The Sutra of Queen Śrīmālā of the Lion’s Roar

15,590 words

The Sutra of Queen Śrīmālā of the Lion’s Roar (Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra) is a Mahayana text no longer extant in Sanskrit but preserved in both the Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist canons. It teaches the doctrines of Tathāgatagarbha and the One Vehicle (Skt. ekayāna), through the words of the Indian queen Śrīmālā....

Chapter VIII - The Dharma Body

If there are no doubts with reference to the tathāgatagarbha that is concealed by the innumerable stores of defilement, then there also will be no doubts with reference to the Dharma body that transcends the innumerable stores of defilement. In explaining the tathāgatagarbha, one explains the Dharma body of the Tathāgata, the inconceivable buddha realms, and skillful means.

“The mind that attains this determination then believes and understands the twofold noble truths. Likewise, what is difficult to know and to understand is the meaning of the twofold noble truths. What is their meaning?

They are referred to as the ‘conditioned’ noble truths and the ‘unconditioned’ noble truths.

“The ‘conditioned’ noble truths are the ‘limited’ four noble truths. Why? Because one who depends on others cannot know all suffering, eliminate all sources of suffering, realize all extinctions of suffering, and practice the entire path. Therefore, O Lord, the cycle of birth and death is both conditioned and unconditioned; nirvana likewise is [conditioned and unconditioned], being [nirvana] with remainder (conditioned) and [nirvana] without remainder (unconditioned).

“The ‘unconditioned’ noble truths are the ‘unlimited’ four noble truths.

Why? With his own power, one [who knows the unlimited noble truths] can know all suffering, sever all sources of suffering, realize all extinctions of suffering, and practice the entire path.

“These, then, are the eight noble truths. The Tathāgatas taught the four [conditioned] noble truths [as skillful means]. The meaning of the four unconditioned noble truths are the actions of the Tathāgatas, Arhats, Perfectly Enlightened Ones, who alone are ultimate. The actions of arhats and pratyekabuddhas are not ultimate. Why? Because phenomena are not inferior, mediocre, or superior, one attains nirvana. Why? With reference to the meaning of the four unconditioned noble truths, the actions of the Tathāgatas, Arhats, Perfectly Enlightened Ones are ultimate. Because all the Tathāgatas, Arhats, Perfectly Enlightened Ones know all future suffering, sever all defilements as well as the sources of all virulent defilements that have been accumulated, and extinguish all the elements in the mind-made bodies [of the three vehicles], they realize the extinction of all suffering.

“O Lord, the extinction of suffering is not the destruction of the Dharma. The ‘extinction of suffering’ signifies the Dharma body of the Tathāgata, which is from beginningless time uncreated, nonarising, indestructible, free from destruction, eternal, inherently pure, and separate from all the stores of defilement. O Lord, the Dharma body is not separate from, free from, or different from the inconceivable Buddha-Dharmas that are more numerous than the sands of the Ganges River.

“O Lord, the Dharma body of the Tathāgata is called the tathāgata-garbha when it is inseparable from the stores of defilement.”

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