Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra
A Detailed Exposition by Living Buddha Lian Sheng, Grandmaster Sheng-Yen Lu
Translated into English by the True Buddha School Vimala Sutra Translation Team
Discourse 64, 19 February 2023 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
At that time, the Elder Accumulated Treasures, upon saying this praise, continued to speak to the Buddha,
“World-honored One, we, the five hundred elders have generated the mind of anuttara samyaksambodhi. We wish to hear how to attain the purity of the buddhaverses. We pray that the World-honored One will speak on the cultivation of all the bodhisattvas’ purelands.”
The Buddha said, “Very good, Accumulated Treasures, that you could ask about the cultivation of the tathagatas’ purelands on behalf of all the bodhisattvas. I will tell you. Listen attentively and ponder upon it!”
Hence, the Accumulated Treasures and all five hundred elders listened attentively to the teaching.
Now we will talk about the Vimalakirti Sutra. “World-honored One, we, the five hundred elders have generated the mind of anuttara samyaksambodhi.”
At that time, after offering this praise, the Elder Accumulated Treasures Bodhisattva continued to speak and asked Sakyamuni Buddha, “Sakyamuni Buddha, we, the five hundred elders, have arisen our bodhicitta.” The mind of anuttara samyaksambodhi is bodhicitta [the aspiration to attain enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings].
“We wish to hear how to attain the purity of the buddhaverses. We pray that the World-honored One will speak on the cultivation of all the bodhisattvas’ purelands.”
The key word here is “attain.” What he meant was: “Every one of us—the five hundred elders—are bodhisattvas who have generated this mind. In our mind, we would like to help sentient beings. We have generated this bodhicitta.” And they wish to hear Sakyamuni Buddha speaking on how to attain the pure buddhaverse and to attain its purity. In other words, how should bodhisattvas make themselves as pure and magnificent as the buddhaverses? How should they cultivate spiritually to attain the purity of the buddhaverses and make themselves become a pure buddhaverse? He hoped for Sakyamuni Buddha to expound on the cultivation methods of the bodhisattvas’ purelands, on how to reach their own purity. In other words, he asked Sakyamuni Buddha’s advice on the methods of spiritual cultivation to purify themselves, so that their pureland [buddhafield] also become pure. [When one is pure, one’s surrounding becomes pureland which of course is pure.]
The Elder Accumulated Treasures wished to hear all the ways or methods to cultivate so that all the bodhisattvas who have generated this mind can obtain purity and reach the buddhaverses.
The Buddha said, “Very good, Accumulated Treasures, that you could ask about the cultivation of the tathagatas’ purelands on behalf of all the bodhisattvas.”
In other words, the Buddha said that it’s very good that he asked on behalf of the bodhisattvas, how to cultivate to go to the pureland, and how to cultivate the purity of the buddhaverses and purify themselves.
“I will tell you. Listen attentively and ponder upon it!”
To which, the Buddha asked them to listen attentively and think through what the Buddha was about to say on how to attain the purity of the tathagata.
Hence, the Accumulated Treasures and all five hundred elders were listening attentively to the teaching.
In general, the sutras expounded by Sakyamuni Buddha are answers to people asking questions. The Vajra Sutra, for instance, was spoken to Subhuti and the Amitabha Sutra was spoken to Sariputra. Vimalakirti Sutra was spoken to Accumulated Treasures Bodhisattva and the five hundred elders. Surangama Sutra was spoken to Ananda because it is related to Ananda. Many sutras came into existence as the Buddha answered questions asked of him.
However, Amitabha Sutra and several other sutras were spoken unprompted by anyone asking. The Buddha spoke it spontaneously. He sat on the dharma throne and nobody asked any questions, but he spoke. Like [the sutras on] Buddha Amitabha of Sukhavati Pure Land is a sutra that was spoken without prompt. Nobody asked and the Buddha expounded it himself. Sariputra, one of the main disciples, had the greatest wisdom, so he spoke on it to Sariputra. However, many sutras are the results of disciples asking questions and the Buddha answering those questions. It’s like the Question and Answer session we had just now. It’s the same as how it was in the Buddha’s era—disciples asking questions and the guru answering. There are few sutras that were produced without questions asked. Most of them are the results of questions and answers. Is anyone unclear about this part? When you applaud, that means we’re done [for today].
Om mani padme hum.
Next discourse on the Vimalakirti Sutra: Discourse 65, 25 February 2023 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
Previous discourse on the Vimalakirti Sutra: Discourse 63, 18 February 2023 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
Index of links to all discourse on the Vimalakirti Sutra: https://en.tbsn.org/guidem/detail/2975/
Back to the main index page of all dharma discourse: https://en.tbsn.org/guidem/index
Full webcast of 2023.2.19 Padmakumara Homa Ceremony (Rainbow Temple, North Bend, USA) and dharma discourse with English interpretation: https://www.youtube.com/live/PiPu_DFOsP4?feature=share
More photos at https://en.tbsn.org/news/detail/1726/