Sūtra of the Great Vow of Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva

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The Sūtra of the Great Vow of Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva (Kṣitigarbha Sūtra) is a story about the Buddha teaching to his mother in the Palace of Trāyastriṃśa Heaven about the merits of Kṣitigarbha. It was translated into Chinese, assumedly from Sanskrit, by the monk Śiksānanda from Khotan circa 700....

Chapter 2 - The Division Bodies Gather

分身集會品第二

爾時,百千萬億不可思、不可議、不可量、不可說、無量阿僧祇世界,所有地獄處,分身地藏菩薩,俱來集在忉利天宮。以如來驅役故,各以方面,與諸得解脫從業道出者,亦各有千萬億那由他數,共持香華,來供養佛。以如來神力故,各以方面,與諸得解脫從業道出者,亦各有千萬億那由他數,共持香華,來供養佛。勝諸同來等輩,皆因地藏菩薩教化,永不退轉於阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。是諸眾等,久遠劫來,流浪生死,六道受苦,暫無休息。以地藏菩薩廣大慈悲,深誓願故,各獲果證。既至忉利,心懷踊躍,瞻仰如來,目不暫捨。

At that time, from an unimaginable, indescribable, uncountable, unutterable, unlimted, asaṃkhyeya number of worlds and all the hells, the Kṣitigarbha division bodies assembled at the Palace of the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven. Through the Tathāgata's divine powers, each one of the division bodies, and all those that had obtained liberation from the path of karma and also each of the ten billion nayutas, all holding incense and flowers, came to make offerings to the Buddha. Because they had been taught and transformed by Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva those that all came together would never regress from anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. They had acheived many levels, after long kalpas wandering through Saṃsāra through the Six Realms suffering hardships without even a temporary rest. Through Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva's great compassion and strong unyielding will each one has realized their attainment. Since reaching Trāyastriṃśa Heaven, they were so overjoyed in admiration for the Tathāgata that and looked at him unblinkingly.

爾時,世尊舒金色臂,摩百千萬億不可思、不可議、不可量、不可說、無量阿僧祇世界諸分身地藏菩薩摩訶薩頂,而作是言:「吾於五濁惡世,教化如是剛彊眾生,令心調伏,捨邪歸正。十有一二,尚惡習在。吾亦分身千百億,廣設方便。或有利根,聞即信受。或有善果,勤勸成就。或有暗鈍,久化方歸。或有業重,不生敬仰。如是等輩眾生,各各差別,分身度脫。或現男子身,或現女人身,或現天龍身,或現神鬼身,或現山林川原、河池泉井,利及於人,悉皆度脫。或現天帝身,或現梵王身,或現轉輪王身,或現居士身,或現國王身,或現宰輔身,或現官屬身,或現比丘、比丘尼、優婆塞、優婆夷身,乃至聲聞、羅漢、辟支佛、菩薩等身,而以化度。非但佛身,獨現其前。

At that time, the World Honored One stretched out his golden arms and rubbed the heads of the division bodies from the unimaginable, indescribable, uncountable, indescribable, unlimited asaṃkhyeya number of worlds and said, “In the Sahā World I educate and transform stubborn sentient beings such as this, to lead their minds to overcome evil, give up evil ways and return to upright actions. Now, out of every ten only one or two still have some vices. For these I also divide into innumerable division bodies and use many various skillful means. Those with good roots listen and immediately believe and accept. Those with positive karmic results from good actions can be convinced to succeed through hard work. Those that are ignorant can only be converted after a long time. Those that have karma from serious wrongdoing will not show any respect. Thus for each of the beings of different levels and different ages, each with their own characteristics, I divide my body to save them. This I appear in the form of a male, a female, a deva, a dragon, a spirit, a ghost, a mountain, a forest, a stream, a river, a pool, a sprint, or a well for their benefit and so that each and every one can be saved. I may appear in the form of Sakra, Brahma, a wheel turning king, a lay Buddhist, a king, a minister, an official, a monk, a nun, an upasaka, an upasika, a Śrāvaka, an Arhat, a Pratyekabuddha, or a bodhisattva in order to convert and save them. I do not only appear in the form of a Buddha before people.

汝觀吾累劫勤苦,度脫如是等難化剛彊罪苦眾生。其有未調伏者,隨業報應。若墮惡趣,受大苦時,汝當憶念吾在忉利天宮,殷勤付囑。令娑婆世界,至彌勒出世已來眾生,悉使解脫,永離諸苦,遇佛授記。」

“Reflect that I have worked tirelessly and diligently suffering over many kaplas in order to save these sentient beings who are difficult to convert and bitterly suffer for their wrongdoing. They have not yet overcome their evil habits will receive karmic retribution [karmaphala]. If they degenerate into an evil destiny and are subject to great suffering, remember that her, at the Palace of Trāyastriṃśa Heaven, I have, with confidence, handed over their care to you until Maitreya is born in the Sahā World and comes to liberate all sentient beings and end all suffering, meeting with the Buddha as predicted.”

爾時,諸世界分身地藏菩薩,共復一形,涕淚哀戀,白其佛言:「我從久遠劫來,矇佛接引,使獲不可思議神力,具大智慧。我所分身,遍滿百千萬億恆河沙世界。每一世界,化百千萬億身。每一身,度百千萬億人,令歸敬三寶,永離生死,至涅槃樂。但於佛法中,所為善事,一毛一渧,一沙一塵,或毫髮許,我漸度脫,使獲大利。唯願世尊不以後世惡業眾生為慮。」

Then the division bodies of Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva from all the worlds came together into one form. He wept with great distress and addressed the Buddha saying, “Since kalpas in the ancient past I have been guided and protected by the Buddha, who gave me inconceivable divine powers, and great wisdom. My division bodies extended to hundreds of billions of worlds, as many as grains of sand in the Ganges. In each of those worlds I transform into billions of bodies. Each body saves trillions of people, leading them to take refuge in and esteem the Triple Gem, leaving Saṃsāra for ever to the joy of Nirvāṇa. Even if there good deeds towards the Dhárma are very little, perhaps just one hair, one drop, one grain of sand, or one speck of dust, I will use that to save them and to obtain great benefit. I only wish that the World Honored One will not worry about the sentient beings in later lifetimes with evil karma.”

如是三白佛言:「唯願世尊不以後世惡業眾生為慮。」

Thus he said to the Buddha three times, “I only wish that the World Honored One will not worry about the sentient beings in later lifetimes with evil karma.”

爾時,佛讚地藏菩薩言:「善哉!善哉!吾助汝喜。汝能成就久遠劫來,發弘誓願,廣度將畢,即證菩提。」

Then the Buddha praised Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva saying, “Excellent! Excellent! I will help you in this, which you do so joyfully. Your achievements since ancient kalpas, since making the great vow, saving great numbers will soon be complete and you will attain enlightenment.”