- This is what I heard: At one time the Buddha was in the Amra Gardens in the city of Vaishali, accompanied by a multitude of leading monks numbering eight thousand. There were also thirty-two thousand bodhisattvas, all known to the assembly, persons who had carried out all the basic practices of great wisdom. Sustained by the might and supernatural powers of the Buddhas, they accepted and upheld the correct Law in order to guard the citadel of the Dharma.
- They knew how to roar the lion's roar, and their fame resounded in the ten directions. Without waiting to be asked, they befriended others and brought them comfort. They ensured the continuance and prosperity of the Three Treasures, making certain that these never expired. They conquered and subdued the ill will of the devils and curbed the non-Buddhist doctrines.
- All were spotless and pure, having long ago rid themselves of snares and obstructions; their minds constantly resided in a state of unhindered emancipation.
- Expert in comprehending the characteristics of phenomena, able to understand the capacities of living beings, they towered over the others of the great assembly and had learned to be fearful of nothing.
- The jewels of their Dharma shone everywhere, raining down sweet dew, and among the assembly the sound of their words was the most subtle and wonderful of all. They had plumbed the depths of dependent origination and cut off all erroneous views, no longer entertaining the concepts either of being or nonbeing. In expounding the Law they were fearless as roaring lions, and their disquisitions on it rolled forth like thunder. There was no measuring them, for they had passed beyond measure. In seeking out the jewels of the Dharma, they were like practiced pilots at sea.
- The Buddha, the unparalleled one.
- At that time the Buddha, reverently surrounded by this multitude of countless hundreds and thousands of beings, expounded the Law for them. He was like Mount Sumeru, king of mountains, rising up out of the great sea. Resting at ease in his lion's seat clustered with jewels, he shed his radiance over all the great throng gathered there.
- Eyes pure and broad like the blue lotus;
mind pure, steeped in meditations;
for pure deeds long accumulated, boundless in fame,
your quietude guides the assembly-thus we bow our heads.
We have seen the great sage work miraculous transformations,
showing us all the countless lands in ten directions,
the Buddhas expounding the Law therein-
every one of these we have seen and heard.
- Ratnākara to Buddha.
- Pure and beautiful as a lotus leaf; pure are your intentions; you have reached the other shore of tranquility; you have accumulated good actions and conquered a great sea of virtues. Holy One, you lead to the path of peace, all homage to you!
- Three times you turned the wheel of the Law in the thousand-millionfold world,
the wheel that from the first has always been pure.
- Ratnākara to Buddha.
- The Buddha preaches the Law with a single voice,
but each living being understands it in his own way.
- Shariputra said, "Why don't you change out of this female body?" (Shariputra assumes that any woman would naturally want to change into a man if she had the power to do so.)
The goddess replied, "For the past twelve years I have been trying to take on female form, but in the end with no success. What is there to change? If a sorcerer were to conjure up a phantom woman and then someone asked her why she didn't change out of her female body, would that be any kind of reasonable question?"
"No," said Shariputra. "Phantoms have no fixed form, so what would there be to change?"
The goddess said, "All things are just the same-they have no fixed form. So why ask why I don't change out of my female form?"
At that time the goddess employed her supernatural powers to change Shariputra into a goddess like herself, while she took on Shariputra's form. Then she asked, "Why don't you change out of this female body?"
Shariputra, now in the form of a goddess, replied, "I don't know why I have suddenly changed and taken on a female body! " The goddess said, "Shariputra, if you can change out of this female body, then all women can change likewise. Shariputra, who is not a woman, appears in a woman's body. And the same is true of all women-though they appear in women's bodies, they are not women. Therefore the Buddha teaches that all phenomena are neither male nor female."
Then the goddess withdrew her supernatural powers, and Shariputra returned to his original form. The goddess said to Shariputra, "Where now is the form and shape of your female body?"
Shariputra said, "The form and shape of my female body does not exist, yet does not not exist."
The goddess said, "All things are just like that-they do not exist, yet do not not exist. And that they do not exist, yet do not not exist, is exactly what the Buddha teaches."