The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's Fundamental Vows

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Tripitaka Master Siksananda
Translated into English by K'un Li, Shih
Edited by K'un Li, Shih and Dr. Frank G. French
From: http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/ksitigarbha/content.html

Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Chapter 12: The Benefits of Seeing and Hearing

At that time, the World Honored One emitted from his forehead hundreds of thousands of millions of great curl-mark lights: namely, the white curl-mark light, the great white curl-mark light, the auspicious curl-mark light, the great auspicious curl-mark light, the jade curl-mark light, the great jade curl-mark light, the purple curl-mark light, the great purple curl-mark light, the indigo curl-mark light, the great indigo curl-mark light, the blue curl-mark light, the great blue curl-mark light, the red curl-mark light, the great red curl-mark light, the green curl-mark light, the great green curl-mark light, the golden curl-mark light, the great golden curl-mark light, the felicitous cloud curl-mark light, the great felicitous cloud curl-mark light, the thousand wheel curl-mark light, the great thousand wheel curl-mark light, the precious wheel curl-mark light, the great precious wheel curl-mark light, the sun disc curl-mark light, the great sun disc curl-mark light, the moon disc curl-mark light, the great moon disc curl-mark light, the palace curl-mark light, the great palace curl-mark light, the sea cloud curl-mark light and the great sea cloud curl-mark light. Having emitted such curl-phenomena lights from his forehead, he intoned in his subtle, wonderful voice and said to the assembled congregation of eight categories of beings, which included devas and nagas and human beings and nonhuman beings, "Listen, for today in Tryastrimsas Palace I am going to commend and praise his beneficial deeds, his inconceivable deeds, which surpass all other sacred causes, and his deeds of nonretrogression from Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi, which Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha performed for the sake of human beings and devas."

As these words were being said, a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva in the congregation named Avalokitesvara rose directly from his seat, genuflected with palms joined and addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, this Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, with great mercy and compassion, has always had pity on sinful, miserable, suffering beings. In thousands of myriads of millions of worlds, he takes thousands of myriads of millions of transformational forms. I have heard you, O World Honored One, and innumerable other Buddhas, all in unison, singing the praises of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's meritorious virtues and inconceivable majestic, miraculous powers, revealing that even if all the past, present and future Buddhas should speak of and try to enumerate his meritorious virtues, they still would never exhaust them. Earlier, O World Honored One, you uttered a universal announcement to the congregation, saying that you wished to praise Ksitigarbha's beneficial deeds. I only hope that you, O World Honored One, for the benefit of all sentient beings of the present and the future, will praise Ksitigarbha's inconceivable deeds so that the eight categories of beings, including devas and nagas, can worship him and gain the bliss thereof."

The Buddha told Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, "You yourself have a tremendously strong relationship of primary and secondary causes (hetupratyayas) with the beings of the Saha World. No being-whether a deva or a naga, whether a male or a female, whether a deity or a demon, or even a miserable, sinful being on the six paths of existence_indeed, anyone who, on hearing your name or seeing your form, cherishes, admires and praises you, will definitely not retrogress from the unexcelled Path of Enlightenment and will always be reborn as a deva or a human being to enjoy wonderful happiness. And when such cause-and-effect is about to run its course, such beings will meet Buddhas to receive the predestination of themselves becoming Buddhas. At this time, you are showing great mercy and compassion, and you have pity on all the eight categories of beings, including devas and nagas, by your wanting to hear my proclamation of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's inconceivable beneficial deeds. So listen attentively, for now I am going to speak."

Avalokitesvara said, "Yes, indeed, O World Honored One, I shall be delighted to hear."

The Buddha told Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, "In the various worlds at present and in the future, whenever a heavenly being is at the end of his enjoyment of celestial bliss, there will manifest five kinds of decadent symptoms. Sometimes he may fall onto an evil path of existence. If such a heavenly being, whether a male or a female, at the time when such symptoms manifest, should see Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's image or hear Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's name and pay him one visit and make even one act of obeisance to him, then such a heavenly being will consequently enjoy even more celestial bliss, more great delight and will never again fall onto the three evil paths of existence as retribution. So, how much better even will those beings fare who see and hear Ksitigarbha and make donations and offerings with all sorts of incense, flowers clothing, food, jewels and necklaces! Countless and boundless will be the meritorious virtues and blissful benefits gained by them.

Furthermore, O Avalokitesvara, if a sentient being on the six paths of existence in present and future times should be able, at the end of his life, to hear the name of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha_if even just one invocation of the name reaches his ear-such a being will never again experience the suffering of the three evil paths of existence. How much better off even will be one who, at the end of his life, has parents or other relatives who use the value of his house, jewels, clothing and any other wealth in order to mold or paint Ksitigarbha's image! And how much better off even will that sick one be if, before he dies, he sees with his own eyes and hears with his own ears and thus knows that his relatives have used the value of his house, jewels, etc., in order to mold or paint Ksitigarbha's image for his benefit alone! If such a person, due to his karmic retribution, should ever contract a serious illness, he will recover and be well again because of that meritorious virtue, and his longevity will be enhanced. If, due to his karmic retribution, this person is, at the end of his life, still burdened with all his sinful and karmic hindrances, which deserve rebirth on evil paths, then, on account of this meritorious virtue, he shall be reborn as a human being or a deva after the termination of his present lifetime and enjoy extraordinary happiness with all his sinful hindrances entirely eradicated!

"Furthermore, O Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in future times, a boy or a girl, either at infancy or under the age of three, five or ten, may lose his or her parents or may even lose brothers or sisters and, having grown older, may remember his or her parents or other relatives and wonder onto what path of existence they may have fallen, into what world they may have been born or to what heaven they may have ascended. If, at such a time, this person is able to mold or paint Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's image or even hear his name or pay him just one visit or make only one act of obeisance to his image or make donations for one to seven days without once shirking his or her original intention, then the relatives of this person, who on account of their karma may have fallen onto evil paths of existence for a period lasting a number of kalpas, will-thanks to the meritorious acts accomplished and virtues practiced by their son or daughter or brother or sister while molding or painting Ksitigarbha's image for worship_will instantly be delivered and liberated so that they may be reborn among human beings or devas to enjoy extraordinary, wonderful happiness. If the relatives of this person, due to their own bliss, have already been reborn as human beings or devas to enjoy extraordinary, wonderful happiness, then they will, with this meritorious virtue, enhance their sacred causes and enjoy immeasurable happiness. If, furthermore, this person should be able to worship Ksitigarbha's image wholeheartedly for three seven-day periods and recite his name as many as ten thousand times, then the Bodhisattva will manifest his boundless entity to him or her, telling him the whereabouts of his or her relatives. Sometimes the Bodhisattva will manifest great miraculous power and personally lead this person, in a dream, to various other worlds to see his or her relatives. If such a person should, furthermore, be able to invoke this Bodhisattva's name one thousand times every day and repeat this continuously for a period of one thousand days, then the Bodhisattva will summon the deities and demons in charge of the land and command them to guard and protect this person throughout his or her life and provide him or her with plentiful and costly clothing, good food, and freedom from illness. Any unexpected hazard will never cross his or her threshold but, on the contrary, will be far distanced from this person. The Bodhisattva will touch this person's head and prophesy his predestination.

"Furthermore, O Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in future times, if good men and good women should wish to generate the mind of great, widespread compassion and mercy to deliver all sentient beings, wish to cultivate the unexcelled Bodhi, yearning to escape from and leave forever the three realms, and if these people, on seeing Ksitigarbha's image and hearing his name, should wholeheartedly take refuge in him or offer incense, flowers clothing, jewels, food and worship to him, then such good men and good women will soon see their wishes come true, never experiencing any obstructions whatsoever.

"Furthermore, O Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in future times, if any good man or good woman prays that in the present or the future hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of wishes for hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of things be fulfilled, he should just take refuge in, worship, make offerings to and praise Bodhisattba Ksitigarbha's image. Then all that he may have wished or prayed for shall be granted. Should he have a further wish, imploring, `O Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, with your great mercy and compassion, please support and protect me always!', then he will experience the Bodhisattva toucching his head in a dream and prophesying his predestination.

"Furthermore, O Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in future times, good men and good women may deeply treasure the Mahayana sutras, generating the inconceivable mind that wishes to read and recite them. However, in spite of their brilliant teachers' instruction, showing them how to learn the sutras by heart, they may forget them as soon as they recite them and may, thus, be unable to read and recite them aptly for months or even years. Such good persons have inborn karmic hindrances that are not yet eradicated, and, therefore, they are not yet able to acquire the technique of reading and reciting the Mahayana sutras. Such persons should, on hearing Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's name and on seeing Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's image, reverently proclaim his name with sincere hearts; furthermore, they should offer incense, flowers, clothing, food and all kinds of artifacts to the Bodhisattva. One cup of pure water should be placed in front of the Bodhisattva's image for one day and one night. Then, with their palms joined, the supplicants should pray and drink the water while turning their heads to the south; and they must maintain a wholeheartedly serious attitude as the water enters their mouths. Having partaken of the water, they must take care to avoid the five pungent plants, liquor, meat, lust, lying and killing for one to three seven-day periods. Thereafter, these good men and good women will then see Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha manifest his boundless form in their dreams, sprinkling holy water on their heads. When awakened from their dreams, such persons will be endowed with such keen wit that any sutra, having once reached their ears, will be firmly committed to memory by them with not one gatha or even one sentence ever again being missed or forgotten by them.

"Furthermore, O Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in future times, some people may be wanting in clothing and food, have their prayers go unanswered, be constantly ill, encounter much bad luck, have much disquiet in their households, have their relatives separated or dispersed, have all kinds of unexpected things happen to harm their persons or have many specters arise in their dreams. If such people, on hearing Ksitigarbha's name and seeing Ksitigarbha's image, should invoke his name wholeheartedly and reverently ten thousand times, then those unpleasant things will gradually disappear; and they will, thereafter, enjoy peace and happiness, have plenty of clothing and will even experience peace and happiness in their slumber and dreams.

"Furthermore, O Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in future times, some good man or good woman, either to earn a living in public or private business or in the event of a birth, a death or an emergency, may have to climb a mountain, enter a forest, ferry across a river, a lake or a tremendous body of water or take some other sort of dangerous route. Such a person ought, first, to invoke Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's name ten thousand times. Then, wherever he passes, the demons and deities in charge of the land will guard and protect him. He will always enjoy peace and happiness, whether walking, standing, sitting or reclining. Furthermore, even if he should chance to meet tigers, wolves or lions, or if he should chance to be exposed to any kind of poison or be confronted with any other kind of danger whatsoever, no harm at all will come to him."

The Buddha, then, in conclusion, said to Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, "This Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha has a tremendous cause-and-effect relationship with the beings of Jambudvipa. The record of all the beneficial deeds performed by Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha-and which have been both seen and heard by sentient beings-could not be exhausted even though one were to talk about them for hundreds of thousands of kalpas. Therefore, O Avalokitesvara, by means of your miraculous power publish and circulate this Sutra so that all sentient beings in the Saha World will continuously enjoy peace and happiness for hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of kalpas."

Then the World Honored One offered the following gathas, reciting thusly:

"I see Ksitigarbha's majestic, miraculous power,

Hardly exhausted though spoken of for kalpas numerous as sand grains in the Ganges River.

Seeing him, hearing him, worshipping him, even for an instant,

Will benefit human beings and devas in innumerable ways.

If someone-either male or female, either naga or deity-at the end of his retribution has fallen onto evil paths,

Then he should wholeheartedly take refuge in this Mahasattva,

So his lifespan will be increased and his sinful hindrances eradicated.

Someone may lose his parents, who cared for and loved him,

And not know in what paths of existence their spirits fare,

Or may have brothers or sisters, elder or younger, or other relatives,

Whom he has not seen since his birth and childhood.

But if he molds or paints this Mahasattva's image

And dwells on it in worship, never taking his eyes away,

And invokes his divine name continuously for three weeks,

Then this Bodhisattva will manifest his boundless entity,

Revealing the realm where the supplicant's relatives are reborn.

And even if fallen onto evil paths of existence, they will soon escape

from and leave such paths.

If it is possible for the supplicant not to retrogress from his original determination,

Then he will be touched on his head and receive the sacred predestination.

If anyone wishes to cultivate the unexcelled Bodhi,

Or even wishes to escape from and leave the suffering of the Three Realms,

And if this person has already made up his mind to be compassionate,

He should first concentrate on and worship this Mahasattva's image.

Then all his wishes will soon come true,

And never again will any karmic hindrance curb or stop them.

Someone may make up his mind to read the sutras,

Wishing to deliver all deluded ones to reach the Other Shore.

However in spite of this wish, so inconceivably compassionate,

He soon forgets what he reads, and much is wasted and lost.

It is because this person has karma to block and delude him

That he cannot commit Mahayana sutras to memory.

He ought, then, to offer Ksitigarbha incense and flowers,

Clothing, drink, food and all sorts of interesting artifacts,

And should place pure water in front of this Mahasattva's image,

And, after one day and one night, pray reverently and drink the water.

He must make up his mind to be serious and sincere, carefully guarding against the five pungent plants,

Carefully avoiding liquor, meat, lust and false words,

Carefully refraining from killing-all for three weeks' time.

Concurrently, he must also, without cessation, think on and invoke this Mahasattva, chanting his name.

Soon he will see in his dreams the Boundless One!

Then, on waking, he will discover his hearing is purified

So that all the teachings of the sutras, once reaching his ears,

Will never be forgotten, not even for thousands of myriads of lifetimes.

It is because this Mahasattva is so inconceivably compassionate

That he causes his supplicants to gain this kind of wisdom.

Those sentient beings who are poor, indigent, sick and infirm,

Whose households turn decadent, whose relatives are scattered,

Who, in slumber and in dreams, are disturbed,

Whose prayers are never answered_but, rather, the very opposite of what is wished for always happens_ought wholeheaartedly to concentrate on and worship Ksitigarbha's image.

Then all evil things will disappear entirely.

They will enjoy only peace in their dreams.

They will have plenty of clothing and food as well as the protection of deities and demons.

Anyone who wishes to climb a mountain, enter a forest or cross the seas,

Where there are poisonous and ferocious birds and beasts, evil people,

Evil deities, malicious demons, unfavorable winds,

All sorts of calamities and all sorts of other vexations,

Should just concentrate on, worship and make offerings to the image of Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha,

So that on such mountain, in such forest or on such vast seas,

All these evils will vanish entirely and disappear.

O Avalokitesvara, listen carefully to what I am saying:

Ksitigarbha, working ceaselessly, is inconceivable.

Even a description of his powers and deeds lasting hundreds of thousands of myriads of kalpas will not be exhausted.

During a universal declaration of these powers of the Mahasattva,

If people should hear Ksitigarbha's name

Or even see his image, make obeisance to him

Or make offerings of incense, flowers, clothing, food and drink,

They will, for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, enjoy Wonderful Happiness.

And should they dedicate this bliss for the benefit of the entire Dharmadhatu,

They will finally transcend samsara and achieve Buddhahood.

Therefore, O Avalokitesvara, be aware of all this,

And make it universally known to lands as numerous as the sands in the Ganges River."