(Sūtra) The Dharma-Door of Praising Tathāgata Akṣobhya’s Merits

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I.II.III.IV.V.VI.

Transcribed from the book titled, “A Treasury of Mahāyāna Sūtras

Chapter III

“Furthermore, Śāriputra, when Tathāgata Akṣobhya expounds the Dharma, he can skillfully subdue countless sentient beings, making them all attain Arhatship; numerous are those who will dwell in the meditation o the eightfold liberation.

            “Śāriputra, Tathāgata Akṣobhya, the Worthy One, the Perfectly Enlightened One, has a host of Śrāvakas incalculable in number. I cannot find any arithmetician or any arithmetician’s disciple able to compute how many hundreds of thousands of millions of billions o trillions of Śrāvakas there are in the host. Śāriputra, no one can ascertain the total number of good men who have attained the fruit of an Arhat in that land.

            “Śāriputra, [in my land,] indolent people can attain the fruit of Stream-enterer, They will be born as humans seven more times and be further taught the Dharma before they can attain the superior fruit [of an Arhat]; therefore, I call them ‘people of seven rebirths.’ Śāriputra, [in the land of Tathāgata Akṣobhya,] indolent people can attain the fruit of a Stream-enterer at Tathāgata Akṣobhya’s first discourse on the Dharma, the fruit of a Once-returner at the second discourse, the fruit of a Nonreturner at the third discourse, and the fruit of an Arhat at the fourth discourse. They are said to be indolent because they fail to end all their defilements at one sitting.

            “Śāriputra, in that Buddha-land, those who have attained the fruit of a Stream-enterer will be cleansed of all defilements in one lifetime, unlike the Stream-enterers of this world, who have to go through seven more births. Those who have attained the fruit of a Once-returner will be freed from all suffering in one lifetime, unlike those called Once-returners in this world, who have to go through one more birth. Those who have attained the fruit of a Nonreturner will become Arhats in one lifetime, unlike those called Nonreturners in this world, who have to be born in the upper realms [before they are liberated] through they will not return to this earth. …

            “Furthermore, Śāriputra, in that Buddha-land, there are steps made of three precious materials – gold, silver, and lapis lazuli – extending from the Jambudvīpa to the Heaven of the Thirty-Three. Śāriputra, when the gods of the Heaven of the Thirty-Three desire to see Tathāgata Akṣobhya, to worship and make offerings to him, they an descend the precious steps to the Buddha’s place. When they find him, they can descend the precious steps to the Buddha’s place. When they find that the people of [that] Jambudvīpa are rich, prosperous, and have everything they need, they will be come desirous and say, “We gods have the good fortune of gods, and the people of Jambudvīpa have the good fortune of human beings. Now I see that their fortune is excellent as ours. What is more, the people of Jambudvīpa have a good fortune even surpassing ours: Tathāgata Akṣobhya is expounding of the true Dharma there. This is why we gods always prefer the human world.’

            “Śāriputra, the people of that Jambudvīpa have no desire at all to be born in the heavens. Why? Because [they think,] ‘In the human world, Tathāgata Akṣobhya constantly expounds the true Dharma to benefit us, and our good fortune is not different from that of the gods. The gods of the Heaven of the Thirty-Three are no match for us.’

            “Śāriputra, in that land, by the Buddha’s divine power, gods and humans can see each other. Just as the people of this Jambudvīpa see the moon and stars, so, Śāriputra, the people there can look upward and see the palaces of the gods above. Śāriputra, this is also achieved by the power of the original vows which Tathāgata Akṣobhya made when he was cultivating the Bodhisattva practices.

            “Śāriputra, the voice of the Buddha expounding the Dharma spreads over the entire billion-world universe, and is heard everywhere by the four kinds of devotees.

            “Śāriputra, the Śrāvakas there wish for no other food than Dharma-food. When listening to the Dharma, they are single-minded and calm; they do not feel tired physically or mentally, whether sitting of standing. Śāriputra, Tathāgata Akṣobhya stays in midair when expounding the Dharma to the assembly. The Śrāvakas, whether or not they themselves have miraculous power, all stay in midair by the awesome power of the Buddha when they listen to essence of the Dharma, bearing themselves with dignity in the three deportments. What are the three? Walking, standing, and sitting.

            “When these Śrāvakas intend to enter parinirvāna, they sit cross-legged and then immediately enter it. At that moment, the earth quakes. After their parinirvāna, all gods and humans come to make offerings to them.

            “When the Arhats are ready for parinirvāna, they produce fire from their bodies to cremate themselves; or become extinct spontaneously, leaving no relics behind; or roam in the sky like clouds of five colors, and then disappear in an instant, without leaving a trace; or stand in the sky and then vanish like rain falling to the ground.

            “Śāriputra, this also because, while cultivating the Bodhisattva practices in the past, Tathāgata Akṣobhya, the Worthy One, the Perfectly Enlightened One, made this vow: ‘ If I realize supreme enlightenment, the Śrāvakas [in my land] will enter parinirvāna with dignity in the three deportments.’

            “Furthermore, Śāriputra, many Śrāvakas of that Buddha-land have attained the four fearlessnesses, and even more have attained the four bases of miraculous powers. Śāriputra, the Śrāvakas of that land have accomplished these complete merits.”

            At the time, Śāriputra said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, illustrious, great, and vast indeed are the merits accomplished by the Śrāvakas of Tathāgata Akṣobhya, the Worthy One, the Perfectly Enlightened One.”

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