The Great Parinirvana Sutra

(Taisho Tripitaka 0375)

Chapter 6: The Merit of the Title

[624c] At that time, the Tathagata again addressed Kasyapa, "Good son, you now should well uphold this Sutra's contents, as they possess merit. If there are good sons and good daughters who hear this Sutra's title, none of them will be born in any of the the four [lower] destinies [1]. And why? It is thus that this scripture leads them to the cultivation of the infinite and limitless Buddhas. I shall now discuss this attainment of merit."

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, what shall be the title of this Sutra? How should the bodhisattva-mahasattva recieve and uphold it?"

The Buddha told Kasyapa, "This Sutra's title is the Great Parinirvana, which in the beginning is good, in the middle is good, and in the end is also good. Its meaning's flavor is very profound and its text is also good. It is pure, the complete consummation of the pure ascetic practice, and the adamantine treasure chest filled up without lacking anything. If you skillfully listen closely, I now shall discuss it.

"Good son, the word 'great' of the title is for eternity. [625a] As the eight great rivers [2] all return to the ocean, this Sutra thus pacifies all the bonds of affliction and dispositions of Mara. Afterwards, [those who hear it] long to enter parinirvana and exit from the bodily life. This is why it is called the Great Parinirvana.

"Furthermore, good son, it is like the physician who has a secret way of gathering together everything that has a medical use. Good son, the Tathagata is also so. He has proclaimed a variety of wondrous Dharmas, the secret of which are the very core of the scriptural gateways. They all lead into this parinirvana. This is why it is called the Great Parinirvana.

"Good son, it is just as when the farmer in the Spring sowing months has constant hopes and once he has harvested his crop then truely his myriad hopes are all put to rest. Good son, all of the sentient beings are also so. They cultivate and study the other Sutras, [expecting] always a expecting a rich flavor. If they hear this Great Parinirvana, their expectations of the other Sutras to have a rich flavor will be forever ended. This Great Parinirvana is capable of leading sentient beings to be liberated from having outflows [3]. Good son, just as among footprints the elephant's footprints are supreme, this Sutra is thus among Sutras a samadhi that is the very best.

"Good son, it is just as when tilling the fields the Autumn tilling is best, this Sutra is thus among Sutras the best. Good son, just as among medicines ghee is the most skillful in healing fever, worry, and confusion in the minds of sentient beings, the Great Parinirvana is the very best. Good son, just as the sweet cheeses of the eight flavors are perfected, the Great Parinirvana also is again so, thus, the perfection of the eight flavors. And what are the eight? First, constancy; second, eternity; third, peace; fourth, pure refreshment; fifth, not aging; sixth, undying; seventh, undefiled; and eighth, contentment. Those are the eight flavors. Because of the consummation of these eight flavors, it is called the Great Parinirvana. If bodhisattva-mahasattvas rest in this, they again will be able to manifest Nirvana everywhere. This is why it is called the Great Parinirvana.

"Kasyapa, if good sons and good daughters wish to be in this Great Parinirvana and then Nirvana, they should thus study. The Tathagata eternally abides, as do the Dharma and sangha as well."

Kasyapa again said to the Buddha, "Most extraordinary, World Honored One, is the Tathagata's merit so inconceivable! The Dharma and sangha are also so inconceivable. This Great Parinirvana is also inconceivable. If someone cultivates the study of this scripture, they will discover the true Dharma-eye and be able to act as a physician. If someone has yet to study it, it should be known that this person will lack the wisdom eye, it being veiled by ignorance (avidya)."

(Here ends fascicle six of the Great Parinirvana Sutra)

Endnotes to Chapter 6

1.I.e. hell, hungry ghost, asura, and animal realms of samsara. The human and heavenly births are considered good destinies.

2.The names of the rivers alluded to here are not known to me, but presumably they are major rivers in or around the Indian sub-continent.

3.I.e., mental defilements.

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