Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra
The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra is one of the major sutras of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Its main teachings centre on the eternity of the Buddha, the reality of the True Self, and the presence of the Buddha-dhatu (Buddha Nature) in all beings. Simple name: Nirvāṇa Sūtra....
Chapter II - On Cunda
'At that time there was present among the congregation an upasaka who was the son of an artisan of this fortress town of Kusinagara. Cunda was his name. He was there with his comrades, fifteen in number. In order that the world should generate good fruit, he abandoned all bodily adornments [to indicate his respect and modesty], stood up, bared his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground and, folding his hands, looked up at the Buddha. Sorrowfully and tearfully, he touched the Buddha's feet with his head [i.e. in sign of respect] and said: "O World-Honoured One and bhiksus! Please have pity and accept our last offerings and succour innumerable beings. O World-Honoured One! From now on, we have no master, no parents, no salvation, no protection, no place wherein to take refuge, and no place to go. we shall be poor and hunger-ridden. Following the Tathagata, we desire to gain food for the days to come. Please have pity and accept our petty offerings, and, then, enter Nirvana. O World-Honoured One! This is as in the case of a Kshatriya, Brahmin, Vaishya or Sudra, who, being poor, goes to a far-off country. He works at farming and indeed gains a trained cow. The land is good, flat and square. There is no poor, sandy soil, no harmful weeds, no barrenness and no defilements [there]. What is needful is awaiting the rain from heaven. We say “trained cow”. This may be likened to the seven actions of the body and mouth, and the good field flat and square to Wisdom. Doing away with the poor soil, harmful weeds, barrenness and defilements refers to Illusion, which we must do away with. O World-Honoured One! I now have with me the trained cow and good soil, and I have tilled the land and done away with all the weeds. I am now only awaiting the Tathagata's sweet rain of Dharma to visit me. The four castes of poverty are none but the carnal body that I possess. I am poor, as I do not possess the superb treasure of Dharma. Pray have pity and cut away our poverty and hardships and rid us innumerable beings of our sorrow and worries. What offerings I make are paltry. But what I may think is that they will satisfy the Tathagata and Sangha. I now have no master, no parents, and no refuge. Please have pity on us, as you have on Rahula [the Buddha's son]."
Then the World-Honoured One, the All-Knowledge [“’sarvajnana“’], the Unsurpassed Trainer, said to Cunda: "This is good, good indeed! I shall now cut off the roots of your poverty and let fall on your field of carnal life the unsurpassed rain of Dharma and call forth the bud of Dharma. You now desire to have from me life, body, power, peace, and unhindered speech. And I shall give to you undying life, body, power, peace, and unhindered speech. Why? O Cunda! In offerings of meals there are two fruits that know of no distinction. What are the two? Firstly, one attains “’anuttarasamyaksambodhi“’ [unsurpassed, complete Enlightenment] when one receives it [a meal-offering]; secondly, one enters Nirvana after receiving it. I will now receive your last offering and let you accomplish danaparamita [perfected giving]."
At that, Cunda said to the Buddha: "You say that there is no difference between the results of these two offerings. But this is not so. Why not? Because in the former case of receiving dana [a charitable gift], illusion is not yet done away with [in the recipient] and he is not yet perfect in all-knowledge. And he cannot yet cause beings to enjoy danaparamita. As to the latter category of receiving dana, illusion has gone and he is accomplished in all-knowledge and can let all beings be blessed equally with danaparamita. The former man who receives offerings is still a common being, but the latter the heaven of heavens. One that receives dana in the former category is one with 1) a body supported by various kinds of food, 2) a body of illusion, 3) a body where there yet remains the result of illusion, and 4) a non-eternal body. A person who receives dana in the second category has 1) the body of no illusion, 2) the adamantine body, 3) the Dharma body 4) the eternal body, and 5) the boundless body. How can one say that the results of the dana performed in the two categories are one and do not differ? The person who receives dana in the former category is one not yet accomplished in danaparamita [and other paramitas] up to prajnaparamita [perfected Wisdom]. He only has the fleshly eye, but not the Buddha-eye, nor the eye of Wisdom. The case of the person receiving dana in the latter category is that of one perfect in danaparamita up to prajnaparamita, and also in the fleshly eye up to the eye of Wisdom. How can we say that the results of the two danas are the same and that there is no difference? O World-honoured One! In the case of the former, one who receives dana takes meals which get into his abdomen and get digested, and he gains life, carnal body, power, ease, and unhindered speech. In the case of the latter, the person does not eat, digest, and there are no results of the five things. How can we say that the results of the two danas are one and the same and not different?"
The Buddha said: "O good man! The Tathagata, already, since innumerable, boundless asamkhyas of kalpas [aeons] ago, has had no body supported by food and illusion, and he has no body where there yet remains the result of illusion. He is the Eternal, the Dharma Body, and the Adamantine Body. O good man! One who has not yet seen “’Buddhata “’[Buddha-Nature, Buddha-Essence, Buddha-ness] is called the illusion-body, the body supported by various kinds of food, and the body where there yet remains the result of illusion. The Bodhisattva, as he partakes of the food [offered to him just before Enlightenment] enters the adamantine samadhi [deepest meditative state]. When that food is digested, he sees “’Buddhata“’ and attains unsurpassed Bodhi [Enlightenment]. That is why I say that the results of the two danas are equal and that they are not different. The Bodhisattva, at that time, crushes the four Maras [Illusion, skandhas, death, and the heavenly Mara]. Now, entering Nirvana, he crushes the four Maras. That is why I say that the results of the two danas are equal and that they are not different. The Bodhisattva, at that time, does not widely speak about the twelve types of Buddhist sutras [categorisation of the Buddhist scriptures into 12 types], but he is versed in these already. Now, upon entering Nirvana, he speaks expansively of them for beings' sake. That is why I say that the results of the two danas are equal and that they are not different. O good man! The body of the Tathagata has not partaken of food and drink for innumerable asamkhyas of kalpas past. But for all sravakas' ["listeners" to the Buddha's teachings] sake, I say that I took the milk-cooked porridge offered by Nanda and Nandabala, the two shepherd women, and that, thereafter, I attained unsurpassed Bodhi. But, in truth, I did not take it. Now, for the sake of the people congregated here, I shall accept your offerings. But, in truth, I do not partake of it."
Then, hearing that the Buddha-World-Honoured One, for the sake of the people congregated there, would take Cunda's last offerings, they were glad and overjoyed, and said in praise: "How wonderful, how wonderful! It is rare, O Cunda! You now have a name; your name is not for nothing. Cunda means “understanding wonderful significations”! You have now established such great signification. You build up what is true, you accord with the signification, and gain your name. That is why you are Cunda. You, now, in this life, will gain great name, profit, virtue, and vows. It is rare, O Cunda, to be born as a man and attain the unsurpassed profit which is the most difficult to achieve. It is good, O Cunda! You are the udumbara [plant], which is said to put out flowers only on very rare occasions. It is very rare that the Buddha appears in the world. It is also hard to meet with the Buddha, gain faith, and hear [his] sermons. It is harder still to be able to make the final offerings to him at the time of his entering Nirvana and well attain all this. Well done, well done, O Cunda! You are now perfect in danaparamita. This is as on the 15th of the autumnal month, when the moon is pure and full, when there is not a speck of cloud in the heavens, and all beings look up and [utter] praise. The same is the case with you, whom we look up to and praise. The Buddha now takes your last offerings and makes you perfect in danaparamita. Oh, well done, O Cunda! We say that you are like the full moon, which all people look up to. Well done, O Cunda! Though a man, your mind is of the Buddha. O Cunda! You truly are like the Buddha's son, Rahula. There is no difference."
Then those congregated there said in a gatha [verses]:
"Though born a man, you now stand above the sixth heaven.
I and all others, therefore, praise you and pray.
The holiest of men now enters Nirvana. Pity us and, with speed,
Beseech the Buddha to stay a long time yet in life,
To benefit innumerable beings, to impart to them
The unsurpassed manna of Dharma that Wisdom praises.
If you do not beseech the Buddha, our life will not be perfect.
Because of this, fall to the ground,
Pay homage to the Best Trainer."
At this, Cunda was overjoyed! It was as in the case of a man whose parents have of a sudden passed away and who suddenly come back again. That is how Cunda felt. He stood up again, bowed before the Buddha, and said in a gatha:
"I am glad that I have gained my Way; it is good I have been born a man.
I have done away with greed and anger; I am parted forever
From the three unfortunate realms. I am glad that I have gained benefit,
And meet with the golden ball of treasure,
That I now meet with the Trainer
And that I do not fear, even if I gain life in the animal realm.
The Buddha is an udumbara, so to speak, one hard to encounter,
And it is hard to gain faith. Having once encountered
And practised the Way, we do away
With the sorrows of the hungry pretas. Also,
He thoroughly crushes the asuras and others. We could sooner
Balance a mustard seed on the point of a needle than
Encounter the Buddha's appearance in the world.
The Buddha is not tainted by worldly ways.
He is like a water lily in water. I am thoroughly cut off
From all the roots of the relative world
And have crossed the waters of birth and death.
It is hard to be born as a man; harder still is it
To encounter the Buddha when he appears in the world.
It is as in the case of a blind turtle
who, in the midst of the ocean, may chance to hit the hole
In a piece of floating wood. I now offer food
And pray that I will attain the unsurpassed reward,
That I will destroy the bond of illusion,
And that it will be strong no more. I do not seek here
To gain a heavenly body. Even having gained that,
One's mind is not so sweet. The Tathagata accepts
This offering of mine. Nothing could ever please me more.
This is like the case of a bad-smelling weed
Which emits a sandalwood fragrance.
I am that weed. The Tathagata accepts my offerings.
This is like the fragrance that issues from the sandalwood.
That is why I am glad. I now in this life
Am blessed with the highest reward.
Shakra, Brahma and all the others come
And make offerings to me. All worlds are
Greatly worried as they now know
That the Buddha will enter Nirvana. They loudly say:
“Now there is no Trainer in the world;
Do not discard all beings; view them as one views
One's only son!” The Tathagata, in the midst of the priests,
Speaks of the superb Dharma. This may well be compared to Mt. Sumeru,
That sits unmolested amidst a great ocean. The Buddha-Wisdom
Thoroughly dispels the gloom of man. It is as when
The sun rises, all the clouds disperse
And light shines all over. The Tathagata
Thoroughly does away with all illusions. This is
Like the coolness that reigns
When clouds appear in the sky. All beings
Love you and wail. All are floundering
On the bitter waters of birth and death.
Because of this, pray, O World-Honoured One!
Stay long in life and increase the faith of all beings,
Cut off the suffering of birth and death!"
The Buddha said to Cunda: "It is thus, it is thus! All is as you say. It is rare that the Buddha appears in the world. It is as in the case of the udumbara. It is, again, hard to meet with the Buddha and gain faith. To be present at the moment of the Buddha's entering Nirvana, to offer him food and thus accomplish danaparamita is as difficult. O Cunda! Do not be sorry now. Be glad that you now give the final offerings to the Tathagata and accomplish well danaparamita. Do not ask the Buddha to remain long in life. You now should meditate on the world of all Buddhas. All is non-eternal. It is the same with all created things and their natures and characteristics." For the sake of Cunda, he said in a gatha:
"In all the world, whatever is born must die. Life looks long,
But by nature an end there must be.
Whatever flourishes always wanes; met, one must part.
The prime of manhood is not long;
Luxuriance meets with illness.
Life is swallowed by death; nothing exists eternally.
Kings are all unmolested; none can compete.
Yet all of them must perish; so is it with life.
Suffering knows no end; unendingly the wheel turns and turns.
None of the three worlds [of Desire, Form, and Formlessness]
is eternal; all that exists
Is not happy. What exists has a nature and characteristics.
And all is Void. What is destructible comes and goes;
Apprehensions and illnesses follow upon [one's] steps.
The fears of all the wrongs and evils done,
Age, illness, death and decline cause worry.
All these things do not exist forever.
And they easily break up. Resentment attacks one;
All are lined with illusion, as in the case of the silkworm
And the cocoon. None who has wisdom
Finds joy in a place like this. This carnal body is
Where suffering forgathers. All is impure,
Like unto strains, carbuncles, boils, and other such.
No reason is at bottom. The same applies
Even to the heavenly ones who sit above.
All desires do not last. So I do not cling.
One casts off desires, meditates well,
Attains the wonderful Dharma, and one who definitely
Cuts off “is” [samsaric existence] can today gain Nirvana.
I pass over to the other shore of “is”
And stand above all sorrows. Thus
I harvest this superb Bliss."
Then Cunda said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! It is so, it is so. All is as you, Holy One, say. What wisdom I possess is paltry and of low grade. I am like a mosquito or sawfly. How can I contemplate the deepest ground of the Tathagata's Nirvana? O World-Honoured One! I am now like any great naga or elephant of a Bodhisattva-mahsattva who has cut off the bond of illusion. I am like Dharmarajaputra Manjushri. O World-Honoured One! It is like one who enters the Order at a young age. Though upholding the precepts, that person is still just of the class of ordinary monks. I, too, am one such. Due to the power of the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, I am now one of the number of such great Bodhisattvas. That is why I beseech the Tathagata to stay long in life and not enter Nirvana. This is similar to a hunger-stricken man who has nothing more to put out [?]. I only pray that the same will be the case with the World-Honoured One and that he will stay long in life and not enter Nirvana."
Then Dharmarajaputra Manjushri said to Cunda: "O Cunda! Now, do not speak in this way and beseech the Tathagata to stay long in life and not to enter Parinirvana, as in the case of one hungry who now has nothing more to put out. This cannot be. You should now see the nature and characteristics of all things. Seeing things thus, you will gain the All-Void samadhi. If you desire to attain Wonderful Dharma, act thus!"
Cunda asked: "O Manjushri! The Tathagata is the Holiest One and the highest of all heavens and earth. Could the Tathagata who is such be one who is made? If he is one made, he cannot be other than samsaric existence. Foam, for example, quickly rises up and swiftly dies away; the comings and goings [of all things] are like the turning of a wheel. All that is made is like this. I hear that the devas have the longest life. The World-Honoured One is the heaven of heavens. How could he have a life so short as not to reach 100 years? The headman of a village is unmolested [unlimited? unconstrained?] in power, through which he can suppress people. But when virtue deserts him, he becomes poor and mean. He is looked down upon and whipped and made to work for others. Why? Because his power is gone. The same is the case with the World-Honoured One. He is like all things made. If he is the same as all things, he cannot be the heaven of heavens. Why not? Because all things are existences that must suffer birth and death. Therefore, O Manjushri! Do not put the Tathagata on the same level as that of all things made. Also, next, O Manjushri! Do you know this [for a fact] and speak thus? Or is it that you do not know, and say that the Tathagata is on the same level as all things made? If the Tathagata is on the same level as all things made, we cannot call him the heaven of heavens or the unmolested [unlimited?] Dharma-King of the three worlds. For example, a king may be a man of great strength. His power is equal to that of a thousand persons and none can beat him. So this person is called one possessing the power of a thousand persons. The king loves such a one. So, courtly rank is given him, along with a fief. Fiefs and rewards flow towards him bountifully. This person is called one whose power is equal to that of a thousand persons. He is not quite equal to a thousand persons. But what he does is worth much. So we say that he is equal to a thousand persons. The same is the case with the Tathagata. He subdues the Mara of illusion, the Mara of the five skandhas, the Mara of heaven, and the Mara of death. That is why we call him the most honoured one of the three worlds. This is as in the case of a man whose power equals that of a thousand persons. Thus he is accomplished in various, innumerable true virtues. That is why we call him the Tathagata, the Alms-deserving and the All-Enlightened One. O Manjushri! You should not presume upon, imagine, speak about what pertains to the world of the Tathagata as being equal to that which is created. For example, a very rich man begets a son; and the augur predicts that this child will not live. The parents hear this and know that the child will not be able to inherit the family estate, and they look on this child as though it were grass. Now, a short-lived person is not made much of [respected] by sramanas [ascetics], Brahmins, males, females, or people big or small. If the Tathagata is placed on the same level as that which is created, he cannot be respected by all the world, man or heaven. What the Tathagata speaks about is that which does not change and is not different. It is the true Dharma. There is none who receives. Hence, O Manjushri! Do not say that the Tathagata is the same as any created thing.
"Also, next, O Manjushri! It is as in the case of a poor woman who has no house to live in and nobody to take care of her. Added to this, she is very ill and hungry. So she roams about, begs for food, stays in another's house, and gives birth to a child. The owner of the house drives her away. She holds this child and decides to go abroad. On the way, she meets with a bad storm and rain; cold presses down upon her. Mosquitoes, gadflies, bees and poisonous insects noisily attack her. She carries her child and means to cross the Ganges. The water moves quickly, but she holds the child and does not let go her grip on him. The mother and child both drown. This woman, because of her compassionate deed, is born after her death in Brahma's heaven. O Manjushri! Any good man who desires to guard Wonderful Dharma should not say: “The Tathagata is like all things” or “he is not so”. One should only reproach one's own self and think: “I am but ignorant; I do not have the eye of Wisdom.” The Tathagata's Wonderful Dharma cannot at all be conceived. Because of this, it is not fitting for us to say that the Tathagata is truly a thing definitely made, or a thing which is not made. What it is right to say is: “The Tathagata is definitely an Uncreate [that which was not made]. Because [of this] good arises for us beings and out of the compassionate heart. This is as in the case of the poor woman who, out of love for her child, sacrificed her own self. O good man! With the Bodhisattva who guards Dharma, it is thus. One might well sacrifice one's own self, but one cannot say that the Tathagata is equal to the created. One must say that the Tathagata is an Uncreate. By saying that the Tathagata is an Uncreate, one gains unsurpassed Enlightenment. This is as in the case of the woman born in Brahma's heaven. Why? Through protecting Dharma. What do we mean by protecting Dharma? That is, saying that the Tathagata is an Uncreate. O good man! Such a one does not seek emancipation, yet it comes of itself. It is as in the case of the poor woman who does not seek to be born in Brahma's heaven, and yet Brahma responds. It is like this. O Manjushri! A person may be going on a long journey. On the way, he becomes very tired and puts up at another person's house. While he is asleep, a great fire breaks out. At once he gets up and thinks: “I shall now surely die.” As he repents, he puts on his clothing. He dies and gets reborn in Trayastrimsa Heaven. Then, after 80 lives, he becomes Great Brahma. After 100 thousand lives, he gets reborn as a man and becomes a chakravartin [world's greatest monarch]. This person does not gain life in the three unfortunate realms. Life is repeated, and he is born in places where peace always reigns. This is how things go. Because of this, one possessing repentance should, O Manjushri, meditate on the Buddha, but not regard him as the same as that which is created. O Manjushri! The tirthikas and those of bent mind may say that the Tathagata is the same as the created. The bhiksu who upholds the precepts should not think that the Tathagata is a created existence. Should one say that the Tathagata is one created, this is nothing but a false statement. After death, such a person will fall into hell, as surely as one is in one's own house. O Manjushri! The Tathagata is truly an Uncreate. One must not say that he is a created being. You should henceforth in this life of birth and death abandon ignorance and take to right Wisdom. Know well that the Tathagata is an Uncreate. One who meditates well on the Tathagata will be perfect in the 32 signs of perfection and will attain unsurpassed Enlightenment."
Then Dharmarajaputra Manjushri praised Cunda and said: "Well spoken, well spoken, O good man! You have already done what will beget you an endless life. You well know that the Tathagata is one eternal and unchanging, and is an Uncreate. You now well shield the Tathagata's created-form existence. One who encounters fire covers his body with clothing because of repentance [?]. This good mind gains him birth in Trayastrimsa Heaven. He becomes Brahma and a chakravartin, and he does not get born into the unfortunate realms and thus will always enjoy peace. That is how things will go with you. As you well shield the created form of the Tathagata, you will in the days to come gain the 32 signs of perfection, the 80 minor marks of excellence, and the 18 characteristics peculiar solely to the Buddha. Your life will become endless, with no more bonds of samsara. There will always be an eternal flow of peace and happiness, and before long a day will come when you will awaken in the light of the Alms-deserving and the All-Enlightened One. O Cunda! The Tathagata himself will speak more expansively later on. And you and I shall shield the created body of the Tathagata. Set aside, for the present, questions of the created and the non-created.
"You should, as you see proper, quickly offer meals. To offer thus is the best of all offerings. The bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas may have undergone a long journey; they may be extremely tired. Give the purest things as required. Thus speedily giving is the fundamental thing, to be perfect in danaparamita. O Cunda! Give the final offerings to the Buddha and Sangha, more or less, full or not full, quick as the occasion requires. The Tathagata will rightly be entering Parinirvana" Cunda said: "O Manjushri! Why is it that you so greedily care about the meal and make me give more or less, full or not full, in answer to the requirement of the occasion? O Manjushri! The Tathagata in the past practised penance for six years and supported himself. Why could he not now when it is just a matter of a moment? O Manjushri! Do you say that the Tathagata, the Right-Enlightened One, truly means to accept this meal? But I definitely know that the Tathagata is the Dharma-Body and that he is no carnal body that partakes of food."
Then the Buddha said to Manjushri: "It is thus, it is thus. It is as Cunda says. Well said, O Cunda! You have already attained the delicate point of great Wisdom and you now master the Mahayana sutras." Manjushri said to Cunda: "You say that the Tathagata is an Uncreate; the Tathagata's body is of long life. If this is said, the Tathagata will be pleased." Cunda answered: "The Tathagata is not pleased with me alone; he is also pleased with all beings." Manjushri said: "The Tathagata will be pleased with you and with all of us beings." Cunda answered: "Do not say that the Tathagata is pleased. Now, to get pleased is an inverted mind. An inverted mind is birth and death. Birth and death are of created existence. So, O Manjushri! Do not say that the Tathagata is a created existence. If you say that the Tathagata is a created existence, I and you commit an inversion [of truth]. O Manjushri! The Tathagata has no thought of love [attachment]. Now, love is like the case of a milking cow which, loving her own child, feels hunger and thirst, goes and seeks water-grass, and whether satisfied or not, suddenly turns back. The All-Buddha-World-Honoured One does not have such a mind. He sees all as equally as he sees Rahula. To think thus is what applies in the world of Wisdom of the All-Enlightened One. O Manjushri! For example, a carriage drawn by a donkey cannot stand comparison with one drawn by the four trained horses of a king. The case with me and you is also like this. It is impossible to fathom the minute and hidden depths of what is with the Tathagata, even if we try. O Manjushri! The garuda flies innumerable yojanas in the sky. He looks down on the great sea and sees such things of the water as fish, soft-shelled turtles, snapping turtles, crocodiles, tortoises, and nagas, and also his own shadow reflected in the water. He sees all these just as one sees all visible forms in a mirror. The petty wisdom of the common mortal cannot well weigh what comes to his eye. The same is the case with me and you too. We cannot weigh the Tathagata's Wisdom." Manjushri said to Cunda: "It is thus, it is thus. It is as you say. It is not that I do not see this. I only meant to test you regarding what belongs to the world of a Bodhisattva."
Then, the World-Honoured One shot forth from his moth a light of various colours. The light shone brightly on Manjushri's body. Shone upon by this light, Manjushri fathomed this out. Then he said to Cunda: "The Tathagata now shows this wonderful scene. He will enter Nirvana before long. The last offerings that you carried in some time ago will best be offered to the Buddha and then given to all those who are congregated here. O Cunda! Know that it is not without reason that the Tathagata lets shine this light of various colours." On hearing this, Cunda was silent and sad. The Buddha said to Cunda: "It is now time for you to give offerings to the Buddha and congregation. The Tathagata will rightly enter Parinirvana." He then said this a second and a third time. Then, at these words of the Buddha, Cunda cried and wailed, sorrowfully sobbed and said: "Woe is the day, woe is the day! The world is empty."
Also, he said to the great assembly: "Let us all cast down our whole body to the ground and beseech the Buddha not to enter Parinirvana." Then the Buddha said to Cunda: "Do not cry and unsettle your mind. Think that this body is like a plantain, a mirage in the hot season, watery foam, a phantom, a transformed body, the castle of a gandharva, an unfired brick, lightning, a picture drawn on water, a prisoner facing death, ripe fruit, a piece of meat, the warp on a loom which is about to end, and the ups and downs of a mortar. You should think that all created things are like poisonous food and that anything made is possessed of all worries."
At this, Cunda said again to the Buddha: "The Tathagata does not wish to stay long in life. How can we not weep? Woe is the world, woe is the world! The world is empty. I only pray that you Tathagata will pity all us beings. Please stay long and do not enter Nirvana." The Buddha said to Cunda: "Do not say such as “Love us and stay long in life.” As I pity you and all beings, I today enter Nirvana. Why? This is what is true of all Buddhas. This is so with what is created. That is why all Buddhas say in a gatha:
“The law of what is created
Is by nature non-eternal.
Life ended, we leave the world;
Extinction is bliss.”
O Cunda! Now, meditate upon all that is made, that is composite. Think that all things are not-Self and are non-eternal, and that nothing endures. This carnal body has innumerable wrongs. All is like watery foam. So, do not weep."
Then Cunda again said to the Buddha: "It is thus, it is thus! All is as you kindly teach me. The Tathagata enters Nirvana for expediency's sake. But I cannot help being sad. Be this as it may, I bethink me and feel glad." The Buddha praised Cunda and said: "Well said, well said! You well know that the Tathagata, following the way of all beings, enters Nirvana for expediency's sake. Hear me well! It is as in the case in which sarasa [eastern bean goose] birds all gather at Lake Anavatapta [Manasarwar?] in the spring months. The same is the case with all Buddhas. All gather here. O Cunda! Think not long or short regarding the life of all Buddhas. All things are like phantoms. The Tathagata lives in between. What he has is expediency; he does not cling. Why not? It is thus with the Dharma of all Buddhas. O Cunda! I now take what you offer. This is to allow you to cross the river of birth and death. Man or heaven who make offerings [to Buddha] for the last time, all gain an unshakable recompense and will be blessed with happiness. Why? Because I am the best field of weal for all beings. If you desire to become a field of weal for all beings, take whatever is given you. Do not tarry long."
Then Cunda, for the sake of the emancipation of all beings, hung his head and suppressed his tears, and said to the Buddha: "Very well, O World-Honoured One! When I am worthy of becoming a field of weal, I shall be able to fathom the Nirvana or non-Nirvana of the Tathagata. Now we and all sravakas and pratyekabuddhas are like mosquitoes or sawflies, and cannot well weigh the Nirvana or non-Nirvana of the Tathagata."
Then Cunda and his relatives all wept sorrowfully and walked around the body of the Tathagata, burnt incense, strew flowers, and most sincerely paid homage to the Buddha, and then stood up together with Manjushri, and brought forward the utensils of offerings.