the Buddha Dharma there is nothing that they do not comprehend.
"Their wisdom is like the ocean, and their samadhi, like the king of mountains. The light of their wisdom, being brilliant and pure, outshines the sun and the moon. They are in complete possession of the pure, undefiled Dharma. They are like the Himalayas, because the brilliance of their virtues is reflected evenly and clearly. They are like the great earth, because they have no discriminative thoughts, such as pure or impure, beautiful or ugly. They are like pure water, because they wash away afflictions and defilements. They are like the king of fire, because they burn the firewood of all evil passions. They are like a great wind, because they travel throughout the worlds without hindrance. They are like the sky, because they have no attachments. They are like lotuses, because nothing in the world can defile them. They are like a great vehicle, because they carry the multitude of beings out of birth-and-death. They are like a heavy cloud, because they cause the great thunder of the Dharma to roar and awaken the unenlightened. They are like a great rain, because they cause the nectar of Dharma to fall like showers to nourish living beings. They are like the Adamantine Mountains, because demons and non-Buddhists cannot move them. They are like the king of the Brahma Heaven, because they are foremost in the performance of various good deeds. They are like the nyagrodha tree, because they afford shelter to all beings. They are like the udumbara flower, because they rarely appear in the world and are difficult to encounter. They are like the gold-winged garuda, because they subdue non-Buddhists. They are like a flock of playful birds, because they do not store things. They are like the king of bulls, because they are invincible. They are like the king of elephants, because they conquer adversaries. They are like the king of lions, because they fear nothing. They are like the vest sky, [274b] because their great compassion reaches everywhere without discrimination.
"They have destroyed envy by not being jealous of the superiority of others. With singleness of heart they seek the Dharma tirelessly. Always desiring to expound the doctrine, they never grow weary. Striking Dharma-drums and hoisting Dharma-banners, they cause the sun of wisdom to shine forth and dissipate the darkness of ignorance. They perform the six acts of accord and respect, and always provide others with the gift of the Dharma. Strong-willed and diligent, their determination never falters. Thus they become lamps to the world and fields of supreme merit; they always become teachers and harbor no thought of discrimination, aversion, or attachment. They seek only the right Path, finding neither joy nor sorrow in other matters. They extract thorns of passion and give peace of mind to multitudes of beings. Because of their supreme wisdom, there is no one who does not revere them.
"They have destroyed the hindrances of the three defilements and mastered the supernatural powers. They also possess the power of good karma from their past lives, the power of guiding others, of the will, of vowing, of employing skillful means, of continuous practice, of doing good, of meditation, of wisdom, of hearing the Dharma widely. They also possess the power of the Six Paramitas -- generosity, morality, patience, effort, meditation and wisdom -- and the power of right mindfulness, concentration, contemplation, the supernatural faculties, transcendent knowledge, and the power to tame and train living beings in the right way, as well as other powers.
"Fully possessed of all the physical characteristics and marks, virtues, and eloquence, they have no equals. They revere and worship innumerable Buddhas and are, in turn, always praised by them. They have completed the bodhisattva's course of Paramitas and practiced the samadhis of emptiness, non-form and non-desire, the samadhi of non-arising and non-ceasing and many other samadhis; they have gone far beyond the stages of shravakas and pratyekabuddhas.
"Ananda, bodhisattvas of that land have innumerable virtues such as these, of which I have given you only an outline. If I were to expound them in full detail, a thousand million kalpas would not be long enough to do so."

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