Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “the buddha appeared simultaneously in the same form to all the beings” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

Act 7.8: The Buddha appeared simultaneously in the same form to all the beings

Sūtra: Then, among the beings of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu and of the ten directions, [123c] each had the impression that the Buddha was preaching the Dharma for them alone and not for the other people (atha khalu asmin trisāhasramahāsāhasre lokadhātau daśasu dikṣu ca teṣāṃ sattvānām ekaikasyaitad abhūt mama purato nānyeṣāṃ tathāgato dharmaṃ deśayatīti).

Śāstra: Question. – The Buddha appeared simultaneously in the same form to all the beings of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu and the ten directions; how then does each of these beings see a Buddha seated face-to-face and preaching the Dharma?[1]

Answer. – The miraculous power (ṛddhibala) of the Buddha is twofold: 1) seated in the same place, he preaches the Dharma in such a way that all beings see him from far away (dūrataḥ) and hear from far away; 2) staying in the same place, he preaches the Dharma in such a way that each being in particular sees a Buddha facing himself (tatpurataḥ) preaching the Dharma. In the same way, at daybreak (sūryodaya), the shadows (chāyā) seem to be a mass of water.

Moreover, all beings are not the same: some find pure faith (viśuddhaśraddhā) by seeing the Buddha’s body fill the trisāhasramahāsāsralokadhātu; others find pure faith, bliss (sukha) and joy (muditā) in seeing a particular Buddha preaching the Dharma face-to-face: this is why the Buddha preaches the Dharma facing each one of them.

Footnotes and references:

1.

This is a classical miracle and the Buddha is not alone in being able to accomplish it. Thus, in the Janavasabhasuttanta (Dīgha, II, p. 211–212), Brahmā Sanaṃkumāra, going to visit the Tāvatiṃsa gods, created 33 forms of himself (tettiṃse attabhāve abhinimminitvā), each sitting on the couch of one of the 33 gods, and he is expressing himself in such a way that each god has the impression that the form is on his own couch and is speaking to him alone (yo ‘yaṃ mama pallaṅke so yaṃ eko va bhāsatīti).