The Sūtra of Golden Light: The 29 Chapter Version, Chapter 2 – The Teaching on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata

“Good son, therefore, due to those causes and conditions, the Tathāgata does not abide for a long time in the world. Because they quickly enact the passing away into Nirvāṇa, the Tathāgatas in this way have an excellent abundance of expertise in skillful means; and they fully ripen sentient beings.”

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Chapter 2: The Teaching on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata

Then, at that time, at that moment, in the great city of Rājagṛiha, the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva known as Ruciraketu, one who had performed altruistic deeds under previous Jinaous Ones, and who had generated roots of virtue and rendered service to hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of Buddhas, was resting. He then thought: By what cause and what condition does the Bhagavān Śākyamuni thus live for eighty years? That is a short lifespan.”

Thinking thus, again he thought: The Bhagavān himself has said, ‘Through two causes and conditions does one attain long life. What are those two? There are, namely, giving up killing and giving food intensively.’ He has taught thus. As for the Bhagavān Śākyamuni, for many incalculable hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of eons, he, giving up the taking of life, authentically undertook and stayed along the path of the Ten Virtuous Actions. Food, as well as outer and inner material things, he gave up completely to sentient beings. Since in particular, he satisfied hungry sentient beings with the flesh of his own body, blood, bones and legs as well, there is no need to speak of him doing so with other food.”

Thus did he think. Then, as that transcendent individual was entertaining those kinds of thoughts in regard to the Buddha in that way, turning them over in his mind, his house became broad and vast: Made out of blue vaidurya, and adorned with many divine jewels. For the Tathāgata had changed its color; and filled it with incense surpassing that produced by the gods. In the four directions of that house, four thrones of divine jewels arose; and from those thrones as well, mats of divine cloths and fabric, encrusted with tiny jewels, arose. They were adorned by many divine lotus flowers and jewels, which also arose from those thrones. There arose colors which had been transformed by the Tathāgata.

And from those lotuses, as well, there arose four Buddha Bhagavāns. In the eastern direction arose the Tathāgata Akṣobhya. In the southern direction arose the Tathāgata Ratnaśikhī. In the western direction arose the Tathāgata Amitāyus. In the northern direction arose the Tathāgata Dundhubisvara. As soon as those Buddha Bhagavāns arose on those lion-thrones, then, at that time, the great city of Rājagṛiha was pervaded by great illumination. The entire universe of three-thousand million world systems, and in all the ten directions, world systems of the universe as many as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges, were filled with a great radiance. A rain of divine flowers also fell. The sound of divine cymbals issued forth, as well.

Through the power of the Buddha, in this universe of three-thousand million world systems, all sentient beings, without exception, were imbued with divine bliss. Sentient beings whose senses were incomplete became endowed with all their senses. Sentient beings who were blind came to see forms with their eyes. Sentient beings who were deaf came to hear sounds with their ears. Sentient beings who were crazy found their own mindfulness. Sentient beings who were intensely distracted became intensely undistracted. Sentient beings who were naked became clothed with garments. Sentient beings who were hungry came to have their bellies filled. Sentient beings who were thirsty came upon drinks. Sentient beings who were afflicted with illness became freed from sickness. Sentient beings whose senses were defective came to have their senses intact. In this universe, incredible, miraculous phenomena occurred, on a massive scale.

Then, the Bodhisattva Ruciraketu, seeing those Buddhas, Bhagavāns, gave rise to amazement and wonder, and was satisfied, elated with delight, and intensely joyous. Giving rise to rapture and mental happiness, he bowed with folded palms in the direction of those Buddhas Bhagavāns.

While being vividly mindful of those Buddha Bhagavāns, he recollected intensely the qualities of the Bhagavān Śākyamuni; and then experienced doubts about the lifespan of the Bhagavān Śākyamuni, thinking: The Bhagavān Śākyamuni will live to eighty years. What sort of thing is a short lifespan like this?”

And so he remained there, while turning over thoughts such as those.

Then those Buddhas Bhagavāns, understanding and knowing of this [his thoughts], gave teaching to the Bodhisattva Ruciraketu, in the following words: Good son, do not think these thoughts of ‘the lifespan of the Bhagavān Śākyamuni is short’. Why? Good son, because there is no one, aside from the Tathāgatas, the Arhats, the Samyaksaṃbuddhas, including gods, including demons, including Brahmā, including sages, including brahmin people; in this universe with its Devas, Men, along with its Asuras, who has seen the ultimate limit or final end-point of the lifespan of the Bhagavān, the Tathāgata Śākyamuni.”

As soon as those Buddhas, Bhagavāns had uttered that explanation of the lifespan of the Tathāgata, the Tathāgata, thereupon at that very instant, through the power of the Buddha, there assembled the divine sons Engaging in Desire and Engaging in Form, crowds of Devas, Nāgas, Yakṣas, Gandharvas, Asuras, Garudas, Kinnaras, Mahoragas, and hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of Bodhisattvas; all of whom arrived at the house of the Bodhisattva Ruciraketu.

Then those Tathāgatas spoke a summarizing teaching on the lifespan of the Bhagavān Śākyamuni to that abounding retinue, in the following verses of explanation:

 

Although it is possible to count all drops
Of all the water in the ocean,
No one can count
The lifespan of Śākyamuni.

Although it is possible to count all the subtle particles
Of all great mountains, without exception,
No one can count
The lifespan of Śākyamuni.

Although it is possible to count
All the extremely fine atoms found existent
In all the earth;
No one can measure the lifespan of the Conqueror.

Some may measure through some device
All of space,
But no one can count
The lifespan of Śākyamuni.

‘The perfect Buddha lives for this long…’
‘He lives for this many eons…’
‘Hundreds of billion eons…’:
Counting like this is not feasible.

Why? There are taught to be two productive causal forces,
And also two causes:
Giving up harming others;
And giving much food.

Therefore, a finite count of the lifespan
Of the Great Lord, which proclaims,
‘He will live this many eons’, cannot be found;
For the eons are indeed uncountable.

Do not have the slightest doubt.
Any kind of number, whatsoever,
For the lifespan of the Conqueror
Is not something to be apprehended.”

Then, the Bodhisattva Ruciraketu, having heard that explanation on the lifespan of the Bhagavān Śākyamuni, spoke the following words to those Buddhas Bhagavāns: Then how is it so that the Bhagavān Śākyamuni, the Tathāgata, displays such a short life?”

He spoke those words, and those Buddha Bhagavāns gave teaching in the following words to the Bodhisattva Ruciraketu: The Bhagavān Śākyamuni , the Tathāgata, took birth in the world of five kinds of degeneration; at a time when people’s lifespan reaches one hundred. In order to benefit the sentient beings of lesser devotion, those sentient beings with small roots of virtue and faith, ordinary childish individuals with the view of self, the view of sentient beings, the view of life, the view of living, and the view of a person, with views of backwardness, those grasping at ‘me’ and ‘mine’, with views of eternalism and nihilism and so on; and, furthermore, to generate the authentic view in non-Buddhists, thus helping them to attain Unsurpassed Awakening, the Tathāgata Śākyamuni therefore displays a short lifespan.”

 

Furthermore, good son, since the Tathāgata displays the passing away into Nirvāṇa, those sentient beings generate awareness of the preciousness and difficulty of encountering (a Buddha), and awareness of agony and suffering and so on. Thus they come to swiftly uphold, treasure, read, understand, and teach to others, extensively and authentically, the Sūtras taught by the Buddha Bhagavān; thus becoming free from lack of appreciation. Therefore, that is why the Tathāgata displays a short life span.”

 

Moreover, if the Tathāgata were to abide always, and not pass into Nirvāṇa, then sentient beings would become lacking in devotion, and would also not generate awareness of the difficulty of encountering (a Buddha); thus they would not uphold, read, understand, and teach to others, extensively and authentically, the profound Sūtras taught by the Tathāgata. Why is that so? It is because they would grasp at the Bhagavān as always abiding in the world.”

 

Good son, for example: If one sees one’s parents having many vast precious jewels, the perception of that wealth as being rare and wonderful would not arise. Why is that so? Because one would generate the perception of one’s parents as always having those valuables. Likewise, if the Bhagavān never passed into Nirvāṇa, in that regard, the perceptions of the difficulty of encountering (a Buddha) and the rarity (of a Buddha) would not arise. So that is why.”

 

Good son, furthermore, for example: If one with parents who are poor and without wealth goes to the places of those such as kings and officials, and sees their many vast treasuries, wealth, jewels and so on, then that one will generate the feeling of rarity and the difficulty of gaining (those things). That poor person will then exert themselves in methods for finding wealth.”

 

Good son, in a similar fashion, if one sees the Tathāgata pass into Nirvāṇa, then for that one, the feelings of rarity, the difficulty of encountering (a Buddha), agony, and suffering will arise. Although the Bhagavān Tathāgata arises in the world, in innumerable eons, he arises [just] a few times. In the same way that the Udumvara flower arises a few times out of a hundred, those sentient beings will generate feelings of the preciousness and difficulty of encountering (a Buddha); and will generate devotion to the Bhagavān. They will also generate the perception of the Sūtras taught from his mouth as being true, will generate the feeling for thoroughly retaining them; and will thereby not lack appreciation.”

 

Good son, therefore, due to those causes and conditions, the Tathāgata does not abide for a long time in the world. Because they quickly enact the passing away into Nirvāṇa, the Tathāgatas in this way have an excellent abundance of expertise in skillful means; and they fully ripen sentient beings.”

Thereupon, all four of those Tathāgatas became invisible.

Then the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Ruciraketu, and immeasurably many hundreds of thousands of Bodhisattvas, as well as immeasurably many hundreds of thousands of billions of living beings, went in one company to Vulture’s Peak Mountain, bowed the crowns of their heads at the feet of the Bhagavān Śākyamuni, the Tathāgata; and sat down to one side.

Then the Bodhisattva Ruciraketu prayed to they who had transformed in that way (the Four Tathāgatas). Those four Tathāgatas thereupon also arrived at Vulture’s Peak, where the Bhagavān Śākyamuni was staying, sat down in each of their directions on top of their seats; and thenceforth gave teaching to the Bodhisattvas of the retinue thus: Good son, as you have come, ask the Bhagavān Śākyamuni whether there is any small pain, discomfort, or agitation; or whether he stays in contact with bliss. Moreover, also ask the Bhagavān Tathāgata Śākyamuni to joyfully impart the extremely profound Sovereign King of Sūtra Teachings, the Transcendent Golden Light, which, because it benefits all sentient beings, thoroughly eradicates the terror of famine, and is imbued with all that is blissful, is an excellent teaching.”

Then those Bodhisattvas, who had come from their own retinues, went up to where the Bhagavān was, and having gone there, bowed the crowns of their heads at the feet of the Bhagavān; and inquired exactly as taught by those four Tathāgatas, in the very same words.

Then the Bhagavān Śākyamuni, the Tathāgata, the Arhat, the Samyaksaṃbuddha, congratulated those Bodhisattvas, saying: Well done. Well done! Even the Four Tathāgatas, for the sake of the benefit and happiness of all sentient beings, have requested me to explain this Transcendent Dharma.”

And at that time, the Bhagavān spoke these verses:

At Vulture’s Peak Mount do I sit,
About to explain this precious Sūtra;
For the freedom of these many beings,
Complete Nirvāṇa also do I teach.

Backwards ones, with views of children,
Do not show interest in my teachings;
For the sake of freeing them all,
Complete Nirvāṇa also do I display.

Then, at that time, a brahmin that retinue, who was a teacher and prophet, known as Kauṇḍinya, and many thousands of brahmins, made offerings to the Bhagavān. Having heard the sound of the Great Complete Nirvāṇa of the Tathāgata, he suddenly wept, and touched the two feet of the Bhagavān. He then said to the Bhagavān: If the Bhagavān has a loving heart toward all sentient beings, is imbued with great compassion, endeavors in benefiting them, like a parent has an equal feeling toward all sentient beings, illuminates them like the moon, and shines upon them with his sun of discerning insight and deep wisdom; then bestow upon me something which is transcendent.”

The Bhagavān did not speak.

Then, through the power of the Buddha, in that retinue a Licchavī youth known as Sarvalokapriyadarshana (‘Joyful for All Worlds to Behold’), gave rise to confidence; and spoke the following words to the teacher and prophet, the brahmin Kauṇḍinya: Why do you ask the Bhagavān for something transcendent? I will give you something transcendent!”

The brahmin said: Licchavī youth, as for me, because I need an offering, a relic for worshiping the Bhagavān, I want a relic of the Bhagavān merely the size of a mustard seed, as a support. If a relic the size of a mustard seed is worshiped intensively, it is said that one attains lordship over the gods of the thirty-third level of heaven. Licchavī youth, this Sūtra of Transcendent Golden Light is endowed with features and qualities such as being difficult for all Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas to understand; and difficult to comprehend. Licchavī youth, listen, with your hearing faculty, to that renowned as the exposition on the Sūtra of Transcendent Golden Light!”

 

Licchavī youth, since it is the case that this Sūtra of Transcendent Golden Light is difficult to understand and difficult to grasp, we brahmins, from a remote border region, want to get hold of a relic only the size of a mustard seed, which causes sentient beings to quickly attain lordship over the thirty-third level of heaven; and which could then also be placed inside a box. Licchavī youth, do you not want to request a relic only the size of a mustard seed from the Tathāgata, which could be placed in a box, and which, when touched, would cause sentient beings to attain lordship over the thirty-third level of heaven? Licchavī youth, as for us, we request that sort of transcendent thing.”

Then, the Licchavī youth Sarvasattvapriyadarshana, answered the teacher and prophet, the brahmin Kauṇḍinya, in the following verses:

When flowers grow
In the Ganges’ currents,

When crows become red,
And cuckoos turn the color of conch,

When palm-fruit grows on the rose-apple tree,
And mangos form on date trees:
At that time, a relic, about the size of a mustard seed,
Shall then be visible.

When, from tortoise hair,
Cloth, which shields winter’s bite,
Can be woven well:
Then there shall be a relic.

When, from the legs of flies,
Many storied towers can be built well,
Stable and firmly unshakable:
Then there shall be a relic.

When all leeches
Grow white teeth,
Sharp and big:
Then there shall be a relic.

When, in order to climb high,
Ladders can be built well
From the horns of rabbits:
Then there shall be a relic.

Climbing this ladder,
Should a mouse eat the moon
And harm the constellation Rahu as well:
Then there shall be a relic.

When bees that buzz in towns
Drink a pitcher of wine,

And make dwelling in a house:
Then there shall be a relic.

When donkeys become happy,
Well-versed in singing and dancing,
Their lips ruddy, like thebimba fruit:
Then there shall be a relic.

When owls and crows
Flock from solitude, frolic together,
And become friendly:
Then there shall be a relic.

When the leaves of thepalasha tree
Become an umbrella made of three jewels,
That keeps off the rain:
Then there shall be a relic.

When large ocean vessels,
Fitted with turning devices and sails,
Float and set sail upon land:
Then there shall be a relic.

When owls move freely,
Lifting the Gandhamadana Mountain
Within their beaks:
Then there shall be a relic.

Having listened to those verses, the teacher and prophet, the brahmin Kauṇḍinya, replied in the following verses to the Licchavī youth Sarvalokapriyadharshana:

Well done; well done! Supreme youth,

Son of the Jina, great orator,
Endowed with bravery and skill in means;
You have received the transcendent prophecy.

Protector of the world, guardian,
The very greatness of the Tathāgata,
Like an inconceivable creation;

O Youth, listen to me.

The domain of the Buddha is unimaginable,
The Tathāgatas are incomparable,
All Buddhas are ever serene,
All Buddhas are perfectly emerged,
All Buddhas are of the same hue:
That is the Suchness of Buddhas.

The Bhagavān is uncontrived,
The Tathāgata is unborn;
His body, hard as diamond,
Displays emanated forms.

As for a relic of the Great Sage,
There is no so-called “only the size of mustardseed”;
For if his body is without bone and blood,
Then where could there be a relic?
In order to benefit sentient beings,
He places relics out of skillful means.

The perfect Buddha: Dharmakāya,
The Tathāgata: Dharmadhātu;
Whatever deeds there are of teaching the Dharma,
The body of the Bhagavān is like that.

Having heard and understood this,
I requested this transcendent thing;
In order to specify only this very truth,

Did I thus initiate this discourse.

Then having heard such profound teachings on the lifespan of the Tathāgata, all the thirty-two thousand sons of gods, without exception, generated the mind set on Perfectly Complete Awakening. Their thoughts became intensely joyful; and they then spoke these verses in a single voice:

The Buddha does not enter complete Nirvāṇa,
Nor does the Dharma cease to be;

Yet for the complete maturation of sentient beings,
Tathāgatas manifest completely passing beyond suffering.

The Buddha Bhagavān is beyond the reaches of thought,

For the Tathāgata is a permanent body;
In order to benefit sentient beings,
He displays a variety of features and aspects.

Then the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Ruciraketu, having heard this teaching on the lifespan of the Bhagavān Śākyamuni Buddha from those Tathāgatas and those two transcendent beings, arose from his seat, bowed with joined palms, and spoke the following words: Bhagavān, if it is the case that the Buddha Bhagavāns do not pass into Nirvāṇa, and also that there is no placing of relics in the world, then for what purpose was it taught in the Sūtras that “the Buddha passes into Nirvāṇa, relics are placed in the world; and if gods and humans, with respect and with veneration, worship the relics of the past Buddha Bhagavāns placed in the world, then the whole world of gods and humans, in so doing, will attain immeasurable positive potential”? Yet now here, it is being taught that, to paraphrase, “those do not exist”. How can that be? As the Bhagavān is compassionate and loving, please fully elaborate and explain.”

Then the Bhagavān gave the following teaching to that assembled retinue, consisting of the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Ruciraketu and so on: You should understand that the teaching that the Bhagavān passes into Nirvāṇa and places relics in the world is also taught for the sake of contemplation. Good son, the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva should understand through ten Dharmas that the Arhat, the Samyaksaṃbuddha teaches that Great Nirvāṇa exists in accordance with authenticity and truth. What are these ten? They are as follows:

  1. Since the Tathāgatas have completely eliminated all emotional obscurations and cognitive obscurations, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  2. Since the Tathāgatas have directly understood the selflessness of persons and the selflessness of phenomena, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  3. Since they have moved beyond the abode of the body, and the abode of phenomena, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  4. Since their deeds of training sentient beings are spontaneously present, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  5. Since they have actualized the true state of things, for them characteristics are not inherently different, and thus equal in the Dharmakāya, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  6. Since they directly perceive that the nature of Saṃsāra and Nirvāṇa is non-dual, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  7. Since they realize the real essence of all phenomena, and thus actualize utter purity, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  8. Since they are expert in the realization of phenomena’s non-arising, and non-destruction, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  9. Since they have attained the deep wisdom of the equality of Suchness, the Dharma Realm (dharmadhātu), and the furthest limit of reality, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.
  10. Since they understand that the Suchness of all phenomena and the Suchness of Nirvāṇa are not different, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

Furthermore, good son, O Bodhisattva Mahāsattva: The Tathāgata, the Arhat, the Samyaksaṃbuddha teaches by way of these ten Dharmas, in the manner of authenticity and truth, that Great Nirvāṇa exists. What are these ten? They are namely:

  1. The basis of all disturbing mental states is longing and desire. Toward whatever is longed for, desire is generated. Because the Buddha Bhagavāns are free from longing and desire, it is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  2. Since the Tathāgatas are free from all longing and desire, and thus do not grasp at any phenomena whatsoever. Because they are therefore without clinging, without going, coming, and grasping, it is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  3. The absence of going, coming, and acquisition is the Dharmakāya; and it is without arising and cessation. This very freedom from arising and cessation is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  4. Since the freedom from arising and cessation is inexpressible by words, and inaccessible by words, it is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  5. Since it is free from self and individual, and is the attainment of moving to the abode beyond just the phenomena of arising and cessation, it is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.
  6. Since the Buddha Bhagavāns perceive disturbing mental states and all-consuming afflictive mental states to be adventitious in nature, they abide in the true nature of phenomena, and thus actualize the freedom from going and coming, it is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  7. Since the authentic is true, what is other than that is false, and whatever is true, that itself is authentic; and what is of the nature of authenticity, that is the Tathāgata itself, it is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  8. Since the furthest limit of reality is free from elaborations, the Tathāgata actualizes the furthest limit of reality in totality; and that complete pacification of conceptual

    elaborations itself is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  9. The unborn is true, and the born is false; childish ordinary beings are thus sunken in the mud of Saṃsāra. Since the body of the Tathāgata is none other than truth and authenticity [itself], it is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  10. Since phenomena which are not authentic arise from conditions; and authentic and true phenomena do not arise from conditions, the Dharmakāya of the Tathāgata is therefore also authentic and of the nature of truth, it is known as ‘Nirvāṇa’.

Furthermore, good son, O Bodhisattva Mahāsattva: Through these ten Dharma aspects, the Tathāgatas, the Arhats, the Samyaksaṃbuddhas realize the way of authenticity and truth; and thus come to understand the Great Nirvāṇa. What are these ten? They are as follows:

  1. Because the Tathāgata deeply understands generosity and the fruition of generosity to be without self and ownership, and thus completely eliminates mistaken concepts toward generosity and the fruition of generosity, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  2. Because the Tathāgata deeply understands morality and the fruition of morality to be without self and ownership, and thus completely eliminates mistaken concepts toward morality and the fruition of morality, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  3. Because the Tathāgata deeply understands patience and the fruition of patience to be without self and ownership, and thus completely eliminates mistaken concepts toward patience and the fruition of patience, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  4. Because the Tathāgata deeply understands diligence and the fruition of diligence to be without self and ownership, and thus completely eliminates mistaken concepts toward diligence and the fruition of diligence, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  5. Because the Tathāgata deeply understands concentration and the fruition of concentration to be without self and ownership, and thus completely eliminates mistaken concepts toward concentration and the fruition of concentration, it is

    called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  6. Because the Tathāgata deeply understands discerning insight, and the fruition of discerning insight, to be without self and ownership, and thus completely eliminates mistaken concepts toward discerning insight and the fruition of discerning insight, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  7. Because the Tathāgatas deeply comprehends that there are no sentient beings nor non-sentient beings; and thus completely eliminates mistaken concepts about the lack of inherent existence in all phenomena, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  8. Whatever is grasped at as having the nature of self is persistently felt. Through the power of being persistently felt, a variety of different kinds of suffering are experienced. Because the Tathāgatas completely cut off the clinging to self and ownership, and thus do not pursue, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.
  9. All conditioned phenomena are countable and have a measure; while conditioned phenomena are free from count and measure. The Buddha abandons conditioned phenomena; and actualizes unconditioned phenomena. Because this does not have count nor measure, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

  10. Because the Tathāgata has the nature of being empty of all sentient beings and phenomena, there is nothing that is not other than that Voidness; and as that nature of Voidness itself too is the authentic Dharmakāya, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.

Good son, by way of those ten Dharmas, it is called ‘Nirvāṇa’.”

Furthermore, good son, while the Tathāgata simply not passing into Nirvāṇa is not very amazing, there are moreoever ten Dharma aspects which are cause for amazement; and they are the conduct of the Tathāgatas. What are these ten? They are as follows:

  1. Because they understand that, although Saṃsāra is faulty and Nirvāṇa is peace and detachment, the duo of Saṃsāra and Nirvāṇa are equal, and thus they do not stay in Saṃsāra, nor do they abide in Nirvāṇa; and do not become discouraged about the benefit of sentient beings. This is the conduct of the Tathāgatas.

  2. The Tathāgata sees the procession of childish ordinary beings’ backward conduct and all kinds of disturbing mental states; and although it indeed true that he does not have the intention thinking, “I will totally liberate them all!”, through the power of previous compassion and roots of virtue, without having thoughts about the faculties, natures, and wishes of those sentient beings, in the manner of spontaneous presence, he benefits and teaches without finite end. This is the conduct of the Tathāgatas.

  3. The Tathāgata extensively teaches sentient beings with the twelve branches of the Teaching; and although it is indeed true that he does not think, “May it benefit!”, through the power of previous compassion and roots of virtue, he teaches the Dharma extensively to those sentient beings, without finite end. This is the conduct of the Tathāgatas.

  4. The Tathāgata goes to towns, cities, and villages; and although it is indeed true that he does not think, “I will go and beg for alms in the households of those such as kings, officials, brahmins, royalty and merchants!”, through the power of cultivating the conduct of body, speech and mind, he spontaneously goes to beg for alms; and thus brings about benefit. This is the conduct of the Tathāgatas.

  5. The body of the Tathāgata does not possess hunger nor thirst. Since it does not have excrement or physical weakness either, although it appears that he begs for alms, there is no eating. Although it is indeed true that he has no concepts about it, in order to benefit sentient beings, he also appears to eat alms. This is the spontaneous conduct of the Tathāgata.

  6. Although it is indeed true that the Tathāgata does not think, “I will benefit these beings the Dharma, in accordance with their superior, middling and lesser faculties as they are!”, without having thoughts about their respective faculties and capacities as they are, he fully understands them; and thereby teaches them the Dharma. This is the conduct of the Tathāgatas.

  7. Because sentient beings are without respect, and are always speaking badly with harsh words, he does not speak together with them. The Tathāgata does not think, “Because these sentient beings are always respecting me, praising and speaking pleasantly to me, I will speak together with them!”, yet he contemplates love and compassion equally; and is non-dualistic. This is the conduct of the Tathāgatas.

  8. Although it is indeed true that the Buddha Bhagavāns do not have disturbing mental states such as attachment and aversion, pride, greed and miserliness, the Tathāgata always delights in detachment, abandons all distraction, and praises few wants. This is the conduct of the Tathāgata.

  9. The Tathāgata does not have any non-understanding or non-comprehension toward even one phenomenon. Since he has actualized Mirror-Like Deep Wisdom in all arenas, although it is indeed true that he does not conceptualize, the Tathāgata, perceiving the Karma and conduct of sentient beings, engages them in harmony with their wishes; and by way of skillful means, guides them and liberates them from Saṃsāra. This is the conduct of the Tathāgatas.

  10. Although it is indeed true that even though the Tathāgata sees the abundance and leisure of sentient beings, he does not give rise to delight; and that even though he sees their degeneration and downfall, he does not become sad, the Tathāgata protects sentient beings, out of unobstructed great compassion, when he sees their practice of perfect conduct. Although he sees the wrong conduct of sentient beings, out of non-attached great compassion, he protects and cares for them. This is the conduct of the Tathāgatas.

Good son, concerning this, you must understand this to be the limitless teaching of the authentic conduct of the Tathāgatas, the Arhats, the Samyaksaṃbuddhas; and the characteristics of the authentic truth of Nirvāṇa.

In other contexts, [the stated] “Nirvāṇa and placing relics in the world” was a teaching of expert skillful means. Although sentient beings make offerings and show reverence, you should view it to be the power of the Tathāgata’s compassion and roots of virtue. In this regard, whoever makes offerings and shows reverence to the Buddhas will, in future times, completely eliminate the eight unfavorable conditions, meet the Tathāgatas, have virtuous friends, not abandon the Mind of Awakening (bodhicitta), have an immeasurable increase in positive potential; and quickly go beyond Saṃsāra. This is the transcendent conduct which leads away from the bondage of Saṃsāra. Since this is so, you must seriously practice it; and do so without distraction.

Then the Bodhisattva Ruciraketu, having listened deeply to the Bhagavān on the meaning of the Bhagavān’s non-passing into Nirvāṇa, and the teaching on profound patience, bowed with palms together, and spoke the following words: Now, at this moment, having sought out the great teaching of the Tathāgata on the non-passing into Nirvāṇa, the placing of relics in the world, and the vast benefiting of beings, my body and mind have become incredibly joyous; and ecstatic.”

When the lifespan of the Tathāgata was taught, all of those incalculable, unfathomable, limitless numbers of sentient beings generated the mind set on Unsurpassed, Perfectly Complete Awakening (anuttarā-samyak-saṃbodhi). Those Tathāgatas disappeared as well. And thereupon the Bodhisattva Ruciraketu rose from his seat, prostrated at the feet of the Bhagavān; and once again, sat back down upon his own seat.

FROM THE SOVEREIGN KING OF SŪTRA TEACHINGS, THE TRANSCENDENT GOLDEN LIGHT, THIS WAS THE SECOND CHAPTER: ‘THE TEACHING ON THE LIFESPAN OF THE TATHĀGATA’.

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