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Monday, March 28, 2016

The Nirvana Sutra on the adamantine [Law] body of the Tathagata

"Then, the World-honored One said to Kasyapa: " O good man! 

The body of the Tathagata is one that is eternal, one that is 

indestructible, and one that is not supported by 

various kinds of food. It is Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World- 

honored One! We do not see such a body as you say. What we 

see is one which is non-eternal, destructible, of dust, one 

supported by various kinds of food. Why? Because you the 

Tathagata are about to enter nirvana now". The Buddha said to 

Kasyaps: "Do not say that the body of the Tathagata is not 

strong, easy to break, and is one of the common mortal. O good 

man! Know that the body of the Tathagata is as indestructible as 

that which stands for innumerable billions of kalpas. It is no body 

of man or heaven, none that fears, none that is supported by 

various kinds of food. The body of the Tathagata is one that is no 

body and yet a body. It is one not born and one that does not die 

out. It is one that does not learn or practice. It is one innumerable 

and boundless and one that does not leave behind footsteps. It 

knows not and has no form to represent. It is one ultimately pure. 

It shakes not. It receives not, nor does it do. It stays not, makes 

not. It is tasteless and unmixed. It is an 'is' and yet is not one 

created. It is no action, no fruition. It is none that is made, none 

that dies. It is no mind; it is one not countable. It is the all- 

wonderful, one eternal, and one not presumable. It is no 

consciousness and is one apart from mind. And yet it does not 

depart from mind. It is a mind that is all-equal. It is not 'is'; yet it is 

one that 'is' There is no going and no coming; and it yet goes and 

comes, It breaks not. It is one indestructible. It snaps not and 

ceases not. It does not come out, nor does it die out. It is no 

master and yet a master. It is not one that exists; nor is it that it 

does not exist. It awakes not, nor does it see. It is no letter, and is 

not no letter. It is no dhyana and is not no dhyana. It is not to be 

seen and well to be seen. It is no place and is yet a place. It is no 

abode and is yet an abode. It is not dark and not bright. There is 

no quietness and yet there is quietness. It is non-úpossession, 

non-receiving, and non--giving. It is pure and untainted. It is no 

quarreling and is never to fight. It is a living and is no living. It is 

no taking and no falling. It is no law and is not no law. It is no field 

of weal and is not no field of weal. It is non-ending and does not 

end. It is separating and is a total ending. It is void and is apart 

from void. Though not eternal, it is not that it moment after 

moment dies out. There is no defilement and muddling. There is 

no letter and is apart from letter. It is no voice and no talking. It 

is~no practicing and learning. It is no praising and no weighing. It 

is not one and is not different. It has no form and characteristic. 

All are grand adornment. It is not brave and is not afraid. It is no 

quietness and is not quiet. It is heatless and is not hot. It is not to 

be seen; there is no form to represent. The Tathagata succors all 

beings. Not emancipating, he well emancipates beings.` There 

being no emancipation, there is the awakening of the beings. 

There being no enlightening, he truly delivers sermons. There 

being no two, he is immeasurable and is incomparably equal. 

Being as flat as space, there is no form to represent. Being equal 

to the nature of beings, he is not the 'not-is'", nor is he the 'is'.* 

He always practices the one vehicle. He sees the three of the 

beings and does not retrogress, does not change, and cuts off all 

roots of illusion. He does not fight or touch. He is non-nature and 

yet abides in nature. He does not merge and does not disperse. 

He is not long and not short. He is not round and not square. He 

is no group, sphere, or realm, and yet he is the group, sphere, 

and realm. He is non-augmenting and is not lessening. He is no 

victor, and yet is not one vanquished. The body of the Tathagata 

is perfect in such innumerable virtues. There is none that he 

knows, none not known. There is none that is seen and none that 

is not seen. It is not that there is any creating and not that there is 

no creating. It is non-world and is not non-world. He does not do 

and is not non-doing. He is none to depend upon and is not none 

to depend upon. He is not the four great elements, nor is he no 

four great elements. He is no cause and is not no cause. He is no 

being and is not no being. He is no sramana, no Brahman. He is 

the lion, the great lion. He is nobody and is not nobody. We 

cannot express. Other than the oneness of the Law, no counting 

is possible. At the time of Parinirvana, he does not enter 

Parinirvana. The law body of the Tathagata is perfect in all such 

innumerable wonderful virtues. O Kasyapa! Only the Tathagata 

knows all such phases of existence. All are beyond what 

sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas may know. O Kasyapa! 

The body of the Tathagata is made up of all such virtues. It is no 

body supported or nourished by various foodstuffs. O Kasyapa! 

The virtue of the true body of the Tathagata is such. How could it 

suffer from illnesses, the pain of illness, and insecurity. How 

could it be as brittle as the unburnt earthen wares? O Kasyapa! 

The reason why the Tathagata manifests illness and pain comes 

all from his desire to subdue beings. O good man! Know now that 

the Tathagata's body is one that is adamantine. From now on, 

think exclusively of this signification. Never think of a body 

supported by food. Also, to all beings, say that the body of the 

Tathagata is a law body". 

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-honored 

One. The Tathagata is perfect in all such virtues. How could it be 

that such a body suffers from illness and pain, impermanence, 

and destruction? From now on, I shall regard the Tathagata's 

body as of the eternal law body and the body of peace, Also, to 

all others, I shall speak of as such. Yes, indeed, the Tathagata's 

law body is adamantine and indestructible. And, yet, I do not 

know how it could come out to be thus". The Buddha said to 


"By the right upholding of the Right Law, one obtains this 

adamantine body O Kasyapa! As I have in the past well guarded 

the Law, I now am blessed with perfecting this adamantine body 

which is eternal and indestructible. O good man! One who 

upholds the Right Law does not receive the five precepts and 

practice deportment, but protects with the sword, bow, arrow, and 

halberd those Bhikshus who uphold the precept and who are 


Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-honored One! 

If a bhiksu is away from protection, lives alone in the open, in the 

graveyard, or under a tree, I say that such a one is a true bhiksu. 

Any bhiksu whose eyes turn to protection is, we may know, a 

bogus priest". The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Do not say 'bogus'. 

There may be a bhiksu who goes where he will, gets satisfied 

with his personal needs, recites sutras, sits, and meditates. 

Should any person come and ask of the Way, he will give 

sermons. He will speak about giving, of, precept bserving, 

virtuous acts, and say that one should covet but little, and get 

satisfied. But he is not able to raise a lion's cry over the doctrine, 

is not surrounded by lions, and is not able to subdue those who 

act evil. Such a bhiksu cannot work out the profit of his own, nor 

is he able to assist others. Know that this person is indolent and 

lazy. Though he may well uphold the precept and stick to pure 

actions, such a one, you should know, can do nothing. Or there 

may be a bhiksu whose utensils may be full. And he upholds the 

prohibitive precepts, and always raises a lion's cry, and delivers 

wonderful sermons on such as sutra,* geya,* vyakarana,* gatha,* 

udana," itivrttaka," jataka,* vaipulya," and adbhutadharma.* He 

thus expounds all these nine types of Buddhist sutras.* He gives 

benefit and peace to others. So, he says:'Prohibitions are given in 

the nirvana-sutra to Bhikshus, which say that they should not 

keep menials, cows, sheep, or anything that goes against 

prohibitions. Should Bhikshus keep such defiled things, they must 

be taught not to. The Tathagata has stated in the sutras of 

various schools that any bhiksu who keeps things as such must 

be mended just as kings correct ill acts and that they must be 

driven back to secular life'. When a bhiksu raises such a lion's 

cry, any who breaks the precept, hearing this, will all get angry 

and harm this priest. If this person dies by this, he is to be called 

one who upholds the precept and who benefits his own self and those 

of others. Because of this, kings, ministers, prime ministers, and 

upasakas protect those who deliver sermons. Any person who 

protects the Right Law should learn things thus. O Kasyapa! Any 

person who thus breaks the precept and who does not protect the 

Right Law is to be called a bogus priest. One who is strict to rules 

does not get such a name. O good man! In the past, in the 

innumerable, boundless, asamkhyas of kalpas past, there came 

out in this town of Kusinagara a Buddha who was the Alms- 

deserving, the All-enlightened One, the All-accomplished One, 

the Well-gone, the All-knower, the Unsurpassed One, the Best 

Trainer, the Teacher-of-Heaven-and-Earth, the Buddha-World- 

honored One, l and whose name was 'Tathagata of Joy- and- 

Benefit-augmenting'. At the time, the world was wide and 

gloriously pure, rich and peaceful. The people were at the height 

of prosperity and no hunger was felt. He looked like the 

bodhisattvas of the Land of Peace and Happiness. That Buddha- 

World-honored One stayed in the world for an innumerable length 

of time. Having taught the people, he entered Parinirvana 

between the twin Sala trees. The Buddha having entered nirvana, 

the teaching remains in the world for innumerable billions of years 

and in the last part of the remaining forty years the Buddhist 

teaching was not dead yet. At the time, there was a bhiksu called 

'Enlightened-Virtuous',who well upheld the precept and who was 

surrounded by many relatives of his. He raised a lion's cry and 

preached all the nine types of the sutras. He taught and said: 

'Keep no menials man or woman, cows, sheep or whatever might 

go against the precept'. At the time, there were many Bhikshus 

who were acting against the precept. Hearing this, they 

entertained ill-will and came upon this bhiksu, blandishing swords 

and staffs. At the time, there was a king called 'Virtuous'. He 

heard of this. To protect the Law, he came to where the bhiksu 

was delivering sermons and fought against the evil doers so that 

the bhiksu did not suffer. The king, however, received wounds all 

over the body. Then, the bhiksu Enlightened-Virtuous, praising 

the king, said: 'Well done, well done, O king! You are the one 

who protects the Right Law. In the days to come, you will become 

the unsurpassed utensil of the Law'. The king listened to the 

sermon and was rejoiced. Then, he died, and was born in the 

country of the Buddha Aksobhya* and became his first disciple. 

The subjects of this king, the relatives and soldiers were all glad 

and did not retrogress in the bodhimind. When the day came to 

part from the world, they were born in the land of Buddha 

Aksobhya. At the time when the Right Law is to die out, one 

should act and protect the Law like this. O Kasyapa! The king at 

the time was I; the bhiksu who delivered the sermon was Buddha 

Kasyapa.* O Kasyapa! One who guards the Right Law is 

rewarded with such an innumerable fruition. That is why I today 

adorn my body in various ways and am accomplished in the 

indestructible law body" 

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said again to the Buddha: 'World- 

honored One! The eternal body of the Tathagata is, as it were, 

one carved in stone". The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "O good 

man! Because of this, Bhikshus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas 

should all the more make effort and protect the Right Law. The 

reward of protecting the Right Law is extremely great and 

innumerable. O good man! Because of this, those upasakas who 

protect the Law should take the sword and staff and protect such 

a bhiksu who guards the Law. Even if one upholds the precept, 

we cannot call this person one who upholds Mahayana. Even if 

one has not received the five precepts, if one protects the Right 

Law, such a one can well be called one of Mahayana. One who 

upholds the Right Law should take the sword and staff and guard 

Bhikshus''. Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-honored One! 

If all Bhikshus are to be accompanied by such upasakas with the 

sword and staff, can we say that they are worth the name of a 

teacher, or is it that it is not worth such? Or is it the upholding of 

the precept or not?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Do not say 

that such persons are those who break the precept. O good man! 

After I have entered nirvana, the world will be evil-ridden and the 

land devastated, each pillaging the other, and the people will be 

driven by hunger. At suck a time, because of hunger, men may 

make up their mind, abandon home, and enter the Sangha. Such 

persons are the bogus priests. 

Such, seeing those persons who are strict to the precepts, right in 

deportment, and pure in action, upholding the Right Law, drive 

such away or kill or cause harm". Bodhisattva Kasyapa said 

again to the Buddha: "O World-honored One! How can all such 

persons upholding the precept and guarding the Right Law get 

into villages and castle towns and teach?" "O good man! That is 

why I permit that those who uphold the precept can be 

accompanied by the white-clad people with the sword and staff. 

Although all kings, ministers, rich lay men, and upasakas may 

possess the sword and staff for protecting the law, I call this an 

upholding of the precept. You may possess the sword and staff, 

but do not take life. If things go thus, we call it the first-hand 

upholding of the precept". Kasyapa said: "Any who protects the 

Law abides in the right view and expounds widely the Mahayana 

sutras. He does not carry the bejewelled parasols of the kingly 

persons, the oil pot, the unpolished rice, and the fruit and melon. 

He does not come near the king, minister, or the rich for profit. He 

does not flatter to the danapatis, and is perfect in deportment, 

and crushes out those who break the precept and who do evil. 

Such a one is the so-called teacher who upholds and protects the 

Law. He is the true good teacher of the Way. His mind is as wide 

as the sea". "O Kasyapa! Should there be a bhiksu who, for 

profit, speaks to others about the Law, the people and the 

relatives of this person also follow the example and greedily seek 

profit. This person thus spoils people. O Kasyapa! In people, 

there are three kinds, which are: 1) precept-breaking impure 

priest, 2) ignorant priest, and 3) pure priest. The precept-breaking 

mixed-up priest is easy to break, whereas the precept-observing' 

priest cannot be broken just by profit. 

"Why is one a precept-breaking mixed-up priest?" A bhiksu may 

be upholding the precept. But for profit, he sits, stands up, goes 

and comes with the precept-breaking people and is in friendly 

terms with them and does things together. This is the precept- 

breaking, Hence, 'mixed-up' 

"Why do we say that a priest is ignorant? A bhiksu may be living 

in a quiet place. All sense-organs are not proper; the mind is dark 

and slow at working, He desires little and begs alms. On the day 

of admonition and freedom, he cannot teach all people the pure 

confession; seeing many people breaking the precepts, he 

cannot teach them the pure confession. Yet, he sits together with 

others, talks about the precept, and seeks to be free. Such a one 

is an ignorant priest. 

"Who is the pure priest? There is a bhiksu, a priest whom a 

hundred thousand billions of Maras cannot break. Now, this 

bodhisattva is pure in nature and can train the two kinds of priests 

stated above and make them live among those who are pure. He 

is the unsurpassed great teacher who well protects the Law, the 

one who well upholds the precept. He knows well the light or 

grave of precept-upholding and adjusts and benefits people. He 

does not know what is not the precept-upholding; what he knows 

is what concerns the precept. 

"How does he do to adjust beings? For example, the 

bodhisattva, in order to adjust people, always gets into the village 

any time, and visits the places where widows and prostitutes live. 

He lives there for long years. This is what sravakas cannot do. 

This is what is to be called to adjust and benefit beings. 

"How does he know what is grave? Now, if one sees that the 

Tathagata admonishes and prohibits, one should not do it 

thereafter. The things like the four grave offences are what the 

priests must not do. Against this, if purposely done, this tells that 

such a one who does is no more any priest, no son of the Sakya.

This is the 'grave' 

"What is the 'light'? One acts against light ill deeds and thrice 

one gets admonished. Then, one stops doing it again. This is the 

'light' We say 'non-vinaya which is not proved'. One praises and 

says that one may receive and take impure things, and says that 

one accords with the word, and one does not stop doing. 

"We say 'right vinaya which is rightly responded'. This is rightly 

to. learn the vinaya, not to come near what goes against breaking 

the vinaya and spiritually to share pleasure. Thus, one sees that 

one accords with the vinaya. Thus, one well understands what 

one ought to do as a Buddhist and one well expounds. This is 

what the vinaya says that one well' understands the one letter. 

The same goes well with upholding the sutra. O good man! The 

Buddhist Law is innumerable and hard to fathom. The same is 

also the case with the Tathagata. He is beyond knowing". 

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-honored One! 

It is thus, it is thus. It is as you the holy one say. Unbounded and 

incomprehensible is the Buddhist Law. So is also the case with 

the Tathagata. All stands beyond comprehension; so is also the 

Tathagata. Thus, I know now that the Tathagata is eternal and 

indestructible and that there is no changing with him. I shall now 

study well and expound it widely to people" 

Then, the Buddha praised Bodisattvas Kasyapa and said: 

"Well said, well said ! The body of the Tathagata is adamantine 

and indestructible. You, bodhisattva, have now the right view and 

right understanding. If you thus clearly see, you will see the 

adamantine and indestructible body of the Tathagata just as you 

see things reflected in a mirror" -- Nirvana Sutra

1 comment:

  1. What is most difficult to believe and to comprehend is that the Manifest and Reward bodies of the Buddha too, are without beginning or end [as taught in the Lotus Sutra].