The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra

by Charles Luk | 1972 | 32,509 words

Translated and edited from the Chinese (Kumarajiva ed. T.475) by Charles Luk (Lu K'uan Yi) in 1972....

Chapter 14 - Injunction To Spread This Sutra

The Buddha then said: to Maitreya: “Maitreya, I now entrust you with the Dharma of supreme enlightenment which I have collected during countless aeons. In the third (and last) period of the Buddha kalpa you should use transcendental power to proclaim widely in Jambuvipa (the earth) (profound) sutras such as this one, without allowing them to be discontinued. For in future generations there will be virtuous men and women, as well as heavenly dragons, ghosts, spirits, gandharvas, and raksasas who will take pleasure in the great Dharma and will set their minds on the quest of supreme enlightenment; if they do not hear about such sutras they will miss a great advantage. For these people are fond of and believe in these sutras, which they will readily accept by placing them on their heads and which they will widely proclaim for the profit of living beings.

Maitreya, you should know that there are two categories of Bodhisattvas: those who prefer proud words and a racy style, and those who are not afraid (of digging out) the profound meanings which they can penetrate. Fondness of proud words and a racy style denotes the superficiality of a newly initiated Bodhisattva; but he who, after hearing about the freedom from infection and bondage as taught in profound sutras, is not afraid of their deep meanings which he strives to master, thereby developing a pure mind to receive, keep, read, recite and practise (the Dharma) as preached is a Bodhisattva who has trained for a long time.

Maitreya, there are two classes of newly initiated Bodhisattvas who cannot understand very deep Dharmas: those who have not heard about profound sutras and who, giving way to fear and suspicion, cannot keep them but indulge in slandering them, saying: ‘I have never heard about them; where do they come from?’, and those who refuse to call on, respect and make offerings to the preachers of profound sutras or who find fault with the latter; these are two classes of newly initiated Bodhisattvas who cannot control their minds when hearing the deep Dharma, thereby harming themselves.

Maitreya, further, there are two categories of Boshisattvas who harm themselves and fail to realize the patient endurance of the uncreate in spite of their belief and understanding of the deep Dharma: they are (firstly) those who belittle newly initiated Boshisattva and do not teach and guide them; and (secondly) those who, despite their faith in the deep Dharma, still give rise to discrimination between form and formlessness.”

After hearing the Buddha expound the Dharma, Maitreya said: “World Honoured One, I have not heard all this before. As you have said, I shall keep from these evils and uphold the Dharma of supreme enlightenment which the Tathagata has collected during countless aeons. In future, if there are virtuous men and women who seek for Mahayana, I shall see to it that this sutra will be placed in their hands, and shall use transcendental power to make them remember it so that they can receive, keep, read, recite and proclaim it widely.

“World Honoured One, in the coming Dharma ending age, if there are those who can receive, keep, read and recite this sutra and expound it widely, they will do so under the influence of my transcendental power.”

The Buddha said: “Excellent, Maitreya, excellent; as you have said, I will help you achieve this great joy.”

At that, all the Bodhisattvas in the assembly brought their palms together and said to the Buddha: After your nirvana, we will also proclaim this Dharma of supreme enlightenment widely in the ten directions and will guide preachers of Dharma to obtain this sutra.”

The four kings of devas said to the Buddha: “World Honoured One, in all towns and villages, in the groves and wilderness, and where there is this sutra and people reading, reciting, explaining and proclaiming it, I will lead local officials to go to their places to listen to the Dharma and to protect them so that no one dares to one within one hundred yojanas of their places to trouble them.”

The Buddha then said to Ananda: “Ananda, you too should receive, keep and spread this sutra widely.”

Ananda said: “Yes, World Honoured One, I have received this sutra and will keep it. What is its title?”

The Buddha said: “Ananda, its title is ‘The Sutra spoken by Vimalakirti’, or ‘The Inconceivable Door to Liberation’, under which you should receive and keep it.”

After the Buddha had expounded this sutra, the old upasaka Vimalakirti, Manjusri, Sariputra, Ananda and others as well as devas, asuras and all those present were filled with joy; believed, received and kept it; paid reverence and went away.

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