An Excerpt from Entryway to the Dharma

(Chos la 'jug pa'i sgo)
Written in 1167 C.E. By Lopon Rinpoche Sonam Tsemo

Translated in Jeffrey Schoening's Classical Literay Tibetan Class, 2009, with Jeff Bennett, Tom Linder, and Bill Sternhagen

(Continued from the previous issue of Sakya Chronicles, which presented a summary of the three incalculable eons leading up to the Buddha's enlightenment)

Descent from the God Realm
Those traditions are pronounced in the text of the Bodhisattvapitaka.

“Then, when worshipping and serving the Buddha Kāśyapa, that tenth level bodhisattva impeded by one birth having died and transmigrated from this Jambudvīpa, became the holy devaputra Svetaketu (White Peak, Tog dkar po) in Tusita,” thus I heard.

“That one, hindered by one birth, having died and transmigrated, will be enlightened,” was known by all the gods. They made great offerings of worship and service to him and listened to his teaching. When he was dwelling like that, there arose from the small cymbals a verse of exhortation for the bodhisattva; like this he was exhorted:

[You of] vast merit, many accumulations, mindful and comprehending,
Limitless intellect, radiant discriminating insight,
Peerless, strong, and vast powerful abilities,
Consider the prophecy by Dīpankara.

Then they pointed out, “The bodhisattva will enter into the womb of his mother in twelve years.” At that time, the devaputras were in the dress of Brahmins and caused the humans in Jambudvīpa to study the Vedas; “Signs like this are the signs of a Buddha,” and so forth they instructed. Also, [they] proclaimed the news, “In twelve years from now the Buddha will appear in the world.”

Because the pratyekabuddhas heard that news, unfathomable pratyekabuddhas passed beyond sorrow in the county ‘Khor mo ‘jig, and thus it was known as “Falling Sages” (Rsipatana, at Deer Park).

Then, when twelve years had passed, the bodhisattva beheld the five considerations and decided to go to Jambudvīpa. The five are like this: consideration regarding time – the time to tame beings; consideration regarding land – Jambudvīpa; consideration regarding country – central; consideration regarding lineage – among the lineages, the lineage of reverend kings; and fifth, consideration regarding the mother – one who possesses the thirty-two qualities such as lineage.

At the time of [the five considerations] coming together like that, he decided to depart for Jambudvīpa. At that time, there were sixteen countries in Jambudvīpa. Among those, there were seven royal palaces:

Magadhā and Kosala, Vātsala and Vaiśālī,
Ujjayanī and Mathurā, and Haribur are the seven.

The Bodhisattva said, “The lineages of all those are faulty. A faultless lineage is exalted in sixty-four [ways] such as being known by all and having an excellent continuity.” Likewise, praising also the qualities of the mother and so forth, he intended Kapilavāstu, which is like that. Having considered in that way, he arrived at the house of high victory banner. Having taught “The Dharma for purifying Death and Transmigration” which pleases the gods, he said, “I go to Jambudvīpa for the benefit of sentient beings.”

The gods asked, “From whom shall we hear the Dharma.” He gave the crown to the Bodhisattva Maitreya and empowered him.

Then he said to the gods: Friends, in what form shall I go? Then, the devaputra of the Brahma abode who was called Mighty Brilliance (Ugratejā; gzi brjid dam pa), one who transmigrated from the sages, a definite non-returner, said: In the Vedas it is said, “[As] a yellowish white elephant with six tusks, covered with a lattice of gold.”

[He] is one who is hindered by one birth. Then, there comes the liberation of the final existence.
Descent from the gods and birth, playing and departure,
Asceticism and subduing Mara, are the deeds of the Bodhisattva.
Awakening and [Turning] the Wheel, taming those to be tamed and entering nirvāna:
The third has three: taming animals, the afflicted, and the haughty.
Accordingly, the deeds of the Buddha are six; so there are twelve [deeds in total].

Alternatively, five and three make eight or two and six make eight:
Court resident, awakening, turning the Wheel, and defeating the power of others,
Descent from the gods and harmonizing the sangha, blessing of long life and nirvana.

Thus, the eight stūpas.

Then the Bodhisattva miraculously left that body and set out to enter the womb. At that time, in the house of King Śuddhodana, eight omens occurred.

Households were happy, many birds appeared, small pieces of wood and flowers bloomed,
Resources increased, music played spontaneously, treasures opened, and light shone.

The gods, after the Bodhisattva entered the womb, set out to be [his] servants until [his] Buddha[hood].

Then, in the final spring month, in the constellation Viśākhā, at the time of the waxing full moon, when the purification rites of the fifteenth day had been performed, he entered [the womb].

[It is] because all bodhisattvas enter the womb during the waxing [moon]. At that time, [Queen] Devi saw in her dream and spoke to the king.

The king asked the Brahmins. The Brahmins prophesied he would be a Cakravartin or a Buddha.

The king performed great accumulations of virtue.

Then, the gods miraculously caused [the Bodhisattva] to dwell in those promised residences of the bodhisattva.

How did the Bodhisattva dwell in the womb? He dwelt in a miraculously built cottage.

He dwelt with all inside and outside mutually radiant. His body did not have [the various stages of an embryo] such
as oval; it was like a miracle birth.

For food he ate essences. He was continuously guarded by secret yaksas and so forth.

Also, even at that time, the Bodhisattva teaches the Dharma. He [taught the gods of the heaven] Trāyastrimśa at midnight. In the afternoon [he taught] others such as Brahmā. In the evenings, he taught the Dharma to bodhisattvas. The city-dwellers of Kapilavāstu were happy. This is the Descent from the God realm!


Then, ten months having passed, when the time for delivery arrived, there were the thirty-two omens such as flowers facing downward.

Then, the mother thought to go to the Lumbi Garden; the grove was decorated. As soon as she went there, many gods assembled; because the king saw that, he thought [the child] will be a Buddha. Then, when the mother with her hand took hold of the branch of a Plaksa tree, [the child] emerged from her right side without [causing] a wound. There, the kings of the gods such as Brahmā held him with Benares linen and the naga kings bathed him.

Then, without depending on anyone, he took seven steps to the east and said, “I shall be the antecedent of all wholesome dharmas.”

Going to the south, he said, “I shall be the recipient of offerings of gods and humans.”

Going to the west, he said, “This is my final birth; there will be no more birth, old age, sickness, and death.”

Going to the north, he said, “Among sentient beings, I shall be supreme.”

Facing down, he said, “I shall extinguish the fire of the hell beings and defeat Mara.”

Facing up, he said, “All beings shall look up [to me].”

In all those [directions], seven lotuses arose. At that time, the king too paid homage. At that the earth quaked and the world was illuminated with light. Because there occurred such [events] as five hundred servants such as Chandaka (‘dun pa) [being born] and five hundred treasures opening, the name of the Bodhisattva was given as One Who Accomplishes the Goal

Because there was the light of the Bodhisattva, the names of the sons of the four kings born at that time were derived from the light: the name of the son of the king of Rajagrhā, Mahāpadma, was Bimbisāra (Gzugs can snying po = Handsome Essence); the name of the son of the king of Artara, Brahmādatta, was Prasenajit (Gsal rgyal = Clear Victory); the name of the son of the king of Koushāmbī, Ananta, was Pradyota (Rab snang = Illumination) ; and the name of the son of the king of Ujjayanī, Sharata, was Udaya (?) (‘Char po = One Who is Visible).

At the time of the light of the Bodhisattva causing illumination, in a mountain shelter the sage Asita who was with his nephew Nārada saw it.

Then the nephew spoke: Did all the suns rise?

[The sage] replied:

The light of the sun is hot; this light is cool.
Because it penetrates everywhere, it is the light of a great sage.
The Bodhisattva light has certainly emerged from the womb.

The nephew said: Well, let’s see that one.

[The sage] replied: Because such a one will be difficult to see, being surrounded by the great gods, when [he = the Buddha] goes to the house and is named, we will see [him].

Then, when seven days had passed, Brahma and Kauśika (Indra/Sakra) and so forth took on the form of brahmins and sitting at the head of the row, pronounced the auspicious (verses).

Then, the mother died, this being the tradition of all bodhisattvas; when the bodhisattva dwelled in Tusita, after examining the life span of the mother, he entered into the womb.

Then, when [the baby Buddha] went into the city together with his retinue, because of being invited to their respective places, their magically went.

Then he was entrusted to Mahāprajāpati (his aunt).

At that time, he was called Śākyamuni (Shākya thub pa), because he was taming all the unruly Shākya.

Then, because [the Buddha] was taken to the temple, since the yakṣa Shākya Developed (bskyed pa) saluted him, he was called “God of gods.”

Then, because the signs were shown to the brahmins, the brahmins made a dual prophecy.

Then Nārada spoke (to Asita): Preceptor, (the Buddha) went (home to the palace).

(Asita) replied: Alright, I’ll go. Then, because he prepared to go miraculously, (yet) being unable to go (that way), he went on foot. Then, when he sent a message, “Enter inside,” (the king) said.

The king said: Why have you come?

(Asita) said:

Great King, I have come here in order to see your son;
I wish to see that foremost sage, subduer of the world.

The king said: [He] is sleeping.

(Asita) said: Just so, I will look.

Then, when (Asita) looked, (the Buddha) was sleeping without closing his eyes.

(Asita) said:

In accordance with the signs, even at midnight he has slept one session.
He does not look out of necessity; always his eyes are not closed.

Were the signs shown to the gods and brahmins? (They) were shown. As stated, the prophecy was dual.

The brahmin (Asita) investigated and truly thought:

This is dual, not otherwise.
If he stays in the house, he will be a king who governs with a wheel;
If he departs from the home, becoming a homeless mendicant,
Not using the ways of another guide,
In this world, he will be manifestly and completely enlightened.

Again, after carefully examining and clearly seeing the signs of a buddha, he (Asita) was certain that (the child) would be enlightened. If you wonder how long, in the thirty-fifth year. Having examined his own life span, because he knew he would die [before that], he wept.

Then (Asita) said (to the king):

Lord of the Land, the intellect of conceptualizers is deluded.
At the end of time, there will be no Ruler with a Wheel.
This one is a treasury of dharma of supreme merit.
Having overcome faults, he will indeed become a buddha.
The signs are unclear [that he will be] a lord of humans;
The signs are very clear [that he will be] a lord of sages, a complete buddha.
This supreme human will be a Ruler with a Wheel of Dharma.

To that the king replied: If when you see this one you are happy, is there no inauspiciousness?

(Asita) replied and prophesied:

Even should a rain of vajras fall harmfully from the sky upon this one,
Not even a hair on the body of the great sage can be harmed.
Lord of Humans, seeing I have faults and will not attain peace, therefore I weep;
This one will attain the supreme treasury of dharma but I have not attained the goal.
Those free of illness and endowed with merit, hearers who when they hear the excellent speech,
This supreme dharma incompatible with the world, will desire the best peace.

Then, (the king) having paid respectful honor to the brahmin, the brahmin departed from the house.

(Asita) commended (the child) to his nephew, “When this one is enlightened, you take ordination.” Then, also, Maheśvara took on the appearance of a brahmin and prophesied regarding the bodhisattva.

Then, because he was decorated in the constellation Citrā, he was adorned with natural ornaments, and not beautified.

This is the Second Deed