A Brief Introduction
All Beings Have the Wisdom of the Buddha
Suffering: The Problem of Existence
The Cause of Suffering: Ignorance and Karma
The Path to the Cessation of Suffering: Practicing the Dharma
The Cessation of Suffering: The Realm of the Buddha
Sangha: The Third Jewel
Introduction to Chart of Samsara
Chart of Samsara
The Intent of the Buddha's Teachings
Chapter Four - The Cessation of Suffering: The Realm of the Buddha
Fourth Magnificent Vow of the Bodhisattva:
I vow to realize the unsurpassed path of the Buddha.
The Thus Come One observes the world
and produces a heart of great compassion.
In order to benefit living beings, he appears
And shows them the peace and
happiness of the most supreme Path.
This corresponds to the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.
What, Bhikshus, is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering? It is the passionless cessation of this very thirst (mentioned in the Truth of the Cause of Suffering) without remainder. Abandoning and renouncing it, being released from and averting from it. The Cessation of Suffering should be realized.
The Bodhisattva perfects his Enlightenment through study and practice over many lifetimes. The Bodhisattva then becomes a Buddha. "Buddha" literally means "Awakened One" or "Enlightened One". He is one of ultimate wisdom and compassion. His wisdom encompasses the entire universe without obstruction; his compassion for beings in all states of existence in all worlds knows no bounds. Only when one becomes a Buddha, will one fully realize the cessation of all suffering.
Therefore, the realm of the Buddha is difficult to fathom. Those who see the Buddha perceive him differently reflecting their own karma. For example, the great Bodhisattvas observe the Buddha always teaching and influencing living beings in every realm of existence. In contrast, common people, because of their limited knowledge and vision, find it difficult to even believe or imagine the state of a Buddha.
How can living beings in the three realms of existence, in their worldly state and even the Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions in their transcendent state, speculate about the Supreme Enlightenment of the Thus Come One? With their limited minds and worldly language and expressions, how could they enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha?
The wisdom of all the Buddhas is limitless and most profound. The gateway to this wisdom is difficult to discover, difficult to enter. It cannot by known by any of the Sound Hearers or Pratyeka Buddhas .
Why? In the past, these Buddhas have drawn near to countless billions of Buddhas, exhaustively practicing their uncountable Dharmas of the Path.
Only one Buddha comes into a world-system at a time, but many Buddhas may appear in a single world system in succession. After the previous Buddha's Dharma has totally disappeared from the world, the next Buddha appears prompting the Dharma to flourish again. For example, in the Sutra of the Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma, Shakyamuni Buddha discusses Maitreya Buddha, the next Buddha to appear in our world system.
When my Dharma disappears, it will be like an oil lamp which flares brightly for an instant just before it goes out. So too, will the Dharma flare and die. It is difficult to speak with certainty of what will follow after that time.
And so it will remain for the next ten million years. Then, when Maitreya is about to appear in the world as the next Buddha, the planet will be entirely peaceful. Evil vapors will have dissipated, rain will be ample and regular, the crops will grow abundantly.
Nor is there just one Buddha. In the Sutras the Buddha explained that numerous world systems in the universe have Buddhas in them.
Shariputra, all Buddhas, the World Honored Ones, throughout the ten directions in limitless quadrillions of Buddha-lands, presently are greatly benefiting living beings and bringing them peace and happiness.
The following selection of Sutra passages describes the scope of the Buddha's compassion and wisdom.
The Buddha's Compassion
The Buddha contemplates all those in the world: upside-down, ever confused and deluded. They revolve in the suffering of birth and death; so he gives rise to a heart of great compassion. Throughout billions of eons, he cultivates the practices of Enlightenment, wishing to rescue beings through the power of great compassion.
His head, eyes, hands, feet and so forth, all he can totally renounce for the sake of seeking Enlightenment. He does this for limitless eons.
The Buddha toiled through eons
for the sake of living beings,
Cultivating limitless, oceanic great compassion.
In order to comply with living beings
he enters birth and death,
Transforming the multitudes everywhere, and causing them to be pure.
The Buddha's Wisdom
All the gods and people in the world, and all species of living beings, cannot know the Buddhas. The Buddhas' powers, fearlessness, liberations and samadhis, and other Dharmas of the Buddhas, can not be fathomed by anyone. Long ago, I followed countless Buddhas; I perfectly walked all the paths of the Dharma, subtle, wonderful and deep, hard to see and hard to grasp. Through limitless millions of eons, I walked down all these paths. In the place of Enlightenment, I realized the fruit, and have fully known and seen everything.
Knowing the conduct of living beings, the thoughts deep within their minds, Their habitual actions in the past, the nature of their desires, the power of their vigor, And their faculties, keen or dull, they employ various past causes, analogies and expressions, teaching them with appropriate skill-in-means.
Further seen are all the Buddhas, the Lions, the Sagely Masters, expounding on the supreme subtlety and wonder of the Sutras. Clear and pure is the sound of their gentle, mild voices, teaching all the Bodhisattvas, numbering in the countless millions. This pure sound, profound and wondrous, fills those who hear it with joy, as within his world, each one proclaims the proper Dharma. Using past causes and limitless analogies, they clarify the Buddha-dharma to enlighten living beings.
The Scope of the Buddha's Spiritual Power
The Buddha told the Bhikshus, "In the past, limitless, boundless, inconceivable, asamkhyeyas of eons ago, there was a Buddha named Vast Penetrating Wisdom Victory, Thus Come One, One Worthy of Offerings, One of Proper and Universal Knowledge, One Whose Understanding and Conduct are Complete, Well Gone One Who Understands the World, Unsurpassed Lord, Taming and Regulating Hero, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, World Honored One. His country was named 'Good City', and his eon was named 'Great Mark'. O Bhikshus, it has been a great, long time since that Buddha passed into Nirvana."
"Now suppose someone were to grind all the earths in a galaxy of a billion world systems into ink powder. Then suppose he traveled beyond a thousand worlds to the east and dropped a particle of that ink powder the size of a mote of dust. Then passing through another thousand worlds he deposited another mote, and continued to do this until all the ink supply made from these earths was exhausted."
"What do you think? Could a mathematician or his students ever finish computing those worlds and know their number?"
"No, World Honored One."
"O Bhikshus, if the lands this person had passed through, whether or not he set down a particle in them, were all ground into dust, and if each dust mote was equal to an eon, then the time since that Buddha passed into Nirvana would exceed that number by limitless, boundless, quadrillions of asamkhyeyas of eons."
"The power of the Thus Come One's knowledge and vision lets me behold that time in the distant past as if it were today."
All Buddhas share the same special characteristics and qualities unique to a Buddha. The following are lists of some of the most well-known attributes and virtues of a Thus Come One (Buddha).
The Ten Powers of a Buddha
The Ten Titles of a Buddha