Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Nine: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (c)
Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Translated by KOSHO YAMAMOTO
FROM Dharmakshema's Chinese version
The World's genuinely first-ever web edition of this complete scripture
(This "Yamamoto/page edition" is Copyright of Dr. Tony Page, 2004 )
The Complete Kosho Yamamoto English Translation of the "Nirvana Sutra", edited and revised by Dr. Tony Page, typographically improved by Jay and Gabriele Mazo
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (c)
"Also, next, O good man! The common mortal performs various evil deeds when he encounters physical and mental worries. A person becomes ill in body and mind and does various evil things with his body, mouth and mind. By doing evil, one gains life in the three unfortunate realms, suffering there in various ways. Why? Because the common mortal does not possess mindfulness Wisdom. Thus he contracts various defilements. This is mental defilement. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva always thinks: "I have, for innumerable kalpas past, committed various evil deeds on account of my body and mind. For this reason, I have repeated birth and death and fully undergone various worries in the three unfortunate realms. This has kept me away from the right paths of the three vehicles. For these causal reasons, the Bodhisattva greatly fears his body and mind, and abandoning all evil things, he takes to good paths."
"O good man! As an illustration: there is a king who keeps four vipers in a casket and has a man feed them, take note of the serpents' waking and sleeping and rub and wash their bodies. It is made known that if any of the serpents becomes angry, the man in charge will have to, by law, be executed in the city. On hearing of the king's strict orders, the man is afraid. He abandons the casket and runs away. The king then sends five candalas after him. The candalas, brandishing their swords, intend to force the man to follow the king's orders. Looking back, the man sees the five candalas and runs away. Then the five candalas resort to evil means. They hide their swords. One of them goes to the man and, feigning a friendly attitude, says: "Let us go back!" The man does not trust him. Reaching a village, he intends to hide himself. On arriving there, he sees that the houses are all empty, with no one inside. The pots are all empty, there being nothing in them. There is no one to see and nothing to be obtained. So the man sits down on the ground. A voice comes from nowhere: "O man! This village is empty; no one lives here. Tonight, six robbers will come. On encountering them, you cannot be sure of your life. How can you hope to get out of this fix?" Then the man's fear grows and he abandons the place and leaves it. On his way, there is a river. The water rushes down, but there is no boat or raft to carry him across. Afraid, he gathers wood and grass and makes a raft. Again, he thinks to himself: "If I stay here, I will be attacked by vipers, by the five candalas, by the man who deceptively tried to befriend me, and by the six great robbers, all of whom will harm me. If this raft cannot be trusted, I shall drown and die. Oh, let me die in the water rather than be harmed by poisonous snakes!" He pushes the raft of grass out onto the water and rides in it, paddling with his hands and legs, and thus crosses the river. When he reaches the further shore, peace awaits him there, and there is no worry. He is unmolested (i.e. not constricted, at ease) in mind, and his fear has gone. Such is the case. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva hears the Great Nirvana Sutra, upholds it, and meditates on the body, and he sees it as the casket, and that the earth, water, fire and wind are the four poisonous serpents, and that all beings encounter the four poisons of seeing, touch, breath, and stinging. So they lose their lives. It is the same with the four great elements of beings. So some do evil by seeing, some through touch, some through the breath, and some by stinging. Consequently they depart from all good deeds.
"Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva meditates on the four poisonous serpents. These are the four castes, namely: Kshatriya, Brahmin, Vaishya, and Sudra. It is the same with the serpents of the four great elements. These possess the four natures of hardness, moisture, heat, and movement. For this reason, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva takes it that the four great elements belong to the same clan as the four poisonous serpents.
"Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva views these four great elements as being like the four poisonous serpents. How does he regard things? These four poisonous serpents always watch a man's movements: when to look at him, when to touch, when to throw their breath upon him, and when to sting. It is the same with the four poisonous serpents of the four great elements. They always watch beings and await their chance, seeking to catch hold of their shortcomings. A person who loses his life from the four serpents does not fall into the three unfortunate realms. But one who loses his life from the four great elements unfailingly falls into the three unfortunate realms. These four poisonous serpents will kill a man even if given food and looked after. It is the same with the four great elements. Though things are always supplied, these always lead a man towards all evil deeds. If any of these four serpents should once get angry, it will kill the man. The same is the case with the nature of the four great elements. If one element starts up, it easily harms a man. These four poisonous serpents may live in the same place, but their four minds are different from one another. It is the same with the four great poisonous serpents. Though living in the same place, their nature is different. Although these four poisonous serpents pay respect, one cannot come near them. It is the same with the four great poisonous serpents. Though they pay respect, one must not go near them. When these four poisonous serpents cause harm to a man, we have sramanas and Brahmins. With charms and medicines, we can indeed gain a cure. When the four great elements kill a man, (however), the charms and medicines of sramanas and Brahmins cannot cure him at all. A person who is contented and comes into contact with the four unpleasing evil smells will keep himself away (from them). Thus do all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas act. On encountering the smells of the four great elements, they depart from them. Then the Bodhisattva, as he thinks about the poisonous serpents of the four great elements, experiences great fear. He runs away and practises the Noble Eightfold Path.
"The five candalas are none other than the five skandhas. In what way does the Bodhisattva view the five skandhas as candalas? A candala severs a man from his obligations and love, and spawns increasing hatred. It is the same with the five skandhas. They make a man covet what draws him towards evil and keep him away from all that is good.
"Also, next, O good man! A candala decks himself out with various weapons and harms people with his sword, shield, bow, arrow, armour or halberd. It is the same with the five skandhas. They arm themselves with all kinds of defilement and harm the ignorant and make them repeat lives.
"Also, next, the Bodhisattva regards the five groups as candalas. The candala lacks a sympathetic heart and causes harm irrespective of whether the man hates or loves. The same with the five skandhas. They have no pity and cause harm both to those who are good and those who are evil. The candala causes worry to all people; so do the five skandhas. Through various defilements, they cause worry to all people who are subjected to birth and death. That is why the Bodhisattva regards the five skandhas as candalas.
"Also, next, the Bodhisattva further regards the five skandhas as candalas. A candala is always minded to cause harm. It is the same with the five skandhas. All fetters are always minded to cause worry. If one lacks a leg, a sword, a staff, or a follower, know that one will unfailingly be killed by candalas. It is the same with beings. If one lacks a leg, a sword, and a follower, one will be killed by the five skandhas. The leg is the moral precepts, the sowrd is Wisdom, and the follower is none other than all teachers of the Way. Not possessing these three things, one is harmed by the five skandhas. That is why the Bodhisattva regards the five skandhas as candalas.
"Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva regards the five skandhas as worse than candalas. Why? Beings may be killed by candalas. But when killed by them, the beings do not fall into hell. But when killed by the five skandhas, they gain hell. That is why the Bodhisattva regards the five skandhas as worse than candalas. Having meditated thus, he prays: "I would sooner be born near a candala when life ends than even for a moment befriend the five skandhas." The candala harms the ignorant of the world of desire. But these robbers of the five skandhas cause harm to common mortals and the beings of the three worlds.
"The candala indeed kills criminals, but the robbers of the five skandhas make no distinction between criminals and non-criminals. They kill everyone. The candala does not harm the weak and the old, women and children. But the robbers of the five skandhas make no distinction between old, young and women: they harm anyone. For this reason, the Bodhisattva regards the five skandhas as worse than candalas. Hence he prays: "I might well be born near a candala when life ends, but I shall not befriend the five skandhas."
"Also, next, O good man! A candala only causes harm to other people, but not to himself. The five skandhas harm themselves and also others. We might well escape the clutches of the candala through pleasing words, money and jewels, but not the five skandhas. One cannot escape from the five skandhas through flattery, money or jewels. The candala does not unfailingly kill all through the four seasons. But with the five skandhas it is otherwise. They kill moment after moment. The candala stays in one place; ways of escape (from him) are possible. It is not so with the five skandhas. They fill all places and there is no escape. The candala causes harm, but after causing harm, he does not follow one. It is not thus with the five skandhas. After killing beings, they follow them and do not leave them. Hence, not even for a moment will the Bodhisattva draw near to the five skandhas, though he might his whole life long draw near to candalas. One possessed of Wisdom and employing the best of expedients can evade the five skandhas. These best expedients are none other than the Noble Eightfold Path, the six paramitas, and the four immeasurable minds. Through these he reaches Emancipation, and his body and mind are not spoiled by the five skandhas. Why not? Because his body is now Adamantine and his mind like the Void. Thus it is difficult to destroy his body and mind. For this reason, the Bodhisattva sees that the skandhas fully accomplish all evil things, fears them greatly, and practises the Noble Eightfold Path. This is like the man who fears the four poisonous serpents and the five candalas, who keeps on walking and never looks back.
"By "feigning friendliness" is meant greedy craving. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva meditates deeply upon the bond of craving and sees that it is nothing but an enemy that comes, befriends and cheats one. With a person who knows Truth, it can do nothing. A person who knows nothing unfailingly gets harmed. The same is the case with craving. Its nature once known, it can do nothing to cause beings to repeat the pains of birth and death. Those who know nothing transmigrate through the six evil realms and must suffer minutely from various pains. Why? Because they get captured by the illness of craving, which can never be got rid of. This is like the enemy who cheats one with his feigned friendship, and from whom it is hard to part.
"By "enemy who beguiles and befriends" is meant that there is always seeking after news of one and making one part from that which one loves and encounter that which one hates. It is the same with craving. It causes one to part from all good things and to befriend all evil things. For this reason, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva always meditates deeply on the beguilements of craving. Because one cannot see, try as one may, and one cannot, try as one may. Common mortals try to see the beguilements of birth and death. They may have wisdom. But because of overshadowing ignorance, they cannot ultimately see well. So do things stand with sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. They may try to see, but cannot. Why not? Because of their craving minds. Why? Seeing the ills of birth and death does not lead one to unsurpassed Enlightenment. Because of this, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva regards this bond of craving as an enemy who beguilingly feigns friendliness.
"What is the characteristic of this feigned and beguiling friendliness of the enemy? The enemy is not genuine, beguiles and presents things, and although he is not one who wishes to be friendly, displays friendliness. And yet, this is what is not good. But he beguiles and displays goodness; without love, he displays love. Why? Because he spies upon a person's movements, intending to cause harm. It is the same with craving. Dissembling non-truth always presents itself as truth; non-friendliness displays itself as friendliness; non-good appears as good; non-love presents itself as love. And all beings are deceived and ride on the wheel of birth and death. That is why the Bodhisattva regards craving as an enemy who feigns friendliness.
"We say that the enemy feigns friendliness. This is made possible because we see the body and not the mind. So cheating can come about. It is the same with craving. What there is is falseness; what is true cannot be gained there. Thus all beings lose their way. We can speak of "friendly beguilements". If there is a beginning and an end, it is easy to segregate. With craving, the case is otherwise. There is no beginning and no end. It is difficult to segregate (oneself from craving). We say "friendly beguilements". If things are far away, it is hard to know (of them); if near, it is easy to see. Craving is not like that. Even when near, it is difficult to know. And how can one know (of it) when it is far away? For this reason, the Bodhisattva regards craving as that which supercedes (i.e. surpasses) friendly beguilements. “Due to the bond of craving, all beings part far from the Great Nirvana Sutra and approach birth and death. They part from the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure, and associate with the non-Eternal, non-Bliss, non-Self, and the non-Pure." “For this reason, I refer here and there in the sutras to the three defilements. Because of ignorance as regards what one now sees, one cannot see and abandon what is wrong. The friendly beguilements do not, to the very end, harm a person of Wisdom. For this reason, the Bodhisattva meditates deeply on this craving. Having great fear (of it), he practises the Noble Eightfold Path. This is like the man who fears the four poisonous snakes, the five candalas, and the man who is deceitfully friendly (i.e. the candala), and he goes on and does not take roundabout ways.
"We speak of an "empty village". This is none other than the six sense-organs. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva meditates on these six spheres and sees that all is empty, as with an empty village. The man who is afraid gets into the village and sees that there is not one single living being therein. This person picks up an earthenware pot, but cannot find anything inside it. The case is analogous. It is the same with the Bodhisattva. He looks clearly into the six spheres and sees that there is nothing in them. Hence, the Bodhisattva sees that what there is in the six spheres is voidness and that there is nothing to possess, as with the empty village.
"O good man! The group of robbers sees this empty village from far off and does not, to the end, gain the thought that it is empty. It is the same with common mortals. They do not gain the thought of voidness in the village of the six sense-organs. Not gaining any thought of emptiness, they repeat birth and death, suffering thereby an innumerable number of sorrows.
"O good man! On arriving, the robbers gain the thought of the all-void. The same with the Bodhisattva. Looking into the six spheres, he always arrives at the thought of the All-Void. Gaining this thought of the All-Void, he does not repeat birth and death, not suffering thereby. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva never has any upside-down (notions) regarding these six spheres. Not having any upside-down (notion), there is no more repetition of birth and death.
"Also, next, O good man! The robbers, when they enter this village, reach peace and bliss. It is the same with the robbers of defilement. On entering this empty village, they have peace and bliss in the six spheres. The robbers of defilement, living in an empty village, have no fear in their six spheres. So do things proceed with the group of robbers of defilement. This empty village is where various evil (i.e. harmful) beasts live, such as lions, tigers, wolves, and others. It is the same with the six spheres. These are the abodes of all evils and the evil beasts of defilement. For this reason, the Bodhisattva deeply considers these six spheres to be empty within, with nothing in them to be possessed, and that they are nothing but places where all that is not good dwells.
"Also, next, O good man! The Bodhisattva regards these six sense-organs as empty inside, with nothing there to be possessed, and like an empty village. Why? Because of falseness and untruth. Though empty and having nothing to possess, people think that there is such. Though without bliss, people think that there is bliss. Though no one lives there, people think that it contains people. It is the same with the six sense-organs. Though truly empty and with nothing that can be possessed, people think that there are things inside. Though without bliss, people think that there is bliss there. Though truly there is no man within, people think that there is a man there. Only one who is wise truly knows this and arrives at Truth.
"Also, next, O good man! At times people live in an empty village, and at times no one lives there. It is not thus with the six sense-fields. No one lives there at all. Why not? Because they are, by nature, always empty. Only one who is wise knows this; no eye can see it. Hence, the Bodhisattva sees that the six sense-organs are peopled full of enemies. Thus, he incessantly practises the Noble Eightfold Path. This is like the man who fears the four poisonous serpents, the five candalas, the beguilingly friendly man, and the six great robbers, and follows the right path.
"We say "six great robbers". These are none other than the six sense-fields. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva regards these six sense-fields as six great robbers. Why? Because they truly rob one of all good things. Just as the six great robbers thoroughly plunder all the treasures of all people, so do these six sense-fields. They rob all people of all good treasures. When the six great robbers get into a man's house, they make no distinction between good and bad, but take away what there is in the house in a moment, and even very rich people suddenly become poor. So do things proceed with the six sense-fields. All good people die out, if they get into the sense-organs of a man. When good has been wholly pilfered, a person becomes a poor, lonely icchantika. For this reason, the Bodhisattva clearly views the six sense-fields as six great robbers.
"Also, next, O good man! When desiring to rob a man, the six great robbers unfailingly attack a man who is in. If there is no man in, they will turn back half-way. The same with these six sense-fields. When they mean to plunder what is good, this always arises when there are within such phases of knowing or seeing the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure, the non-Void, etc. (in the six senses). If there are not such within, the evil robbers of the six sense-fields cannot plunder anything that is good. One who is wise does not have these within, whereas common mortals have them. Because of this, the six sense-fields always come and rob one of what is good. Not being well protected, plundering comes about. "Being protected" means Wisdom. One who is wise guards things well. So nothing is taken away. Thus the Bodhisattva considers these six sense-fields as equal to, and as in no way different from, the six great robbers.
"Also, next, O good man! Just as the six great robbers cause worries to the body and mind of all beings, in the same way do things obtain with these six sense-fields. They always cause worries to the body and mind of all beings. In contrast with the six great robbers, who only pilfer the wealth that a man has, these robbers of the six sense-fields always plunder what is good in beings of the Three Times. At night the six great robbers are immersed in pleasures. So are the robbers of the six sense-fields. Overspread by the gloom of ignorance, pleasure reigns. These six great robbers are reigned over by kings, who can well put a check (to their activities). The same is the situation with these six evil robbers of the sense-fields. Only the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas can truly check them. When robbing, these six great robbers make no distinction as to rectitude, caste, intellectuality, learning, erudition, nobility or poverty. It is the same with the evil robbers of the six sense-fields. When desiring to rob a person of what is good, they make no distinction as to rectitude down to poverty. Kings may cut off the hands and feet of the six great robbers, and yet they cannot hope to stop the mind from working. The same with the evil robbers of the six sense-fields. Even the srotapanna, the sakrdagamin, and the anagamin may cut off their hands and feet. Even then, it is not possible to prevent the good dharmas (qualities) from being stolen away. Just as the brave and strong can defeat these six great robbers, so too can all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas subdue the evil robbers of the six sense-fields. For example, there are people who are of many castes. If there is burning faction spirit , they cannot be robbed by these six robbers. The same is the case with beings. If there is a good teacher of the Way, the evil robbers of these six sense-fields cannot do any plundering. If these six great robbers see men, they steal them away. It is not thus with the six sense-fields. They rob a man of all seeing, knowing, smelling, touching, and seeing. What these six great robbers do is merely rob a man of his wealth, but not anything of the world of matter and non-matter. The case is otherwise with the evil robbers of the six sense-fields. They thoroughly plunder all that is good in the three worlds. Because of this, the Bodhisattva sees that the six sense-fields supercede (i.e. surpass) the six robbers. Meditating thus, he practises the Noble Eightfold Path, advances straight on and never turns back. This is like those who fear the four poisonous serpents, the five candalas, the man simulating friendliness, and the robbers of the six great elements, and like the man who abandons the empty village and presses on along the road.
"We say that the man comes across a river on his way. This is nothing but defilement. In what way does the Bodhisattva consider defilement a great river? Just as a running river causes a gandhahastin to loose his footing, so do things proceed with defilement. It truly catches hold of the feet of the pratyekabuddha. That is why the Bodhisattva strongly regards defilement as a running river. It is deep, and it is difficult to gain its bottom. So it is likened to a river. It is hard to gain its boundary line (margin). Hence, "great". Various evil fish live in the water. The same is the case with the river of defilement. Only the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can truly reach its bottom. So we say "extremely deep". Only the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas gain the boundary line, and we say "very wide". Various kinds of harm are always caused to all ignorant beings, and so we speak of "evil fish". Hence, the Bodhisattva regards such defilement as a great river. A great river truly nurtures all that is of plants and forests. So does it obtain with the great river of defilement, where grow the 25 existences of all beings. Thus the Bodhisattva considers defilement to be a great river. For example, a man falls into the waters of a great river and does not repent. Things go the same with beings. Falling into the waters of defilement, they do not repent. A person who falls into water will die before reaching the bottom. So it is with one who falls into the river of defilement. He will not gain the bottom, but will ride on the wheel of the 25 existences. The so-called "bottom" is none other than the phase of the Void. One who does not practise this Void cannot get out of the 25 existences. Beings do not practise the Void and formlessness, and they always flounder in the swiftly flowing waters of defilement. This great river can only destroy the body, not drown all good dharmas. It is otherwise with the river of defilement. It thoroughly destroys the good of body and mind. That great swirling river only drowns the man of the world of desire. The great river of defilement drowns the devas and the people of the three worlds. The great river of the world can be crossed, and one can reach the other shore by paddling with one's hands and feet. As against this, the great river of defilement can only be crossed by a Bodhisattva, as he practises the six paramitas. It is difficult to cross a great river. The same applies to the great river of defilement. It is difficult to cross. Why is it hard to cross? Even the Bodhisattva up to the ten abodes cannot yet cross it. Only all Buddhas can ultimately cross it. That is why we say "difficult to pass over to the other shore". For example, there is a man who flounders in a river, when he cannot practise the Way one whit. Thus do things proceed with beings. As they flounder in the river of defilement, they are unable to practise good. When a person falls into a river and when he flounders, another person of power can indeed grasp hold of such a person and save him. If a person falls into the river of defilement and thereby becomes an icchantika, even the sravakas, pratyekabuddhas and all the Buddhas cannot save him. The great river of the world dries up at the time when the kalpa ends, with only seven days of the sun; but things do not happen thus with the great river of defilement. Even though the seven Bodhi elements (“saptabodhyanga”) may be practised, the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas cannot dry up (the river of defilement). That is why the Bodhisattva meditates and considers that all defilements are like the madding waters of a river. For example, this is like the person who fears the four poisonous serpents, the five candalas, the begulingly friendly man, and the six great robbers, and who abandons the empty village, proceeds further along the way, reaches the river, takes up grass and makes a raft. Thus does the Bodhisattva act. Fearing the serpents of the four great elements, the candalas of the five skandhas, the friendly beguilings of craving, the empty village of the six spheres, the evil robbers of the six sense-fields, he comes up to the river of defilement and practises the ways of sila, samadhi, Wisdom, Emancipation, and the knowledge of Emancipation, the six paramitas, the 37 Bodhi elements, and makes these into a boat or raft, rides on them and crosses over the river of defilement.
"When the further shore has been gained, there is Nirvana, which is Eternal and Bliss. As the Bodhisattva practises Great Nirvana, he thinks: "If I cannot stand the sufferings of body and mind, I cannot enable all beings to cross the river of defilement." Thinking thus, he does not say a word and bears the sorrows of body and mind. Because of this endurance, no defilement arises. How could the Buddha-Tathagata have such? So we do not call any Buddhas those with defilements.
"How is it that the Tathagata is not non-secreting of defilement? Because he always acts amidst all defilement-secretions. What secretes defilement is the 25 existences. For this reason, common mortals and sravakas say that the Buddha has secretions of defilement. But in truth, the All-Buddha-Tathagata has no secretion of defilement.
"O good man! In consequence, the All-Buddha-Tathagata has no fixed form of existence. O good man! Thus all those who have committed the four grave offences, the slanderers of the vaipulya sutras, and the icchantikas are not in any fixed state."
Then the All-Shining Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Highly-Virtuous King said: "It is thus, it is thus! It is just as you, Holy One, say. All existences have no fixed states. As they are not fixed, we know that the Tathagata also does not ultimately enter Nirvana. This is as has already been stated by the Buddha. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, when he practises the Great Nirvana Sutra, hears what he has not heard before and is told that there is a Nirvana and a Great Nirvana. What is Nirvana and what is Great Nirvana?"
Then the Buddha, praising the All-Shining Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Highly-Virtuous King, said: "Well spoken, well spoken, O good man! If the Bodhisattva gains mental grasping, things proceed as you say. O good man! In worldly life, we say: sea, great sea; river, great river; mountain, great mountain; earth, great earth; castle, great castle; being, great being; king, great king; man, great man; god, god of gods; Way, great Way. It is the same with Nirvana. There is Nirvana, and there is Great Nirvana.
"What is Nirvana? This is as when one who is hungry has peace and bliss after he has taken a little food. Such ease and bliss is also called Nirvana. It is as when an illness is cured, the person gains peace and bliss. Such peace and bliss are also Nirvana. This is as when a person with fear gains peace and bliss on reaching a refuge. Such peace and bliss are also Nirvana. When a poor person obtains the seven jewels, he gains peace and bliss. Such peace and bliss are also Nirvana. A person sees a bone and gains no greed. And this, too, is Nirvana."
"Such Nirvana cannot be termed "Great Nirvana". Why not? Because of the greed that raises its head through hunger, illness, fear, or poverty. That is why we say that such Nirvana is not Great Nirvana.
"O good man! When a common mortal and sravaka cut off, in ways secular and holy, the bond of the world of desire, they gain peace and bliss. Such peace and bliss may well be called Nirvana, but not Great Nirvana. When a person cuts off the fetter of defilement of the first dhyana or the Heaven of Thoughtlessness-non-Thoughtlessness, he gains peace and bliss. Such peace and bliss can well be termed Nirvana, but not Great Nirvana. Why not? Because there is the return of defilement and the presence of retaining taints.
"The All-Buddha-Tathagata enters Nirvana. The nature of Nirvana has no Self, and no Bliss; what there is is that which is Eternal and True. Thus, we speak of the retaining taints of defilement. In the Buddhist doctrine and in the Buddhist Sangha are phases of discrimination; the Tathagata ultimately enters Nirvana. “The Nirvana of sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and the All-Buddha-Tathagata is all-equal, without any difference. For this reason, what the two vehicles gain is not Great Nirvana. Why not? Because there are not there the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure. When there exist the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure, we can speak of Great Nirvana”.
"O good man! What a place easily takes in all rivers, we say "great sea". The case is like this. As there is a place where sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the All-Buddha-Tathagata enter, we say Great Nirvana.
“"O good man! For example, there is a river, and since the foremost gandhahastin cannot gain the bottom of it,” “we say "great". If sravakas, pratyekabuddhas and the Bodhisattva of the ten abodes do not see the Buddha-Nature, we say "Nirvana". It is not "Great Nirvana". If they clearly see the Buddha-Nature, there is Great Nirvana. This bottom can well be attained by the King of Great Elephants. The King of Great Elephants refers to all Buddhas.
"O good man! If there is a place where the mahanaga, the great wrestler, Praskandi, and others cannot climb up and reach the summit after much time, such is worthy of the name, "great mountain". That place which the mahanagas and great wrestlers of the sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas cannot reach is that which is worthy of the name of Great Nirvana.
"Also, next, O good man! The place where a minor king lives is called "small castle". The place where a Chakravartin lives is called "great castle". All those places where 80,000, 60,000, 40,000, 20,000, and 10,000 sravakas and pratyekabuddhas live fall under the rubric of 'Nirvana'. The abode of the unsurpassed Dharma Lord, the Holy King, accordingly is given the name of 'Great Nirvana'. For this reason, we say Great Nirvana.
"O good man! For example, there is a man who does not feel frightened on seeing the four military forces. Know that he is a great being. If a being is not afraid of the evil actions of defilement of the three unfortunate realms and yet within those (realms) saves beings, know that this person will gain Great Nirvana. If a man makes offerings to his parents, pays homage to sramanas and Brahmins, practises good, is truthful in his speech, and if there is no falsehood (with him), if he well endures all evils, gives to the poor, such a person is a great man. It is the same with the Bodhisattva. Out of great compassion, he pities all beings and is like a parent to all people. Thoroughly passing all beings across the great river of birth and death, he shows all beings the single path of Truth. This is Mahaparinirvana (i.e. Great Nirvana).
"O good man! "Great" means "all-wonderful". All-wonderful is that which all beings cannot believe in. This is "Mahaparinirvana". Being seen only by the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, it is called Great Nirvana. Why do we say "Great Nirvana"? Because one can only attain it through innumerable causal relations. So we say "Great".
"O good man! Just as people say "great" when things are gained by the working together of many causal relations, so do things stand with Nirvana. As it can be gained by the conjoint working of many causal relations, we say "Great". “And why do we say "Great Nirvana"? As there is the Great Self, we speak of "Great Nirvana". As Nirvana is selflessness (i.e. non-ego) and Great Sovereignty” “(i.e. great freedom from all restrictions; unlimited autonomy; the ability to do as one wills), we speak of 'the Great Self'. What do we mean by 'Great Sovereignty'? “If there are eight sovereignties, we speak of 'the Self'.
"What are these eight?
"Firstly, a single body can be manifested as many. The number of bodies is like the number of dust-motes. They fill the innumerable worlds in all directions. The body of the Tathagata is not a mote. (But) due to this sovereignty, it can project a mote-body. Such sovereignty is the 'Great Self'.
"Second, we see that a mote-body fills the 3,000 great-thousand worlds. The Tathagata's body does not, in truth, fill the 3,000 great-thousand worlds. Why not? Because of unhinderedness. Due to sovereignty, it fills the 3,000 great-thousand worlds. Such sovereignty is called the 'Great Self'.
"Third, with this body that well fills the 3,000 great-thousand worlds, he lightly flies through the air, passing Buddha-lands as innumerable as the number of grains of sand of 20 Ganges, and there is nothing that obstructs him. The body of the Tathagata cannot, truth to tell, be designated as possessing light or heavy weight. (His) sovereignty decides the lightness or heaviness. Such sovereignty is the 'Great Self'.
"Fourthly, because of sovereignty, sovereignty is acquired. What is sovereignty? The Tathagata abides (calmly) with one-pointedness of mind, without wavering. (Yet) he is able to manifest countless kinds of forms and endows each of them with a mind. On some occasions, the Tathagata might create a single phenomenon and bring about the needs of each being. Though the Tathagata's body abides in a single land, he causes all those in other lands to behold him. That manner of sovereignty is called the 'Great Self'.
"Fifth, he is sovereign over his sense-organs. How is he sovereign over his sense-organs? One sense-organ of the Tathagata can indeed see colours, hear sounds, register smell, know taste, feel touch, and know dharmas. Because of (his) sovereignty, he is sovereign over his sense-organs. Such sovereignty is called the 'Great Self'.
"Sixthly, due to (his) sovereignty, (he) acquires all dharmas (all things) and yet there is no concept of attainment in the Tathagata's mind. Why is that? Because there is nothing to be acquired. If there were something (to be acquired), then one could call it 'acquiring', but because there is nothing actually to be acquired, how can it be called 'an acquiring'? If one were to suppose that the Tathagata had the notion of acquiring, then Buddhas would not acquire Nirvana. Since there is (no notion of) acquiring, one can say that they acquire Nirvana. Due to sovereignty, he acquires all dharmas. Because he attains all dharmas, he is called 'the Great Self'.
"Seventh, we speak of sovereign. The Tathagata expounds all meaning. And for innumerable kalpas, the meaning has no end, and this meaning is: the moral precepts, samadhi, giving, and Wisdom. At such times, the Tathagata has no sense or thought such as : 'I say', 'they listen'. Also, there is no single thought of a single gatha (verse). People of the world speak of a gatha made up of four verse lines. This is merely to accord with the way of the world, and we speak of a 'gatha'. The natures of all things also possess nothing of which one can speak. Due to sovereignty, the Tathagata expounds (Dharma). For this reason, we say 'the Great Self'.
"Eighthly, the Tathagata pervades all places, just like space. The nature of space cannot be seen; similarly, the Tathagata cannot really be seen, and yet he causes all to see him through his sovereignty. Such sovereignty is termed 'the Great Self'. That Great Self is termed 'Great Nirvana'. In this sense it is termed 'Great Nirvana'.
"Moreover, Noble Son, a treasury, for example, contains many different kinds of rare things and is thus called a great treasury. The extremely profound treasury of the Buddha-Tathagatas is like that: since it contains wondrous (things), without any deficiency, it is termed 'Great Nirvana'.
“"What are the four? Firstly, it is segregated from all blisses. If bliss is cut out, we have suffering. If there is suffering, we do not say "Great Bliss". When bliss is cut out, there is no suffering there. What has no suffering and no bliss is Great Bliss. The nature of Nirvana is non-suffering and non-bliss. Thus we say that Nirvana is Great Bliss. For this reason, we speak of Great Nirvana.
"Also, next, O good man! There are two kinds of bliss. One is that of the common mortal, and the other that of the Buddhas. The bliss of the common mortal is not eternal - it collapses. Hence, no” “bliss. With all Buddhas, bliss is eternal. There is no change. So we call it Great Bliss.
"Third, we say Great Bliss because of All-Knowledge. If there is not All-Knowledge, we do not say Great Bliss. As the All-Buddha-Tathagata is All-Knowledge, we say Great Bliss. On account of (this) Great Bliss, we say Great Nirvana.
"Fourth, we say Great Bliss because the body does not break up. If the body breaks up, we do not say "bliss". The body of the Tathagata is Adamantine and Indestructible. It is not a body of defilement, nor one of the non-eternal. Hence, Great Bliss. Because of Great Bliss we say Great Nirvana.
"O good man! The names that are current in the world either have, or do not have, any circunstantial bearings connected with them. The case in which circumstantial bearings exist is as in that of Sariputra, where the name of his mother, "sari", comes down to him, and we say "Sariputra" (i.e. "son of Sari"). The way-goer (i.e. wayfarer), Mayura, is so called because he was in the land called "Mayura". Being based on the name of the land, his name is as in Maudgalyayana. Maudgalyayana is the family name. From the family name, we now have Maudgalyayana. I ,now ,was born into the Gautama clan. So I am Gautama, based on the clan name. This is as in the case of the way-goer, Visakha. Visakha is the name of a star. From the name of a star, we here have the name of a person, Visakha. If a person has six fingers, we call him one with six fingers. We say “Butsunu” (i.e. "Buddha-servant") and “Tennu” (i.e. "heaven-servant"). When a thing comes about from moisture, we say “Shissho” (i.e. "born of moisture"). Based on the voice, we say “Kakala” (i.e. voice of a bird), “Kukuta “ (i.e. voice of domestic fowl), and “Tatara” (i.e. voice of a pheasant). All these names come from the causal bearings that exist there. Those which are not based on causal bearings are: lotus, earth, water, fire, wind, and space. “Mandapa” (i.e. scum of boiled rice+drinking) refers to two things. Firstly, it means "palace", and secondly, "to drink juice". Although the building does not drink juice, we speak thus. “Sappashata” means "serpent parasol". But in no way is it a serpent's parasol. A name is merely coined for something with which it has no connection. “Teirabai” means "edible oil". But actually, oil is not eaten. A term is merely coined, and it says "edible oil".
"First, we call the 25 existences non-pure. When these have been eternally done away with, we speak of "Pure". What is Pure is Nirvana. Such Nirvana can well be called "is". But this Nirvana is, truth to tell, not any "is" existence. The All-Buddha-Tathagata follows the way of the world and says that Nirvana is "is". For example, the people of the world call one who is no father father, no mother mother, and no parents parents. It is the same with Nirvana. Following the way of the world, we say that all Buddhas have Great Nirvana.
"Second, action is pure. With all common mortals, action is not pure. So there cannot be Nirvana. As the action of the All-Buddha-Tathagata is pure, we speak of Great Purity. Because of Great Purity, we say Great Nirvana.
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter One Introductory
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Two: On Cunda
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Three: On Grief
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Four: On Long Life
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Five: On the Adamantine Body
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Six: On the Virtue of the Name
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Seven: On the Four Aspects
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Eight: On the Four Dependables
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Nine: On Wrong and Right
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Ten: On the Four Truths
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Eleven: On the Four Inversions
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twelve: On the Tathagata-DHATU
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirteen: On Letters
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Fourteen: On the Parable of the Birds
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Fifteen: On the Parable of the Moon
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Sixteen: On the Bodhisattva
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Seventeen: On the Questions Raised by the Crowd
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Eighteen: On Actual Illness
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Nineteen: On Holy Actions-1
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty: On Holy Actions-2
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-One: On Pure Actions-1
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Two: On Pure Actions-2
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Three: On Pure Actions-3
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Four: On Pure Actions-4
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Five: On Pure Actions-5
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Six: On the Action of the Child
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Seven: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King-1
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Eight: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King-2
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Nine: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (c)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (d)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-One: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (e)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Two: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (f)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Three: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (A)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Four: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (b)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Five: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (c)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Six: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (d)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Seven: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (e)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Eight: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (f)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Nine: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (g)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (a)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-One: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (b)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Two: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (c)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Three: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (d)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Four: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (e)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Five: On Kaundinya (a)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Six: On Kaundinya (b)