The Mahaparinirvana sutra

For those disciples, whose Buddhist Master has past into parinirvana in recent years, the Mahaparinirvana sutra would be a wise thing to study in depth.  The following are just a few of the rare gems discovered in this text.

On the preciousness of this sutra:

“Also, next, O good man!  Of all lights, the light of the sun and the moon is unsurpassed.  No other lights are their equal.  The same with the light of Great Nirvana, which is the most wonderful of all the lights of the sutras and samadhis.  It is one which cannot be reached by any of the lights of any of the sutras and samadhis.  Why not?  Because the light of Great Nirvana thoroughly gets into the pores of the skin.  Though beings may not possess Bodhichitta, it yet causes Bodhi.  That is why we say “Mahaparinirvana.”

It wasn’t easy for me to find the completed translation of this sutra.  But I recently was delighted to discover the whole sutra with 46 chapters online.  Click here to read the whole sutra:  Nirvana Sutra

On the Buddha-Nature:

“Also, next, O good man!  There are two kinds of original abode of birth and death.  The one is ignorance, and the other is clinging to what exists. In between [these] two are the sufferings of birth, old age, illness and death.  We call this the Middle Path.  This Middle Path well destroys birth and death.  That is why we say “Middle”.

That is why we call the teaching of the Middle Path the Buddha-Nature.  Therefore, the Buddha-Nature is the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure.  All beings do not see this.  Hence there is [for them] no Eternity, no Bliss, no Self, and no Purity.  The Buddha-Nature is not non-Eternal, not non-Bliss, not non-Self, and not non-Purity.”

What the Buddha-Nature is specifically:

“O good man!  It is as when one cannot see the first moon.  And yet, one cannot say that there is no moon.  The same is the case with the Buddha Nature.  All beings may not [be able to] see it, yet we cannot say that there is no Buddha-Nature.

“O good man!  The Buddha-Nature is none other than the ten powers (1), the four fearlessnesses (2), Great Compassion, and the three thinkings (3).”

The deepest meditative absorption:

“Also, next, O good man!  “The Buddha-Nature is the Suramgama Samadhi “[deepest state of meditative absorption]”.  Its nature is like sarpirmanda “[most delicious and efficacious of all milk-medicines].”  It is the mother to all Buddhas.  By dint of the power of the Suramgama Samadhi, all Buddhas gain the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure”  All beings possess the Suramgama Samadhi.  Not practicing, they cannot see it.  Hence, [there is then] no gaining of unsurpassed Enlightenment.

O good man!  The Suramgama Samadhi has five names, which are: 1) suramgama samadhi, 2) prajnaparamita [transcendent Wisdom], 3) diamond samadhi, 4) lion’s roar samadhi, 5) Buddha-Nature.

According to the part it takes, it has various names.  O good man! Just as a single samadhi gains various names, such as in [connection with] dhyana we say “four dhyanas” [“catvari-dhyanani”], in element “samadhi element”, in power “samadhi power”, in element “samadhi element” [sic], in rightness “right meditation”, and in the eight awakened minds of a great man “right meditation”.  So does it obtain with the Suramgama Samadhi.”


1. Four Fearlessnesses.  Only a Buddha has (1) fearlessness because knowledge of all knowledge has been acquired; (2) fearlessness because all afflictions have been eradicated; (3) fearlessness in explaining hindrances that obstruct one’s realization of bodhi; and (4) fearlessness in explaining the right path to end one’s suffering.

2. Ten Powers (daśa-bala).  Only a Buddha has perfect knowledge of (1) the right or wrong in every situation and its corresponding karmic consequences; (2) the karmic requitals of every sentient being in the past, present, and future; (3) all stages of dhyāna and samādhi; (4) the capacity and future attainment of every sentient being; (5) the desires and inclinations of every sentient being; (6) the nature and condition of every sentient being; (7) the consequences of all actions with or without afflictions; (8) all past lives of every sentient being and their karmic reasons; (9) all future rebirths of every sentient being and their karmic reasons; and (10) the permanent termination of all afflictions and habits upon attainment of Buddhahood.

3. Three thinkings or The Threefold Mindfulness of Equality means that a Buddha’s mind abides in equality toward (1) those who listen to the Dharma reverently, (2) those who listen to the Dharma irreverently, and (3) these two groups.

Additional Note:

If you cherish these sutras feel free to join our Buddhist Sutras Yahoo group for inspirational quotes such as those above.



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