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A The Sutra on the Unlimited Life of the Threefold

Body

t one time the bodhisattva [of wisdom] Manjushri was seated on a jewelled lotus,

having a five-knotted crown on his head, his dark blue hair hanging down to his

shoulders, his bodily form that of shining gold, his left [hand of] concentration holding a

blue lotus with a five-pronged vajra above it, his right [hand of] wisdom grasping a

sutra-box [backpack], and his body shining like an autumn rainbow.

Peacefully dwelling in [the state of concentration called] the "moon-ring," he spoke to

the Buddha, saying, "World-Honored-One. We all have, from the distant past, listened to

the Tathagata's preaching of the Dharma [sermons]. From which Buddha did the

Tathagata hear this preaching of the Dharma-sounds?"

The Buddha spoke to Manjushri, saying, "I received the preaching of Mahavairocana

(Great Sun Buddha) after passing through the forty-one levels to enter the great inner

chamber."

The bodhisattva Manjushri again spoke to the Buddha, saying, "Who is within the inner

chamber of the forty-one levels?"

The World-Honored-One again said, "After passing through the ten stages of abodes, the

ten stages of practices, the ten stages of merit-transference, ten bodhisattva stages

(bhumi), the stage of becoming comparable to enlightenment, and entering the inner

chamber, I received the preaching of the Dharma he by Mahavairocana, who is at the

stage of wonderful enlightenment.” The bodhisattva Manjushri again spoke to the

Buddha, saying, "From what Buddha did Mahavairocana on the stage of wonderful

enlightenment receive this preaching of the Dharma?" The World-Honored-One replied,

"Mahavairocana on the stage of wonderful enlightenment received the preaching of the

Dharma from the beginningless and endless original Buddha who is of one mind and

one thought.”
The bodhisattva Manjushri again spoke to the Buddha saying, "From what Buddha did

'the beginningless and endless original Buddha who is of one mind and one thought'

receive the preaching of the Dharma?"

The World-Honored-One again said, "'The beginningless and endless original Buddha

who is of one mind and one thought' received the preaching of the Dharma from the

original Buddha of no mind and no thought."

Manjushri again spoke to the Buddha, saying, "From what Buddha did the 'original

Buddha of no mind and no thought' receive the preaching of the Dharma?" The World-

Honored-One again said, "There is no Buddha above and beyond the 'original Buddha of

no mind and no thought.' There is no Buddha before and no Buddha after 'no mind and

no thought.' The original Buddha is in essence beyond conceptual understanding. From

the beginning he/it does not go nor come, does not have the nature of the threefold

body, does not have the nature of the ten destinies [from hell to Buddhahood]."

Manjushri again spoke to the Buddha, saying, "If above and beyond the original Buddha

of no mind and no thought there is no nature of the threefold body and the ten

destinies, from what basis do the threefold body and ten destinies arise?"

The World-Honored-One again said, "The original Buddha of no mind and no thought is

by nature beyond conceptual understanding. Both the conceptually understood natures

of the threefold body and sentient beings in the ten destinies, and the nature of that

which is without a nature, arise from the nature that is beyond conceptual

understanding."

Manjushri again spoke to the Buddha, saying, "If this is so, then is there no Buddha who

teaches at the beginning?"

The World-Honored-One again said, "There is nothing that teaches or receives above

and beyond the original Buddha of no mind and no thought. Moreover, this is a single

Buddha, and there are not two Buddhas. You all should shut your eyes and contemplate

the original Buddha that is without beginning and without end."


Manjushri spoke to the Buddha, saying, "That which the World-Honored-One preaches is

exceedingly profound. It is true yet beyond our power to comprehend. It is good; it is

good. I gladly preach this sutra."

At that time the Tathagata named King of Imposing Sound [Bhismagarjitas-vara-raja]

spoke to Manjushri, the prince of the Dharma, saying, "Well done, prince of the Dharma.

You have questioned the Tathagata in such a way that it is cause for a great event. Now

listen carefully. listen carefully. Reflect well on these things."

The Buddha, after preaching this sutra, sat in the lotus position and entered the

concentration [samadhi] that is wonderful and supreme. At that time Manjushri, prince

of the Dharma, and everyone in the assembly of eighty-four thousand monks, all

entered this samadhi through the supranormal power of the Buddha.

The following events were seen. The Buddha, from within his state of concentration,

emitted a great circle of light from his own face, illuminating with insight Manjushri and

the eighty-four thousand monks. A sword of wisdom [appeared] from the top of

Manjushri's head, and from his side ["liver"] emerged a golden-haired lion. The

Tathagata's ray of light extended everywhere, and the colour of his body was like that of

gold.

Manjushri spoke to the Buddha, saying, "World-Honored-One. We have attained

unprecedented [insight]. Our hearts greatly rejoice."

The Tathagata again preached in a verse, saying,

The supreme path of all Buddhas

Has the marks of perfect light and eternal abiding.

Those who enter meditative concentration together with [the Buddha]

In the same way realize the mind of enlightenment [bodhicitta].

When the Buddha finished preaching these verses, the great monks in the assembly at

once stood up, bowed, and went on their way.


Sources: "Religions of Japan in Practice" by Paul Swanson (Princeton University Press, pp. 246-53) Chapter 24:
Rituals of Realization, A Japanese Shugendō Apogryphal Text