Sūtra of the Prophecy Bestowed upon Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva
Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Liu Song Dynasty
The Śramaṇa Dharmodgata from China
Thus I have heard:
At one time the Buddha was in the ṛṣi-frequented Deer Park in Vārāṇasī, together with 20,000 bhikṣus and 12,000 Bodhisattvas. Among them were Lion Bodhisattva, Lion Mind Bodhisattva, Peaceful Mind Bodhisattva, Unsurpassed Mind Bodhisattva, Upholding the World Bodhisattva, Nārada Bodhisattva, Divine God Bodhisattva, Treasure Accumulation Bodhisattva, Guhyata Bodhisattva, Worthy Protector Bodhisattva, Radiant God Bodhisattva, Loving Joy Bodhisattva, Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, Wisdom Action Bodhisattva, Dedicated Action Bodhisattva, Displaying No Obstruction Bodhisattva, and Maitreya Bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas such these were at the head of 12,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas. Also present were 20,000 god-sons led by the god-sons Good Realm and Well Established, who all stand firm in the Mahāyāna.
At that time the World-Honored One, surrounded by His retinue in the innumerable hundreds of thousands, expounded the Dharma for their sake.
In the assembly, a Bodhisattva called Flower Virtue Store rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, and joined his palms, facing the Buddha. He said, “I pray only that the World-Honored One will bestow upon someone in our midst the wish to ask questions.”
The Buddha told Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva, “You may ask any question as you wish. I already know your doubts, and I will resolve them to make you happy.”
Then Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, how does one avoid regressing from the resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi or from the five transcendental powers? How does one acquire the Illusion Samādhi, during which one can transform one’s body by skillful means and pronounce the Dharma according to the roots of goodness of various kinds of sentient beings, enabling them to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi?”
The Buddha told Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva, “Very good! Very good! You are able to ask about this meaning before me, the Tathāgata, Samyak-Saṁbuddha. Flower Virtue Store, you have planted your roots of goodness under past Buddhas, made offerings to a billion koṭi Buddha-Bhagavāns, and invoked the mind of great compassion for sentient beings. Very good! Hearken! Hearken! Ponder it well. I will explain it to you.”
“Yes, I would be delighted to hear,” the Bodhisattva responded.
The Buddha told Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva, “If one can accomplish a particular dharma, one will acquire the Illusion Samādhi. Having acquired this samādhi, one can transform one’s body by skillful means and pronounce the Dharma according to the roots of goodness of various kinds of sentient beings, enabling them to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. What is this dharma? It is called no dependence. One does not depend on the Three Realms of Existence, the within, or the without. That there is nothing to depend on is the right observation. This right observation leads to the right eradication [of one’s afflictions], with no impairment to perception. Then, from the true mind, which never changes, one’s true wisdom arises, penetrating that dharmas born through causes and conditions have illusory existences. As causes and conditions too are illusory, no dharma can be born through them. Although dharmas appear to be born through causes and conditions, nothing comes into being. One who realizes the no birth of dharmas has entered the Bodhisattva Way and invoked the mind of great lovingkindness and compassion. Out of sympathy, one will deliver all sentient beings. Having acquired a deep understanding of this meaning, one knows that all dharmas are illusory. One simply constructs dharmas with one’s thoughts and words. These dharmas constructed by thoughts and words are nevertheless empty. This realization of the emptiness of dharmas is called the acquiring of the Illusion Samādhi. Having acquired this samādhi, one can transform one’s body by skillful means and pronounce the Dharma according to the roots of goodness of different kinds of sentient beings, enabling them to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi.”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “In this assembly, are there Bodhisattvas who have acquired this samādhi?”
The Buddha replied, “Yes, there are. In this assembly, including Maitreya Bodhisattva and Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, there are sixty Upright Ones who, adorned with their inconceivable great vows, have acquired this samādhi.”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva next asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, have Bodhisattvas acquired this samādhi in this world only? Are there Bodhisattvas in other worlds who have also acquired this Illusion Samādhi?”
The Buddha told Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva, “West of here, beyond 100,000 koṭi lands is a land called Peace and Bliss. In that land is a Buddha called Amitābha, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha. He is now expounding the Dharma. He is attended by Bodhisattvas, and among them are two Upright Ones: Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived. Both of them have acquired this samādhi. Moreover, Flower Virtue Store, Bodhisattvas will acquire this Illusion Samādhi right after they hear and accept this Dharma from those two Upright Ones for seven days and seven nights.”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, that land must have innumerable Bodhisattvas who have acquired this samādhi. Why? Because Bodhisattvas who have been reborn in that land should all go to those two Upright Ones, and hear and accept this Dharma.”
The Buddha said, “Indeed! Indeed! Just as you say, innumerable asaṁkhyeyas of Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas have acquired this samādhi from those two Upright Ones.”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “Very good! World-Honored One, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, I pray that You will use Your spiritual powers to have those two Upright Ones come to this world and to enable [the inhabitants of] the two worlds to see each other. Why? Because if those two Upright Ones come to this world, good men and good women who have developed their roots of goodness will hear them pronounce the Dharma and will acquire this samādhi. I also pray that we will see Amitābha Buddha in the land called Peace and Bliss, so that the good men and good women in this world will activate the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind and resolve to be reborn in His land. Once reborn there, they will never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi.”
The World-Honored One accepted this request, and He emitted light from the white hair between His eyebrows, illuminating everywhere in this Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World. The grass, trees, earth, and stones in this world, as well as Sumeru, king of mountains, the Mucilinda Mountain, the Great Mucilinda Mountain, the Cakravāla Mountain, and the Great Cakravāla Mountain, and even the dark and hidden places in this world, all turned golden and bright. As the glowing, awesome light of the sun and the moon disappeared, the radiance even illuminated everywhere in 100,000 koṭi lands in the west, including the land called Peace and Bliss, and all turned golden. This great flood of light circled Amitābha Buddha to the right seven times then vanished before Him, the Tathāgata. The sentient beings, Bodhisattvas, and voice-hearers in that land could all see this world and see Śākyamuni Buddha expounding the Dharma, surrounded by huge multitudes. It was as clear as if each of them were seeing a mango in his hand. With adoration and delight in their hearts, they chanted these words: “Namo Śākya, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha!”
In the assembly here, the bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, upāsikās, gods, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, humans, nonhumans, and others, as well as the Brahma-kings, the god-king Śakra, the four god-kings, Bodhisattvas, and voice-hearers, all saw Amitābha Buddha in the Land of Peace and Bliss, surrounded by His retinue of Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers. He was as radiant as an extraordinary high treasure mountain. His glowing awesome radiance illuminated all lands. All could see Him, just as a clear-eyed person could see without difficulty the features of another person within eight feet. Having seen Him, they were joyful and exuberant, and they chanted these words: “Namo Amitābha Buddha, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha!” Then, 84,000 sentient beings in this assembly activated the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind, planted their roots of goodness, and resolved to be reborn in that land.
Meanwhile the Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers in the Land of Peace and Bliss, having seen this land, marveled at it as something that never existed before. They joyfully joined their palms, made obeisance to Śākyamuni, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, and spoke these words: “Namo Śākyamuni Buddha! He can expound the Dharma to Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers!” Then the Land of Peace and Bliss quaked in six different ways: everywhere moving, everywhere equally moving, everywhere shaking, everywhere equally shaking, everywhere quaking, and everywhere equally quaking.
Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva said to Amitābha Buddha, “How amazing, World-Honored One! Śākyamuni Tathāgata manifested such extraordinary events. Why? Because saying the name of Śākyamuni Buddha, the Tathāgata, Arhat, caused the immeasurable great earth to quake in six different ways.”
Amitābha Buddha told those two Bodhisattvas, “Śākyamuni’s name is said not only in this land but also in innumerable other Buddha Lands. The same is true for the display of the shining of great radiance and the quaking of the earth in six different ways.”
Innumerable asaṁkhyeyas of sentient beings in that land, upon hearing Śākyamuni Buddha’s name and epithets, formed their roots of goodness. They all would never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. In addition, forty koṭi Bodhisattvas in the assembly there, upon hearing the name and epithets of Śākyamuni, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, made a vow with one voice, transferring their roots of goodness to their attainment of anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Immediately, Amitābha Buddha bestowed upon them the prophecy of attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi.
Then Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva went to Amitābha Buddha and bowed their heads down at His feet. Reverently joining their palms and stepping to one side, they asked that Buddha, “For what reason is Śākyamuni Buddha emitting this radiance?”
Amitābha Buddha told Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, “A Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, would not emit radiance without reason. Today, Śākyamuni, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, will pronounce the Sūtra of the Bodhisattva Treasure Samādhi. Hence He first displayed this auspicious sign.”
Then Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva said to Amitābha Buddha, “We would like to visit the Sahā World, to make obeisance and present offerings to Śākyamuni Buddha, and to hear Him expound the Dharma.”
Amitābha Buddha responded, “Good men, now is the right time.”
Those two Bodhisattvas said to each other, “Today we will definitely hear the wondrous Dharma expounded by Śākyamuni Buddha.”
Having received the approval from Amitābha Buddha, each of those two Bodhisattvas told his retinue of forty koṭi Bodhisattvas: “Good men, together we should visit the Sahā World, make obeisance and present offerings to Śākyamuni Buddha, and hear and accept the true Dharma. Why? Because Śākyamuni, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, was able to forego a wondrous Pure Land, so that He could do a difficult thing. By the power of His original vows, He has invoked the mind of great compassion and attained anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi in that turbid and evil world, which has little virtue and meager merit, but has increasing greed, anger, and delusion. And He is expounding the Dharma there.”
As soon as these words were spoken, Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers praised with one voice, “The sentient beings in that world can receive excellent benefits quickly even from hearing the name of Śākyamuni, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha. How many more benefits [must they receive] from seeing Him and kindling joy in their hearts? World-Honored One, we all should visit that world, and make obeisance and present offerings to Śākyamuni Buddha.”
Amitābha Buddha responded, “Good men, now is the right time.”
At that time, in that land, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva were each surrounded by forty koṭi Bodhisattvas. Using his transcendental powers, each of them conjured up forty koṭi well-adorned treasure platforms for his retinue. Each wonderful, splendid treasure platform was twelve yojanas in length and width. Each treasure platform was made of gold, silver, aquamarine, crystal, ruby, conch shell, or emerald. Some platforms were made of two treasures: gold and silver; some, three treasures: gold, silver, and aquamarine; some, four treasures: gold, silver, aquamarine, and crystal; some, five treasures: gold, silver, aquamarine, crystal, and ruby; some, six treasures: gold, silver, aquamarine, crystal, conch shell, and ruby; and some, seven treasures, including emerald. These platforms were further adorned with red sandalwood and flowers of utpala, padma, kumuda, and puṇḍarīka. Down from the sky rained blooms of sumana, campaka, pāṭali, atimuktaka, raṇi, gauraṇi, māndarāva, mahā-māndarāva, palāśa, mahā-palāśa, mañjūṣaka, mahā-mañjūṣaka, locana, mahā-locana, cāka, mahā-cāka, suloci-cāka, caṇa, mahā-caṇa, suloci-caṇa, canuttara, tāla, and mahā-tāla. Each treasure platform was a carnival of colors, splendid, bright, pure, and radiant.
On these treasure platforms stood 84,000 magically conjured exquisite maidens, holding fiddles, sitars, lutes, guitars, flutes, violins, drums, or conch shells. They stood elegantly, playing wonderful music on such musical instruments made with innumerable jewels. Some exquisite maidens stood elegantly, holding incense of red sandalwood, agalloch sandalwood, or black agalloch sandalwood. Some exquisite maidens stood elegantly, holding flowers of utpala, padma, kumuda, and puṇḍarīka. Some exquisite maidens stood elegantly, holding blooms of māndarāva, mahā-māndarāva, palāśa, mahā-palāśa, locana, mahā-locana, caṇa, mahā-caṇa, suloci-caṇa, cāka, mahā-cāka, suloci-cāka, tāla, mahā-tāla, and suloci-tāla. Some exquisite maidens stood elegantly, holding flowers and fruits.
On these treasure platforms sat lion thrones adorned with jewels. Seated on each throne was a magically manifested Buddha, adorned with the thirty-two physical marks and eighty excellent characteristics. Hanging over each treasure platform were 84,000 assorted precious gems in blue, yellow, red, and white. On each treasure platform sat 84,000 wonderful jeweled vases, filled with powdered incense. Covering each treasure platform were 84,000 wonderful jeweled canopies. Hovering over each treasure platform were nets from which hung 84,000 jeweled bells. Standing on each treasure platform were 84,000 jeweled trees. Among the jeweled trees were ponds made of the seven treasures and filled with water with the eight virtues. In the ponds were diverse jeweled lotus flowers in blue, yellow, red, and white. Their colors were vibrant and radiant. As breezes blew, all the jeweled trees in lines rustled with wonderful tones, the harmony of which surpassed celestial music. Connecting all the trees on each treasure platform were 84,000 ropes made of wonderful treasures. Each treasure platform radiated light, reaching a distance of 84,000 yojanas, illuminating everywhere.
Then Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva, together with their retinues of eighty koṭi Bodhisattvas, standing on equally splendid treasure platforms, disappeared from that land and arrived in this world. It happened in an instant, as quickly as a strong man could bend or extend his arm. Upon arrival, surrounded by eighty koṭi Bodhisattvas, those two Bodhisattvas, using their transcendental powers, made the ground of this world as level as the surface of water. Their attainments were adorned with great merits, their extraordinary majesty was beyond analogy, and their radiance illuminated everywhere in this Sahā World. Those two Bodhisattvas went to Śākyamuni Buddha, bowed their heads down at the Buddha’s feet, and circled Him to the right seven times. Stepping back to one side, they said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, Amitābha Buddha sends greetings to the World-Honored One. Are Your illnesses few and Your troubles few? Is Your daily life easy and smooth? Are Your activities peaceful and blissful?”
When that land displayed those splendid, wonderful things, the Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers here in this world, seeing the splendors of the treasure platforms, marveled at them as something that never existed before. They each thought: “These splendid, wonderful treasure platforms have come from the Land of Peace and Bliss to this world. Was it by the power of the Buddha or the power of these two Bodhisattvas?”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva, by virtue of the Buddha’s spiritual power, asked the Buddha, “How amazing, World-Honored One! This is unprecedented. By whose awesome power are these wonderful treasure platforms of such splendor now present in this Sahā World?”
The Buddha replied, “It is by the transcendental powers of Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived that such great splendor is displayed in this world.”
“How amazing, World-Honored One! It is inconceivable. These two good men, whose vows and actions are pure, can use their transcendental powers to adorn the treasure platforms and to make them appear in this world.”
The Buddha said, “Indeed! Indeed! It is just as you say. These two good men have purified their roots of goodness in innumerable hundreds, thousands, nayutas, and koṭis of kalpas, and have acquired the Illusion Samādhi. Abiding in this samādhi, they can manifest these things through their transcendental powers. Now, Flower Virtue Store, behold the worlds in the east. What do you see?”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva used his eye, a Bodhisattva’s god-eye, to observe the Buddha Lands in the east, which are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. He saw that before each of the Buddhas there, present as well were Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived, both as sublime as described before. They also paid respects and made offerings [to each Buddha], and said, “Amitābha Buddha sends greetings to the World-Honored One. Are Your illnesses few and your troubles few? Is Your daily life easy and smooth? Are Your activities peaceful and blissful?” The same display could be seen in all the worlds in the south, west, and north, as well as in the worlds toward the zenith and toward the nadir.
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva, having seen these things, was joyful and exuberant, as if he had gained something that never existed before. He asked the Buddha, “How amazing! World-Honored One, how did these Great Ones acquire such a samādhi? How do these Upright Ones adorn those Buddha Lands with their presence?”
Then the World-Honored One, using his spiritual power, enabled all in the assembly to see the displays. Then 32,000 members of the assembly activated the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind.
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, these two Upright Ones must have activated the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind long ago. In the land of which Buddha? I pray that you will tell us, to enable other Bodhisattvas to train themselves and fulfill their vows.”
The Buddha said, “Hearken! Ponder it well! I will explain it to you.”
“Very good! World-Honored One, I would be delighted to hear.”
The Buddha said, “Far back in the past, in inconceivable, innumerable asaṁkhyeyas of kalpas, I had been king 100,000 times. The first time was near the end of the Great King Kalpa. There was a world called Display of Immeasurable Aggregate of Virtue, Peace, and Bliss. In that land was a Buddha called Golden Light Lion Frolic, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Knowledge and Conduct Perfected, Sugata, Understanding the World, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Teacher to Gods and Humans, Buddha the World-Honored One. I now tell you about the pure and splendid things in His Buddha Land. What is your opinion? Are there not many pure and splendid things in Amitābha Buddha’s Land of Peace and Bliss?”
“A great many! They are so inconceivable that it is too difficult to describe them all.”
The Buddha asked Flower Virtue Store, “Suppose one cuts a hair into one hundred pieces. One then takes a piece of this hair to draw water from the immense ocean. What is your opinion? Compare the water on the tip of that hair with that in the immense ocean. Which water is more?”
“The water in the ocean is more. It is beyond comparison,” he replied.
[The Buddha continued] “Indeed, Flower Virtue Store, you should have this understanding. The splendid things in Amitābha Buddha’s land are like the water on the tip of a hair while those in Golden Light Lion Frolic Buddha’s land are like the water in the immense ocean. The disparity in the numbers of voice-hearers and Bodhisattvas between these two lands is of a similar order. Golden Light Lion Frolic Tathāgata also expounded the Dharma of the Three Vehicles to sentient beings. Even in kalpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, I will not be able to finish describing the virtues and splendors of that Buddha Land, and the joyful things about its Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers.
“In the Dharma of Golden Light Lion Frolic Tathāgata was a king named Awesome Virtue. Because he ruled the Thousandfold World with the true Dharma, he was called Dharma King. King Awesome Virtue had many sons, each endowed with a great man’s twenty-eight marks. These princes all stood firm in the unsurpassed Way. That king had 76,000 gardens, in which his sons frolicked.”
Flower Virtue Store asked the Buddha, “Were there women in that Buddha Land?”
The Buddha replied, “That land did not even have the word ‘woman,’ much less a real one. Sentient beings of that land practiced the Brahma way of life with purity. They all were born through miraculous formation and nourished by the bliss of meditation. King Awesome Virtue served Golden Light Lion Frolic Tathāgata for 84,000 koṭi years, never pursuing other ways. Then, that Buddha, knowing the king’s earnestness, expounded to him the immeasurable Dharma Seal.
“What is the immeasurable Dharma Seal? Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva, one’s spiritual training should arise from one’s immeasurable vows. Why? Because as a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, one’s almsgiving is immeasurable; one’s observance of the precepts is immeasurable; one’s endurance of adversity is immeasurable; one’s energetic progress is immeasurable; one’s meditative concentration is immeasurable; and one’s wisdom is immeasurable. In all, one should practice the six pāramitās through one’s immeasurable cycle of birth and death. One should have lovingkindness and compassion for innumerable sentient beings. One should adorn innumerable Pure Lands. One should sound innumerable tones and command immeasurable eloquence. Flower Virtue Store, even one’s transference of the merit of only one good thought is immeasurable. What is meant by the immeasurable transference of merit? Transferring one’s merits to sentient beings, wishing them all to realize the no birth of all dharmas and to enter parinirvāṇa as Buddhas, is called the immeasurable transference of merit.
“Moreover, immeasurable are [the Three Liberation Doors:] emptiness, no appearance, and no wish, as well as no act. Also immeasurable are the true reality of no desire, the no birth of dharma nature, the liberation without captivation, and nirvāṇa. Good man, I have only mentioned in brief the immeasurability of dharmas. Why? Because dharmas [with neither birth nor death] have no measure.
“Then, Flower Virtue Store, as King Awesome Virtue entered samādhi in his garden, two lotus flowers emerged from the ground, one at each side of the king. They had splendid mixed colors, and their scent was as fragrant as that of celestial sandalwood. Inside each flower, seated cross-legged, a boy was born through miraculous formation. When King Awesome Virtue rose from his meditation and saw these two boys sitting in the lotus flowers, he asked them in verse:
Are you gods, dragons, spirits,
Humans, or nonhumans?
I hope you will reveal your names.
“Then the boy on the king’s right answered in verse:
All dharmas are empty.
Why do you ask for names?
Past dharmas have perished,
Future dharmas have not arisen,
And present dharmas do not stay.
Whose names are you asking for?
In the dharma of emptiness, there are neither humans
Nor dragons, nor rakṣasas.
Whether humans, nonhumans, or others,
None can be captured.
“The boy on the king’s left spoke in verse:
A name and the object named are both empty.
Giving a name and the name given cannot be captured.
All dharmas have no names that
One can ask for.
Their true names
Have never been seen or heard.
As dharmas have neither birth nor death,
Why ask for their names?
Names and words
Are all fabrications.
My name is Jewel Adornment.
His is Jewel Superior.
“Flower Virtue Store, the two boys, having spoken these stanzas, together with King Awesome Virtue, went to Golden Light Lion Frolic Buddha. They bowed their heads down at that Buddha’s feet and circled Him to the right seven times. They joined their palms respectfully and stood on one side. Then the two boys spoke with one voice, asking that Buddha in verse:
How does one make offerings
To the unsurpassed Two-Footed Honored One?
I pray that You will explain the meaning.
The hearer will carry out Your teachings.
Flowers, incense, and instrumental music,
Clothing, food, medicine, and bedding:
Of offerings such as these,
Which one is supreme?
“Golden Light Lion Frolic Buddha answered the boys in verse:
One should activate the bodhi mind
And widely rescue sentient beings.
These are the offerings to the Perfectly Enlightened One
With the thirty-two physical marks.
Suppose one offers the Tathāgata
Precious, wonderful, splendid objects,
Filling lands as numerous as the sands of the Ganges,
And joyfully carries Him on one’s head.
These offerings cannot be compared with transferring with lovingkindness
One’s merits to everyone’s attainment of bodhi.
This merit is supreme,
Immeasurable, and boundless.
No other offerings can surpass it.
Its supremacy cannot be calculated.
A bodhi mind such as this
Will certainly attain samyak-saṁbodhi.
“The two boys spoke again in verse:
Gods, dragons, ghosts, and spirits,
Listen to my lion’s roar!
Now before the Tathāgata,
I solemnly vow to activate the bodhi mind.
The cycle of birth and death turns for innumerable kalpas,
Its primordial origin unknowable.
Even for only one sentient being,
You have walked the Way for kalpas.
During these kalpas,
You have delivered innumerable multitudes.
Training in the Bodhi Way,
[You never] had mental fatigue.
From now on, if ever I were to
Allow the mind of greed to arise,
I would be cheating
All Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions.
Similarly, with respect to anger and delusion.
Similarly, with respect to stinginess and jealousy.
Now I speak the truth
That I will keep far away from falsehood.
Starting from today, if ever I were to
Entertain the mind of a voice-hearer,
Not delighting in training for the great bodhi,
I would be cheating Tathāgatas.
I will never seek to be a Pratyekabuddha,
For saving and benefiting myself only.
I should, for 10,000 koṭi kalpas,
Deliver sentient beings with great compassion.
As this Buddha Land here and now
Is pure, wondrous, and splendid,
May my land, after I have attained bodhi,
Surpass it 100,000 koṭi times.
There will be no voice-hearers in my land,
Nor the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle,
But Bodhisattvas only,
Whose numbers will be infinite.
The sentient beings there will be pure and untainted.
They all will have superb, wonderful bliss.
They all will attain the perfect enlightenment
And will retain and uphold the Dharma store.
If my vow is sincere,
It should shake the Great Thousandfold World.
“After these stanzas were spoken, forthwith quakes were everywhere. As 100,000 kinds of kinds of music played in harmonious, exquisite tones. radiant, wonderful garments fell spiraling down from the sky. Gods in the sky showered down powdered incense. Its fragrance wafted everywhere, delighting sentient beings’ hearts.”
The Buddha said to Flower Virtue Store, “What is your opinion? Was King Awesome Virtue then a different person? He is none other than I. The two boys then are now Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived. Good man, it was under that Buddha that these two Bodhisattvas first activated the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind.”
Flower Virtue Store said to the Buddha, “How amazing! World-Honored One, these two good men, even before they made their resolve, had already developed such profound wisdom. They thoroughly understood that names could never be captured. World-Honored One, these two Upright Ones must have made offerings to past Buddhas and acquired merits.”
[The Buddha said] “Good man, you can know the number of grains of sand in the Ganges. However, the number of Buddhas to whom these two Great Ones had made offerings, and the roots of goodness they had planted, are beyond reckoning. Even before they activated the bodhi mind, they adorned themselves with what was inconceivable. Among sentient beings, they were the most boldly valiant.”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva then asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, where was that land called Display of Immeasurable Gathering of Virtue, Peace, and Bliss?”
The Buddha replied, “Good man, at that time this Western Land of Peace and Bliss was called Display of Immeasurable Gathering of Virtue, Peace, and Bliss.”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, I pray that You will explain to us, to enable innumerable sentient beings to receive great benefits. In what land will Avalokiteśvara attain samyak-saṁbodhi? What will be the name of his world adorned with radiance? What will be the lifespan of the voice-hearers and Bodhisattvas there until they attain Buddhahood? How will these events unfold? If the World-Honored One will tell this Bodhisattva’s original vows, then other Bodhisattvas, having heard his vows, will definitely train themselves to fulfill them.”
The Buddha replied, “Very good! Hearken! I will tell you.”
“Yes, I would be delighted to hear.”
The Buddha said, “Good man, although Amitābha Buddha’s lifespan will last innumerable hundreds, thousands, and koṭis of kalpas, it will finally come to an end. Good man, after incalculable distant kalpas to come, Amitābha Buddha will enter parinirvāṇa. After His parinirvāṇa, the true Dharma will continue for as long as His lifespan. The number of sentient beings that will be delivered will equal that during His life. After Amitābha’s parinirvāṇa, some sentient beings there will not be able to see a Buddha. However, Bodhisattvas who have attained the Thinking-of-Buddhas Samādhi will constantly see Amitābha Buddha. Furthermore, good man, after His parinirvāṇa, all the precious things, such as bathing ponds, lotus flowers, and jeweled trees in lines, will continue to sound Dharma tones, in the same way as during that Buddha’s life.
“Good man, [the night] Amitābha Buddha’s true Dharma ends, after the midnight period, when the dawn breaks, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, seated cross-legged under the bodhi tree made of the seven treasures, will attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. He will be called Universal Radiance Virtue Mountain King, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Knowledge and Action Perfected, Sugata, Understanding the World, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Teacher to Gods and Humans, Buddha the World-Honored One. His Buddha Land will be naturally made of the seven treasures. Even in kalpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, Buddha-Bhagavāns will not be able to finish describing its splendors. Good man, I now give you an analogy. As Golden Light Lion Frolic Tathāgata’s land was magnificent, Universal Radiance Virtue Mountain King Tathāgata’s land will surpass it billions of times, koṭis of times, koṭis of billions of times, even beyond reckoning. The names ‘voice-hearers’ and ‘Pratyekabuddhas’ will be nonexistent in that Buddha’s land. Only Bodhisattvas will fill His land.”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, will that Buddha’s land still be called Peace and Bliss?”
The Buddha replied, “Good man, that Buddha’s land will be called Adorned with Gathering of Multitudinous Treasures. Good man, until His parinirvāṇa, Universal Radiance Virtue Mountain King Tathāgata will be attended personally by Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva and will receive his offerings. After His parinirvāṇa, His true Dharma will be upheld [by Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva] until its end. After the end of the true Dharma, Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva will, in that land, attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. He will be called Well Established Virtue Treasure King, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Knowledge and Action Perfected, Sugata, Understanding the World, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Teacher to Gods and Humans, Buddha the World-Honored One. His land, His radiance, His lifespan, His Bodhisattvas, and even the duration of His Dharma will be just like those of Universal Radiance Virtue Mountain King Tathāgata. If, among good men and good women, there are those who have heard the name Well Established Virtue Treasure King Tathāgata, they will not regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi.
“Moreover, good man, if there are good women who have heard the names of Golden Light Lion Frolic Tathāgata of the past and Well Established Virtue Treasure King Tathāgata [of the future], they will not assume the female form again, and their sins which would entail forty koṭi kalpas of birth and death will be expunged. They will never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. They will see Buddhas, hear and accept the true Dharma, and make offerings to Saṅghas. In a life after the present one, they will be able to renounce family life, command unimpeded eloquence, and quickly acquire the retention of all dharmas.”
Then sixty koṭi people in this assembly praised with one voice: “Namo Buddhas in parinirvāṇa [in worlds] in the ten directions!” They unanimously decided to activate the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind. The Buddha immediately bestowed upon them the prophecy of attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Moreover, 84,000 nayuta sentient beings, in the midst of dharmas, shunned dust and filth [their afflictions], and acquired the pure dharma-eye. Seven thousand bhikṣus eradicated their afflictions and liberated their minds.
Then Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived, using their spiritual powers, enabled all in the assembly to see innumerable Buddha-Bhagavāns [in worlds] in the ten directions bestowing upon both of them the prophecy of attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Having seen this, they all marveled, saying, “How amazing, World-Honored One, those Tathāgatas all bestow such a prophecy upon these two Great Ones!”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, suppose, among good men and good women, there are those who can accept and uphold this profound sūtra of the Tathāgata. If they read and recite it, explain and copy it, pronounce and circulate it, how much merit will they acquire? I pray only that the Tathāgata will explain in detail. Why? Because in the evil times to come, sentient beings with a meager stock of merits will not believe or accept this profound sūtra of the Tathāgata. For this reason, they will undergo suffering through the long night. It will be too difficult for them to achieve liberation. World-Honored One, I pray that, out of sympathy, You will explain, to benefit sentient beings. Besides, World-Honored One, in this assembly there are good men and good women of excellent ability, who will serve as the great light in future times.”
The Buddha said, “Flower Virtue Store, Very good! Hearken! I will explain to you.”
“Your instruction accepted, I would be delighted to hear,” he responded.
The Buddha said, “Suppose there is a good man who carries on his shoulders all the sentient beings in the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World and, till the end of his life, offers them all that they desire, such as food, clothing, beds, bedding, and medicinal potions. Is the merit he has earned great?”
“Very great, World-Honored One! One’s merit will be immeasurable if one makes offerings, with lovingkindness, to even one sentient being according to his needs, much more making offerings to all sentient beings.”
The Buddha said, “Suppose, among good men and good women, there are those who activate the bodhi mind. If they accept and uphold this sūtra, read and recite it, explain and copy it, make various kinds of offerings to it, and widely pronounce and circulate it, their merit acquired will be a billion times greater. It will be beyond analogy.”
Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, from today on, I will accept and uphold this sūtra pronounced by the Tathāgata, and will uphold the names of these three Buddhas: one of the past and two of the future. I will read and recite this sūtra, explain and copy it, and widely pronounce and circulate it. I will keep far away from the mind of greed, anger, and delusion. Never being false, I will activate the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind. World-Honored One, when I become a Buddha, if there are women who have heard this Dharma, they will abandon the female form [in a rebirth]. After it is changed, I will bestow upon them the prophecy of attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. They all will be called Away from Defilement, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha.”
After the Buddha finished pronouncing this sūtra, Flower Virtue Store Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, Bodhisattvas, voice-hearers, as well as gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, humans, nonhumans, and others, having heard the Buddha’s words, greatly rejoiced.
—Sūtra of the Prophecy Bestowed upon Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T12n0371)