Record Of Bright Eyes’ Mindfulness Of Buddha To Save Her Mother And Giving Rise Of The Bodhi Mind 光目念佛救母发菩提心记

Chijang Posal (Korean version of Ksitigarbha) as Supreme Lord of the Underworld. Ink and color on silk, 86 x 118 in. (218.4 x 299.7 cm) Photo from Wikipedia

As we have been reborn for countless times already, all sentient beings have been reborn as our mothers before…

— Shilashanti

In Kṣitigarbha Sūtra’s Chapter Four: Jambudvīpa’s Sentient Beings’ Karmic Connections《地藏经》(阎浮众生业感品第四) is this taught by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛), ‘Again, in past immeasurable asaṃkhyeya kalpas ago, there was a Buddha who arose in the world, named Pure Lotus Flower Eyes Thus Come One. That Buddha’s lifespan was forty kalpas. Within the Dharma Resemblance Age, there was an Arhat, with blessings delivering sentient beings. Due to him arriving to teach and transform, he met a woman, whose name was Bright Eyes, who arranged food to make offerings. (「复于过去,无量阿僧祇劫,有佛出世,名清净莲华目如来,其佛寿命四十劫。像法之中,有一罗汉,福度众生。因次教化,遇一女人,字曰光目,设食供养。) [Note 1: The Arhat delivered sentient beings by offering blessings and wisdom (福慧) to them, while letting them create blessings by making offerings to him.]

The Arhat asked her, “What do you desire and wish for?” (罗汉问之:『欲愿何等? 』) Bright Eyes replied, “I, with my mother’s day of death, with the provision of blessings made offerings, for saving her. Yet to know is that my mother’s birthplace is in which realm.” (光目答言:『我以母亡之日,资福救拔,未知我母生处何趣? 』) [Note 2: As she already knew her mother had great evil karma (恶业), she created blessings to alleviate her suffering in her next life.]

The Arhat, sympathising with her, for her entered concentration to contemplate, and saw that the woman Bright Eyes’ mother had fallen in an evil realm, to receive extremely great suffering. The Arhat asked Bright Eyes, saying, “Your mother when living, created and practised what karma? She is now in an evil realm, receiving extremely great suffering.” (罗汉愍之,为入定观,见光目女母堕在恶趣,受极大苦。罗汉问光目言:『汝母在生,作何行业?今在恶趣,受极大苦。 』) Bright Eyes replied, ‘My mother had that habit, of only being fond of eating those belonging to fish and soft-shelled turtles. That eating of fish and soft-shelled turtles was with much eating of their eggs, perhaps with frying or boiling, indulging in eating them. Calculating those lives’ numbers, they are by ten million repeatedly multiplied. May the Honoured One with compassion sympathise. How should I with pity save her?” (光目答言:『我母所习,唯好食啖鱼鳖之属。所食鱼鳖多食其子,或炒或煮,恣情食啖。计其命数,千万复倍。尊者慈愍,如何哀救? 』) [Note 3: With greed and perhaps much hatred too, her mother had created incalculable great evil karma by killing many sentient beings great and small.]

The Arhat, sympathising with her, for her created a skilful means, encouraging Bright Eyes, by saying, “You can, with sincerity and single-mindedness, be mindful of Pure Lotus Flower Eyes Thus Come One, simultaneously sculpting and painting his form’s image, for the living and deceased to obtain rewards.” (罗汉愍之,为作方便,劝光目言:『汝可志诚念清净莲华目如来,兼塑画形像,存亡获报。 』) [Note 4: The primary practice is wholehearted mindfulness of the Buddha’s name (持名念佛) and/or form (观像念佛) in her time, with which the Buddha can be connected to for advice, beyond the question of the whereabouts of the deceased. As it was already in the Dharma Resemblance Age (像法时期), the Buddha was not physically present to be directly consulted in person then.]

Bright Eyes, hearing this already, immediately gave up those loved, sought to have painting of the Buddha’s image, and made offerings to it. Again with the reverent mind, grievously weeping, looking up and prostrating. Suddenly, in the night later, she dreamt and saw the Buddha’s body, whose golden form glittered like Mount Sumeru. Emitting great bright light, he then told Bright Eyes, “Your mother, not long later, will be born in your family. Just when feeling hunger and cold, he will immediately speak.” (光目闻已,即舍所爱,寻画佛像,而供养之。复恭敬心,悲泣瞻礼。忽于夜后,梦见佛身,金色晃耀,如须弥山,放大光明,而告光目:『汝母不久,当生汝家,才觉饥寒,即当言说。』)

Later, within her family, a servant gave birth to a son. Yet to be fully three days, then thus speaking, prostrating and grievously weeping, he told Bright Eyes, ‘Births’ and deaths’ karmic conditions, are with the fruits of retribution personally received. I am your mother, who was for long in a place wrapped in darkness, since departure till you came, I repeatedly fell into great hells. Receiving your blessings’ power, then attaining receiving of birth here. As a lowly person, also again with a short life, after a lifespan with the age of thirteen, I will again fall into a evil path. What plan do you have, to enable me to be liberated, to avoid this?’ (其后家内,婢生一子,未满三日,而乃言说,稽首悲泣,告于光目:『生死业缘,果报自受。吾是汝母,久处暗冥,自别汝来,累堕大地狱。蒙汝福力,方得受生。为下贱人,又复短命,寿年十三,更落恶道。汝有何计,令吾脱免?』) [Note 5: This is proof that meritorious virtues (功德) created for the deceased can alleviate their suffering and expedite better rebirths.]

Bright Eyes, hearing this said, knew that he was her mother without doubt. Choking and sobbing, grievously wailing, she then said to the servant’s son, “Since you are my mother, you should know your original transgressions, having created what actions’ karmas, to fall in an evil path.” (光目闻说,知母无疑,哽咽悲啼,而白婢子:『既是我母,合知本罪,作何行业,堕于恶道?』) The servant’s son replied, “With killing and harming, slandering and scolding, these two karmas, I received retribution. If not receiving your blessings, saving me from my difficulties, with these karmas thus, I should not be liberated.” (婢子答言:『以杀害毁骂二业受报。若非蒙福,救拔吾难,以是业故,未合解脱。』)

Bright Eyes asked, ‘Of hell’s transgressive retribution, what are those matters?” (光目问言:『地狱罪报,其事云何?』) The servant’s son replied, “Of matters on transgressive suffering, I cannot bear to state them, which with a hundred thousand years within, till dying speaking, they would be difficult to be completed.” (婢子答言:『罪苦之事,不忍称说,百千岁中,卒白难竟。』) [Note 6: Such suffering from retribution is so grave that merely to speak of them is unbearable.]

Bright Eyes, having heard this already, weeping tears and wailing, then said to the realm of space, “May my this mother, forever be liberated from hell. Completing thirteen years, be again without heavy transgressions, and experience of the evil paths. May the ten directions’ all Buddhas, have compassionate sympathy for me, hear me, for my mother, that giving rise of my vast and great vow. If attaining my mother’s eternal departure from the three realms, and from this lowliness, and even this body of a woman, in eternal kalpas not receiving them, may I from now, in the days after, towards and before Pure Lotus Flower Eyes Thus Come One’s image, afterwards, within thousands of millions of koṭis of kalpas, respond to existing worlds, all hells, and three evil paths, all transgressive suffering sentient beings, vow to save them, to enable departure from hell’s evil realm, animals’, hungry ghosts’ and others’. When such with transgressive retribution and other persons, all accomplish Buddhahood completely, I will afterwards then accomplish Right Awakening.” (光目闻已,啼泪号泣,而白空界:『愿我之母,永脱地狱。毕十三岁,更无重罪,及历恶道。十方诸佛,慈哀愍我,听我为母所发广大誓愿:若得我母永离三涂,及斯下贱,乃至女人之身,永劫不受者,愿我自今日后,对清净莲华目如来像前,却后百千万亿劫中,应有世界,所有地狱,及三恶道,诸罪苦众生,誓愿救拔,令离地狱恶趣、畜生、饿鬼等。如是罪报等人,尽成佛竟,我然后方成正觉。』) [Note 7: Initially for saving her mother from lower rebirths, empathising with all other beings too, her vow expanded to be for guiding all sentient beings to Buddhahood, thus giving rise to the Bodhi Mind (菩提心). As we have been reborn for countless times already, all sentient beings have been reborn as our mothers before. Thus, to give rise to the Bodhi Mind is to fulfil filial piety universally.]

Having made her vow already, completely heard was Pure Lotus Flower Eyes Thus Come One, who then told her, “Bright Eyes, with your great compassionate sympathy, you are well able to, for your mother give rise to such a great vow. I contemplate that your mother, with thirteen years completed, having given up this retribution body already, will be born as a Brahmin, with a lifespan with the age of a hundred years. Passing this reward later, she will be born in the Land Without Worries, with a lifespan that is incalculable. Later accomplishing the Buddha fruit, to widely deliver human and heavenly beings, numbering like the Ganges river’s sands.”‘ ( 发誓愿已,具闻清净莲华目如来而告之曰:『光目!汝大慈愍,善能为母发如是大愿。吾观汝母,十三岁毕,舍此报已,生为梵志,寿年百岁。过是报后,当生无忧国土,寿命不可计劫。后成佛果,广度人天,数如恒河沙。』」) [Note 8: The Land Without Worries (无忧国) is a Pure Land (净土), thus having an incalculable lifespan there. This means that her mother would have eventually learnt and practised how to reach the Pure Land, through which Buddhahood is guaranteed. The primary means to reach Pure Lands is with sincere mindfulness of their Buddhas.]

The Buddha told Concentration Ease King, ‘At that time, that Arhat with blessings delivering Bright Eyes, then is Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva now. That Bright Eyes’ mother, then is Liberation Bodhisattva now. That Bright Eyes women, then is Earth Treasury Bodhisattva now. Within past long and distant kalpas, thus with compassionate sympathy giving rise to Ganges river’s sands of vows, to widely deliver sentient beings. ( 佛告定自在王:「尔时罗汉福度光目者,即无尽意菩萨是。光目母者,即解脱菩萨是。光目女者,即地藏菩萨是。过去久远劫中,如是慈愍发恒河沙愿,广度众生。)

Within the future period, if there are men and women, those not practising good, those practising evil, and even those not believing in cause and effect, those with evil sexual conduct and false speech, those with double-tongued and harsh speech, those who slander the Great Vehicle, such all karmic sentient beings, they will definitely fall into evil realms. (未来世中,若有男子女人,不行善者,行恶者,乃至不信因果者,邪淫妄语者,两舌恶口者,毁谤大乘者,如是诸业众生,必堕恶趣。) [Note 9: Those who do not avoid evil, do good, and believe in the law of karma, who break precepts and slander the teachings that lead to Buddhahood will surely be reborn as hell-beings (地狱), hungry ghosts (饿鬼) and animals (畜生) in the three evil paths (三恶道) (if they do not repent in time).]

If meeting good-knowing friends, encouraging to enable, within one snap of the fingers, to rely on Earth Treasury Bodhisattva, all these sentient beings, will immediately attain liberation from the three evil paths’ retribution. (若遇善知识,劝令一弹指间归依地藏菩萨,是诸众生,即得解脱三恶道报。) [Note 10: The primary means is with sincere mindfulness of the Bodhisattva’s name – ‘(Homage to and) refuge for life in Earth Treasury Bodhisattva’ (南无地藏王菩萨). This works with the same principle as mindfulness of Buddha in terms of Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛: Amitā[bha] Buddha). The Bodhisattva also guides beings mindful of this Buddha to Āmítuófós Pure Land.]

If able to, with the sincere mind take refuge reverently, and look up, prostrate, praise highly, with incenses, flowers, clothing, all kinds of precious treasures, or again with drinks and food, with those thus offering, in future thousands of millions of koṭis of kalpas within, they will constantly be in many heavens to receive wonderful joy. If heavenly blessings are exhausted, descending to be born in the human world, still for a hundred thousand kalpas, constantly as emperors, they will be able to recollect past lives’ causes and effects, from the beginning to the end. ( 若能志心归敬,及瞻礼赞叹,香华衣服,种种珍宝,或复饮食,如是奉事者,未来百千万亿劫中,常在诸天受胜妙乐。若天福尽,下生人间,犹百千劫,常为帝王,能忆宿命因果本末。) [Note 11: Having knowledge of past lives means past lessons learnt will be remembered, while past mistakes made will not be repeated. Thus will there be progress towards Buddhahood.] [Note 12: Although the above advantages are great, the swiftest path to Buddhahood is by directly reaching Āmítuófó’s Pure Land at the end of this life, where the advantages will be immeasurably greater. While it is the easiest Pure Land to enter, through it, all other Pure Lands can be accessed. In Pure Lands, there will be direct access to the Buddhas’ teachings.]

Concentration With Ease King, thus does Earth Treasury Bodhisattva, have these such inconceivable great majestic supernormal powers, to widely benefit sentient beings. You and other all Bodhisattvas, should remember this sūtra, to widely proclaim and propagate it.’ (定自在王,如是地藏菩萨,有如此不可思议大威神力,广利众生,汝等诸菩萨,当记是经,广宣流布。」) Concentration With Ease King to the Buddha said, ‘World-Honoured One, may you not have worries. I and other ten million koṭis of Bodhisattva Mahāsattvas, will definitely be able to receive the Buddha’s majestic supernormal power, to widely expound this sūtra in Jambudvīpa, to benefit sentient beings.’ (定自在王白佛言:「世尊!愿不有虑。我等千万亿菩萨摩诃萨,必能承佛威神,广演是经于阎浮提,利益众生。」) [Note 13: The essence of the sūtra is the Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha (念佛法门). Thus, to promote its teachings is to share on focusing upon the practice of mindfulness of Buddha. Some practitioners forget this and focus only on reciting the sūtra.] Concentration With Ease King Bodhisattva, having spoken to the World-Honoured One already, joined his palms reverently, made prostrations and retreated. (定自在王菩萨白世尊已,合掌恭敬,作礼而退。)

… Thus, to give rise to the Bodhi Mind is to fulfil filial piety universally.

— Shilashanti

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