Thus I have heard:
At one time the Buddha was at the Jewel Brilliance Pond in the Immaculate Garden of the kingdom of Magadha. Surrounding Him were hundreds of thousands of Mahāsattvas, great voice-hearers, gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, human, nonhumans, and others. At that time, in the assembly was a great Brahmin named Immaculate Light, who was well educated and intelligent. People delighted in seeing him. Having taken refuge in the Three Jewels, he persistently did the ten good karmas. Benevolent, wealthy, and wise, he intended that other people acquire benefits, great fortune, and prosperity.
Immaculate Light rose from his seat, came to the Buddha, circled Him seven times, and offered the World-Honored One incense and flowers. He also covered the Buddha with priceless wonderful garments, necklaces, and tiaras of gems. After bowing down at the Buddha’s feet, he stepped back to one side and said, “I pray that the World-Honored One and the huge assembly will come to my house tomorrow morning to accept my offerings.”
The Buddha gave him permission in silence. Knowing that the Buddha had accepted his invitation, the Brahmin hurried home. In the evening, he ordered extensive preparation of food and drink of one hundred flavors for the banquet. Water was sprinkled, the halls were swept clean, and canopies and banners were set up.
In the next morning, carrying incense, flowers, and musical instruments, together with his retinue, the Brahmin came to the Buddha. He said, “The time has come, and I pray that the World-Honored One will grace my house.”
The Buddha greeted the Brahmin Immaculate Light with kind words and made an announcement to the huge assembly: “All of you should go to this Brahmin’s home to accept his offerings, for the purpose of letting him receive great benefits.”
Then the World-Honored One rose from His seat. As the Buddha stood up, His body emitted all kinds of radiance with intermingled wonderful colors, illuminating and filling the space in the ten directions. Being thus alerted, all set off on the road. Respectfully escorting the Buddha, the Brahmin carried wonderful incense and flowers with a reverent heart. He led the way, along with his retinue, the Brahma-kings, the god-king Śakra, the four god-kings, and the eight classes of Dharma protectors, such as gods and dragons.
The World-Honored One, having traveled not too far on the road, came to a garden called Abundant Wealth. In that garden were the ruins of an ancient pagoda, dilapidated and collapsed. With the courtyard covered by thistles and the doors sealed by creeping weeds, the rubble resembled a mound of dirt. The Buddha went straight to the pagoda. Forthwith, the pagoda issued vast, bright light, illuminating and glowing. A voice from the heap of earth praised, “Very good! Very good! Śākyamuni, Your action today is excellent! And you, Brahmin, will receive great benefits today!”
The World-Honored One paid respects to the ruined pagoda by circling it clockwise three times. He took off His upper garment, placed it over the pagoda, and wept tears with blood. He then smiled. Meanwhile, all Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions, looking on together, also shed tears, each emitting light to illuminate this pagoda. The multitude was so astonished as to lose their color, and they all wanted to resolve their bewilderment.
Vajrapāṇi and other Bodhisattvas also shed tears. Twirling his vajra in glowing flames, he came to the Buddha. He asked, “World-Honored One, through what causes and conditions does this radiance manifest? Why did the Tathāgata’s eyes shed these tears? And why do Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions emit vast auspicious light? I pray that the Tathāgata will resolve my bewilderment.”
The World-Honored One replied to Vajrapāṇi, “This great treasure pagoda of accumulated whole-body relics of Tathāgatas contains innumerable koṭis of the heart dhāraṇīs, the secret seal of the essentials of the Dharma of all Tathāgatas. Vajrapāṇi, because of the essentials of the Dharma contained in it, the pagoda has become tiered seamlessly like sesame seeds. The bodies of 100,000 koṭi Tathāgatas are also like sesame seeds. Contained in the pagoda is the accumulation of the whole-body relics of 100,000 koṭi Tathāgatas and even the store of 84,000 Dharmas. Also contained in it are 99 billion koṭi Tathāgata-crowns. Because of these wondrous things, the site of this pagoda has superb, awesome virtue and serves as a spiritual testament. It can fill the entire world with auspicious events.”
When the multitude heard the Buddha’s words, they shunned dust and filth [their afflictions] and acquired the pure dharma-eye. Because the capacities of the multitude were so varied, each received a different benefit. Some became Pratyekabuddhas; some achieved voice-hearer fruits, becoming Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, Anāgāmins, or Arhats. On the Bodhisattva Way, some achieved the level of avinivartanīya or acquired sarvajña; some attained the First Ground, Second Ground, or even the Tenth Ground; and some fulfilled the six pāramitās. The Brahmin shunned dust and filth [his afflictions], and acquired the five transcendental powers.
Witnessing these unprecedented occurrences, Vajrapāṇi exclaimed, “World-Honored One, how wonderful and how extraordinary! If people acquire such excellent merit by merely hearing about this matter, how much more merit will they acquire if they hear the profound truth and elicit their faith with an earnest mind?”
The Buddha replied, “Hearken! Vajrapāṇi. In future times, if, among male believers, female believers, and my four groups of disciples, there are those who are inspired to copy this sūtra, they in effect copy all the sūtras pronounced by 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas. Their merit will surpass the roots of goodness they have been planting for a long time in the presence of 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas. All Tathāgatas will support, protect, and remember them in the same way as they cherish their own eyes or as loving mothers care for their young children. If a person recites this short sūtra, he in effect recites all the sūtras pronounced by Buddhas of the past, present, and future. For this reason, 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas, also called Arhats, Samyak-Saṁbuddhas, will come, jam-packed sideways without any gap between them, like sesame seeds in a pile. Day and night they will appear and support that person. Thus, all Buddha-Tathāgatas, who are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, will come. The first group of them has not yet left, and the next has arrived. They all instantly move away and return again, like fine sands whirling in quick water. Incessantly, they come again as soon as they turn away. If a person makes offerings of incense, flowers, solid perfumes, garlands, garments, and wonderful ornaments to this sūtra, he in effect makes an entire offering, before 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas [in worlds] in the ten directions, of divine incense, flowers, garments, and ornaments made of the seven treasures, all piled high like Mount Sumeru. Planting one’s roots of goodness can be accomplished in the same way.”
Having heard these words, the eight classes of Dharma protectors, such as gods and dragons, as well as humans, nonhumans, and others, filled with wonder, said to one another, “How marvelous is the awesome virtue of this old pile of earth! Its miraculous manifestation must have been caused by the spiritual power of the Tathāgata.”
Vajrapāṇi next asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, through what causes and conditions does this pagoda made of the seven treasures now manifest as a pile of dirt?”
The Buddha replied to Vajrapāṇi, “This is not a pile of dirt, but a wonderful, great treasure pagoda. It is hidden because of the inferiority of sentient beings’ karmic fruits. Although the pagoda is hidden, the bodies of the Tathāgatas are indestructible. How could the vajra-store bodies of the Tathāgatas be destroyed? After I have abandoned my body, the ending of the Dharma will be unrelenting in future times. Sentient beings that act against the Dharma are bound to fall into hell because they neither believe in the Three Jewels nor plant any roots of goodness. For this reason, the Buddha Dharma should be hidden. But this pagoda will still be solid and will not be demolished because it is supported by the spiritual power of all Tathāgatas. However, ignorant beings, covered and obstructed by their delusion, not knowing how to unearth and use the treasure, simply leave it buried. For this reason, I now shed tears, and other Tathāgatas shed tears as well.”
The Buddha then told Vajrapāṇi, “If a person copies this sūtra and enshrines the copy in a pagoda, this pagoda will then become the vajra-store stūpa of all Tathāgatas and the stūpa supported by the heart secret of the dhāraṇī of all Tathāgatas. It will become the stūpa of 99 billion koṭi Tathāgatas and the Buddha-crown and Buddha-eye stūpa of all Tathāgatas, and it will be protected by their spiritual power. If you enshrine this sūtra inside a Buddha statue in a stūpa, the statue will in effect be made of the seven treasures. This statue will be so efficacious and responsive that one’s wishes will be fulfilled without exception.
“According to your ability, construct for a stūpa these things: canopies, nets, columns, dew-catching wheels, fine eaves, bells, foundations, or steps. Whether you use earth, wood, stones, or bricks, they will turn into the seven treasures because of the awesome power of this sūtra. Moreover, all Tathāgatas will increase the power of this sūtra. Keeping a sincere promise, they support it incessantly.
“If a sentient being makes obeisance and gives an offering of only a little incense and one flower to this pagoda, his grave sins, which would entail 80 koṭi kalpas of life and death, will all be expunged at once. He will be free from catastrophes during his life and, after death, be reborn in a Buddha family. Even for a person who should fall into Avīci Hell, if he only makes one obeisance to the pagoda or circles it clockwise once, the door to hell will be blocked and the bodhi road will be opened.
“Furthermore, the place of the pagoda or of its image will be protected by the spiritual power of all Tathāgatas. The place will not be damaged by hurricanes and lightning bolts. It will be neither disturbed by venomous snakes, vipers, scorpions, or other poisonous insects, nor harmed by lions, rampaging elephants, tigers, wolves, jackals, or other animals. It will be free from the terror of yakṣas, rakṣasas, pūtanas, piśācas, spirits, monsters, and epilepsy. It will not be troubled by diseases, such as chills, fevers, skin ulcers, carbuncles, scabies, or psoriasis. One can avert all disasters by seeing the pagoda briefly. At the place of the pagoda, horses, six kinds of livestock, and people, including young boys and girls, will not be plagued by epidemics. They will not die unnatural, accidental deaths, nor be harmed by knives, clubs, flood, or fire. They will not be attacked by bandits or enemies, and they will have no worries about famine or poverty. They will not be subject to the power of sorcery or curses. The four great god-kings and their retinues will protect them day and night. In addition, the twenty-eight classes of yakṣa generals, the sun, the moon, the five planets, and cloudlike comets will protect them day and night. All dragon-kings will increase their vital energy and bring rainfall at the right time. All gods, including those in Trayastriṁśa Heaven, will descend during the three periods of the day to make offerings. All fairies will gather during the three periods to circle the pagoda, sing songs of praise, give thanks, and pay respects. The god-king Śakra and goddesses will descend during the three periods of the day to make offerings. The place will be remembered and supported by all Tathāgatas. Such will be the pagoda because it contains this sūtra.
“If people build a pagoda using earth, stone, wood, gold, silver, bronze, and lead, and if they copy this spiritual mantra and enshrine the copy in the pagoda, then as soon as it is enshrined, the pagoda will in effect be made of the seven treasures. The upper and lower steps, dew-catching wheels, canopies, bells, and columns will all be made of the seven treasures. Also, the four sides of the pagoda will have the images of Tathāgatas. Because of the essentials of the Dharma, all Tathāgatas will firmly protect and support the pagoda, staying in it day and night without departing. Because of the awesome power of the mantra, the pagoda made of the seven treasures, which contains the wonderful treasure of the whole-body relics, will soar up into the midst of the palaces in Akaniṣṭha Heaven. Wherever a pagoda stands like a mountain, all gods will view it with reverence, stand guard, and make offerings day and night.”
Vajrapāṇi asked, “Through what causes and conditions has this Dharma such superb virtue?”
The Buddha replied, “Because of the spiritual power of this Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī.”
Vajrapāṇi said, “I pray that the Tathāgata, out of compassion for us all, will pronounce this dhāraṇī.”
The Buddha responded, “Hearken, contemplate, and do not forget it! The radiance of the copies of the bodies of all Tathāgatas of the present and the whole-body relics of all Buddhas of the past are contained in this Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī. The three bodies of every Tathāgata are also in it.”
Then the Buddha pronounced the dhāraṇī: "namas tryadhvikānāṁ sarva tathāgatānāṁ | oṁ bhuvi-bhavana-vare | vacana-vacati suru suru dhara dhara | sarva tathāgata dhātu dhare | padmaṁ bhavati jaya vare mudre | smara tathāgata dharma-cakra pravartana vajre bodhimaṇḍālaṁkārālaṁkṛte | sarva tathāgatādhiṣṭhite | bodhaya bodhaya bodhi bodhi | budhya budhya saṁbodhani saṁbodhaya | cala cala calantu | sarvāvaraṇāni sarva pāpa vigate | huru huru sarva śoka vigate | sarva tathāgata hṛdaya vajriṇi | saṁbhāra saṁbhāra | sarva tathāgata guhya dhāraṇī-mudre | bhūte subhūte | sarva tathāgatādhiṣṭhita dhātu garbhe svāhā | samayādhiṣṭhite svāhā | sarva tathāgata hṛdaya dhātu mudre svāhā | supratiṣṭhita stūpe tathāgatādhiṣṭhite huru huru hūṁ hūṁ svāhā | oṁ sarva tathāgatoṣṇīṣa dhātu mudrāṇi | sarva tathāgata sadhātu vibhūṣitādhiṣṭhite hūṁ hūṁ svāhā"
After the Buddha finished reciting this spiritual mantra, all the Buddha-Tathāgatas in the pile of earth voiced their praises: “Very good! Very good! Śākya the World-Honored One, You have appeared in this turbid, evil world to expound the profound Dharma for the benefit of sentient beings that have nothing and nobody to depend upon. Therefore, the essentials of the Dharma will long remain in the world, bringing wide, abundant benefits and joyful peace.”
Then the Buddha told Vajrapāṇi, “Hearken! Hearken! The essentials of this Dharma have inexhaustible spiritual power and boundless benefits! It is like a wish-fulfilling jewel atop a cylindrical banner, constantly raining down treasures and fulfilling all wishes. Next, I will briefly describe one ten-thousandth of these boundless benefits. You should remember and uphold it for benefiting all sentient beings.
“If an evil man after death falls into hell, he must suffer uninterruptedly, not knowing when release will come. However, if his descendants say his name and then recite this spiritual mantra, upon completion of only seven repetitions, the molten copper and burning iron in hell will suddenly change into pond water with the eight virtues. This man will have a lotus flower supporting his feet and a jeweled canopy over his head. The door of hell will break and the Bodhi Way will open. His lotus flower will fly him to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. There, his knowledge of all knowledge will spontaneously unfold. Delighting in expounding the Dharma endlessly, he will be ready to attain Buddhahood in his next life.
“Moreover, a person who, with a heavy heart, suffers from 100 diseases as requital for his grave sins should recite this spiritual mantra twenty-one times. Then 100 diseases and 10,000 distresses will be eliminated at once. His lifespan will be lengthened, and his fortune and merit will become immeasurable.
“Suppose a person has been born into a poor family because of his karma of greed and stinginess. His clothes cannot cover his body and his food cannot sustain his life. Emaciated and haggard, he is despicable to others. This person, ashamed of himself, goes to the mountain and plucks wild flowers not owned by anyone. He grates rotten wood for incense powder. Then he goes to the pagoda to make obeisance and offerings, circling it seven times, repenting in tears. Because of the power of this spiritual mantra and the awesome virtue of the pagoda, his poverty requital will end and fortune will suddenly arrive. The seven treasures will appear like abundant rain. However, at this time, he should give to the poor and needy, completely honoring the Buddha Dharma. If he is reluctant to give, his riches will suddenly vanish.
“Suppose a person, planting roots of goodness for himself, builds a pagoda at his pleasure, using earth or bricks that he can afford. The pagoda is as big as a mango, its height about four finger lengths. He copies this spiritual mantra and enshrines the copy in the pagoda. Then he makes obeisance and offers incense and flowers. Because of the power of the mantra and his faithful heart, vast, fragrant clouds will come out of the little pagoda. The fragrance and the light of the clouds will pervade the dharma realm, widely doing Buddha work with fragrance and radiant clouds. The benefits he will receive are as I have just stated. In sum, all his wishes will be fulfilled without exception. During the Dharma-ending age, if, among my four groups of disciples, good men, and good women, there are those who, following the unsurpassed Way, do their best to build pagodas and enshrine this mantra in them, I cannot finish describing the merit they will acquire.
“If a person goes to the pagoda to ask for fortune, he should make obeisance and offer a flower and a little incense to the pagoda, and circle it clockwise. Because of his virtuous act, rank and glory will arrive unsought. Longevity and prosperity will increase without effort. Foes and bandits will fall without being subjugated. Vengeful thoughts and curses will return to their source without resistance. Epidemics and evil forces will be turned away without need of being purged. A good husband or good wife will come without being persuaded. Beautiful good children will be born without being prayed for. All wishes will be fulfilled at will.
“Even for ravens, owls, turtledoves, hawks, wolves, jackals, mosquitoes, ants, and the like, which momentarily come into the shadow of the pagoda and step on the grass there, their affliction-hindrances will be annihilated, and they will recognize their ignorance. They will suddenly enter a Buddha family and freely receive Dharma wealth. Even more are the benefits to humans who have seen the form of the pagoda, heard its bell tolling, heard its name, or been in its shadow. Their hindrances caused by sin will all be annihilated, and their wishes fulfilled. Their present lives will be peaceful, and they will be reborn in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.
“If a person, without extra effort, applies a glob of mud to the damaged wall of a pagoda or uses a fist-sized stone to support a leaning pagoda, because of this virtuous act, his fortune will increase and his lifespan will be lengthened. After death, he will be reborn as a Wheel-Turning King.
“After I have abandoned my body, my four groups of disciples, in order to rescue sentient beings in miserable existence, should come before this pagoda, make offerings of incense and flowers, and recite this spiritual mantra, making vows in earnest. Each and every mantra word and phrase [they utter] will radiate vast, bright light, illuminating the three evil life-journeys to end all suffering. Once those sentient beings are delivered from suffering, their Buddha seed will germinate. They will then be reborn as they wish in Pure Lands in the ten directions.
“If a person recites this mantra earnestly on the top of a high mountain, all sentient beings within the scope of his sight, including those in furs, feathers, scales, and shells, residing near and far in mountain valleys, forests, streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans, will annihilate their affliction-hindrance and recognize their ignorance. They will realize their three Buddha natures and eventually attain the great nirvāṇa. If people walking the same road as this person are touched by the wind blown through his clothes, step on his footprints, see his face, or converse with him briefly, their grave sins will all be expunged and their siddhis perfected.”
The Buddha then said to Vajrapāṇi, “I now entrust this secret spiritual mantra and this sūtra to you all. Revere, protect, uphold, and disseminate them in the world. Do not allow the transmittal [of the Dharma] to end for sentient beings.”
Vajrapāṇi said, “I am honored to receive the trust of the World-Honored One. I pray only that we will requite the World-Honored One for his profound grace, day and night protecting, upholding, disseminating, and pronouncing [the mantra and the sūtra] to the world. If there are sentient beings that copy, uphold, and remember them unceasingly, we will command the Brahma-kings, the god-king Śakra, the four great god-kings, and the eight classes of Dharma protectors to protect them day and night without leaving even temporarily.”
The Buddha said, “Very good! Vajrapāṇi, for the benefit of all sentient beings of the future, protect and uphold this Dharma, and make it endless.”
After the World-Honored One pronounced this Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī and widely did His Buddha work, he went to the Brahmin’s home and accepted his offerings, causing humans and gods to receive great benefits. Then he returned to the place where He was staying.
—Sūtra of the Whole-Body Relic Treasure Chest Seal Dhāraṇī,
During that time the bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, upāsikās, gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, humans, nonhumans, and others in the assembly greatly rejoiced. They all believed in, accepted, and reverently carried out the teachings.
the Heart Secret of All Tathāgatas
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T19n1022B)