Sutra on the Original Vows of Bodhisattva Earth Treasure

In abbreviation, also known as Sutra of Earth Treasure

Translated into Chinese by
Tripitaka Sramana Siksananda
Of Khotan Country during Tang Dynasty

Translated from Chinese into English by
Dr. Yutang Lin


Table of Contents

Upper Volume

Chapter One : Supernatural Manifestation at the Palace of Dao Li Heaven

Chapter Two : Assembly of Duplicate Bodies

Chapter Three : Observation on Karmic Conditions of Sentient Beings

Chapter Four : Karmic Consequences of Sentient Beings in Jambudvipa


Upper Volume

Chapter One : Supernatural Manifestation at the Palace of Dao Li Heaven

Thus I heard: once the Buddha was in Dao Li Heaven to expound the Dharma to his mother. Then all Buddhas and Great Bodhisattvas, that are inexplicably, inexplicably numerous, came from immeasurably many worlds in the ten directions to assemble. They exclaimed praises on Buddha Sakyamuni for his ability to exhibit inconceivable great wisdom and supernatural powers in the corrupt age of five kinds of pollution so as to tame stubborn sentient beings into knowing the laws of suffering and happiness. Each one of them sent their attendants to forward their regards to the World Honored One.

Then Tathagata with a smile emitted hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of great clouds of brightness. They are so-called: great perfection clouds of brightness, great compassion clouds of brightness, great wisdom clouds of brightness, great prajna clouds of brightness, great samadhi clouds of brightness, great auspiciousness clouds of brightness, great fortunate-virtues clouds of brightness, great merits clouds of brightness, great refuge clouds of brightness, great exclamation-of-praises clouds of brightness. Having emitted inexplicably many clouds of brightness like these, he then produced all sorts of subtle and wondrous sounds. They are so-called: attaining-liberation-through-generosity sound, attaining-liberation-through-proper-behaviors sound, attaining-liberation-through-tolerance sound, attaining-liberation-through-diligence sound, attaining-liberation-through-meditation-stability sound, attaining-liberation-through-wisdom sound, loving-kindness-and-compassion sound, joy-and-renunciation sound, liberation sound, stainless sound, wisdom sound, great wisdom sound, lion's-roar sound, great lion's-roar sound, cloud-and-thunder sound, and great cloud-and-thunder sound.

After the Buddha had produced inexplicably, inexplicably many such sounds, immeasurably many billions of heavenly beings, dragons, ghosts and gods from the Saha world and lands in other directions also arrived to assemble at the Palace of Dao Li Heaven. From the so-called Four Heavenly King Heaven, Dao Li Heaven, Xu Yan Mo Heaven, Dou Shuai Tuo Heaven, Transformation Enjoyment Heaven, At-Ease-with-Transforming-into-Others Heaven, Pure Assemblage Heaven, Pure Assistants Heaven, Great Pure Heaven, Minor Light Heaven, Immeasurable Light Heaven, Light Sound Heaven, Minor Purity Heaven, Immeasurable Purity Heaven, Universal Purity Heaven, Fortunate Birth Heaven, Fortunate Love Heaven, Extensive Fruits Heaven, No Thoughts Heaven, No Affliction Heaven, No Fervor Heaven, Good Vista Heaven, Good Manifestation Heaven, Form Ultimate Heaven, Mo Xi Shou Luo Heaven, up to and including Neither Thoughts Nor Non-thoughts Heaven, all heavenly beings, dragons, ghosts and gods came to assemble.

Furthermore, from lands in other directions and the Saha world gods of oceans, gods of rivers, gods of streams, gods of trees, gods of mountains, gods of lands, gods of brooks and lakes, gods of crops, gods of daytime, gods of nighttime, gods of space, heavenly gods, gods of drinks and foods, gods of grasses and plants, all such gods came to assemble.

Furthermore, from lands in other directions and the Saha world various great ghost kings, so-called Ghost King Evil-Eye, Ghost King Blood-Sucking, Ghost King Essential-Air-Sucking, Ghost King Foetuses-and-Ova-Eating, Ghost King Disease-Spreading, Ghost King Poisons-Gathering, Ghost King Kindhearted, Ghost King Welfare, Ghost King Great Love-and-Respect, all such ghost kings came to assemble.

Then Buddha Sakyamuni spoke to the Great Bodhisattva, Dharma Prince Manjusri, "You see all these Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and heavenly beings, dragons, ghosts, gods from this world, other worlds, this land, or other lands, all those that came to assemble now in Dao Li Heaven. Do you know their number or not?" Manjusri said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, if my supernatural power were employed to investigate and estimate for one thousand kalpas, it could not be known." The Buddha told Manjusri, "While I view it with Buddha Eye still it could not be fully counted. All these are beings that Bodhisattva Earth Treasure, since long ago kalpas, has converted, is converting, will convert, has accomplished, is accomplishing, or will accomplish."

Manjusri said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, in the past I had long cultivated good roots, and attained the wisdom of no hindrances. Upon hearing words as spoken by Buddha I would certainly accept them in good faith. As to hearers who attained minor fruits, heavenly beings, dragons and the rest of the eight departments of protectors, and sentient beings in the future, even though they heard honest words of Tathagata and yet they would definitely entertain doubts. Suppose they had bowed in acceptance, still it could not be helped that they would raise slander. I sincerely wish that the World Honored One would expound extensively on what vows were pledged and what activities were engaged in by the Great Bodhisattva Earth Treasure while he was in the causal position so that he could have accomplished inconceivable deeds."

The Buddha told Manjusri, "Suppose all grasses, plants, shrubs, forests, paddy, hemp, bamboo, reeds, mountains, stones, and tiny dusts in a great-thousand world system consisting of thousand-cube worlds were each counted as one, and for such a number of Ganges Rivers each grain of their river-sands would represent a world, and within each such world each dust would represent one kalpa, and for each such kalpa all the dusts accumulated within that kalpa would again represent kalpas, then Bodhisattva Earth Treasure has attained the fruitful position of Tenth Ground thousand times longer than the above analogy. Not to mention the length of time when Bodhisattva Earth Treasure was in the position of Hearer or Pratyeka-Buddha.

"Manjusri, the awesome spirit and vows of this Bodhisattva are inconceivable. In the future if there would be a good man or good woman who, upon hearing the name of this Bodhisattva, would exclaim praises, view with reverence and salute, repeat the name, make offerings, or even paint in colors, sculpt, engrave, mold or lacquer the image, then this person would gain rebirth in the Thirty-three Heaven for one hundred times, and never fall into bad realms.

"Manjusri, this Great Bodhisattva Earth Treasure, in the long past of inexplicably, inexplicably many kalpas ago, had a previous body as a son of a great elder. At the time there was a Buddha in the world with the epithet of 'Tathagata Lion's Vigor and Swiftness Myriad Deeds Accomplished.' Then the elder's son, seeing the wondrous features of that Buddha as adorned by thousands of merits, was prompted to ask that Buddha about what vows and activities had been adopted to gain such features. Then Tathagata Lion's Vigor and Swiftness Myriad Deeds Accomplished told the elder's son that, in order to attain such a body one should engage in converting and liberating all suffering beings for long, long time.

"Manjusri, then the elder's son was prompted to vow the following words: from now on throughout incalculably many kalpas in the future I, for the sake of sinful and suffering sentient beings in the six realms, would extensively establish helpful means so that they would all be liberated. Only then would I accomplish the Buddhist path myself. Since he pledged this great vow in the presence of that Buddha it has been hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of trillions of inexplicably many kalpas and he still remains a Bodhisattva.

"Furthermore, in the past, inconceivably numberlessly many kalpas ago, there was a Buddha in the world with the epithet of 'Tathagata Flower of Awakening King of Ease in Meditation.' That Buddha's life span was four hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of numberless kalpas. During the period of semblance teachings of that Buddha there was a Brahman girl with profound accumulation of merits in her past lives; she was respected by others and guarded by heavenly beings while walking, standing, sitting and lying. Her mother believed in devious paths, and often slighted the Triple Gems. Then the holy girl employed many helpful means to persuade and induce her mother toward developing the right views. Yet the mother of this girl did not get to the point of complete faith. Soon afterwards she passed away, and her soul fell into the Unintermittent Hell.

"Then the Brahman girl, knowing that her mother while alive did not believe in the law of causes and consequences, figured that following her karma she must have been born in some bad realm. Hence she sold her house to gather extensively incenses, flowers and all sorts of items of offering, and made sumptuous offerings to pagodas of past Buddhas and monasteries. She saw the image of Tathagata Flower of Awakening King of Ease in Meditation in one monastery; the majestic countenance was molded and painted with all sorts of fine features and ornaments. While the Brahman girl was viewing with reverence and saluting the majestic face an extraordinary sense of respect arose in her. She thought to herself, 'A Buddha is named as a Great Enlightened One, possessing omniscient wisdom. If he were in the world, after my mother's death had I come to ask Buddha, he would definitely know her whereabouts.'

"Then the Brahman girl fell into tears for quite a while, viewing the Tathagata with admiration. Suddenly she heard a voice in the air saying, 'Holy girl who is crying, don't be so sad. Now I will show you the whereabouts of your mother.' The Brahman girl folded her palms together toward the sky, and said to the air, 'Who would be the virtuous god that relieved my worries? Since I lost my mother I remembered and longed for her day and night with nowhere to ask to learn of the realm of my mother's rebirth.' Then there was a voice in the air saying again to the girl, 'I am the one that you are viewing with reverence and saluting, the past Tathagata Flower of Awakening King of Ease in Meditation. Seeing that your longing for your mother is much more than the usual share of sentient beings, therefore, I come to reveal it to you.' The Brahman girl, having heard this voice, threw her whole body down, all her limbs got damaged. Her attendants picked her up and attended to her. She came to only after quite a while. Then she said to the air, 'May Buddha have mercy on me, soon reveal the realm of my mother's rebirth. Now my body and mind will die before long.' Then Tathagata Flower of Awakening King of Ease in Meditation told the holy girl, 'After you finish the offering here, just return home early. There you sit upright and think continuously of my epithet, then you should know where your mother was born into.'

"Then the Brahman girl, having made prostration again to the Buddha, returned home right away. Due to longing for mother she sat upright and continued to repeat 'Tathagata Flower of Awakening King of Ease in Meditation' in her mind. After one day and one night suddenly she saw that she herself arrived at some seashore. The ocean water was welling up and boiling. There were many fierce beasts, all of iron body, that ran swiftly over the ocean surface hither and thither. She saw men and women, hundreds of thousands of myriads in number, emerging and submerging in the water. They were fought over and eaten by the fierce beasts. She also saw yaksas, each with a different shape, either with multiple hands, multiple eyes, multiple feet, multiple heads, or teeth protruding from mouth with sharp blades like swords, driving those sinful people to get near the fierce beasts. In addition, they also grabbed those people with their claws and drew their own head and feet together (to eat those people). Of myriad types were such scenes that she dared not watch for long. At that time the Brahman girl, thanks to the power of reciting the name of the Buddha, was naturally without fear.

"There was a ghost king, named 'Poison-Free,' who made prostration to her as a gesture of welcome. He said to the holy girl, 'Gracious Bodhisattva, for what reason have you come here?' Then the Brahman girl asked the ghost king, 'What place is this?' Poison-Free replied, 'This is the first layer of ocean west of the Great Iron Circle of Mountains.' The holy girl asked, 'I heard that within the Iron Circle there is hell; is it a fact?' Poison-Free replied, 'Indeed there is hell.' The holy girl asked, 'Now how could I reach where the hell is?' Poison-Free replied, 'If not by supernatural power, then it requires the power of karma. Other than through these two conditions there is no way to arrive there.'

"The holy girl asked further, 'For what reason is this water welling up and boiling, full of sinful people and fierce beasts?' Poison-Free replied, 'These are recently deceased sentient beings of Jambudvipa that had committed evil karmas. After forty-nine days there was still no one to inherit and conduct meritorious deeds on their behalf so as to rescue them from suffering and peril. Furthermore, while they were alive they lacked beneficent causes, they should follow their karma to corresponding hells, and naturally they would first traverse this ocean. Ten myriad yojanas east of this ocean there is another sea where the suffering would be doubled. East of that sea there is another ocean with suffering again doubled. As consequences of wicked karma of body, speech and mind these oceans share the common name of 'karma ocean' and are indeed such places.'

"The holy girl again asked Ghost King Poison-Free, 'Where is hell?' Poison-Free replied, 'Within these three oceans are great hells; their number is in hundreds of thousands, each is different from the rest. The so-called Great Ones are eighteen in number. The secondary ones are five hundred in number; each with immeasurable suffering and infliction. The next level hells are thousands of hundreds in number; again they are of immeasurable suffering.'

"The holy girl again asked the great ghost king, 'Since my mother's death it has not been long, I wonder which realm her soul should be.' The ghost king asked the holy girl, 'What kind of activities was Bodhisattva's mother used to engage in during her lifetime?' The holy girl replied, 'My mother had devious views. She used to disparage the Triple Gems. When she gained faith temporarily, right away she would be disrespectful again. Even though she died only a few days ago, I don't know where she would be born.' Poison-Free asked, 'What was the name of Bodhisattva's mother?' The holy girl replied, 'My father and my mother both belonged to the Brahman caste. My father's name is Shi Luo Shan Xian, and my mother's name Yue Di Li.' With palms folded together Poison-Free addressed the Bodhisattva, 'May your holiness return to your original place and refrain from sorrowful remembrance and sad longing. The sinful woman Yue Di Li had been born in heavenly realm for three days now. It is said that it was due to her filial child's making offerings to accumulate merits on the mother's behalf, and making donations to the pagoda and monastery of Tathagata Flower of Awakening King of Ease in Meditation. Not only the mother of the Bodhisattva attained escape from hell, all those sinners in the Unintermittent Hell shared the same happiness on that date and all had been born in the same heavenly realm.' As the ghost king finished these words, he folded his palms together and retired.

"The Brahman girl right then returned as if from a dream. Having comprehended this matter she pledged grand vows before the pagoda and statue of Tathagata Flower of Awakening King of Ease in Meditation: may I throughout all kalpas in the future extensively establish helpful means to enable all sentient beings that are suffering from sins to attain emancipation."

The Buddha told Manjusri, "The Ghost King Poison-Free then is at present Bodhisattva Wealth Leader. The Brahman girl is now Bodhisattva Earth Treasure."


Chapter Two : Assembly of Duplicate Bodies

Then from hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of inconceivably, incommunicably, immeasurably, unspeakably, countlessly, numberlessly many worlds all duplicate bodies of Bodhisattva Earth Treasure that presided over hells there came to assemble in the Palace of Dao Li Heaven. By the supernatural power of Tathagata each one of them came from his direction accompanied by thousands of myriads of billions of trillions of beings that had attained liberation from karmic realms, and they all held incenses and flowers as offerings to the Buddha. Thanks to Bodhisattva Earth Treasure's teachings and conversion all those that came along would never regress on the path toward the unsurpassable right and full enlightenment. Since distant kalpas all these beings had been wandering through births and deaths, and suffering in the six realms without any intermission. Due to the extensive compassion and profound vows of Bodhisattva Earth Treasure each one of them had attained fruitful realization. Now that they had arrived in Dao Li they were very excited. With nonintermittent gazing they viewed Tathagata with reverence.

Then, the World Honored One extended his golden-color arm to caress the top of head of those duplicate bodies of the Great Bodhisattva Earth Treasure that came from hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of inconceivably, incommunicably, immeasurably, unspeakably, countlessly, numberlessly many worlds, and said these words, "In the corrupt age of five kinds of pollution I have been teaching and converting such stubborn sentient beings so that their minds would be tamed and they would renounce devious paths but adopt the right path. One or two out of ten of them still retain bad habits. I also sent out duplicate bodies that are thousands of hundreds of billions in number so as to extensively establish helpful means. Some are of sharp root that they could believe and adopt the teachings upon hearing them. Some accomplished good fruits as results of diligent persuasion. Some are of dim and dumb nature that it took lengthy conversion for them to return to the right path. Some are of heavy karma that they could not develop reverent aspiration toward the teachings. For sentient beings of such varieties I sent duplicate bodies that are individually different to rescue them. They would appear either in a man's body, a woman's body, a heavenly being's body, a dragon's body, a god's body, or a ghost's body; or appear as mountain, forest, stream, plain, river, pond, spring, or well to liberate all those people that are benefited by them. They would appear either in a heavenly emperor's body, a Brahman king's body, a wheel-turning king's body, a householder's body, a king's body, a premier's body, an official's body, a Bhiksu's body, a Bhiksuni's body, a Upasaka's body, a Upasika's body, even up to a Sravaka's body, an Arhat's body, a Pratyeka-Buddha's body, or a Bodhisattva's body to convert beings. It is not the case that I would appear before them only in a Buddha's body. You observe that I have diligently made strenuous efforts for continuous kalpas to convert and liberate such untamable stubborn sentient beings that are suffering from sins. Those among them that have not been tamed would receive retribution according to their karmas. If they would fall into bad realms and when they would be experiencing great suffering, then you should recall that I, in the Palace of Dao Li Heaven, had enthusiastically entrusted you the mission to liberate all sentient beings in the Saha world until the coming of Maitreya in the world so that they would forever be free from all sufferings, and have the opportunity to meet a Buddha and receive the prophecy of their becoming a Buddha in the future."

Then all duplicate bodies of Bodhisattva Earth Treasure from all those worlds converged into one form. With tears in sad longing he said to the Buddha, "Since distant kalpas through the guidance of Buddha I have obtained inconceivable supernatural powers and great wisdom. My duplicate bodies spread all over worlds as numerous as sands in hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of Ganges Rivers. In each world I transformed into hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of duplicate bodies. Each body converted hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of people so that they took refuge with reverence in the Triple Gems, became forever free from birth and death, and would attain the joy of Nirvana. As long as someone had done some good deed related to the Dharma even though it was as minute as one hair, one drop, one sand, one dust, or tip of a hair, I would gradually convert this person to attain liberation and great benefits. Only wish that the World Honored One would not worry about sentient beings with bad karmas in future generations." Thus he repeated thrice to the Buddha, "Only wish that the World Honored One would not worry about sentient beings with bad karmas in future generations." Then the Buddha praised Bodhisattva Earth Treasure by saying, "Good! Good! I will help with what you like. You could accomplish the great vows that you had pledged since distant kalpas. When the extensive conversion of sentient beings would soon be accomplished, you would then attain realization of Bodhi."


Chapter Three : Observation on Karmic Conditions of Sentient Beings

Then Madam Maya, mother of the Buddha, reverently folded her palms together and asked Bodhisattva Earth Treasure, "Holy One, For sentient beings in Jambudvipa, as to variations in the karmas committed and the retribution they would receive, what is the situation?" Earth Treasure replied, "There are thousands of myriads of worlds and lands. Some have hells; some have no hells. Some have women; some have no women. Some have Dharma; some have no Dharma. As to having Sravakas and Pratyeka-Buddhas, it is likewise so. It is not just having hells to render all retributions for sins the same." Madam Maya said again to the Bodhisattva, "I also would like to hear about the bad realms that are results of retribution for sins committed in Jambudvipa." Earth Treasure replied, "Holy Mother, only wish that you would listen to my rough account." Mother of the Buddha said, "May your holiness say it."

Then Bodhisattva Earth Treasure said to the Holy Mother, "For South Jambudvipa the categories of retributions for sins are as follows: if there were sentient beings that are not filial to their parents or even to the extent of killing or hurting them, they should fall into the Unintermittent Hell for thousands of myriads of billions of kalpas, and seeking escape they could not find a date. If there were sentient beings that cause a Buddha's body to bleed, disparage the Triple Gems, or do not respect precious Sutras, they should also fall into the Unintermittent Hell for thousands of myriads of billions of kalpas, and seeking escape they could not find a date. If there were sentient beings that invade or damage properties of the Sangha or monasteries, stain monks or nuns, or willfully commit sexual, killing or hurting conducts within monasteries, such kind of people should fall into the Unintermittent Hell for thousands of myriads of billions of kalpas, and seeking escape they could not find a date. If there were sentient beings that pretend to be monks or nuns but their minds are not so, and they damage or use monastic properties, cheat lay Buddhists, violate the rules of conducts, and commit all sorts of wrong doings, such kind of people should fall into the Unintermittent Hell for thousands of myriads of billions of kalpas, and seeking escape they could not find a date. If there were sentient beings that steal money, properties, grains, rice, drinks, foods, clothing from the Sangha or monasteries, or even just take one thing therefrom that is not given, they should fall into the Unintermittent Hell for thousands of myriads of billions of kalpas, and seeking escape they could not find a date." Earth Treasure said, "Holy Mother, if there were sentient beings that commit such kinds of sins, they should fall into the Five-Unintermittent Hell, where if one begs for temporary rest from suffering there will not be even a break as brief as one thought."

Madam Maya again said to Bodhisattva Earth Treasure, "Why is it named as 'Unintermittent Hell'?" Earth Treasure said, "Holy Mother, all those hells are within the Great Iron Circle of Mountains. The great hells are eighteen in number. The secondary ones are five hundred in number with individual names. The next category consists of thousands of hundreds of hells with individual names. As to Unintermittent Hell, the circumference of its hell-city is more than eighty thousand li. The city is made purely of iron, with a height of ten thousand li. Above the city are clusters of fire with few openings. Within the hell-city all hells are connected, each with a distinct name. There is only one hell named 'Unintermittent.' The circumference of this hell is eighteen thousand li. Its walls are one-thousand-li high, made entirely of iron. Fire burning from above reaches down to its bottom; fire burning from below reaches up to its top. Iron snakes and iron dogs are belching fires and hurriedly chasing; they run east and west atop the hell walls. Within the hell there are racks spreading all over ten thousand li. One person receiving retributions for sins would see his or her body on each and every rack. Thousands of myriads of persons receiving retributions for sins, each one of them would also see his or her body on each and every rack. As results of all sorts of karmas the retributions are as such. Furthermore, these sinners would experience all sorts of suffering. Thousands of hundreds of yaksas and fierce ghosts with teeth in their mouths as sharp as swords, eyes like lightning, and brass claws as hands are pulling the sinners. In addition, there are yaksas holding gigantic iron halberd to thrust at sinners' bodies, either hitting at mouth and nose, or hitting at abdomen or back, then toss it around up in the air to catch it on the other side, or put it down on the racks. There are in addition iron eagles that eat sinners' eyes. Again there are iron serpents that grip around sinners' necks. Long nails are driven into all joints of their limbs. Their tongues are pulled out and plowed up. Their intestines are pulled out and chopped up. Molten copper is poured into their mouths, and hot iron wraps their bodies up. In this way they die myriads of times and revive thousands of times as consequences of their karmas. Often this would last for billions of kalpas, and seeking escape they could not find a date. When this realm is in ruins they will parasitize some other realm. When that realm in turn is in ruins they will again parasitize yet another place. When that other place is in ruins they will take turn in parasitizing other places. When this realm is restored they will return here again. In Unintermittent Hell retributions for sins are like these.

"Furthermore, as consequences of karma there are five characteristics of this hell that caused it to be called 'Unintermittent.' What are these five characteristics? One, punishment lasts day and night for kalpas without a moment of rest, so it is called 'Unintermittent.' Two, one person would fill the hell up, many persons would also fill the hell up, so it is called 'Unintermittent.' Three, instruments of punishment, forks, clubs, eagles, serpents, wolves, dogs, mills, grinders, saws, chisels, files, choppers, woks, boiling water, iron nets, iron ropes, iron donkeys, iron horses, raw hides to cover the head, molten iron to pour over the body, in hunger swallow iron pellets, in thirst drink molten iron, from year on to end of kalpas that are inexplicably many in number, such sufferings continue, one after the other, without ever broken up, so it is called 'Unintermittent.' Four, irrespective of men or women, races from west, north, east or south, old or young, high or low in social status, dragons or gods, heavenly beings or ghosts, their sinful deeds would yield corresponding karmic consequences that they all have to undertake equally, so it is called 'Unintermittent.' Five, if one had fallen into this hell, then from the moment of entrance until hundreds of thousands of kalpas, in each one day-and-night there would be myriad times of death and myriad times of resurrection. To beg for a pause as short as one thought would be in vain. Unless the karma consequences have been exhausted, only then could one gain rebirth elsewhere. Due to such continuity it is called 'Unintermittent.'"

Bodhisattva Earth Treasure said to the Holy Mother, "Unintermittent Hell has been roughly described as above. If extensive description were to be given regarding the names of instruments of punishment and the various sufferings in the Hell, one would not be able to finish the account in one kalpa." Madam Maya, having heard this, folded her palms together in sorrowful worries, made prostration and then retired.


Chapter Four : Karmic Consequences of Sentient Beings in Jambudvipa

At that time the Great Bodhisattva Earth Treasure said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, by the awesome spiritual power of Tathagata as Buddha bestowed on me, I duplicated this form of my body to distribute all over hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of worlds so as to rescue all sentient beings that are receiving karmic retributions. Were it not by the power of Tathagata's great compassion such transformations could not be accomplished. Now, in addition, I am entrusted by Buddha with the salvation of sentient beings in the six realms until the attainment of Buddhahood by Ajita. Yes, World Honored One, may you be free from such worries." Then the Buddha told Bodhisattva Earth Treasure, "All sentient beings that are not liberated yet have no steady propensity or cognition. Bad habits result in karmas; good habits result in fruits. Their doing good or doing bad are dependent on the environments. Cycling in five realms without a temporary break, often lasting for kalpas as numerous as dusts, they remain deluded and confused, and encounter hindrances and perils. Just as fish swimming through nets cast in a long stream, even after they have slipped through some net and got out temporarily they would again encounter nets. It is for beings of this kind that I would worry about. Since all of your past vows that were solemnly pledged over many continuous kalpas are dedicated to extensive salvation of sinful beings, what more worries would I have?"

When it was thus spoken there was among the assembly a Great Bodhisattva by the name of "King of Ease in Meditation" that said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, What are the vows that Bodhisattva Earth Treasure had pledged over many continuous kalpas? Now that the World Honored One is enthusiastically exclaiming praises about them, I only wish that the World Honored One would briefly mention them." Then the World Honored One told Bodhisattva King of Ease in Meditation, "Listen attentively, listen attentively! Ponder on it well. For your sake I would expound them separately. In the past, over immeasurably, numberlessly many trillions of inexplicably many kalpas ago, then there was a Buddha with the epithets: Tathagata Omniscient Wisdom Accomplished, Should-be-Sustained One, Rightly Omniscient One, Complete-with-Enlightened-Activities One, Well-Gone One, Knower of Worlds, Unsurpassable One, Cultivator of Men, Teacher of Heavenly Beings and Humans, Buddha, World Honored One. That Buddha's life span was six myriad kalpas. Before he renounced the householder's life he was the king of a small kingdom. He and the king of a neighboring kingdom were friends, and they practiced ten kinds of good deeds together to benefit sentient beings. In his neighboring kingdom all people committed much of all sorts of evil deeds. The two kings discussed the matter over and planned to extensively establish helpful means. One king vowed that he would accomplish the Buddhist course soon and then he would convert such kind of beings until there is none left. One king vowed that unless those suffering from sins are first converted and have attained security and happiness up to Bodhi, he would eventually not have wished to attain Buddhahood." The Buddha told Bodhisattva King of Ease in Meditation, "One king, who vowed to attain Buddhahood soon, is Tathagata Omniscient Wisdom Accomplished. One king, who vowed to remain forever in converting sentient beings that are suffering from sins but has not wished to attain Buddhahood, is Bodhisattva Earth Treasure.

"Again in the past, immeasurably, numberlessly many kalpas ago, there was a Buddha in the world, named 'Tathagata Pure Lotus-flower Eyes.' That Buddha's life span was forty kalpas. During the period of semblance teachings there was an Arhat who benefited sentient beings through conversion, and taught them Dharma as he encountered them. He met a woman, called 'Light Eyes,' who prepared foods as offerings. The Arhat asked her, 'What are your wishes?' Light Eyes replied, 'Upon this memorial day of my mother's death I accumulate merits to help rescue her. I don't know which realm my mother's rebirth place is.' The Arhat had mercy on her and entered Samadhi to observe the matter for her. He saw woman Light Eyes' mother fell into a bad realm and was undergoing extremely severe suffering. The Arhat asked Light Eyes, 'What kind of habitual activities did your mother engage in during her life? Now she is in a bad realm receiving extremely severe suffering.' Light Eyes replied, 'My mother's habit was only to enjoy eating fish, terrapin and the like. Among fish and terrapin she ate, she ate mostly their offspring; those were either fried or boiled, and she ate as much as she liked. Counting the number of those lives it would add up to thousands of myriads and even double that amount. Venerable One, have mercy on us; how should she be pitied and rescued?' The Arhat pitied her and arranged helpful means for her; he advised Light Eyes, 'You could sincerely repeat the epithet of Tathagata Pure Lotus-flower Eyes, and in addition have the holy image painted or molded. Thus both the living and the deceased would be benefited.' Light Eyes, having heard this, right away renounced her beloved things to beg for a painting of that Buddha's image, and made offerings to it. Furthermore, with reverent mind she wept in sadness, viewed the image with reverence and saluted it. Suddenly, after midnight, in a dream she saw that Buddha's body with glittering golden color, as huge as Mount Sumeru. He emitted great brightness, and then told Light Eyes, 'Not long from now your mother will be born into your household. As soon as the newly born can feel hunger and cold it will speak.'

"Afterwards in her household a maid gave birth to a son. Before three days had passed the baby started to talk. He made prostration, wept sadly, and told Light Eyes, 'Karmic conditions of each one's life and death yield fruits and consequences that are self-served. I was your mother; long had I stayed in dark realms. Since I departed from you I had repeatedly fallen into great hells. Thanks to the power of merits accumulated by you on my behalf, only then was I able to gain rebirth as a person of low social standing. In addition, my life will be short. At age thirteen I will again fall into bad realms. Do you have any plan to help me escape?' Light Eyes heard this, knew the baby to be formerly her mother without doubt. Choking with sobs and wailing sadly she told the maid's son, 'Now that you were my mother, you should know your former sins as to what kinds of habitual activities that you had committed that caused you to fall into bad realms.' The maid's son replied, 'The retributions I received were due to killing and disparaging activities. If I were not blessed with merits to rescue me from perils, I could not be set free because of such karma.' Light Eyes asked, 'How are retributions for sins conducted in hells?' The maid's son replied, 'I could not bear to describe or mention those sufferings of sins. In hundreds of thousands of years I could hardly finish a complete description.' Having heard this, Light Eyes wailed in tears and cried out to the realm of space, 'May my mother forever escape hells; after thirteen years will have passed, she will have no more heavy sins, nor experience the bad realms. All Buddhas in the ten directions with mercy and compassion, please pity me, please listen to the extensive great vow that I pledge for my mother's sake: If it could be achieved that my mother will forever stay away from the three lower realms, and births of low social status, and even up to not getting a woman's body for all kalpas, I vow that, from today onward, facing the image of Tathagata Pure Lotus-flower Eyes, for hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of kalpas in the future I will rescue all sentient beings suffering from sins in the three bad realms, in all the hells, that are in all worlds that will come to be so that they will escape from hells and bad realms such as animals and hungry ghosts, etc. All people that receive such retributions of sins will have become Buddhas already, only then will I attain right enlightenment.'

"As the vow was pledged it was completely heard by Tathagata Pure Lotus-flower Eyes, so he told her, 'Light Eyes, your great mercy and compassion well enabled you to pledge such a great vow for your mother's sake. I observe that your mother, at the end of thirteen years, having renounced the present karmic resultant body, will be born a Brahman with a life span of one hundred years. After that karmic result, she will be born in the land of No Worries and have a life span of uncountably many kalpas. Afterwards she will attain Buddhahood and extensively convert human beings and heavenly beings as numerous as sands in the Ganges River.'"

The Buddha told King of Ease in Meditation, "Then the Arhat that converted Light Eyes through merits is Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent. The mother of Light Eyes is Bodhisattva Emancipation. The woman Light Eyes is Bodhisattva Earth Treasure. Over long and distant kalpas in the past with such mercy and compassion he pledged vows as numerous as sands in the Ganges River to extensively convert sentient beings.

"In the future if there would be men or women that would not practice good deeds, would commit bad deeds, up to those that would not believe in causes and consequences, would engage in illicit sexual behaviors, utter lies, insinuate discord, say harsh words, or disparage Mahayana, then sentient beings with such karma would definitely fall into bad realms. If they would encounter some well-informed person who would advise them to take refuge in Bodhisattva Earth Treasure for the duration of a snap of fingers, then these sentient beings would be liberated from retribution of the three bad realms. If one could wholeheartedly take refuge in and maintain reverence for, view with reverence, salute and exclaim praises, and make offerings of incenses, flowers, clothing, all sorts of jewelry or treasures, or foods and drinks to him, then such an attendant would constantly stay in heavenly realms and enjoy supreme wondrous pleasures for hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of kalpas in the future. If such heavenly enjoyment would have been exhausted and such a one would then be born into human realm, still he would constantly be an emperor or king for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, and he would be able to recall, from beginning to end, the causes and consequences of his past lives. King of Ease in Meditation, thus Bodhisattva Earth Treasure possesses such inconceivable great awesome spiritual power to extensively benefit sentient beings. All of you Bodhisattvas should memorize this Sutra and extensively expound it to propagate it everywhere." King of Ease in Meditation said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, may you be free from such worries. Those of us thousands of myriads of billions of Great Bodhisattvas would definitely, through the awesome spiritual blessing of the Buddha, expound this Sutra extensively to benefit sentient beings in Jambudvipa." Bodhisattva King of Ease in Meditation, having said so to the Buddha, folded his palms together in reverence, made prostration and retired.

Then the Heavenly Kings of the four cardinal directions all rose from their seats, folded their palms together in reverence and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, Bodhisattva Earth Treasure over long and distant kalpas had pledged such great vows. Why until now his conversion of sentient beings has not ended yet, and he even pledged again extensive great vows? May the World Honored One explain this to us." The Buddha told the Four Heavenly Kings, "Good, good! Now for the extensive benefits of you and heavenly beings, human beings, and other beings that are at present or in the future, I will expound on the matter of helpful means through which Bodhisattva Earth Treasure, on the path of birth and death within Jambudvipa of the Saha world, mercifully and compassionately rescue and convert to liberation all sentient beings that are suffering from sins." The Four Heavenly Kings said, "Yes, World Honored One, we are eager and willing to hear about it." The Buddha told the Four Heavenly Kings, "Bodhisattva Earth Treasure, since long and distant kalpas up until now, has been converting and liberating sentient beings, but still has not fulfilled his vows. He mercifully pities sentient beings of this time that are suffering from sins. Furthermore, he observes that in immeasurable kalpas in the future the causal vines would not break; therefore, he again pledges solemn vows. Thus the Bodhisattva, in Jambudvipa of the Saha world, employs hundreds of thousands of myriads of billions of helpful means to convert and teach sentient beings.

"The Four Heavenly Kings, for Bodhisattva Earth Treasure, if he encounters someone who kills lives, he talks about the retribution of a short-lived life for past infliction. If he encounters someone who steals or robs, he talks about the retribution of suffering in poverty. If he encounters someone who engages in sexual misconduct, he talks about the retribution of being born a sparrow, pigeon, or mandarin duck. If he encounters someone who speaks harsh words, he talks about the retribution of fighting and arguing among family members. If he encounters someone who disparages others, he talks about the retribution of having no tongue or having ulcers in the mouth.

"If he encounters someone who is in anger, he talks about the retribution of being ugly, hunchbacked or disabled. If he encounters someone who is stingy, he talks about the retribution of getting the opposite of what one wishes for. If he encounters someone who over-eats or over-drinks, he talks about the retribution of hunger, thirst and throat diseases. If he encounters someone who hunts willfully, he talks about the retribution of frightful frantic death. If he encounters someone who is unfilial to parents, he talks about the retribution of being killed by heaven and earth through natural disasters. If he encounters someone who sets fire to mountains and forests, he talks about the retribution of committing suicide in frenzy delusion. If he encounters someone who is abused by a stepparent, he talks about the retribution of being whipped as a consequence of having whipped others in past lives. If he encounters someone who nets young birds, he talks about the retribution of separation of flesh-and-bone relatives.

"If he encounters someone who disparages the Triple Gems, he talks about the retribution of becoming blind, deaf and dumb. If he encounters someone who shows disdain for the Dharma teachings, he talks about the retribution of permanent confinement in bad realms. If he encounters someone who damages or appropriates monastic properties, he talks about the retribution of transmigration in hells for billions of kalpas. If he encounters someone who stains the purity of monks through false accusations, he talks about the retribution of forever remaining in animal realms.

"If he encounters someone who hurts lives by boiling, burning, cutting or chopping, he talks about the retribution of paying back in turn through transmigration. If he encounters someone who violates silas or transgresses dietary regulations, he talks about the retribution of becoming hungry birds or beasts. If he encounters someone who unreasonably damages or uses things, he talks about the retribution of lacking or being deprived of whatever one seeks after. If he encounters someone who is self-centered and arrogant, he talks about the retribution of low social status and demeaning servitude. If he encounters someone who insinuates fighting and disturbance, he talks about the retribution of having no tongue or hundred tongues. If he encounters someone who has perverse views, he talks about the retribution of rebirth in frontier lands.

"As to sentient beings in Jambudvipa such as these mentioned above I have now given a rough sketch of their bodily, verbal and mental karmas, and their bad habits resulting in hundreds of thousands of retributions. For sentient beings in Jambudvipa with karmic retributions vary to such extents Bodhisattva Earth Treasure employs hundreds of thousands of helpful means to teach and convert them. Those sentient beings would first receive such kinds of retributions, and then fall into hells. It is often the case that they would stay in hells for kalpas without a date of release. Therefore, those of you should safeguard people as well as countries, and not to allow those kinds of karmas to delude sentient beings." The Four Heavenly Kings, having heard this, shed tears and sadly sighed, folded their palms together and retired.

End of Upper Volume

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