T212. Producing Light: (C1:2) Impermanence

In story 2 of Chapter 1, the Buddha tells the monks that a group of colorfully dressed youths look just like the gods. Beings who hear this decide to be born in heaven or among humans and purse nirvana later. He speaks the first verse on impermanence to dissuade them.

Chapter 1: Impermanence

(2) Impermanence

The Bhagavān then traveled to the great meeting hall at Markaṭahrada (Monkey Lake) near Vaiśālī.

At that time, there were many youths of Vaiśālī assembled there, and they each had this thought, “We ought to go together as a group to question the Bhagavān and pay homage to him.” Some of those youths had chariots with blue horses and blue coverings, and they were wearing blue. Others had chariots that were blue, yellow, red, and white, and they wore all white. Drummers played as they followed in front and behind the chariots as they went to the Bhagavān.

The Bhagavān then addressed the monks, “All of you should know, if some of you haven’t seen the gods sight-seeing in gardens and ponds, you should look now at these youths. The Dharma clothes they wear and the chariots they ride are no different than those gods. The reason for that is there’s no difference between the clothing of gods and their own.”

At that moment, many hundreds of thousands of sentient beings were seated, and they each thought, “We ought to make a solemn pledge: After we are born in the heavens or among humans, we’ll always wear this Dharma clothing and never be separated from it. In a future era, a buddha will arise, and then we’ll hear the profound teaching. We’ll be forever separated from suffering and enter the realm of nirvāṇa.”

The Tathāgata knew this thought that the sentient beings were thinking to seek birth in the three existences and not part with suffering. He then spoke this verse with the great assembly:

  • “What’s formed is impermanent;
  • It’s something that’s worn away.
  • Not being dependable,
  • It changes and doesn’t stay.”

At the time, the sentient beings who heard this single verse were indescribable hundreds of thousands of sentient beings. Here in the present, they ended their contaminants, were mentally freed, and attained the fruit of the path.

Translated to Chinese by Śramaṇa Chu Fonian
Translated to English by Charles D. Patton, II

First Edition (July 29, 2019)

T212. Producing Light: (C1:1) Maitreya

In the opening story of Chu Fonian’s “Producing Light,” one of two Chinese Udana collections, the Buddha describes the future era when Maitreya will be born.

Chapter 1: Impermanence

(1) Maitreya

Once, the Buddha was in Vārāṇasī.

The Buddha addressed the monks, “In a future era, sentient beings will live for 84,000 years. In that time, those sentient beings with a life span of 84,000 years here in Jambudvīpa will dwell together in a single place. The rice and grain they harvest will be abundant and the people will flourish. It will be common to hear the sounds of chickens crowing and dogs barking.”

The Buddha also told the monks, “You should know that the women of those people will go out to marry at the age of 500. In that time, there will be a king named Śaṅkha who’ll be followed by the seven treasures. He will rule with the Dharma and without any crookedness.

“He will have a treasure chariot that flies by itself a thousand cubits high and sixteen cubits wide. It’ll be built and designed with many precious jewel strings. When it’s in a large assembly, the people will be generous without reservation and establish virtues to become myriad leaders. Accompanied by śramaṇas, brāhmaṇas, and awakened people, he will travel great distances. Wherever they stop to rest or pass through, they’ll be provided with whatever they require without any miserliness.

“In that time when sentient beings will live for 84,000 years, there will be a Tathāgata who’ll appear in the world named Maitreya. He will be an Arhat, Completely Awakened One, Accomplished in Wisdom and Action, Well Gone, Understander of the World, an Unsurpassed Man, a Dharma Trainer, and Teacher of Devas and Humans. He’ll be called the Buddha and Bhagavān. Just like myself today, he will achieve the unsurpassed, correct, and perfect awakening and perfect the ten epithets.

“He will always lead and protect numberless hundreds of thousands of monks, just as I today lead and protect numberless hundreds of thousands of monks. Accompanied by these great assemblies, he will widely teach the profound Dharma that’s good in the beginning, middle, and end, has a meaning that’s sublime, and which will be the perfect and pure cultivation of the religious practice. It’ll be like myself today being accompanied by these great assemblies and widely teaching the profound Dharma that’s good in the beginning, middle, and end, has a meaning that’s sublime, and which is the perfect and pure cultivation of the religious practice. I widely teach like Maitreya will when he comes down to be born.

“As the buddhas teach, there is a sūtra named ‘The Path of Six Sensory Contacts.’ Suppose there are sentient beings who are born around him. If their eyes see forms, everything they see will be pleasant forms and not detestable forms. They’ll see what’s lovely and not what is unlovely. They’ll see what’s respectable and not what’s disrespectful. They’ll see what’s memorable and not what’s not memorable. They’ll see beautiful forms and not see forms that aren’t beautiful.

“The sentient beings that have ears to hear sounds, noses to smell odors, tongues to taste flavors, bodies to perceive what’s fine and smooth, and minds to know phenomena will be likewise, even Īśvara.”

Translated to Chinese by Śramaṇa Chu Fonian
Translated to English by Charles D. Patton, II

First Edition (July 29, 2019)