Brahma Net Sutra

Bodhisattva Mind-Ground Chapter

Second Part (9)

Based on Kumarajiva's text 
China, Eastern Chin dynasty, 5th c.

I. Vairocana Buddha

At that time, Vairocana Buddha began speaking in general about the Mind-Ground for the benefit of the Great Assembly. What he said represents but an infinitesimal part, the tip of a hair, of His innumerable teachings -- as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Ganges.

He concluded: "The Mind-Ground has been explained, is being explained and will be explained by all the Buddhas -- past, present, and future. It is also the Dharma Door (cultivation method) that all the Bodhisattvas of the past, present, and future have studied, are studying and will study."

"I have cultivated this Mind-Ground Dharma Door for hundreds of eons. My name is Vairocana. I request all Buddhas to transmit my words to all sentient beings, so as to open this path of cultivation to all."

At that time, from his Lion's Throne in the Lotus Treasury World, Vairocana Buddha emitted rays of light. A voice among the rays is heard telling the Buddhas seated on thousands of lotus petals, "You should practice and uphold the Mind-Ground Dharma Door and transmit it to the innumerable Sakyamuni Buddhas, (10) one after another, as well as to all sentient beings. Everyone should uphold, read, recite, and singlemindedly put its teachings into practice."

After receiving the Dharma-door of the Mind-Ground, the Buddhas seated atop the thousands of lotus flowers along with the innumerable Sakyamuni Buddhas all arose from their Lion seats, their bodies emitting innumerable rays of light. In each of these rays appeared innumerable Buddhas who simultaneously made offerings of green, yellow, red and white celestial flowers to Vairocana Buddha. They then slowly took their leave.

The Buddhas then disappeared from the Lotus Treasury World, entered the Essence-Nature Empty Space Floral Brilliance Samadhi and returned to their former places under the Bodhi-tree in this world of Jambudvipa. They then arose from their samadhi, sat on their Diamond Thrones in Jambudvipa and the Heaven of the Four Kings, and preached the Dharma of the "Ten Oceans of Worlds."

Thereupon, they ascended to Lord Shakya's palace and expounded the "Ten Dwellings," proceeded to the Suyama Heaven and taught the "Ten Practices," proceeded further to the Fourth Heaven and taught the "Ten Dedications," proceeded further to the Transformation of Bliss Heaven and taught the "Ten Dhyana Samadhi," proceeded further to the Heaven of Comfort From Others' Emanations and taught the "Ten Grounds," proceeded further to the First Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Vajra Stages," proceeded further to the Second Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Patiences," and proceeded further to the Third Dhyana Heaven and taught the "Ten Vows." Finally, in the Fourth Dhyana Heaven, at Lord Brahma's Palace, they taught the "Mind-Ground Dharma-Door" chapter, which Vairocana Buddha, in eons past, expounded in the Lotus Treasury World (the cosmos).

All the other innumerable transformation Sakyamuni Buddhas did likewise in their respective worlds as the chapter "Auspicious Kalpa" has explained.


II. Sakyamuni Buddha

At that time, Sakyamuni Buddha, after first appearing in the Lotus Treasury World, proceeded to the east and appeared in the Heavenly King's palace to teach the "Demon Transforming Sutra." He then descended to Jambudvipa to be born in Kapilavastu -- his name being Siddhartha and his father's name Suddhodana. His mother was Queen Maya. He achieved Enlightenment at the age of thirty, after seven years of cultivation, under the name of Sakyamuni Buddha. (11)

The Buddha spoke in ten assemblies from the Diamond Seat at Bodhgaya to the palace of Brahma.

At that time, he contemplated the wonderful Jewel Net (12) hung in Lord Brahma's palace and preached the Brahma Net Sutra for the Great Assembly. He said:

"The innumerable worlds in the cosmos are like the eyes of the net. Each and every world is different, its variety infinite. So too are the Dharma Doors (methods of cultivation) taught by the Buddhas.

"I have come to this world eight thousand times. Based in this Saha World, seated upon the Jeweled Diamond Seat in Bodhgaya and all the way up to the palace of the Brahma King, I have spoken in general about the Mind-Ground Dharma Door for the benefit of the great multitude. (13)

"Thereafter, I descended from the Brahma King's palace to Jambudvipa, the Human World. I have preached the Diamond Illuminated JeweledPrecepts (the Bodhisattva precepts) from beneath the Bodhi-tree for the sake of all sentient beings on earth, however dull and ignorant they may be. These precepts were customarily recited by Vairocana Buddha when he first developed the Bodhi Mind in the causal stages. They are precisely the original source of all Buddhas and all Bodhisattvas as well as the seed of the Buddha Nature.

"All sentient beings possess this Buddha Nature. All with consciousness, form, and mind are encompassed by the precepts of the Buddha Nature. Sentient beings possess the correct cause of the Buddha Nature and therefore they will assuredly attain the ever-present Dharma Body.

For this reason, the ten Pratimoksa (Bodhisattva) precepts came into being in this world. These precepts belong to the True Dharma. They are received and upheld in utmost reverence by all sentient beings of the Three Periods of Time -- past, present and future.

"Once again, I shall preach for the Great Assembly the chapter on the Inexhaustible Precept Treasury. These are the precepts of all sentient beings, the source of the pure Self-Nature."



Now, I, Vairocana Buddha

Am sitting atop a lotus pedestal;

On a thousand flowers surrounding me

Are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas.

Each flower supports a hundred million worlds;

In each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears.

All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree,

All simultaneously attain Buddhahood.

All these innumerable Buddhas

Have Vairocana as their original body.

These countless Sakyamuni Buddhas

All bring followers along -- as numerous as

motes of dust.

They all proceed to my lotus pedestal

To listen to the Buddha's precepts.

I now preach the Dharma, this exquisite nectar.

Afterward, the countless Buddhas return to

their respective worlds

And, under a Bodhi-tree, proclaim these

major and minor precepts

Of Vairocana, the Original Buddha.

The precepts are like the radiant sun and moon,

Like a shining necklace of gems,

Bodhisattvas as numerous as motes of dust

Uphold them and attain Buddhahood.

These precepts are recited by Vairocana,

These precepts I recite as well.

You novice Bodhisattvas

Should reverently accept and uphold them.

And once you have done so,

Transmit and teach them to sentient beings. (14)

Now listen attentively as I recite

The Bodhisattva Pratimoksa -- the source of all precepts in the Buddha Dharma.

All of you in the Great Assembly should firmly believe

That you are the Buddhas of the future,

While I am a Buddha already accomplished.

If you should have such faith at all times,

Then this precept code is fulfilled. (15)

All beings with resolve

Should accept and uphold the Buddha's precepts.

Sentient beings on receiving them

Join forthwith the ranks of Buddhas.

They are in essence equal to the Buddhas,

They are the true offspring of the Buddhas.

Therefore, Great Assembly,

Listen with utmost reverence

As I proclaim the Bodhisattva Moral Code.


* *


III. The Buddha Reciting the Bodhisattva Precepts

At that time, when Sakyamuni Buddha first attained Supreme Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, he explained the Bodhisattva precepts. The Buddha taught filial piety toward one's parents, (16) Elder Masters and the Triple Jewel. Filial piety and obedience, he said, are the Ultimate Path [to Buddhahood]. (17) Filial piety is called the precepts -- and it means restraint and cessation. (18)

The Buddha then emitted limitless lights from his mouth. Thereupon, the whole Great Assembly, consisting of innumerable Bodhisattvas, the gods of the eighteen Brahma Heavens, the gods of the six Desire Heavens, and the rulers of the sixteen great kingdoms (19) all joined their palms and listened singlemindedly to the Buddha recite the Mahayana precepts.

The Buddha then said to the Bodhisattvas: Twice a month I recite the precepts observed by all Buddhas. All Bodhisattvas, from those who have just developed the Bodhi Mind to the Bodhisattvas of the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, and the Ten Grounds also recite them. Therefore, this precept-light shines forth from my mouth. It does not arise without a cause. This light is neither blue, yellow, red, white, nor black. It is neither form, nor thought. It is neither existent nor nonexistent, neither cause nor effect. (20) This precept-light is precisely the original source of all Buddhas and all members of this Great Assembly. Therefore all you disciples of the Buddha should receive and observe, read, recite and study these precepts with utmost attention.

Disciples of the Buddha, listen attentively! Whoever can understand and accept a Dharma Master's words of transmission can receive the Bodhisattva precepts (21) and be called foremost in purity. (22) This is true whether that person is a king, a prince, an official, a monk, a nun, or a god of the eighteen Brahma Heavens, a god of the six Desire Heavens, or a human, a eunuch, a libertine, a prostitute, a slave, or a member of the Eight Divisions of Divinities, a Vajra spirit, an animal, or even a transformation-being. (23)