Why an Emperor of China Spent a Month Transcribing this Buddhist Text

Sutra of Perfect EnlightenmentCenturies ago, the most powerful man in China took nearly a month to transcribe the ‘Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment’ a sacred Buddhist Text.

In this episode of Expert Voices join specialist Hang Yin in an exploration of the history and importance of this imperially written masterpiece.

From the gilt-wrapped-thread brocade to the finely painted Buddha in the baimiao style, this diligently prepared sutra represents the highest caliber of Qing Dynasty craftsmanship.

Sotheby’s film, about 4 minutes.

The Qianlong Emperor was the fifth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper, reigned from 1735 to 1796.

Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment

Thus I have heard. One time, the Bhagavan entered the supramundane great radiant bright repository, in the exactly attained samādhi, where all tathāgatas abide in radiant splendor. This is the ground of pure enlightenment of sentient beings, the equal original reality where body and mind are completely erased.

He completely filled the ten directions with the accordance with non-duality, and in this non-dual state manifested all pure lands. 

He was with one hundred thousand great bodhisattva-mahasattvas. Those who served as leaders of the assembly were named Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, Universal Vision Bodhisattva, Vajragarbha Bodhisattva, Maitreya Bodhisattva, Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva, Power and Virtue Unhindered Bodhisattva, Voice of Discernment Bodhisattva, Purifier of All Karmic Hindrances Bodhisattva, Universal Enlightenment Bodhisattva, Perfect Enlightenment Bodhisattva and Most Excellent of Worthies Bodhisattva. With their retinues, all entered into the same samādhi as the Tathāgata at this assembly of the equal dharma.

Then, the World Honored One, wanting to restate the gist of this, spoke a verse. He said:

Mañjuśrī, you should know

All Tathāgatas

From their originally arisen causal stage

Penetrate ignorance

With enlightened wisdom.

Knowing it to be like sky-flowers

They are able to escape transmigration.

It is like the man in the dream

Who has nothing to grasp upon awakening.

Awareness is like space

Equal, changeless.

Enlightenment pervading the worlds of the ten directions

Is none other than the attainment of the Buddha-way.

All illusions cease at no-place

And in accomplishing the Way there is nothing attained.

That’s because the original nature is complete, perfect.

In it, bodhisattvas

Are able to produce bodhicitta

All sentient beings of the degenerate age

Practicing this, will avoid erroneous views.

With thanks

Translated by Charles Muller

You can read the whole translation of The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment here. (Yuanjue jing) 

Categories: Buddhism, Mahayana, Video



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