The Sūtra of Golden Light: The 29 Chapter Version, Chapter 1 – The Preamble

Chapter 1: The Preamble

(Volume 1)

HOMAGE TO ALL BUDDHAS, BODHISATTVAS, PRATYEKABUDDHAS, AND ĀRYA ŚRĀVAKAS OF THE PAST, FUTURE, AND PRESENT.

Thus have I heard, at one time. The Bhagavān was in Rājagṛha, on the summit of Vulture’s Peak Mountain, abiding within the profound basic space of phenomena (dharmadhātu), entirely and utterly pure: The transcendent experiential domain of the Tathāgatas.

And there together in the same company was an immense Saṅgha of monks; and ninety-eight thousand (98,000) were they in number. All of them were also great Arhats; and like unto kings of elephants, were extremely subdued. They had exhausted their defilements, they were without afflictive mental states, their minds were most comprehensively liberated, their discerning insight had been most comprehensively unleashed, they had done what had to be done, they had laid down their burden, they had accordingly accomplished their own purpose, they had thoroughly cut the connections with conditioned existence, they had attained the supreme amongst transcendent masteries of might, they dwelt vigorously in completely pure ethical conduct, they were thoroughly established in skillful means and discerning insight, they had actualized the Eight Emancipations1; and they had come to the end of the far shore.

They were, namely, the Venerable Ājñātakauṇḍinya, the Venerable Aśvajit, the Venerable Vāṣpa, the Venerable Mahānāma, the Venerable Bhadra, the Venerable Mahākāśyapa, the Venerable Uruvilvakāśyapa, the Venerable Gayākāśyapa, the Venerable Nadikāśyapa, the Venerable Śāriputra, the Venerable Maudgalyāyana, and the Venerable Nanda; these and others, all great Śrāvakas.

At a time during the late afternoon, they arose from their authentic meditative repose in their respective places of residence, approached to where the Bhagavān was, deeply bowed their heads at the feet of the Bhagavān; and circumambulating him three times, sat themselves down to one side.

Furthermore, there were Bodhisattva Mahāsattvas, one hundred thousand million (100,000,000,000 or 100 billion) in number; who were also staying together in the same company. And as all of them were endowed with great resplendence and majestic brilliance, like unto a Nāga King, they were everywhere acclaimed. They had engaged in generosity, attention to constant protection of completely pure ethical conduct, patience, and diligence for countless eons. They had actualized the mindfulness which goes beyond all contemplative stabilizations (dhyānas). They had completely opened the doors of discerning insight. They had totally accomplished expertise in skillful means. With their transcendent powers, they manifested in diverse forms; and they had discovered transcendent clairvoyant perception. They had obtained the great total recall (dharani). Their confidence was inexhaustible. As they had eliminated all afflictive mental states and all-consuming disturbing emotions, they had attained the deep wisdom which knows all immediate manifestations; and they had conquered the armies of Māras and hostile forces. By beating the great drum of the Dharma, they tamed all non-Buddhists; and caused them to give rise to utterly lucid minds. By turning the Wheel of the Transcendent Dharma, they liberated gods and humans. They adorned all Buddha Fields in the ten directions; and conferred transcendent benefit upon the denizens of the six realms. They had a prosperous abundance of vast deep wisdom. They were endowed with great patience. They were suffused with loving-kindness. They dwelt in the mind of great compassion. They had stability in great powers. They had rendered service to all Buddhas. They had not passed into Complete Nirvāṇa; and since the limits of the future are infinite, they had sworn great oaths to remain [in Saṃsāra ]. They had generated completely pure causes under many Buddhas. They had gained tolerance toward the non-arising of phenomena throughout the three times. They had gone totally beyond the experiential domain of the Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas. As they had great skillful means, they guided the universe; as they were great teachers, they were expert in explaining the innermost intent of the profound Dharma which is to be taught. As they had actualized Voidness, they had thoroughly cut through doubts.

They were, namely, the Bodhisattva Beginningless Turning of the Dharma Wheel, the Bodhisattva Generating the Mind of Forever Turning the Dharma Wheel, the Bodhisattva Constant Exertion, the Bodhisattva Diligence in Never Forsaking, the Bodhisattva Loving-kindness (Maitreya), the Bodhisattva Gentle Splendor (Manjuśrī), the Bodhisattva Lord Whose Eyes Behold Everything (Avalokiteśvara), the Bodhisattva King of Mighty Dhāraṇī Masters, the Bodhisattva King Established in Great Confidence, the Bodhisattva King of Mount Meru, the Bodhisattva King of the Deep Ocean, the Bodhisattva Crest Ornament of Jewels, the Bodhisattva Immense Crest Ornament of Jewels, the Bodhisattva Essence of the Earth (Kṣitigarbha), the Bodhisattva Essence of the Sky (Ākāśagarbha), the Bodhisattva Powerful Lord with Jewel in Hand, the Bodhisattva Vajra in Hand (Vajrapāṇi), the Bodhisattva Power of Joy, the Bodhisattva Magical Power of the Great Dharma, the Bodhisattva Totally Arrayed in Light, the Bodhisattva Arrayed in Golden Light, the Bodhisattva Utter Purity of Ethical Conduct, the Bodhisattva Constant Meditative Absorption, the Bodhisattva Totally and Utterly Pure Intellect, the Bodhisattva Stable Diligence, the Bodhisattva Sky-like, the Bodhisattva Never Abandoning Great Aspiration Prayers, the Bodhisattva Giver of Medicine, the Bodhisattva Dispeller of the Illness of Mental Afflictions, the Bodhisattva King of Medicine, the Bodhisattva King of Exaltation Through Joy, the Bodhisattva Obtainer of Supreme Prediction, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of Utterly Pure Light, the Bodhisattva Holder of the Great Cloud of Dharma, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of Joyful Renown, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud Manifesting Limitless Illustriousness, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of the Lion’s Roar, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of the Supreme Bull’s Bellow, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of Auspiciousness, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of Glorious Jewels, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of the Sun’s Essence, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of the Moon’s Essence, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of Starlight, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of Firelight, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of Lightning Flashes, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of Thunder, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of All-Pervasively Arising Discerning Insight, the Bodhisattva King of the Great Cloud of Utterly Pure Rain, the Bodhisattva King of the Great Cloud of Blossomed Trees, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud of Utpala Flower Fragrance, the Bodhisattva Exalted Form of the Precious Great Cloud of Cool Sandalwood Fragrance, the Bodhisattva Great Cloud Illuminating Darkness, and the Bodhisattva Great Cloud Which Dispels Visual Aberrations; these and others, incalculable and innumerable, all great Bodhisattva Mahāsattvas.

At the time of late afternoon, they arose from their authentic meditative repose in their respective dwelling places, went to the where the Bhagavān was, bowed their heads at the two feet of the Bhagavān; and circumambulating him three times, sat themselves down to one side.

Following that, there were Licchavī youths. They were, namely, the youth Lion Light, the youth Lion Intellect, the youth Dharma Giver, the youth Power Giver, the youth Great Light, the youth Great Glory, the youth Buddha’s Protector, the youth Dharma’s Protector, the youth Saṅgha’s Protector, the youth Vajra’s Protector, the youth Sky’s Protector, the youth Sky Friend, the youth Essence of Jewels, the youth Essence of Supreme Auspiciousness and so on, five hundred and eight thousand (508,000) in number; all of them without exception living blissfully within Unsurpassed, Perfectly Complete Awakening (anuttarā-samyak-saṃbodhi), with intensive inspiration for the Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna).

At the time of late afternoon, they came out from their respective homes, approached where the Bhagavān was, bowed their heads at the feet of the Bhagavān; and circumambulating him three times, sat down to one side.

Furthermore, there were princes of gods. They were, namely, the god prince Vision of Joy, the god prince Utter Joy, the god prince Sunlight, the god prince Mooncrest, the god prince Clear Discerning Insight, the god prince Discerning Insight of the Completely Pure Sky, the god prince Dispeller of Affliction’s Ill, the god prince Auspiciousness and so on, forty-two thousand (42,000) in number; they guarded the Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna), upheld well the authentic Dharma, and recited vast aspiration prayers to do so unceasingly.

At the time of late afternoon, all of them too approached where the Bhagavān was, bowed their heads at the feet of the Bhagavān; and circumambulating him three times, sat down to one side.

Furthermore, there were kings of Nāgas. They were, namely, the Nāga King Lotus, the Nāga King Pomegranate Leaf, the Nāga King Great Strength, the Nāga King Great Roar, the Nāga King Small Waves, the Nāga King Stream Holder, the Nāga King Golden Face, the Nāga King Possessor of Precious Onyx and so on, twenty-eight thousand (28,000) in number; who had generated the mind solely bent on interest in retaining and upholding, widely propagating, and protecting the Great Vehicle Dharma (of Mahāyāna).

At the time of late afternoon, all of them too, coming out from their respective abodes, approached where the Bhagavān was, bowed their heads at the feet of the Bhagavān; and circumambulating him three times, sat down to one side.

Furthermore, there were kings of Yakṣas, such as Vaiśravaṇaputra and so on, thirty-six thousand (36,000) in number. They were, namely, the Yakṣa Mango, the Yakṣa Mango Bearer, the Yakṣa Essence of Lotus Light, the Yakṣa Lotus Face, the Yakṣa Wrathful Expression, the Yakṣa Displayer of Great Destruction, the Yakṣa Shaker, the Yakṣa Ravisher of Gifts and Food and so on. All of those Yakṣas also had faith in the perfect Dharma of the Tathāgata; and had nothing but diligence in protecting it.

At the time of late afternoon, all of them too approached where the Bhagavān was, bowed their heads at the feet of the Bhagavān; and circumambulating him three times, sat themselves down to one side.

Furthermore, there were kings of Garudas, such as King Magical Force of the Perfumed Elephant, and so on; forty-nine thousand (49,000) in number.

Moreover, there were Gandharvas, Asuras, Kinnaras, Mahoragas and so on. There were heavenly sages of the mountains, forests, rivers and oceans; great kings with their retinues, princesses and princes; sons of good family, daughters of good family; gods, humans and so on; and all of them read and recited the unexcelled Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna), upheld and retained it, asked questions about it, propagated it, and made comprehensive aspirational prayers aimed at guarding and protecting it.

At the time of late afternoon, all of them too approached where the Bhagavān was, bowed their heads at the feet of the Bhagavān; and circumambulating him three times, sat down to one side.

It was in this way that the Śrāvakas, Bodhisattvas, Devas, Men, Asuras, Garudas and so on, these eight sets of individuals, gathered like clouds. They focused their minds one-pointedly, joined their palms together; and with eyes unwavering, they gazed upon the visage of the Bhagavān. Wishing to be taught the Transcendent Dharma, they prayed.

Then the Bhagavān, at the time of late afternoon, arose from his state of meditative absorption (samādhi); and beholding the numerous assembled retinues, thereupon spoke in the following verses:

The Sovereign King of Sūtra Teachings:
If you listen to it, it is extremely profound;
And if you thoroughly investigate it, it is profundity itself.
The Transcendent Golden Light shall I expound.

The Buddhas of the Four Directions,
By granting blessings, have consecrated it:
Akṣobhya in the eastern direction,
Ratnaketu in the southern direction,
Amitābha in the western direction;
And
Dundubhisvara2 in the northern direction.

In order to extinguish all misdeeds,
This, a transcendent, auspicious exposition,
Serves to exhaust allKarma of misdeeds,
Serves to bestow all happiness,
Serves to eradicate all suffering,
Is the foundation of the state of omniscience,
And is well adorned by all resplendence;
Conferring its blessings, this shall I proclaim.

Sentient beings whose senses are defective,
Whose lifespans are exhausted and whose longevity is deteriorating,
Who have become lacking in prosperity (phun sum tshogs min gang chags),
Whom the gods have turned their backs upon,
Who are hated by people who are their loved ones,
Who are endangered by
planetary influences (bran gza’) and the like,
Who are in mutual discord,
Who are afflicted by decline in wealth,
Who are stricken by misery and grief,
Who are in danger or poverty,
Who have inauspicious planetary and constellational influences and curses,
Who are threatened by intolerable evil spirits,
And even those who see evil dreams,
Arising from sorrow and fatigue:
They should wash vigorously, rendering themselves clean;
And endeavor to listen to this Transcendent Sūtra Teaching.

Should those with virtuous intent and clear mind,
Adorn themselves well in clean garments,
And endeavor to listen to this Sūtra,
The profound experiential domain of the Buddhas,
Then, through the majestic brilliance of this Sūtra Teaching,
The afflictions of all living creatures,
The likes of which are most unbearable,
Shall be forever pacified.

They will be protected,
By none other than the Protectors of the Universe themselves,
Together with their ministers and masters of assembly,

By numerous millions of Yakṣas,
By the Great Goddess Sarasvatī,
By the Goddess Who Dwells in the
Nairañjanā (River3),

By Hāriṇī, Mother Goddess of Bhūtas,
By the Earth Goddess Dṛḍhā,

By Brahmā Kings and Deva kings,
By the incredibly powerful kings of Nāgas,

By kings of Kinnaras and kings of Asuras;

And likewise by kings of Garudas.

They, with their clans and might, will arrive,
Together with their mounts;
And without distraction, day and night,
Will offer protection to those beings.

I shall fully expound this Sūtra on the profound,
The Buddhas’ domain of experience,
The secret of all Buddhas;
Difficult to encounter in billions of eons.

Those who listen to this Sūtra,
Those who cause others to hear it,
Those who rejoice in it,
And those who make offerings to it,
Will have offerings made to them, for billions of eons,
By Devas and Nāgas,
Men and Kinnaras;
Asuras and Yakṣas.

For living beings whose positive potential has declined,
The mass of their positive potential will grow,
To become limitless, and likewise, beyond measure;
And beyond conception.

They will be intensely cared for,
By the Buddhas of the ten directions,
And also by the Bodhisattvas,
Engaged in the profound.

Excellently clad in clean garments,
Wearing pleasantly scented clothes,
Settling firmly in a mind of love:
Make offerings without distraction.

Put forth every effort to render your mind stainless,
And to make it expansive, as well;
And making the mind extremely clear,
Listen to this Transcendent Sūtra.

Those who listen to this Sūtra,
Will be eminent among humans,
Will correctly attain a human existence;
And will live a life of good fortune.

For those whose ears
This Transcendent Discourse resounds,
Their roots of virtue will be refined;
And they will be praised by numerous Buddhas.”

FROM THE SOVEREIGN KING OF SŪTRA TEACHINGS, THE TRANSCENDENT GOLDEN LIGHT, THIS WAS THE FIRST CHAPTER: ‘THE PREAMBLE’.

1 The Eight Emancipations: rnam par grol ba brgyad, presumably the same as rnam par thar pa brgyad (and its more common short form, rnam thar brgyad; Skt. aṣṭavimokṣa): 1) the emancipation of viewing that which has form as form (gzugs can la gzugs la lta ba’i rnam thar), 2) the emancipation of viewing the formless as form (gzugs med gzugs la lta ba’i rnam thar), 3) the emancipation of revulsion (sdug pa’i rnam thar), 4) the emancipation of the mental sphere of infinite space (nam mkha’ mtha’ yas skye mched kyi rnam thar), 5) the emancipation of the mental sphere of infinite consciousness (rnam shes mtha’ yas skye mched kyi rnam thar), 6) the emancipation of the mental sphere of absolute nothingness (ci yang med pa’i skye mched kyi rnam thar), 7) the emancipation of the mental sphere of neither conception nor non-conception (‘du shes med min skye mched kyi rnam thar), and 8) the emancipation of cessation of conception and sensation (‘du shes dang tshor ba ‘gog pa’i rnam thar). Numbers 4-7 are the emancipations related to each of the four formless realms (arūpyaloka, gzugs med kyi khams) and their respective meditative absorptions (dhyāna, bsam gtan).

2 rnga sgra

3Nairañjanā (Pali: Nerenjara) is the river (present-day Lilaja River) that flows northward towards the

Ganges, passing near Bodhgaya in the state of Bihar, India. After leaving the royal palace, Shakyamuni

practised austerities for six years on the shore of this river in the forest near the village Uruvela.

Eventually he became aware that this way of practising would never lead to enlightenment. He bathed

in the Nairañjana River, and then, accepting milk curds offered by a girl named Sujata, recovered his

strength. He went then to sit under a nearby pippala tree until reaching enlightenment. Thus the tree

later became known as the ‘Bodhi Tree’, and the site ‘Bodhgaya’. (source: Rigpa Wiki)

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