Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Maitreya Bodhisattva's
Attainment of Buddhahood
Translation into Chinese by Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva of Yao Qin Dynasty from Kucha (ca. A.D.400)
Thus I have heard:
At one time the Buddha was staying in
the kingdom of Magadha, near the Pāśa Mountain, where past Buddhas often
subdued the māras. It was during the summer meditation retreat, when the
Buddha was doing walking meditation on the mountaintop with Śāriputra, that He
spoke in verse:
In radiant great samādhi,
with unsurpassed virtue
Will rightfully appear in the world.
That one will
pronounce the wondrous Dharma,
And all will be infused with
Like the thirsty drinking the sweet nectar.
All will swiftly set off
on the Liberation Path.
At that time the four groups of the Buddha's disciples repaired and leveled the roads. They sprinkled water, swept the streets, and
burned incense. [A huge multitude,] holding objects of offering, came to the
assembly to make offerings to the Tathāgata and the bhikṣus. Intently gazing at
the Tathāgata, they were like filial sons beholding their father, or like
the thirsty longing for a drink [of water]. In the same way they loved and
thought of their Dharma father. With one mind they all wanted to request the
Dharma-king to turn the right Dharma wheel. With their senses
undistracted, one by one, their minds flowed toward the Buddha. At that time bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, as well
as gods, dragons, spirits, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, humans, nonhumans, and
others, all rose from their seats and circumambulated the Buddha to the right.
Then they each fully prostrated themselves on the ground, shedding tears before
At that time Śāriputra the Wise straightened his robe
and bared his right shoulder. Having been following the Buddha the Dharma-king,
to turn the right Dharma wheel, he was the minister of the Buddha and a great
general upholding the Dharma. Out of pity for the sentient beings, he wanted
them to be liberated from the bondage of sufferings. Knowing that the
Dharma-king's mind would be responsive, he said to the Buddha, "World-Honored
One, just now the Tathāgata spoke in verse on the mountaintop, praising the one
with the foremost wisdom. This has never been mentioned in previous sūtras. The
minds of this huge multitude are now filled with expectation. They shed tears
like heavy rain, hoping to hear the Tathāgata speak about the next Buddha
Maitreya, who will open the Sweet Nectar Path. Maitreya Buddha's name, His
virtue, His spiritual power, and His land will be sublime. Based on what kind of good roots, precepts, almsgiving, meditation, wisdom, and intellect will
one be able to see Maitreya Buddha? With what mindset should one walk the Eightfold Right Path?"
When Śāriputra was asking this
question, hundreds of thousands of god-sons and innumerable Brahma-kings,
joining their palms reverently, spoke in one voice, also requesting the Buddha,
"World-Honored One, we pray that You will enable us in a future life to see
Maitreya Buddha, the fruition of the greatest reward to all men, the
illuminating eye of the Threefold Realm, who will teach great
lovingkindness and compassion universally to sentient beings."
The eight classes of Dharma protectors, joining their palms reverently,
also made the request to the Tathāgata in the same way. At that time
Brahma-kings and a multitude of Brahma-gods, joining their palms, sang their
praise in one voice with a stanza:
"Namo the Full Moon!
Complete with the ten
The leader of great energetic progress,
The one with all wisdom-knowledge,
Having transcended the
Threefold Realm of Existence,
Having acquired the Three Thorough
Having subdued the four māras,
His body being a
His mind vast like space,
Silent and unmoving
existence and nonexistence,
And toward emptiness and
With perfect understanding of śūnyatā,
One who is praised
by the world!
We, with one mind,
Take refuge at the same time,
that You will turn the Dharma wheel."
At that time the World-Honored One told Śāriputra, "I will
expound broadly to you. Hearken, hearken, and ponder it well! All of you today,
with a wonderful good intention, want to ask the Tathāgata about the unsurpassed bodhi work and the great wisdom, mahā-prajñā. The Tathāgata sees it as
clearly as a mango in the palm. Śāriputra, if one has heard, under the past
seven Buddhas, the names of Buddhas and made obeisance and offerings, for
this reason, one's karma-hindrances will all be annihilated. If one has also
heard of Maitreya Buddha's great lovingkindness, one will attain a pure mind.
You all should join your palms single-mindedly and take refuge in the great
loving, kind, compassionate one to come. I will expound broadly to
"The land of Maitreya Buddha will be a land of pure life,
with no sycophancy or deceit, because He does not embrace or cling to his
attainment in dāna-pāramitā, śīla-pāramitā, and prajñā-pāramitā. It will
be sublime because of His ten wonderful vows. When sentient beings, drawn by His
great lovingkindness, rouse their gentle minds, they will see Maitreya Buddha.
They will be reborn in His land, tame their senses, and follow the Buddha's
"Śāriputra, [at that time] the water surface of each
of the four great oceans will be reduced by 3,000 yojanas. Jambudvīpa will be 10,000 yojanas in length and in width. Its ground will
be level and clean, like a crystal mirror. There will be large flowers that suit
one's fancy, pleasing flowers, huge fragrant flowers, utpala blossoms, flowers
with large golden petals, flowers with petals made of the seven
treasures, and flowers with silver petals. The stamens of these flowers will
be soft like celestial silk. They will bear auspicious fruits with aroma and
flavor, which are soft like celestial cotton. In the forests, there will be
abundant wonderful flowers and sweet fruits, surpassing those in the garden
favored by the god-king Śakra. The trees will be 30 lis in
"The adjacent cities will be only a rooster's flight
apart. Those who have planted the good roots under the present Buddha will
reborn in that world as the reward for their practice of lovingkindness. They
will be wise, virtuous, happy, and peaceful, as they gratify the five
desires. They will not have illnesses caused by cold, heat, wind, or fire,
nor will they have the misery of the nine afflictions. They will each
live to 84,000 years in full, and no one will die a premature death. Their body
will be 160 feet tall. Everyday they will enjoy wonderful peace and bliss,
experiencing deep meditation as their instrument of happiness. They will have
only three troubles: First, need to eat and drink; second, need to discharge
bodily wastes; and third, need to grow old. Women will marry when they are 500
"There will be a great city called Kethama, which,
adorned with the seven treasures, will be 1,200 yojanas in length and in width,
and 7 yojanas in elevation. Inside will be magically-created towers made of the
seven treasures, and they will be majestic, wonderful, august, and pure. Through
the windows will be seen fair maidens, holding nets made with precious beads.
These towers will be covered with various treasures as adornment and hung with
jeweled bells, the sound of which resembles celestial music. Among the lines of
trees made of the seven treasures will be waterways and fountains, also made of
the seven treasures. The streams in various colors will reflect and highlight
one another. Although crisscrossing in flow, they will not obstruct one another.
The river banks will be entirely covered with gold dust.
streets and roads [of the city] will be twelve lis wide, all as fresh as a
celestial garden sprinkled with water and swept clean. There will be a great
dragon-king called Taraśikhin, which has merit and awesome powers. Its lake
being near the city, its palace, like a tower made of the seven treasures, will
be fully visible from a distance. At midnight he will assume a human form and
fill an auspicious bottle with fragrant water. He will sprinkle this water to
drench the dust until the ground looks as moist as if oiled. When pedestrians
walk around, there will be no dust. This is [a reward] resulting from the merit
of the people. Everywhere around the streets and alleys will be luminous beads
mounted on poles, and their light, like the sunlight, will reach eighty yojanas
in each of the four directions. This pure golden light will shine day or night.
In comparison, the light of lamps and candles would be like pooled ink. When the
fragrant winds blow, the luminous beads on the poles will rain down necklaces of
jewels, and people will wear them as naturally as if they were enjoying the
bliss in the third dhyāna. Everywhere will be gold, silver, jewels,
precious beads, and so forth, piled up like mountains. These treasure mountains
radiate light to illuminate everywhere in the city. Whenever illuminated by this
light, people will all be happy and activate the bodhi
"There will be a great yakṣa named Bhadrapraśāsaka, who
protects the city of Kethama day and night. Followed by the people, he will
sprinkle water and sweep the ground clean. The ground will crack open to take in
people's discharged waste products and close afterward, and it will grow red
lotus blossoms to overpower the foul odor.
"When the people of
that world grow old and frail, they will voluntarily go to the mountain forest
to sit under a tree. As they keep thinking of the Buddha, they will die
peacefully and joyfully without any fanfare. After death, most of them will be
reborn in Great Brahma Heaven or before the Buddhas.
peaceful land, there will be no trouble of bandits and thieves, robbing and
stealing. The doors in cities and villages will never be closed. Nor will there
be any catastrophes of water, fire, weapons, or troops; nor the tribulation of
famine or harmful toxins. Taming their senses, people will live in
lovingkindness, respect, and harmony. To one another, they will be like a son
loving his father, like a mother loving her son. Taught and guided by Maitreya
Buddha's lovingkindness, they will speak humble words. Their senses will be
calm, and their features even and straight, as awe-inspiring as those of
celestial youths. Those who have been observing the precept of not killing and
not eating flesh will, for this reason, be reborn in that land.
"The city of Kethama will be situated in the center of 84,000 small cities made
of treasures, which will serve as its satellites. Men and women, adults and
children, living near or far, because of the spiritual power of the Buddha, will
be able to see one another without any obstacles.
that world will be wish-fulfilling jeweled flowers that shine in the night.
Flowers made of the seven treasures will rain down from the sky. Scattered all
over the grounds will be blossoms of padma, utpala, kumada, puṇḍarīka,
māndarāva, mahā-māndarāva, mañjūṣaka, and mahā-mañjūṣaka. Some of them, swept up
by the wind, will be whirling in the air. The bathing pools, fountains, rivers,
and lakes in the gardens and forests near the cities and villages of that land
will naturally have the water of the eight virtues. Singing wonderful
tones will be geese, ducks, wood ducks, peacocks, parrots, halcyons, śārīs, melodious cuckoos, jīvajīvas, and the quick-sighted birds.
Also flying and gathering in the trees and pools will be innumerable birds of
diverse species, singing wonderful melodies.
"Blooming day and
night and never wilted will be golden, untainted, pure-radiance flowers,
carefree pure-wisdom sunlight flowers, bright white seven-day fragrance flowers,
and fragrant campaka flowers in six colors, as well as hundreds, thousands, and
tens of thousands of kinds of land and water blossoms, unmatched in fragrance
and purity. The blue colors will radiate blue light; yellow colors, yellow
light; red colors, red light; and white colors, white light. There will be trees
bearing wish-fulfilling fruits, with their beautiful aroma permeating the land.
Among the treasure mountains in the land will be fragrant trees, which will
radiate golden light to pervade everywhere and emit pleasing scents to suffuse
"At that time there will always be fine fragrance in Jambudvīpa, making it like a mountain of fragrance. Streaming waters will
be good and sweet, which can remove troubles. Rainfalls will be timely and the
heavenly fields will ripen aromatic and beautiful crops of grain. Because of the
powers of these godlike people, seven harvests will be reaped from one planting.
Only a little effort will yield much return. Without weeds or muck, the crops of
grains will thrive. As a reward for the merit of these sentient beings, the
grains, complete with a hundred flavors, unmatched in aroma, will melt in their
mouths, providing them with strength and vitality.
"At that time,
in that land, there will be a Wheel-Turning King named Rañca, endowed
with the 32 major marks. He will have four types of armed forces, but he
will not rule the four continents by military power. The king will have 1,000
sons, who are valiant and majestic, and enemies will naturally submit to them.
The king will have seven precious things: First, the golden wheel, complete with
the hub, the rim, and 1,000 spokes; second, the white elephant, white as a snow
mountain, a magnificent spectacle as it stands on its seven limbs, like a
mountain-king; third, the blue horse, with red mane and tail, hoofs made of the
seven treasures, and flowers appearing underneath; fourth, the divine jewel,
clearly visible, more than two elbows across, the radiance of which rains down
treasures to fulfill the wishes of sentient beings; fifth, exquisite maidens,
beautiful, wonderful, and limber as if boneless; sixth, the treasure minister,
whose mouth spits out jewels, whose feet rain down jewels, and whose hands
produce jewels; seventh, the military minister, who, by moving his body, can
produce the four types of armed forces from the sky just like
"His 1,000 sons and his people in this kingdom of the
seven treasures will regard one another without any malice, but like a mother
loving her son. At that time these sons of the king will take the precious
jewels and construct a platform in front of the main palace, using the seven
treasures. It will be 13 yojanas in height, with 30 decks. [Equipped with] 1,000
tiller-heads and 1,000 wheels, it can move easily.
"There will be
four great treasuries, each surrounded by four koṭi small treasuries. The
great Elāpattra Treasury will be in the kingdom of Gandhāra; the great Pāṭaka
Treasury in the kingdom of Mithila; the great Piṅgala Treasury in the kingdom of
Sulaṭa; and the great Rañca Treasury in the kingdom of Vārāṇasī, near the
mountain of ancient fairies. These four great treasuries, filled with treasures,
will be naturally uncovered, each radiating light to the distance of 1,000
yojanas, and each surrounded by four koṭi small treasuries. There will be four
great dragons guarding these four treasuries and their respective small
treasuries, which, shaped like lotus blossoms, stand above the ground.
Uncountable multitudes will go to see these treasures, which will not be guarded
by humans. When the multitudes see these treasures, their minds will not covet
them. They will leave them on the ground, just like tiles, stones, grasses,
trees, and chunks of dirt. When people see them, they will feel disgusted,
saying to one another these words: 'As the Buddha has said, the sentient beings
in the past, for the sake of these treasures, viciously harmed one another. They
stole from and robbed one another, and they lied to and deceived one another,
thus falling into enormous hells and extending their conditions for suffering in
birth and death.'
"Nets made with jewels will hover over the city
of Kethama. Jeweled bells, blown by breezes, just like bells being struck, will
chime harmoniously, singing refuge in the Buddha, refuge in the Dharma, and
refuge in the Saṅgha.
"At that time, there in the city
will be a great Brahmin named Subrahma. His wife, by the name of Brahmapati,
also in the Brahmin caste, will be one who is gentle in nature. To them as
parents, Maitreya Bodhisattva will be born. His stay in the womb will be like
roaming in a celestial palace, and He will radiate great light, unobstructed by
dirt and dust.
"[As seen after birth,] His body will be purplish
golden, complete with the 32 major marks of a great man. He will be seated on a
jeweled lotus blossom, and sentient beings will not get tired of beholding him.
His brilliant light, which gods and humans have never seen before, will be so
dazzling that the eye cannot endure. His strength will be immeasurable—The
strength of each section of His body will surpass all the powerful dragons and
elephants. The inconceivable radiance from His pores will illuminate infinite
space, unhindered. The light of the sun, the moon, and the stars, as well as the
light of water, fire, and gems, will all become inconspicuous like dust. His
height will measure eighty elbows of Śākyamuni Buddha. His chest will be
twenty-five elbows wide. His face will be twelve and a half elbows long. His
nose in the center of His face will be tall and straight. His appearance will be
sublime, complete with the unexcelled marks. Each mark will include 84,000
excellent characteristics, which will adorn Him like a cast golden statue. Each
of His excellent characteristics will send out radiance, illuminating the
distance of thousands of yojanas. His physical eyes, with blue and white parts,
will look clear. His permanent light will encircle His body and face, hundreds
of yojanas around. Clearly illuminated by the Buddha light will be the sun, the
moon, the stars, precious beads, and jewels, as well as lines of trees made of
the seven treasures. All other lights will be of no use. The body of this Buddha
will be tall like a golden mountain. Those who see Him will naturally be
liberated from the three evil life-journeys.
"At that time
Maitreya Bodhisattva will observe carefully the faults of the five
desires of the world and the sufferings of sentient beings sinking in the
long flow, and He will pity those who are in the vast cycle of birth and death.
Observing suffering, emptiness, and impermanence with such correct thoughts, He
will not delight in family life, but will consider it as confining as a
"At that time the king Rañca, together with his ministers
and the people of his kingdom, will take the platform made of the seven
treasures, together with 1,000 jeweled curtains, 1,000 jeweled carriages, 1,000
koṭi jeweled bells, 1,000 jeweled vessels, and 1,000 jeweled urns, and offer
them all to Maitreya Bodhisattva. After accepting them, Maitreya Bodhisattva
will give them to the Brahmins. The Brahmins, after accepting them, will
break them into pieces and share them. The Brahmins will all be surprised to see
Maitreya Bodhisattva make such an enormous almsgiving. Maitreya Bodhisattva,
seeing the evanescence and impermanence of the treasure platform, will know that saṁskṛta dharmas will all perish. Training Himself to remember
impermanence, Maitreya Bodhisattva will praise past Buddhas as the cool nectar,
with a stanza on impermanence:
'All processes are impermanent,
Which are the dharma of birth and
Having ended birth and death,
"After uttering this stanza, Maitreya Bodhisattva will renounce
family life to learn the Way and to sit under the dragon flower bodhi
tree in the sublime vajra maṇḍala. This tree will be 50 yojanas
tall, with its branches and leaves spreading all about, radiating great bright
light. Its branches will be like a jeweled dragon, spitting out hundreds of
jeweled flowers. Its flowers and leaves will be in the colors of the seven
treasures, and its fruits in various colors will be satisfying to sentient
beings. No tree in the heavens or the human world can compare.
"At that time Maitreya Bodhisattva, together with 84,000 Brahmins, will go to
this maṇḍala. To renounce family life and to learn the Way, He will shave off
his own hair. He will renounce family life in the morning and, in the evening of
the same day, will subjugate the four kinds of māras and attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. He will then speak in verse:
'Long thinking of the sufferings of sentient beings
to rescue them, I was unable to do so.
Today I have attained the
Suddenly, obstructions are no more.
I have also verified that
sentient beings are śūnyatā
And that the original nature and
appearance are true reality.
My sorrows and sufferings
My lovingkingness and compassion are unconditional.
sake of rescuing you all,
I have given to innumerable people
my head, my eyes,
My hands, my feet, and my wife.
Beginning today are my
And the unsurpassed great silence.
I will expound them to you
And widely open the Sweet Nectar Way.
Such a fruition of great
Is all born from great endurance in the six pāramitās,
almsgiving, observing precepts, and developing wisdom.
It is acquired also
from great lovingkindness and compassion
As well as from untainted
"Having spoken this stanza, Maitreya Buddha will remain silent. Then,
god-kings, dragon-kings, and spirit-kings, without revealing themselves, will
rain down flowers as offerings to this Buddha. The Three-Thousand Large
Thousandfold World will quake in six ways. This Buddha's body will emit
light, illuminating infinite realms. Those who can be delivered will be
able to see this Buddha.
"At that time, in the Flower Grove
Garden, the god-king Śakro-Devānām-Indra, the four god-kings who
protect the world, the great Brahma-kings, and innumerable god-sons will bow
down their heads at the feet of this Buddha. Joining their palms, they will
request Him to turn the Dharma wheel. At that time Maitreya Buddha will grant
their request in silence. He will tell the Brahma-kings, 'In the long night, I
have undergone great sufferings and cultivated the six pāramitās. Finally, I
have fulfilled the Dharma Ocean today. To pronounce the Dharma to you all, I
will rightfully erect the Dharma banner, beat the Dharma drum, blow the Dharma
conch shell, and rain down the Dharma rain. None of the gods and humans can turn
the Dharma wheel of the Eightfold Right Path, which can be turned by
Buddhas only. Its meaning is impartial, and it leads straight to the unsurpassed
silence of that which is asaṁskṛta. It can enable sentient beings to end
their sufferings in the long night. This Dharma is so profound that it is hard
to obtain, hard to enter, hard to believe, and hard to understand. No one in the
world can know it or see it. However, through it, one can cleanse one's mental
defilements and acquire myriads of Brahma actions.'
words are being said, from other worlds, innumerable hundreds, thousands, tens
of thousands, and koṭis of god-sons, god-daughters, and great Brahma-kings,
riding their celestial palaces, will come. Holding celestial flowers, they will
offer them to this Tathāgata and circumambulate Him hundreds of thousands of
times. They will fully prostrate themselves on the ground, and, joining their
palms, they too will implore this Buddha. The celestial music sounding without
being played, the Brahma-kings will speak in one voice, saying in verse:
'Without a Buddha,
Immeasurable, uncountable years have passed in
And sentient beings have gone down to the evil life-paths.
When the eye of the world is gone,
The three evil
life-paths will widen and expand,
And the road to the heavens will be
Today the Buddha has appeared in the world.
The three evil
life-paths will be annihilated,
And the multitude of gods and humans will
We pray that You will open the Sweet Nectar Door,
minds of sentient beings not to cling,
But to attain nirvāṇa swiftly.
We, the Brahma-kings, have heard
That a Buddha has appeared in
Because we now have encountered the Buddha,
The palaces in Brahma Heavens are grander,
And the light of
our body becomes brighter.
For the sake of all multitudes in the ten
We implore the great guiding teacher,
Praying that He will
open the Sweet Nectar [Door]
And turn the unsurpassed Dharma
"Having spoken this stanza, they again will bow down their heads to
the ground. Joining their palms, three times they will request earnestly, 'We
pray only that the World-Honored One will turn the profound wondrous Dharma
wheel to eradicate the roots of sufferings of sentient beings, enabling them to
walk far away from the three poisons and unwholesome deeds and to
break away from the four evil life-paths.'
"At that time Maitreya
the World-Honored One will smile and emit light in five colors, silently
granting the request of the Brahma-kings. Having perceived the Buddha's
approval, the god-sons and the innumerable multitudes will be immeasurably
exultant and exhilarated all over their body, just like filial sons finding
their deceased beloved father suddenly come back to life. The joy of the
multitudes will be on the same scale. The multitude of gods will circumambulate
the World-Honored One, to the right uncountable number of times, and then, with
tireless reverence and adoration, they will step back to stand on one
"At that time the huge multitude will all have this
thought: 'Although we can enjoy the pleasures of the five desires for thousands
of koṭis of years, we cannot avoid the sufferings of the three evil life-paths.
Wives and riches cannot save us [from this karma]. The world is impermanent and
life will not last for long. We should train in the pure Brahma way in the
"After this thought they will think another
thought: 'The gratification of the five desires for innumerable kalpas,
like the lifespan of gods in No Perception Heaven, which lasts for innumerable
koṭis of kalpas, and the fine and smooth tactile sensations from making merry
with the playmate goddesses will come to an end. Then we will go down to the
three evil life-paths to undergo immeasurable sufferings. The few pleasures are
illusory, not worth mentioning. When we enter hell, the enormous fire will be
glaringly ablaze. It will be hard to escape from the immeasurable sufferings for
hundreds of thousands of koṭis of kalpas. It will be hard to eradicate the
tribulations in the long night. Today we have encountered the Budhha, and we
should endeavor to make energetic progress.'
"At that time the
king Rañca will chant aloud in verse:
'The pleasures of life in heaven
Will eventually come to an
Before long will come a fall to hell,
Which is like a pile of raging
We should take quick action
To renounce family life and learn the
"Having spoken these words, Rañca the Wheel-Turning King, surrounded
reverently by 84,000 great ministers and escorted by the four god-kings, will go
to the Flower Grove Garden. Under the dragon flower tree, he will ask Maitreya
Buddha for permission to renounce family life, and he will make obeisance to the
Buddha. Before he raises his head, his hair and beard will fall off by
themselves, and he will be dressed in a monk's robe, becoming a śramaṇa.
"At that time Maitreya Buddha, together with the
king Rañca, surrounded reverently by 84,000 great ministers as well as bhikṣus
and innumerable Dharma protectors in the eight classes such as gods and dragons,
will enter the city of Kethama. As soon as He steps over the threshold of the
gate, the Sahā World will quake in six ways. The ground of Jambudvīpa
will turn into golden color. The ground in the center of the great city of
Kethama is made of vajra. Up from the ground will naturally rise the jeweled
vajra throne, upon which past Buddhas have seated, and lines of jeweled trees.
Gods will rain down from the sky enormous jeweled flowers. Dragon-kings will
play music, spitting flowers from their mouths and raining flowers from their
pores, as offerings to the Buddha. This Buddha will be seated on this throne to
turn the right Dharma wheel. He will pronounce the noble truth of suffering, the
noble truth of its cause, the noble truth of its annihilation, and the noble
truth of the path. He will also expound the Thirty-seven Elements for the
Attainment of Bodhi. He will also pronounce the Twelve Links of Dependent
Origination: conditioned upon ignorance are karmic actions; conditioned upon
karmic actions is [ālaya] consciousness; conditioned upon [ālaya]
consciousness are name and form; conditioned upon name and form are the six
sense faculties; conditioned upon the six sense faculties is contact;
conditioned upon contact is sensation; conditioned upon sensation are cravings,
conditioned upon cravings is grasping; conditioned upon grasping is karmic
becoming; conditioned upon karmic becoming is birth; and conditioned upon birth
are old age and death, together with anxiety, sorrow, misery, and
"At that time the earth will quake in six ways. The
sound will be heard throughout this Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World and
even immeasurable and boundless worlds, each from Avīci Hell below to Akaniṣṭha Heaven at the top. At that time the four god-kings, each
leading innumerable ghosts and spirits, will chant loudly, 'When the Buddha sun
rises, the Dharma rain will fall. The eye of the world has just opened today.
Let the eight classes of Dharma protectors of the great earth which are ready
for the Buddha all hear and know this.'
"The gods in the Thirty-Three Heavens, Yāma Heaven, Tuṣita Heaven, Nirmāṇa-Rati Heaven,
Paranirmita-Vaśa-Vartin Heaven, and even Great Brahma Heaven, in their
respective places, will chant loudly, 'When the Buddha sun rises, the sweet
nectar falls. The eye of the world has just opened today. Let those who are
ready all hear and know this.'
"At that time the eight classes of
Dharma protectors such as gods and dragons, as well as the spirts of mountains,
trees, medicinal herbs, water, fire, earth, cities, dwellings, and so forth,
joyful and exuberant, will also chant loudly.
84,000 Brahmins, intelligent and very wise, following after the great king
Rañca, will renounce family life to learn the Way in the Buddha Dharma. An elder
named Sudatta, who is none other than the Elder Sudatta today, together with
84,000 people, will also renounce family life. Two brothers named Ṛṣidatta and
Pūraṇa, together with 84,000 people, will also renounce family life. Two great
ministers valued by the king, respectively named Brahmadamāli and Sumana,
together with 84,000 people, will also renounce family life to learn the Way in
the Buddha Dharma. The Wheel-Turning King's precious daughter, called Śāmivatī,
who is none other than the lady Viśākhā today, together with 84,000 fair ladies,
will also renounce family life. The king Rañca's crown prince, called Sky Golden
Color, who is none other than the son of the Elder Devavana today, together with
84,000 people, will also renounce family life. The son of a Brahmin relative of
Maitreya Buddha, called Sumati, who is none other than the son of the bhikṣuṇī
Catarabhadra today, together with 60,000 people, will also renounce family life.
Only one of the 1,000 sons of the king Rañca will be reserved for succeeding to
the throne. The remaining 999 sons, together with 84,000 people, will all
renounce family life in order to be in the Buddha Dharma. Immeasurable
multitudes such as these, seeing the sufferings in the world and the blazing
force of the five aggregates, will all renounce family life so as to be
in the Dharma of Maitreya Buddha.
"At that time Maitreya Budddha,
with His mind of great lovingkindness, will speak these words to the multitude:
'You now have come to me, not for the sake of the pleasures of the next life in
heaven or the pleasures of this life, but for the sake of the conditions for the
eternal bliss of nirvāṇa. You have already planted the good roots in the Buddha
Dharma. When Śākyamuni Buddha appeared in the world of the five
turbidities, He rebuked you variously, expounded the Dharma to you, and
taught you to plant [good] conditions for the future. Now that you have seen me,
I will accept all of you. Some of you have been reborn at the place where I am
because they have cultivated virtues, whether by reading and reciting, or by
decisively classifying in the Tripiṭaka the Sūtras, the Vinaya, and the
Abhidharma, whether by expounding or praising their tenets to others, whether
by, without jealousy, teaching others and having them accept and uphold [the
Dharma]. Some of you have been reborn at the place where I am because they have
cultivated virtues by giving others food and clothing, observing the precepts,
and developing wisdom. Some of you have been reborn at the place where I am
because they have cultivated virtues by offering the Buddha music, canopies,
flowers, incense, and bright lamps. Some of you have been reborn at the place
where I am because they have cultivated virtues by offering food regularly to
the Saṅgha, erecting the monks' living quarters, providing them with the four
necessities, or observing the eight precepts and the vegetarian
regimen for developing the mind of lovingkindness. Some of you have been reborn
at the place where I am because they have cultivated virtues by invoking
profound lovingkindness and compassion for sentient beings in misery and
personally bearing their sufferings to give them happiness. Some of you have
been reborn at the place where I am because they have cultivated virtues by
developing the pure mind of lovingkindness by observing the precepts and
enduring adversities. Some of you have been reborn at the place where I am
because they have cultivated virtues by building temples or offering food to the
monks who came from everywhere to attend the Dharma assemblies. Some of you have
been reborn at the place where I am because they have cultivated such virtues as
meditation and affliction-free wisdom by observing the precepts and hearing much
[of the Dharma]. Some of you have been reborn at the place where I am because
they have cultivated virtues by erecting pagodas, making offerings to holy
relics, or thinking of the dharma body of Buddhas. Some of you have been
reborn at the place where I am because they have cultivated virtues by rescuing
and liberating those who were in hardship, poverty, solitude, or bondage to
others, or those who were about to be tortured or executed by the law, or those
who were in great misery because of the karma of the eight difficulties.
Some of you have been reborn at the place where I am because they have
cultivated virtues by skillfully bringing to union and harmony those who were in
great misery because of love, separation, faction, or dispute.'
"Having spoken these words, Maitreya Buddha will praise Śākyamuni Buddha: 'Very
good! Very good! He was able to teach and convert, in the world of the five
turbidities, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousand, and koṭis of evil sentient
beings, enabling them to develop the good roots and to be reborn at the place
where I am.'
"Maitreya Buddha will repeat His praise of Śākyamuni
Buddha three times and then speak in verse:
'The great guiding teacher, enduring adversities and fiercely
Was able to teach, convert, and bring evil sentient beings to
In the unwholesome world of the five turbidities,
to train themselves and to see the [next] Buddha.
Enduring great sufferings
in carrying sentient beings,
He now has entered the state of eternal bliss
independent of conditions,
And has advised His disciples to come to the place
where I am.
To glorify nirvāṇa, I now will pronounce to you the Four Noble
As well as the Thirty-seven Elements of Bodhi
And the Twelve
Links of Dependent Origination.
You should observe that which is
And enter the state of silent śūnyatā.'
"Having spoken this stanza, Maitreya Buddha will also praise those
who were able to achieve difficult things at that time in the miserable evil
world. He will say, 'You were able to observe the precepts and perform virtuous
deeds among people who were greedy, angry, deluded, confused, and short-lived.
That is rare! At that time sentient beings did not appreciate their parents, nor
śramaṇas or Brahmins. Not knowing the Bodhi Way, they harassed and harmed one
another, resorting to violence and war. Deeply addicted to the five desires,
they were jealous and sycophantic. Deceitful, sinister, and pitiless, they
killed, ate flesh, and drank blood. They had no respect for teachers and elders,
and they did not know beneficent friends. They did not know such things as
repaying kindness. Born into the world of the five turbidities, they had no
sense of shame or dishonor. Day and night in the six periods, they
performed evil deeds continuously, not recognizing limits. They did only the
unwholesome, gathering evil deeds such as the five rebellious acts, like
densely arranged fish scales, never feeling disgusted. Clans and even nine
branches of family could not help one another.'
"'Very good! Very
good! Śākyamuni Buddha, with great skillfulness and wisdom, out of profound
lovingkindness and compassion, was able to speak honest words in a gentle and
pleasant manner to longsuffering sentient beings, announcing that I will deliver
all of you. Such a guiding teacher who has illuminating keen wisdom is a rarity
in the world and hard to encounter. Deeply pitying the sentient beings in the
evil world, He wanted to eradicate their sufferings and give them peace,
enabling them to enter the highest truth in the profound dharma nature. In three asaṁkhyeya kalpas, Śākyamuni Buddha, for your sake, trained in difficult
ways and ascetic practices, enduring sufferings as he gave others his head and
cut off his ears, nose, hands, and feet. It was for the sake of the Eightfold
Right Path and for liberating you equally, to benefit you.'
this way Maitreya Buddha will guide and comfort innumerable sentient beings,
making them happy. The sentient beings at that time will be such that their
bodies will be purely instilled with the Dharma, their minds will be full of the
Dharma, and their mouths will always pronounce the Dharma. The population will
be composed of those who have merit and wisdom. Even gods will respect, trust,
and admire them."
"At that time the great guiding teacher
Maitreya Buddha will want them each to hear about their sufferings in the past.
He will also think this thought: 'The five impure desires are the roots of
sufferings, but the knowledge that sufferings and pleasures are both impermanent
can remove their anxieties and sorrows. He will then pronounce to them the five aggregates: form, sensation, perception, mental processing, and
consciousness, as well as sufferings, emptiness, impermanence, and the
nonexistence of self. As He speaks these words, 96 koṭi people will no longer
embrace the dharmas [perceived by the senses]. Having ended their discharge of
afflictions and liberated their minds, they will attain Arhatship, complete with
the Three Clarities, Six Transcendental Powers, and Eight
Liberations. Thirty-six thousand god-sons and twenty thousand god-daughters will
activate their anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind. Among the eight classes of
Dharma protectors such as gods and dragons, some will become Śrotāpannas,
entering the holy stream, and others will plant the conditions for going the Pretyekabuddha Way. Those who will activate the mind toward the
unsurpassed Way will be so numerous that it will be beyond
"At that time Maitreya Buddha, together with 96 koṭi
great bhikṣus and the king Rañca, surrounded by 84,000 great ministers, bhikṣus,
and retinues, just like the son of the moon-god encircled by stars, will set off
from the city of Kethama and return to the Flower Grove Garden. At that time the
lesser kings and elders in the cities and settlements in Jambudvīpa, as well as
those from the four castes, will all gather under the dragon flower tree
in the Flower Grove Garden. [In this second great assembly,] Maitreya the
World-Honored One will again pronounce the Four Noble Truths and the
Twelve Links of Dependent Origination. Then 94 koṭi people will attain
Arhatship. In other worlds, the gods and the eight classes of Dharma protectors,
as well as people as numerous as the sands of 64 koṭi Ganges, will all activate
the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind, standing firm at the level of no
"In the third great assembly, 92 koṭi people will attain
Arhatship. Thirty-four koṭi members in the eight classes of Dharma protectors,
such as gods and dragons, will rouse the saṁbodhi mind. At that time Maitreya
Buddha will again pronounce the Four Noble Truths, turning the profound
wonderful Dharma wheel. Having delivered these gods and humans, Maitreya Buddha
will lead his voice-hearer disciples and the eight classes of Dharma
protectors such as gods and dragons, together with the multitudes, and enter the
city of Kethama to beg for food. Innumerable gods from Pure Abode Heavens will reverently follow the Buddha into the city. Upon entering the city, the
Buddha will demonstrate his spiritual powers with 18 transformations: Water will
manifest below His body, like precious beads, and transform into a plateau of
light, illuminating the realms in the ten directions. Fire will manifest above
His body, radiating purplish golden light like Mount Sumeru. He will appear
enormous, filling the sky, and then transform into vaiḍūrya. He will
appear miniscule, like a mustard seed, and then vanish. He will rise in the ten
directions and then vanish in the ten directions. He will make all humans to
have bodies like the Buddha's. He will perform immeasurable manifestations,
using various kinds of spiritual powers, and viewers who are ready will all be
"The god-king Śakro-Devānām-Indra, his 32 ministers,
the gods from the desire realm, the god-kings from Brahma Heavens, and gods from
the form realm, together with god-sons and god-daughters, will remove and
scatter over the Buddha their celestial necklaces and robes, which will turn
into a canopy of flowers. Celestial music will sound without being played,
hymning the virtues of the Buddha. As an offering to the Buddha, celestial
flowers and various scents of sandalwood will rain profusely down from the sky.
Banners will be erected on streets and roads. Choice incense will be burning,
its smoke resembling clouds.
"When Maitreya the World-Honored One
is entering the city, the god-king from Great Brahma Heaven and the god-king
Śakro-Devānām-Indra will reverently join their palms and praise the Buddha in
'The Samyak-Saṁbuddha, the Two-footed Honored One,
heaven and on earth, no one can compare.
The World-Honored One with the Ten Powers is rare.
He is the unsurpassed supreme field of good
Those who make offerings to Him will be reborn in heaven,
the future will be liberated and dwell in nirvāṇa.
Obeisance to the
unsurpassed great attainment!
Obeisance to the great guiding teacher who has
the mind of lovingkindness!'
"The god-king Dhṛtarsaṣtra in the east, the god-king Virūḍhaka in the
south, the god-king Virūpākṣa in the west, and the god-king Vaiśravaṇa in the
north, together with their retinues, joining their palms reverently, will
praise, with a pure mind, the World-Honored One in verse:
'None in the Threefold Realm can compare
To the one adorned with
Who has realized and understood the highest
He has penetrated the nature of sentient beings
appearances of all dharmas,
Seeing both enter the nature of
Standing firm in śūnyatā,
He diligently makes energetic
Yet nothing has been made, no footprints left behind.
I now bow
down my head, making obeisance
To the great guiding teacher who has the mind
When sentient beings do not see the Buddha,
undergo birth and death in the long night,
Going down to the three evil
Or assuming a woman's body.
Today the Buddha has appeared in
Who will eradicate sufferings and give peace and joy.
population on the three evil life-paths is diminishing,
And women no longer
depend on flattery and deceit.
All [unfortunate ways] should come to
Having fulfilled the great nirvāṇa,
The one who will relieve misery
with great compassion,
For giving delight, has appeared in the world.
he was a Bodhisattva,
He has always given others all the joy,
killing or distressing others.
His endurance is like the great earth.
now bow down my head, making obeisance
To the great guiding teacher who has
endured all adversities.
I now bow down my head, making obeisance
great man who is loving, kind, and compassionate.
Having himself transcended
the sufferings of birth and death,
He can rescue sentient beings from
Like a lotus blossom born from fire,
He is unequaled in the
"At that time Maitreya the World-Honored One will beg for food from
one door to the next. Then he will lead the bhikṣus to the original place, where
he will enter deep dhyāna, not moving for seven days and seven nights. Maitreya
Buddha's disciples will be stately in appearance, like the forms of gods, but
they will all be tired of birth, old age, illness, and death. They will all hear
much [of the Dharma], study and guard the Dharma store, and practice
meditative concentration. They will all succeed in abandoning desires, like a
bird leaving the egg shell.
"At that time the god-king
Śakro-Devānām-Indra, together with the god-sons from the desire realm, joyful
and exuberant, will speak in verse:
'The great guiding teacher, the refuge of the world!
His Wisdom-eye clearly sees all in the ten directions.
He surpasses gods
in knowledge and virtue.
With the right name and meaning, He benefits
May we, who are like sprouts,
Together with Your
disciples, go to that mountain
To make offerings to that disciple of the
affliction-free Śākyamuni Buddha,
Who was the foremost in the dhūta way of life?
We should see the Dharma robe worn by the past Buddha
hear the Dharma He has bequeathed.
For the unwholesome evil karma in our past
lives in the turbid evil kalpa,
We need to repent so as to be
"At that time Maitreya Buddha, together with his great disciples and
the sentient beings that were headstrong in their past lives in the Sahā World, will go to the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain. Having arrived at its foot,
they will serenely walk up the Wolf Track Mountain. After they have
reached the summit, Maitreya Buddha will touch the ground with his big toe.
Forthwith, the great earth will move in eighteen ways. Then Maitreya Buddha will
split the cliff with both hands, just like the Wheel-Turning King opening the
gate of a great city[, to find Mahākāśyapa inside].
"At that time
the Brahma-kings will pour scented oil on the crown of Mahākāśyapa's head and
over his body. Next, they will beat the great Dharma instruments and blow the
great Dharma conch shells. Mahākāśyapa will then rise from the Samādhi of
Total Extinction. He will straighten his robe, bare his right shoulder, keel
on his right knee, and join his palms. On both knees, he will hold the Dharma
robe worn by Śākyamuni Buddha and offer it to Maitreya Buddha, saying these
words: 'The great teacher Śākyamuni the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, upon
His parinirvāṇa, entrusted me with His Dharma robe and commanded me to offer it
to You the World-Honored One.'
"Meanwhile, the multitudes will
each ask Maitreya Buddha, 'Why on this mountaintop today is a human-headed worm,
puny, ugly, and dressed in the śramaṇa's habit, able to pay homage and make
obeisance to the World-Honored One?'
"Then Maitreya Buddha will
rebuke His great disciples. He will speak in verse, telling them not to despise
'The peacock has beautiful colors,
But it can be eaten by the
The white elephant has infinite strength,
But the lion-son,
Can grab and eat it like dirt.
The great dragon has an
But it can be snatched by the golden-winged garuḍa.
tall and large human body,
Plump, white, and handsome,
Is a vessel made of
the seven treasures, but filled with feces.
Its filth is unbearable.
person, although diminutive,
Has wisdom like tempered gold.
ended the afflictions and habits,
With nothing left of the sufferings of
birth and death,
For protecting the Dharma, he has stayed here.
victorious among gods and humans,
He has always carried out the dhūta
The most victorious among gods and humans,
He is unequaled in
Śākyamuni, the Two-footed Honored One,
Has sent him to
the place where I am.
You all should join your palms with a single
And reverently make obeisance to him.'
"Having spoken this stanza, Maitreya Buddha will tell the bhikṣus,
'Śākyamuni the World-Honored One has taught and converted sentient beings in the
world of the five turbidities. Among His 1,250 disciples, there was one with a
golden body, who was the foremost in the dhūta way of life. To learn the Way, he
renounced family life and left his golden wife. Day and night he progressed
energetically as if fighting a fire burning on his head. He was loving, kind,
and compassionate to sentient beings that were poor and lowly, and always wanted
to deliver them. For the sake of the Dharma, he has remained in the world. This
person is none other than Mahākāśyapa.'
"Having heard these
words, the multitude will all make obeisance.
"At that time
Maitreya Buddha will use Śākyamuni Buddha's Dharma robe to cover his right hand,
but it will cover only two of His fingers. Then He will [use it to] cover His
left hand, but it will also cover only two of His fingers. The multitude,
astonished by the tiny size of the past Buddha, will understand that it was
caused by the sentient beings that were greedy and arrogant.
"Maitreya Buddha will tell Mahākāśyapa, 'Now you can demonstrate your spiritual
powers and pronounce all the sūtras of the past Buddha.'
Mahākāśyapa will jump up into the sky and display 18 transformations. He will
manifest an enormous body, filling the sky. The huge body will transform into a
tiny one, like a flower seed. Water will manifest above his body, and fire will
appear under his body. He will walk on the ground as if it were water, and then
walk on water as if it were ground. He will sit or lie down in the sky, not
falling to the ground. He will appear in the east but vanish in the west, and
then appear in the west but vanish in the east. He will appear in the south but
vanish in the north, and then appear in the north but vanish in the south. He
will appear on the edge but vanish in the center, and then appear in the center
but vanish on the edge. He will appear above but vanish below, and then appear
below but vanish above. He will turn into a vaiḍūrya grotto in the sky. By
virtue of the spiritual power of the Buddha, he will pronounce with the Brahma
sound Śākyamuni Buddha's sūtras in the twelve categories. When the
multitude have heard [the teachings], they will marvel at them as something that
never existed before. Then 80 koṭi people will walk far away from their
emotional defilements. They will attain Arhatship, staying in dharmas [of the
senses] but no longer embracing them. Innumerable gods and humans will activate
the bodhi mind.
"Mahākāśyapa will descend from the sky and
circumambulate Maitreya Buddha three times. He will make obeisance to the Buddha
and state that all saṁskṛta dharmas are impermanent. He will say farewell to the
Buddha and return to the place where he has been, in the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain.
Fire will burst from his body, and he will enter parinirvāṇa. Then his relics
will be collected, and a pagoda will be erected on the mountaintop to enshrine
"Maitreya Buddha will again praise him, 'Śākyamuni
Buddha, in the midst of the multitude, always praised the bhikṣu Mahākāśyapa,
saying that he was the foremost in the dhūta way of life and adept in meditation
and the Liberation Samādhi. This person, although having great spiritual power,
was never haughty. Always pitying sentient beings in poverty and sordidness, he
was able to give them great joy.'
"Maitreya Buddha will extol
Mahākāśyapa's relics, saying, 'Very good! Mahākāśyapa, the great disciple of the
Śakya lion of great spiritual virtue, was able to cultivate his mind in that
"At that time the relics of Mahākāśyapa will [appear
in apparition and] speak in verse:
The dhūta practice is a treasury.
Observing the precepts is the
One who can carry out the dhūta way of life
arrive at the ground of no death.
One who observes the precepts will be
reborn in heaven
And in the bliss of nirvāṇa.'
"After speaking this stanza, [the vision of] Mahākāśyapa, like liquid
vaiḍūrya, will return into the pagoda.
"The place where Maitreya
Buddha will pronounce the Dharma will be 100 yojanas long and 80 yojanas wide.
Each person in the multitudes, whether sitting or standing, whether near or far,
will see the Buddha pronounce the Dharma for him alone. Maitreya Buddha will
remain in the world for 60 koṭi years, and, out of pity for the sentient beings,
He will enable them to acquire the Dharma-eye. After His parinirvāṇa, gods and
humans will cremate His body, and the Wheel-Turning King will collect the
relics. Eighty-four thousand pagodas will be erected on the four continents. The Dharma-proper will remain in the world for 60,000 years, followed by the Dharma-likeness for 20,000 years. All of you should progress diligently,
rousing your pure mind and performing good deeds. Then there is no doubt that
you will see Maitreya Buddha, the luminous lamp of the world."
After the Buddha had finished these words, the venerable Śāriputra and the
venerable ānanda rose from their seats, made obeisance to the Buddha, and knelt
on their right knees. Joining their palms, they asked the Buddha, "World-Honored
One, what is the name of this Sūtra? How should we uphold it?"
The Buddha told ānanda, "You should remember it well and expound it separately
to all gods and humans. Do not be the person who will finally terminate the
Dharma. The tenet of this Dharma is that all sentient beings should end the five rebellious acts, totally annihilate the hindrances caused by
karmas, retributions, and afflictions, and cultivate the mind of lovinghindness,
so as to walk with Maitreya Buddha. Accept and uphold it as such. This Sūtra is
also called the Sūtra of All Sentient Beings, by Hearing the Name of
Maitreya Buddha, Definitely Avoiding the World of the Five Turbidities and Not
Going Down to the Evil Life-Paths. Accept and uphold it as such. It is also
called the Sūtra of the Certainty to See Maitreya Buddha by Obliterating the
Evil Karma of the Mouth, with a Mind like the Lotus Blossom. Accept and
uphold it as such. It is also called the Sūtra of the Mind of
Lovingkindness, Not Killing and Not Eating Flesh. Accept and uphold it as
such. It is also called the Sūtra of Śākyamuni Buddha's Dharma Robe as the
Evidence of Trust. Accept and uphold it as such. It is also called the Sūtra of Definite Avoidance of the Eight Difficulties If One Hears the Name
of the Buddha. Accept and uphold it as such. It is also called the Sūtra of Maitreya Bodhisattva's Attainment of Buddhahood. Accept and
uphold it as such."
The Buddha told Śāriputra, "After the
Buddha's parinirvāṇa, if, among bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, as
well as the eight classes of Dharma protectors such as gods, dragons, and
spirits, there are those who, having heard this Sūtra, accept and uphold it,
read and recite it, and make obeisance and offerings to it, as well as respect
Dharma masters, they will annihilate all their hindrances—karmas, retributions,
and afflictions. They will definitely see Maitreya Buddha and [the rest of] the
one thousand Buddhas of this Worthy Kalpa. They will attain one of the three
bodhis according their wish. They will not be reborn in a woman's body. They
will renounce family life with the right view and achieve the great
Having heard the Buddha's words, the multitude
greatly rejoiced. All made obeisance to the Buddha and departed.
—Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Maitreya Bodhisattva's
Attainment of Buddhahood
Translated from the Chinese Canon, Vol. 14,
Text no. 45