How Earth Treasury Bodhisattva Entered The Buddha Path With Mindfulness Of Buddha 地藏菩萨如何以念佛入佛道

Be inspired personally
to become the inspiring.

— Shilashanti

In Kṣitigarbha Sūtra’s Chapter One: Supernormal Powers In Trāyastriṃśa Heavenly Palace《地藏经》(忉利天宮神通品第一) was this taught by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛), ‘Mañjuśrī, this Earth Treasury (Kṣitigarbha) Bodhisattva Mahāsattva, in past, long and distant, unspeakably unspeakable kalpas before, was as a great elder’s son. In that period, was a Buddha, named Lion Swiftly Complete With Ten Thousand Practices Thus Come One. (「文殊师利!是地藏菩萨摩诃萨,于过去久远不可说不可说劫前,身为大长者子。时世有佛,号曰师子奋迅具足万行如来。)

Then, the elder’s son, seeing the Buddha’s forms’ excellences, with thousands of blessings adorned, due to this asked that Buddha, “With the making of what practices and vows, then attains these forms?” (时长者子,见佛相好,千福庄严,因问彼佛:『作何行愿,而得此相?』) Then, Lion Swiftly Complete With Ten Thousand Practices Thus Come One told the elder’s son, “If desiring to realise this body, there must be long and distant deliverance and liberation of all sentient beings receiving suffering.” (时师子奋迅具足万行如来告长者子:『欲证此身,当须久远度脱一切受苦众生。』)

Mañjuśrī, then, the elder’s son, due to giving rise to his vow, said, “I, from now until the end of the future’s incalculable kalpas, will for sentient beings with transgressive suffering in the six paths, widely establish skilful means, to completely enable them to be liberated, then with my own self, then accomplishing the Buddha path.” (文殊师利!时长者子,因发愿言:『我今尽未来际不可计劫,为是罪苦六道众生,广设方便,尽令解脱,而我自身,方成佛道。』) Therefore, at that Buddha, before [him, he] established this great vow. To [the] present, [for] thousands [of] millions [of] koṭis [of] nayutas [of] unspeakable kalpas, [he is] still as [a] Bodhisattva.’ (以是于彼佛前,立斯大愿,于今百千万亿那由他不可说劫,尚为菩萨。」)

Note [1] It was with the inspired practice of mindfulness of a Buddha’s form (观像念佛), which is also a form of mindfulness of Buddha (念佛), that the future Earth Treasury Bodhisattva (地藏菩萨) first gave rose to the Bodhi Mind (菩提心), to guide all beings to Buddhahood.

Note [2] As can be seen in the rest of the sūtra, which mainly promotes mindfulness of Buddha, this key practice marks the (i) beginning, (ii) middle and (iii) end of its teachings. (i) It marks the beginning as Earth Treasury Bodhisattva’s origin was from mindfulness of Buddha. (ii) It marks the middle as Earth Treasury Sūtra’s teachings on mindfulness of Buddha form its essence. (iii) It marks the end as the goal of the sūtra is to encourage all to practise mindfulness of Buddha.

Note [3] Although Earth Treasury Bodhisattva is still a Great Bodhisattva (大菩萨), to be a most effective one, who embodies and expresses Great Vows (Aspiration) (大愿), he could have already become a Buddha (who is a perfected Bodhisattva) during his long progress on the Bodhisattva path, after which he continues to manifest as an exemplary Bodhisattva.

Inspire others personally
to become the inspiring.

— Shilashanti

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