Purify Our Mind



Life of the Buddha

Segment F001.1 (S,V,D)

(T58a.11-29 [fasc.1])

From Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom (Dharmamitra Translation)

Moreover, when the Bodhisattva was first born, he radiated a great brilliance which extended universally throughout the ten directions. He walked seven steps, surveyed the four quarters, roared the lion's roar and then uttered a verse, proclaiming:

"Birth from the womb for me is now ended. This is the very last physical form. Already I have achieved liberation And shall moreover bring deliverance to beings."

After pronouncing this pledge, in the course of time he grew to adulthood. He sought to relinquish his relatives and retinue, to leave behind the homelife, and to cultivate the unsurpassed Way . He arose in the night and, surveying the sleeping forms of his female entertainers and attendants, his wife and his consorts, beheld them as resembling decaying corpses.

He instructed Cha.n.daka to saddle his white steed. At midnight they traversed the city wall, rode for twelve yojanas, and arrived at the forest inhabited by Bhaargava, the rishi. He then took up a knife, cut off his hair, and exchanged his wonderfully bejewelled raiments for a coarsely-woven Sa'nghaa.tii [cloak].

On the banks of the Naira eating only a sesame seed or a grain of rice each day. He thought to himself, "This method contradicts the Way."

At that time, the Bodhisattva left behind the place where he had cultivated such ascetic practices and went and sat at the adamantine place beneath the bodhi tree. The demon king brought a throng of his minions numbering eighteen myriads of ko.tiis in an attempt to devastate the Bodhisattva. Because of the power of his wisdom and merit, the Bodhisattva overcame the demon hoardes and afterwards achieved anuttarasamyaksa.mbodhi (the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment).

At that time, the ruler of the trichiliocosm , the Brahma Heaven king named "Sikhin, the gods of the form realm, "Sakradevendra, and the gods of the desire realm as well as the four Heavenly Kings, all came to pay their respects to the Buddha and to encourage and request the World Honored One to commence the turning of the wheel of Dharma. Because of this, the Bodhisattva recalled his original vow , and also because of his great kindness and great compassion, he acceded to the request and proclaimed the Dharma.

Life of the Buddha, Segment F001.2 (S,D)
(T59a4-29 [fasc.1])

From Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom
(Dharmamitra Translation)
Furthermore, when the Buddha was first born, he dropped to the ground, strode seven steps, and spontaneously uttered words. After speaking, he then fell silent and, like other infants, neither walked nor talked. He was nursed to the age of three. His [step]mothers raised him and he gradually grew to maturity.

Now, although the bodies of the Buddha are countless and exceed in number the sum of all the worlds, for the sake of beings, he manifested like an ordinary person. Because the faculties of the body as well as the intellectual consciousness of ordinary people are not yet completely developed when they are born, the four types of deportment : sitting , lying down, walking and standing, as well as speaking, silence, and all manner of other human qualities--all of these are not yet perfected. As the days, months and years pass, one gradually practices, studies and then is able to refine the various aspects of being a person.

Now how was the Buddha, upon birth, immediately able to speak and walk whereas afterwards he was then not able to do so? One finds this astonishing. One should know that it is solely by dint of the power of skillful means that the Buddha manifests involvement in human endeavors, and comports himself as people do, thus influencing beings to believe in the profound Dharma.

If when the Bodhisattva was born, he was then from that point on able to walk and was able to talk, ordinary people of the world would think, "Now we behold this man such as has never existed in the world before. Certainly he is a god, a dragon, a ghost or a spirit. That dharma which he studies is certainly not such that people like us might accomplish it. Why is that? Our fleshly bodies, bound to birth and death, are dragged about by the karma of the fetters. We are unable to gain freedom. Who would be able to approach such a profound dharma as this?" In this manner they would cut themselves off so that they could not become receptacles for the Dharma of the worthies and holy ones . For the sake of these people, he was born in the Lumbini gardens.

Although he was capable of proceeding immediately to the bodhi tree and achieving buddhahood, because of the power of skillful means he then manifested as an infant, as a youth, as a young man, and as a grown man, and in each phase sequentially took on [the corresponding activities of] playing, becoming skilled in the arts, utilizing the objects of the five desires, and consummately perfecting human endeavors, afterwards gradually perceiving the suffering of senescence , disease, and death and [finally] generating thoughts of aversion and distress [which led to his] traversing the city wall in the middle of the night, leaving behind the homelife, and going to the location of the hermits Udraka and Aaraa.da. He gave the appearance of becoming a disciple, but did not practice their dharmas.

Although on account of constant use of his superknowledges he recalled his previous lives wherein at the time of Kaa"syapa Buddha he upheld the prohibitions and cultivated the way, still, he now manifested [in the role of] cultivating ascetic practices for six years in search of the way .

Although the Bodhisattva was [already] the sovereign of the great trichiliocosm , nonetheless he demonstrated [the capacity of] demolishing the demon armies and realizing the unsurpassed way. In order to go along with the dharmas of the World, he displayed these various transformations. Because in the Prajnaapaaramitaa he now demonstrates the great power of superknowledges and wisdom, people ought to know that the Buddha's bodies are innumerable and surpass the sum of all the worlds.

Mahaakau.s.thila "Long Nails"
(T25.61b18-62a28 [fasc.1])

From Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom
(Dharmamitra Translation)
Additionally, he (the Buddha) spoke the Mahaapraj" and other great dialecticians like him to develop faith in the Dharma of the Buddha. [At that time] there was a brahmacaarin named "Long Nails" as well as "Sre.nika Vatsagotra, Satyaka Nirgranthiiputra and others. The great dialectical masters of Jambudviipa such as these claimed that all treatises can be demolished, all discourses can be devastated, and all beliefs can be subverted and that therefore there are no actual dharmas in which one may have faith or towards which one may feel reverence.

As recounted in The Sutra on the Life of "Saariputra, "Saariputra's uncle, Mahaakau.s.thila, found that he could not match his own sister, "Saari, in debate. Kau.s.thila cogitated upon this and thought to himself, "This cannot be due to my sister's own power. It must be that she is pregnant with a wise man who is conveying his words to his mother's mouth. If, before he is even born, he is already like this, what will he be like once he's born and grown?"

Having thought this over he became afflicted with [hurt] pride and, for the sake of gaining extensive dialectical knowledge, left home and became a brahmacaarin. He went to the south of India and began to study the classical texts. People asked him, "What have you set your mind on obtaining? Which classic do you wish to study?"

"Long Nails" replied, "I wish to exhaustively study all of the eighteen great classics."

Those people all said to him, "You could spend your entire lifetime studying and still would not be able to know even one. How much the less could you know them all?"

"Long Nails" thought to himself, "Before, my pride was hurt on account of being defeated by my sister. Now, yet again, I undergo humiliation by these people." On account of these two events, he made a vow to himself, "I will not [even take time to] trim my fingernails. I must exhaustively study all of the Eighteen Classics." People noticed his fingernails growing long. Because of this they referred to him as the brahmacaarin "Long Nails."

By using the power of wisdom derived from all types of classical texts, by using all manner of satirical barbs, [by maintaining that], "This is Dharma," or that "This is non-Dharma," "This is admissable," or "This is inadmissable," "This is true," or "This is not true," "This is existent," or "This is nonexistent," this man was able to refute other dialectical positions. He was like a mighty, crazed elephant which blocks and gores, kicks and tramples and which none can bring under control. After the brahmacaarin "Long Nails" had employed his dialectical strength to smash and overcome all of the dialecticians, he returned to the country of Magadha, to the city of Raajag.rha, to the community of Nara. He went to the place of his birth and asked the people, "Where is the child which my sister bore?"

Someone told him, "When your sister's son had reached the age of eight he had completely mastered all of the classical texts. When he reached the age of sixteen, he had overcome everyone in debate. There is a man of the Way from the "Saakya clan named Gautama. [Your nephew] became his disciple." When Long Nails heard this he became arrogant and incredulous and said, "What sort of trick could he have used to deceive and induce one so intelligent as my nephew to shave his head and become a disciple? Having said this, he proceeded directly to the Buddha's place.

At this time "Saariputra (the son of "Saari) had newly received the precepts [of ordination] but a half-month before. He stood in service at the Buddha's side and used a fan to fan the Buddha.

The brahmacaarin Long Nails went to see the Buddha and having made salutations sat to one side and thought, "All treatises can be refuted, all discourse can be devastated, all beliefs can be subverted. What is it in all of this that is the reality mark of all dharmas? What is it that is the ultimate meaning ? What is it that is the nature ? What is it that is the characteristic ? And what is it that is not an inverted view.?" He was thinking like this. "[Resolving this quandary] is like seeking to completely reach the far shores and plumb the depths of a great ocean. Even though one may search for a long time, one can't find a single dharma actually admissable to the mind. What dialectical path did he use to win over my nephew?"

After he had cogitated like this he said to the Buddha, "Gautama, I do not accept any dharmas."

The Buddha asked Long Nails, "Your not accepting any dharmas, this view,-- do you accept it or not?" The Buddha's implicit meaning was, "You've already swallowed the poison of false views. Now get rid of this toxic influence." He said, "All dharmas,--you [say you] don't accept them. [But] this poison of views: Do you accept it or not?"

At this time the brahmacaarin, Long Nails, was like a good horse which, on merely seeing the shadow of the whip, immediately remembers to stay on the right track. The brahmacaarin, Long Nails, was also like this. The shadow of the whip of the Buddha's speech entered his mind. He immediately cast off his arrogance, was contrite, and lowered his head. He then thought, "The Buddha has defeated me with a dilemma: If I say.`I accept this view,' then this fallacy is obvious and most everybody will be aware of it. Why did I say, `I don't accept any dharmas?' If I now say, `As for this view,--I accept it': This is a blatant error in discourse. It would be an obviously fallacious position. Most people would be aware of it. The alternative fallacious position is subtle. I'll accept it as not that many people will be aware of it." Having pondered like this, he replied to the Buddha, "Gautama, this view that `I don't accept any dharmas,...I don't accept it either."

The Buddha said to the brahmacaarin, "If you also don't accept your view that you don't accept any dharmas, then nothing is accepted. But, in this regard, you are no different from anyone else in the Assembly. What's the point in being haughty and acting arrogant like this?"

The brahmacaarin, Long Nails, was unable to reply. He knew that he had fallen into a fallacious position. Then he became respectful of and developed faith in the Buddha's omniscience. He thought to himself, "I fell into a fallacious position, but the World Honored One did not reveal the fact of my defeat. He did not speak of right or wrong. He ignored it. The Buddha's mind is pliant. This is the ultimately pure stance. All rhetorical positions are extinguished in it. He has attained the extremely deep Dharma. This is a position which can be revered. The purity of his thought is paramount."

Because the Buddha's speaking of Dharma cut off his false views, he immediately, in the very place where he sat, succeeded in distancing himself from the dust and leaving behind impurity. He achieved the purity of the Dharma eye with respect to all dharmas.

When "Saariputra heard this dialogue, he attained arhatship. This brahmacaarin, Long Nails, left the homelife and became a "srama.na. He obtained the realization of the mighty arhat. If the brahmacaarin, Long Nails, had not heard the spirit of the Prajnaapaaramitaa which transcends the tetralemma and which is the Dharma corresponding to the ultimate meaning, he would not have developed even the scantiest degree of faith, how much the less would he have been able to achieve the fruition of the way of the renunciate? It was also because the Buddha wished to lead forth such great dialectical masters and people of sharp faculties as this that he spoke this Praj~naapaaramitaa Sutra.

Ananda's Final Questions of the Buddha

(T25.66b.21-67a.3 [fasc.2])

From Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom
(Dharmamitra Translation)
Moreover, "Thus I have heard" is a phrase spoken by Ananda and other of the Buddha's great disciples. Because it is a mark of entry into the Buddha's Dharma [a sutra] is known thereby as Buddhadharma. This is as [ordained] at the time of the Buddha's Parinirvana. He was in the state of Ku"sinigara, lying down between a pair of saala trees with his head to the North and was about to enter nirvana.

At that time because Ananda had not yet transcended [the realm of] desire, he had not yet gotten rid of the affection felt for one's relatives. His mind was immersed in a sea of grief and he was powerless to pull himself out. Then the "senior and elder" Aniruddha said to Ananda, "You are the one responsible for guarding the treasury of the Buddha's Dharma. You should not be immersed in a sea of grief like an ordinary person. All composite dharmas are characterized by impermanence. Don't be sorrowful.

Furthermore, the Buddha, with his own hand, has entrusted the Dharma to you. By now being so overcome with grief you are neglecting the responsibility you have undertaken. You should ask the Buddha, "After the Buddha's Parinirvana, how shall we cultivate the Way? Who shall serve as our teacher? How shall we dwell together with the foul- mouthed Chandaka? What phrases shall be placed at the beginning of the Buddha's scriptures? You should inquire of the Buddha on all manner of topics such as these which deal with the future."

When Ananda heard about these matters, his troubled mind revived somewhat, he regained the power of being mindful of the Way, and assisted alongside the Buddha's final resting place. He asked the Buddha about these matters and the Buddha told Ananda, "Whether right here and now or whether after I am gone, one should take refuge in oneself and take refuge in the Dharma and should not take refuge in anything else. How should a bhikshu take refuge in himself, take refuge in the Dharma and not take refuge in anything else? In this regard, a bhikshu should undertake the contemplation of his own body. He should constantly employ single-mindedness, wisdom, diligent cultivation and vigor in getting rid of the woe of worldly desire.

The contemplation of other's bodies and then of both his own and other's bodies should be taken up in like manner. The stations of mindfulness with regard to feelings, with regard to thoughts, and with regard to dharmas should each be taken up in this manner as well. This is what is meant by, `a bhikshu should take refuge in himself, take refuge in the Dharma, and should not take refuge in anything else.'"

"From this very day, The Scripture on the Liberating Precepts is your great Master. In one's physical actions and verbal actions, one should conduct oneself in accord with the declarations of The Scripture on the Liberating Precepts.

"As for the bhikshu Chandaka, after my nirvana, treat him according to the brahman (silent treatment) method. If his mind becomes pliant and submissive, he should be taught the Sa.mthakaatyaayana Sutra. Then he may be able to attain the Way.

"As for the treasury of Dharma jewels which I have accumulated throughout the course of three asa.mkhyeya kalpas, one should place this phrase at the beginning of [the scriptures in] this treasury: `Thus I have heard, at one time the Buddha was at such-and-such a country in such-and-such a direction, in the forest at such-and-such a location...' Why? This phrase has been spoken at the beginning of the scriptures of all of the Buddhas of the past. This phrase shall also be spoken at the beginning of the scriptures of all of the buddhas of the future. All of the Buddhas of the present, at the very end, at the time of their Parinirvana,-- they too instruct that this phrase should be spoken. Now, after my Parinirvana, at the beginning of the scriptures, one should also declare, 'Thus I have heard at one time...'"

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