by Johnny Yu | 2005 | 21,827 words
The story of Ksitigarbha occurs in the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Purvapranidhana Sutra which is a popular Mahayana Sutra. This sutra is said to have been spoken by the Buddha towards the end of his life. Ksitigarbha is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism and usually depicted as a Buddhist monk. Original title of the text: Kṣitig...
At that time, from the hells of all of the unthinkable, immeasurable, inexpressible asankhyeya numbers of worlds, all of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva's manifestations came to assemble in the Trayastrimsas Palace. Through the Tathagata's divine power, each emanation was accompanied by trillions of liberated beings who all brought offerings of incense and flowers for [Shakyamuni] Buddha. These companions all had been liberated from the karmic paths. Transformed by Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva's instructions, they will never regress from [the path of] Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi. All of them had, for extended numbers of kalpas, wandered through the cycles of life and death, suffering in the six realms of samsara without a moment of rest. It was the great mercy, compassion and profound vow of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva that enabled them to attain fruitions [in the Buddha-dharma]. Having arrived at the Trayastrimsas Palace, their hearts were full of joy. They looked upon the Tathagata with great admiration and were unwilling to blink their eyes even once.
At that time, the World Honored One reached out his golden-colored arm and simultaneously touched the heads of all of the countless manifestations of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva-Mahasattva from all the unthinkable, immeasurable, and inexpressible asankhyeya numbers of worlds.
Then, the Buddha told Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, "In the world polluted by the five kinds of defilements, I have transformed such stubborn sentient beings through my instructions. [My teachings] enabled them to tame their hearts. [My teachings] enabled them to forsake their deviant views and return to the righteous paths. However, for every ten beings, there is still one or two whose evil habits remained. I also have manifested trillions of emanations to provide extensive expedient means [for their deliverance and liberation]. There were some with strong virtuous foundations who would immediately believe and accept [the righteous path] upon hearing [the Dharma]. There were others with virtuous fruitions who would, after some diligent persuasion, achieve the [same] accomplishment [as those with virtuous foundations]. Then, there were those with dull vessels, who would be awakened only after long periods of instructions. Finally, there were still others with heavy karma whose hearts would not even muster respect."
"For these various sentient beings, each is different from the others [in temperaments, abilities, etc.]. [I have generated numerous] emanations to deliver and liberate them. [In accordance to their capacities], I manifested in the forms of men, women, eight classes of supernatural beings, mountains, rivers, plains, streams, ponds, springs or wells. These forms were the ones that would have benefited those being rescued the most facilitating their deliverance and liberation. [There were times], I manifested myself in the forms of devarajas, brahmarajas or chakravartins; in the form of laities, kings, or ministers; in the form of bhikkhus, a bhikkhunis, upasakas or upasikas; or even in the forms of Sravakas, Arahats, Pratyeka-Buddhas or Bodhisattvas in order to accomplish the conversion and deliverance of these sentient beings. This form of the Buddha is not the only form I have manifested before them."
"Observe my diligence in this difficult task, for many kalpas, of delivering and liberating such stubborn, sinful and suffering beings. Those beings, whose hearts are not yet tamed, will be guided by their negative karma to the ill fruitions [of their negative actions]. If they fall into the suffering realms experiencing great suffering, remember my instruction to you. Here, in the Trayastrimsas Palace, I earnestly entrust in you [the responsibility for] the deliverance of all sentient beings from now to the advent of Maitreya. [Deliver them] so they will forever leave suffering. [Deliver them] so they shall all meet Buddhas and receive prophecies predicting that they shall become Buddhas themselves."
At that time, all the separate emanations of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva from all the countless worlds merged into one form. [Deeply moved by the incredible responsibility entrusted to him], shedding tears of compassion, he addressed the Buddha, saying, "For many kalpas, I have received guidance from many Buddhas which allowed me to attain inconceivable divine powers and great wisdom. My emanations cover all worlds, as numerous as all the sands of trillions of Ganges Rivers. In each one of these worlds, I manifest trillions of emanations. Every emanation delivers trillions of beings enabling them to seek refuge in the Three Jewels, forever leaving the cycle of life and death, and delivering [them] until [they] attain the joy of nirvana. If they have performed any virtuous deed in the Buddha-dharma - even if it is as small as a strand of hair, a droplet of water, a grain of sand, a speck of dust or even a bit of hair - I shall gradually deliver and liberate them, enabling them to attain great benefits. I only hope that the World Honored One does not worry about [the deliverance of] those beings of future generations with negative karma."
He stated this twice more to the Buddha, saying, "I only hope that the World Honored One does not worry about [the deliverance of] those beings of future generations with negative karma." At that time, the Buddha praised Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, saying, "Excellent, excellent! I shall help you to rejoice. You will be able to fulfill the great vows you took in all these kalpas. The universal deliverance will be soon completed and you shall finally achieve Buddhahood."