Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Long Discourses

30. Description of the World

Chapter 8: The Trāyastriṃśa Gods

Geography

1. The Buddha told the monks, “The city of the Trāyastriṃśa gods sits at the summit of Sumeru the mountain king, and it’s 80,000 yojanas across. That city has seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures. The city is a hundred yojanas tall, and it’s sixty yojanas wide at the top. The city gates are sixty yojanas high and thirty yojanas wide. The gates are five hundred yojanas apart from each other, and each gate is guarded by five hundred yakṣa spirits who protect the Trāyastriṃśa gods.

2. “The gold walls have silver gates, the silver walls have gold gates … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

3. “Inside that great city, there’s a smaller city that’s 60,000 yojanas across. That city has seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations are made of the seven treasures. That city is a hundred yojanas tall and sixty yojanas wide. The city’s gates are five hundred yojanas apart from each other, sixty yojanas high, and thirty yojanas wide. Each gate is guarded by five hundred yakṣa spirits who protect the Trāyastriṃśa gods.

4. “The gold walls have silver gates, and the silver walls have gold gates. The crystal walls have beryl gates, and the beryl walls have crystal gates. The ruby walls have emerald gates, and the emerald walls have ruby gates. The coral walls have gates made of many treasures.

5. “The [gold] balustrades have gold balusters and silver rails. [The silver balustrades have] silver balusters and gold rails. [The crystal balustrades have] crystal balusters and beryl rails. [The beryl balustrades have] beryl balusters and crystal rails. [The ruby balustrades have] ruby balusters and emerald rails. [The emerald balustrades have] emerald balusters and ruby rails. [The coral balustrades have] coral balusters and rails made of many treasures.

6. “The balustrades have treasure nettings above them. The gold netting is hung with silver bells, and the silver netting is hung with gold bells. The beryl netting is hung with crystal bells, and the crystal netting is hung with beryl bells. The ruby netting is hung with emerald bells, and the emerald netting is hung with ruby bells. The coral netting is hung with bells made of many treasures.

7. “The gold trees have gold roots and limbs and silver leaves, flowers, and fruit. The silver trees have silver roots and limbs and gold leaves, flowers, and fruit. The crystal trees have crystal roots and limbs and beryl leaves, flowers[, and fruit]. The beryl trees have beryl roots and limbs and crystal leaves, flowers[, and fruit]. The ruby trees have ruby roots and limbs and emerald leaves, flowers[, and fruit]. The emerald trees have emerald roots and limbs and ruby leaves, flowers[, and fruit]. The coral trees have coral roots and limbs and leaves, flowers[, and fruit] made of many treasures.

8. “The city’s seven walls have four gates. The gates have balustrades, and the seven walls have towers and terraces all around above them. They’re surrounded by scenic parks with forests and lakes where myriad treasure flowers grow in a mix of assorted colors. The rows of treasure trees are laden with flowers and fruit, and the fragrance they produce blows in all four directions to the delight of people. Ducks, geese, cakra birds, and other rare kinds of birds in countless thousands sing to each other peacefully.

9. “The palace of the Nāga Airāvaṇa is outside that smaller city, and it’s 6,000 yojanas across. The palace has seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

10. “Inside the city of Sudarśana, there’s a Sudharma Hall that’s a hundred yojanas across. It has seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling with decorations made of the seven treasures.

11. “The foundation under that hall is pure gold and covered with beryl. Inside the hall, the pillars are ten yojanas around and a hundred yojanas tall. The Lord of Gods’ throne is laid beneath the pillars. It’s one yojana across, has a mix of assorted colors, and made of the seven treasures. His throne is also as soft as heavenly cloth. Sixteen thrones are arranged to the left and right of his throne.

12. “The hall has four gates, and it’s encircled by a balustrade made of the seven treasures. There are stairways that are five hundred yojanas across, and the gates have seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees that encircle them with decorations made of seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

13. “North of Sudarśana Hall, the palace hall of the Lord of Gods is 1,000 yojanas across. The palace has seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

14. “East of Sudarśana Hall, there’s a forest park named Pāruṣaka that’s 1,000 yojanas across.[1] The park has seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

15. “Inside Pāruṣaka Park, there are two stone seats decorated with heavenly gold. The first is called Bhadra, and the second is called Subhadra. Each is fifty yojanas across, and the stone is as soft as heavenly cloth.

16. “South of Sudarśana Hall, there’s a forest park named Citraratha that’s 1,000 yojanas across.[2] The park has seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

17. “Inside that park, there are two stone seats made of the seven treasures. The first is called Citra, and the second is called Sucitra. Each is fifty yojanas across, and the seats are as soft as heavenly cloth.

18. “To the west of Sudarśana Hall, there’s a forest park called Miśrakā that’s 1,000 yojanas across.[3] The park has seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

19. “Inside that park, there are two stone seats. The first is called Sudarśana, and the second is called Anusudarśana (?).[4] They’re decorated with heavenly gold and made of the seven treasures. Each is fifty yojanas across and as soft as heavenly cloth.

20. “To the north of Sudarśana Hall, there’s a forest park called Nandana that’s 1,000 yojanas across.[5] The park has seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

21. “Inside that park, there are two stone seats. The first is called Upananda, and the second is called Nandana. They have decorations made of coral, each is fifty yojanas across, and the seats are as soft as heavenly cloth.

22. “Between Pāruṣaka Park and Citraratha Park, there’s Nanda Lake that’s a hundred yojanas across. Its water is crystal clear and devoid of any pollution. It’s ringed by seven stepped embankments made of many treasures, and it has seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of the seven treasures. The lake has stairs with handrails on four sides, and it’s encircled by balustrades studded with the seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

23. “Four types of flowers grow in that lake: Blue, yellow, red, and white. Other colors like crimson and light blue are mixed with them, too. A single petal of those flowers is a yojana long, and their fragrance is sweet-smelling a yojana away. Their roots are like wheel hubs, and they produce sap that’s as white as milk and tastes as sweet as honey. That lake also has forest parks on all four sides.

24. “Between Miśrakā Park and Nandana Park, there’s a tree called Pārijāta that’s seven yojanas around and a hundred yojanas tall. It’s limbs and leaves spread out in all four directions to cover fifty yojanas. There’s open ground around the tree that’s five hundred yojanas across. It then has seven palace walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling it with decorations made of seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

25. “The remaining Trāyastriṃśa Heaven palace halls are 1,000 yojanas across. The palaces have seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling them with decorations made of seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

26. “Those palace halls are sometimes 900, 800 … or at least a hundred yojanas across. The palaces have seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling them with decorations made of seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

27. “The lesser heavenly palaces are a hundred yojanas, ninety, eighty … or at least twenty yojanas across. Those palaces have seven walls, seven balustrades, seven nettings, and seven rows of trees encircling them with decorations made of seven treasures … and countless birds sing to each other peacefully as before.

28. “North of Sudarśana Hall, there are two stairways to the palace hall of the Lord of Gods. East of Sudarśana Hall, there are two stairways to Pāruṣaka Park. Again, there are stairways to Citraratha Park, stairways to Miśrakā Park, stairways to Nandana Park, stairways to Nandana Lake, stairways to the Pārijāta Tree, stairways to the palaces of the Trāyastriṃśa gods, stairways to the palaces of other gods, and stairways to the palace of Nāga King Airāvaṇa.

Śakra the Lord of Gods

29. “When Śakra the Lord of Gods wants to go sightseeing in Pāruṣaka Park, he thinks of the Trāyastriṃśa heavenly ministers. The Trāyastriṃśa heavenly ministers then think to themselves, ‘Lord Śakra is thinking of me now!’ They get themselves ready and ride treasure chariots to Lord Śakra while surrounded by countless assemblies. They go before Lord Śakra and then stand to one side.

30. “Lord Śakra then thinks of the other gods, and those gods think, ‘Lord Śakra is thinking of me now!’ They get themselves ready and ride treasure chariots to Lord Śakra while surrounded by assemblies of gods. They go before Lord Śakra and then stand to one side.

31. “Lord Śakra then thinks of Nāga King Airāvaṇa, and he also thinks to himself, ‘Lord Śakra is thinking of me now!’ Nāga King Airāvaṇa then transforms himself into a form with thirty-three heads. Each head has six fangs, and each fang has seven pools of water. Each pool has seven large lotus flowers in it. Each flower has a hundred petals. Each flower petal has seven beautiful women playing drums, singing, and dancing on it. After changing himself into this form, that nāga king goes before Lord Śakra and then stands to one side.

32. “Śakra the Lord of Gods puts ornaments made of many treasures on his body. He sits atop of Nāga King Airāvaṇa, and sixteen god kings line up on each side of him, seated on nāgas in their proper order.

33. “Śakra the Lord of Gods then travels to Pāruṣaka Park with countless heavenly retinues surrounding him. A spontaneous wind blows the gate open, a spontaneous wind clears the ground, and another spontaneous wind scatters various flowers on the ground until they’re knee-deep.

34. “Lord Śakra then turns his attention to the two stone seats called Bhadra and Subhadra. When he sits, each of the Trāyastriṃśa god kings take turns sitting with him in their order.

35. “Again, there are gods who aren’t able to follow them and see that scenic park, aren’t able to enter the park, nor are they entertained by the five desires there. Why is that? As a result of their past conduct, their virtue isn’t equal to that of the others.

36. “Again, there are gods who can go and see that forest park, but they aren’t able to enter it or be entertained by the five desires there. Why is that? As a result of their past conduct, their virtue isn’t equal to that of the others.

37. “Again, there are gods who can see and enter [that forest park], but they can’t be entertained by the five desires there. Why is that? As a result of their past conduct, their virtue isn’t equal to that of the others.

38. “Again, there are gods who can enter and see [that forest park], and they are entertained by the five desires there. Why is that? As a result of their past conduct, their virtue is equal to that of the others.

39. “Roaming through the park, they entertain themselves with the five desires for one day, two days … for seven days. After entertaining themselves, each returns to their own palace. Śakra the Lord of Gods goes sightseeing in Citraratha Park, Miśrakā Park, and Nandana Park in the same way.

40. “Why is that park called ‘Pāruṣaka Park’? When they enter this park, their bodies become rough. Why is that other park named ‘Citraratha Park’? When they enter this park, their bodies are spontaneously painted with a variety of colors, which delights them. Why is that other park named ‘Miśrakā Park’? On the eighth, tenth, and fifteenth day of every month, attractive females other than female asuras are sent to accompany the gods there. They roam that park and mingle, so it’s called Miśrakā Park. Why is that other park named ‘Nandana Park’? When the gods go to this park, they entertain themselves and rejoice. So, it’s called Nandana.

41. “Why is that hall named ‘Sudharma Hall’? Up in this hall, they ponder the wonderful Dharma and experience pure happiness, so it’s called Sudharma Hall. Why is that tree named the ‘Pārijāta Tree’? This tree has a spirit named Manda that’s always playing music to entertain itself. Therefore, it’s called Pārijāta. Also, that huge tree spreads its limbs in all four directions, and its flowers and leaves are abundant like great treasure clouds, so it’s called Pārijāta.

42. “Śakra the Lord of Gods has ten great gods who always follow and serve him on his left and right. Who are the ten? The first is named Indraka, the second is named Gopīkā, the third is named Virūḍhaka, the fourth is named Virūpākṣa, the fifth is named Dāraka (?), the sixth is named Bala (?), the seventh is named Jīvaka (?), the eighth is named Rohaṇa (?), the ninth is named Mūtra (?), and the tenth is named Nando (?).[6] Such is the great miraculous power and majesty possessed by Śakra the Lord of Gods.

Things the World and Heaven Have in Common

43. “The people of Jambudvīpa prize water flowers that are gentle and sweet-smelling, such as utpala flowers, padma flowers, kumuda flowers, puṇḍarīka flowers, and sugandha flowers. The land flowers that they prize are atimuktaka flowers, campaka flowers, pāṭala flowers, sumanā flowers, vārṣika flowers, and maiden flowers.[7] Those in Godānīya, Uttarakuru, and Pūrvavideha, the nāga palaces, and garuḍa palaces [prize] the same the water and land flowers.

44. “In the asura palaces, [they prize] gentle and sweet-smelling water flowers, such as utpala flowers, padma flowers, kumuda flowers, and puṇḍarīka flowers. The land flowers [that they prize are] beautiful flowers like bimba (?) flowers, great bimba flowers, kākāra (?) flowers, great kākāra flowers, mandāra flowers, and great mandāra flowers. The four god kings, Trāyastriṃśa gods, Yama gods, Tuṣita gods, Nirmāṇarati gods, and Paranirmitavaśavartin gods prize the same water and land flowers.

45. “The gods have ten qualities. What are the ten? First, they fly to places of limitless distances. Second, they fly back from limitless distances. Third, nothing blocks their departures. Fourth, nothing blocks their arrivals. Fifth, their bodies have no skin, bones, sinews, veins, flesh, or blood. Sixth, their bodies have no impurities like feces or urine. Seventh, their bodies never tire. Eighth, heavenly females don’t give birth. Ninth, heavenly eyes don’t blink. Tenth, they color their bodies as they like. If they prefer blue, they’re blue. If they prefer yellow, they’re yellow. If it’s red, white, or other colors, they appear as they like. These are the ten qualities of gods.

46. “Humans have seven colors. What are the seven? Some people are golden, some are fire-colored, some are blue, some are yellow, some are red, some are black, and some are white. Gods and asuras have these seven colors as well.

47. “Monks, the radiance of a firefly is not like that of a candle, and the radiance of a candle is not like that of a torch. The radiance of a torch is not like that of a bonfire. The radiance of a bonfire is not like that of the palace hall of the four god kings, nor their walled city, jewelry, clothing, or bodies.

48. “The radiance of the palaces of the four god kings and their walled city, jewelry, clothing, and bodies is not like that of the Trāyastriṃśa gods. The radiance of the Trāyastriṃśa gods is not like that of the Yama gods. The radiance of the Yama gods is not like that of the Tuṣita gods. The radiance of the Tuṣita gods is not like that of the Nirmāṇarati gods. The radiance of the Nirmāṇarati gods is not like that of the Paranirmitavaśavartin gods. The radiance of the Paranirmitavaśavartin gods is not like that of the palace halls, clothing, and bodies of the Brahmakāyika gods.

49. “The radiance of the palace halls, clothing, and bodies of the Brahmakāyika gods is not like that of the Ābhāsvara gods. The radiance of the Ābhāsvara gods is not like that of the Śubhakṛtsnā gods. The radiance of the Śubhakṛtsnā gods is not like that of Bṛhatphala gods. The radiance of the Bṛhatphala gods is not like that of the Asaṃjñika gods. The radiance of the Asaṃjñika gods is not like that of the Avṛha gods. The radiance of the Avṛha gods is not like that of the Atapa gods. The radiance of the Atapa gods is not like that of the Sudarśana gods. The radiance of the Sudarśana gods is not like that of the Mahāsudarśana gods. The radiance of the Mahāsudarśana gods is not like that of Akaniṣṭha gods. The radiance of the Akaniṣṭha gods is not like that of the Earth Sovereign gods.[8] The radiance of the Earth Sovereign gods is not like that of the Buddha.

50. “From the radiance of a firefly to that of a Buddha, the sum total of those lights is not like that of the radiance of the truth of suffering, truth of its formation, truth of its cessation, and truth of the path. Therefore, monks, if you want to pursue radiance, you should pursue the radiance of the truth of suffering, truth of its formation, truth of its cessation, and truth of the path. You should train in them.

The Bodies and Clothing of People and Gods

51. “The bodies of people in Jambudvīpa are three and a half cubits long, and their clothing is seven cubits long and three and a half cubits wide.[9] The bodies of people in Godānīya and Pūrvavideha are also three and a half cubits long, and their clothing is seven cubits long and three and a half cubits wide. The bodies of people in Uttarakuru are seven cubits long, and their clothing is fourteen cubits long and seven cubits wide. Their clothing weighs one ounce.

52. “The bodies of asuras are one yojana long, and their clothing is two yojanas long and one yojana wide. Their clothing weighs a quarter ounce. The bodies of the four god kings are half of a yojana long, and their clothing is a yojana long and half of a yojana wide. Their clothing weighs half of an ounce. The bodies of the Trāyastriṃśa gods are one yojana long, and their clothing is two yojanas long and one yojana wide. Their clothing weighs a quarter ounce. The bodies of the Yama gods are two yojanas long, and their clothing is four yojanas long and two yojanas wide. Their clothing weighs three twenty-fourths of an ounce. The bodies of the Tuṣita gods are four yojanas long, and their clothing is eight yojanas long and four yojanas wide. Their clothing weighs a little more than a twenty-fourth of an ounce. The bodies of the Nirmāṇarati gods are eight yojanas long, and their clothing is sixteen yojanas long and eight yojanas wide. Their clothing weighs a twenty-fourth of an ounce. The bodies of the Paranirmitavaśavartin gods are sixteen yojanas long, and their clothing is thirty-two yojanas long and sixteen yojanas wide. Their clothing weighs a forty-eighth of an ounce. The gods above them each wear clothing that fits their bodies.

The Life Spans of Sentient Beings

53. “Few people in Jambudvīpa live for more than a hundred years, and many live for less. Few people in Godānīya live for more than 200 years, and many live for less. Few people in Pūrvavideha live for more than 300 years, and many live for less. People in Uttarakuru live for 1,000 years, and none live for more or less than that.

54. “Few hungry ghosts live for more than 70,000 years, and many live for less. Few nāgas and garuḍas live for more than an eon, and many live for less. Few asuras live for more than 1,000 heavenly years, and many live for less.

55. “Few of the four god kings live for more than 500 heavenly years, and many live for less. Few of the Trāyastriṃśa gods live for more than 1,000 heavenly years, and many live for less. Few of the Yama gods live for more than 2,000 heavenly years, and many live for less. Few of the Tuṣita gods live for more than 4,000 heavenly years, and many live for less. Few of the Nirmāṇarati gods live for more than 8,000 heavenly years, and many live for less. Few of the Paranirmitavaśavartin gods live for more than 16,000 heavenly years, and many live for less.

56. “The Brahmakāyika gods live for one eon, sometimes for less. The Ābhāsvara gods live for two eons, sometimes for less. The Śubhakṛtsnā gods live for three eons, sometimes for less. The Bṛhatphala gods live for four eons, sometimes for less. The Asaṃjñika gods live for 500 eons, sometimes for less. The Avṛha gods live for 1,000 eons, sometimes for less. The Atapa gods live for 2,000 eons, sometimes for less. The Sudarśana gods live for 3,000 eons, sometimes for less. The Mahāsudarśana gods live for 4,000 eons, sometimes for less. The Akaniṣṭha gods live for 5,000 eons, sometimes for less.

57. “The gods in the abode of space live for 10,000 eons, sometimes for less. The gods in the abode of consciousness live for 21,000 eons, sometimes for less. The gods in the abode of nothingness live for 42,000 eons, sometimes for less. The gods in the abode that’s with and without conception live for 84,000 eons, sometimes for less.

58. “This is the extent of sentient beings, the extent of life spans, and the extent of the world. This is the extent of what’s called the destinations of birth, old age, illness, death, and rebirth of those collections of elements, aggregates, and senses.”

The Four Foods of Sentient Beings

59. The Buddha told the monks, “All sentient beings subsist on four kinds of food. What are the four? Physical and fine food is the first, food of contact is the second, food of thought is the third, and food of consciousness is the fourth.

60. “Various sentient beings eat different things. People in Jambudvīpa have diverse meals of grains, fish, and meat that serve as their physical food. Clothing and bathes serve as their fine foods. The people of Godānīya and Pūrvavideha also eat diverse meals of grains, fish, and meat that serve as their physical food. Clothing and bathes serve as their fine foods. The people of Uttarakuru only eat spontaneously cooked rice that possesses heavenly flavors that serves as their physical food. Clothing and bathes serve as their fine foods.

61. “Nāgas and garuḍas eat tortoises, crocodiles, fish, and turtles that serve as their physical food, and bathes and clothing serve as their fine foods. Asuras eat pure physical food, and bathes and clothing serve as their fine foods. The four god kings, Trāyastriṃśa gods, Yama gods, Tuṣita gods, Nirmāṇarati gods, and Paranirmitavaśavartin gods eat pure physical food, and bathes and clothing serve as their fine foods. The gods above them take the joy and happiness of dhyāna’s samādhi as their food.

62. “What are the sentient beings whose food is contact? Egg-born sentient beings have contact as food. What are the sentient beings whose food is thought? There are sentient beings that subsist because of food of thought. Their faculties grow, and then their lives don’t end. This is food of thought. What are [the sentient beings] whose food is consciousness? Sentient beings in hell and the formless realm are called those whose food is consciousness.

Commerce and Procreation among Sentient Beings

63. “The people of Jambudvīpa use gold, silver, jewels, grain, silk, and workers to generate wealth and make their livings. The people of Godānīya use livestock and gemstones to make an easy living. The people of Pūrvavideha use grain, silk, and gemstones to make an easy living. The people of Uttarakuru make an easy living without any commerce.

64. “The people of Jambudvīpa have courtships, the men marrying the women, who then become wives. The people of Godānīya and Pūrvavideha also have marriage, the men taking the women as wives. The people of Uttarakuru don’t have marriage, nor do men take women as wives. Nāgas, garuḍas, and asuras have marriage, the males taking the females as wives. The four god kings, Trāyastriṃśa gods … Paranirmitavaśavartin gods also have marriage, the males taking females as wives. Above those heavens, there aren’t any males or females.

65. “The men and women of Jambudvīpa have sexual intercourse with the physical contact of their male and female organs. The people of Godānīya, Pūrvavideha, and Uttarakuru also do so with the physical contact of their male and female organs. Nāgas and garuḍas have sexual intercourse with the physical contact of their male and female organs.

66. “Asuras have sexual intercourse by exchanging energy between their male and female organs while in close proximity to each other. The four god kings and Trāyastriṃśa gods are likewise. The Yama gods have sexual intercourse by being close to each other. The Tuṣita gods have sexual intercourse by holding hands. The Nirmāṇarati gods have sexual intercourse by looking passionately at each other. The Paranirmitavaśavartin gods have sexual intercourse by glancing at each other. Above those heavens, there’s no more sexual desire.

The Process of Becoming a God

67. “Suppose a sentient being commits bad physical deeds, speaks bad words, and thinks bad thoughts. Their final consciousness ceases here when their body breaks up and their life ends, and then an initial consciousness arises in Hell. Because of that consciousness, they have name and form. Because of that name and form, they have the six senses.

68. “Sometimes, a sentient being commits bad physical deeds, speaks bad words, and thinks bad thoughts. When their body breaks up and their life ends, they are born among animals. Their final consciousness ceases here, and then an initial consciousness arises in an animal. Because of that consciousness, they have name and form. Because of that name and form, they have the six senses.

69. “Sometimes, a sentient being commits bad physical deeds, speaks bad words, and thinks bad thoughts. When their body breaks up and their life ends, they are born among hungry ghosts. Their final consciousness ceases here, and an initial consciousness arises in a hungry ghost. Because of that consciousness, they have name and form. Because of those names and forms, they have the six senses.

70. “Sometimes, a sentient being commits good physical deeds, speaks good words, and thinks good thoughts. When their body breaks up and their life ends, they are born among humans. Their final consciousness ceases here, and an initial consciousness arises in a human. Because of that consciousness, they have name and form. Because of that name and form, they have the six senses.

Birth among the Four God Kings

71. “Sometimes, a sentient being commits good physical deeds, speaks good words, and thinks good thoughts. When their body breaks up and their life ends, they are born among the four god kings. Their final consciousness ceases here, and an initial consciousness arises among the four god kings. Because of that consciousness, they have name and form. Because of that name and form, they have the six senses.

72. “When those gods are first born, they’re like one- or two-year-old human children. They spontaneous appear sitting on a god’s knee. That god then says, ‘This is my child!’

73. “As a reward for their conduct, knowledge spontaneously arises in them. They think to themselves, ‘What was the conduct that caused me to be born here now?’ Then they also think, ‘I was once among humans and did good physical deeds, spoke good words, and had good thoughts. It was because of this conduct that I’ve been born as a god now. If my life were to end and I were born again among humans, I would be physically, verbally, and mentally pure. I’d redouble my efforts and cultivate these good conducts.’

74. “Not long after the child’s birth, they realize that they’re hungry. A treasure bowl then spontaneously appears in front of the child, which is full of spontaneously pure food with a hundred heavenly flavors. If the child has much merit, the food’s color is white. If the child’s merit is average, then the food’s color is blue. If the child’s merit is inferior, then the food’s color is red. The child then takes the food and puts it in their mouth, and it’s spontaneously digested like butter thrown into a fire.

75. “When the child is finished eating, they realize that they’re thirsty. A treasure bowl spontaneously appears that’s filled with ambrosia. If the child has much merit, the ambrosia’s color is white. If the child’s merit is average, then the ambrosia’s color is blue. If the child’s merit is inferior, then the ambrosia’s color is red. The child picks up the ambrosia and drinks it, and it’s spontaneously digested like butter thrown into a fire.

76. “After the child finishes eating and drinking, their body grows larger until it’s equal to that of other gods. That god then goes into a pool to bathe, washing and enjoying themselves. After enjoying themselves there, the god emerges from the pool and stands under a perfume tree. The perfume tree bends down, and they take many fragrances to rub on their body.

77. “Again, the god goes to a clothing tree. The tree bends down, and they take various clothes to wear.

78. “Again, the god goes to an ornament tree. The tree bends down, and they take various ornaments to decorate their body.

79. “Again, the god goes to a garland tree. The tree bends down, and they take garlands to put over their head.

80. “Again, the god goes to a vessel tree. The tree bends down, and they take a treasure vessel.

81. “Again, the god goes to a fruit tree. The tree bends down, and they take its spontaneous fruit. They might eat it, put in their mouth, or drink its juice.

82. “Again, the god goes to a musical instrument tree. The tree bends down, and they take heavenly instruments. With wondrous voices in harmony with the music, they go to forest parks. Seeing countless goddesses singing and playing drums, they smile and chat with them.

83. “When those gods go sightseeing, they become defiled and attached. They look east and forget what’s west, or they look west and forget what’s east. When they’re first born, they thought to themselves, ‘What was the conduct that caused me to be born here now?’ But when they go sightseeing, they forget all about that, and the attractive goddesses attend to them.

Birth among the Trāyastriṃśa Gods

84. “When a sentient being does good physical deeds, speaks good words, and thinks good thoughts, they are born in the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven when their body breaks up and their life ends. Their final consciousness ceases here, and an initial consciousness arises [in one of those gods]. Because of that consciousness, they have name and form. Because of that name and form, they have the six senses.

85. “When that god is first born, they’re like a two- or three-year-old child in Jambudvīpa. They spontaneously appears on a god’s knee, and that god says, ‘This is my son!’ or ‘This is my daughter!’ in the same way.

Birth among the Yama Gods

86. “When a sentient being does good physical [deeds], speaks [good words], and thinks [good thoughts], they are born in the Yama Heaven when their body breaks up and their life ends …

87. “When that god is first born, they’re like a three- or four-year-old child in Jambudvīpa …

Birth among the Tuṣita Gods

88. “When a sentient being does good physical [deeds], speaks [good words], and thinks [good thoughts], they are born in the Tuṣita Heaven when their body breaks up and their life ends …

89. “When that god is first born, they’re like a four- or five-year-old child in Jambudvīpa …

Birth among the Nirmāṇarati Gods

90. “When a sentient being does good physical [deeds], speaks [good words], and thinks [good thoughts], they are born in the Nirmāṇarati Heaven when their body breaks up and their life ends …

91. “When that god is first born, it’s like a five- or six-year-old child in Jambudvīpa …

Birth among the Paranirmitavaśavartin Gods

92. “When a sentient being does good physical [deeds], speaks [good words], and thinks [good thoughts], they are born in the Paranirmitavaśavartin Heaven when their body breaks up and their life ends …

93. “When that god is first born, it’s like a six- or seven-year-old child in Jambudvīpa …”

The Three Fasting Days

94. The Buddha told the monks, “There are three fasts during a half month. What are the three? The eighth day is a fasting day, the fourteenth day is a fasting day, and the fifteenth day is a fasting day. These are the three fasts.

95. “Why is there a fast on the eighth day of the month? Every eighth day of the month, the four god kings tell their servants, ‘Go check on the conduct of the world. Examine the multitude of people. Are they dutiful to their parents? Do they respect the ascetics and priests? Do they honor and serve their elders? Do they observe the fasting rules, give offerings, and aid the poor?’

96. “After hearing the kings’ instruction, their servants go check on the conduct of the world to know if they are dutiful to their parents, respect the ascetics and priests, honor and serve their elders, and observe the fasting rules, give offerings, and aid the poor. After they’ve examined them, they see that the world’s people aren’t dutiful to their parents, don’t respect the ascetics and priests, don’t honor or serve their elders, and don’t observe the fasting rules, give offerings, or aid the poor. They return to the kings and say, ‘Heavenly Kings, those in the world who are dutiful to their parents, honor their elders, cultivate the fasting rules purely, give offerings, and aid the poor are very few. Very few, indeed!’

97. “When the four god kings hear this, they’re distraught and unhappy. They reply, ‘What!? How did this happen? Most of the world’s people are bad. They aren’t dutiful to their parents, don’t serve their elders, don’t cultivate the fasting rules, nor aid the poor. The host of gods will dwindle, and the host of asuras will grow!’

98. “Suppose their servants see that the world’s people are dutiful to their parents, respect their elders, diligently cultivate the fasting rules, and aid the poor. They return and tell the god kings, ‘The world’s people are dutiful to their parents, respect their elders, diligently cultivate the fasting rules, and aid the poor.’

99. “When the four god kings hear this, they rejoice. They exclaim, ‘Excellent! We’ve heard good news! The world’s people are capable of being dutiful to their parents, respecting their elders, diligently cultivating the fasting rules, and aiding the poor. The host of gods will grow, and the host of asuras will dwindle!’ [This is why there’s a fast on the eighth day.]

100. “Why is there a fast on the fourteenth day of the month? On the fourteenth day fast, the four god kings tell their princes, ‘Go check on the conduct of the world. Examine the multitudes of people. Are they dutiful to their parents? Do they honor and serve their elders? Do they observe the fasting rules and aid the poor?’

101. “After receiving the kings’ instruction, the princes check on the conduct of the world. They examine the multitudes of people to know if they are dutiful to their parents, honor and serve their elders, diligently cultivate the fasting rules, and aid the poor. After they’ve examined them, they see that the world’s people aren’t dutiful to their parents, don’t respect their elders, don’t cultivate the fasting rules, nor aid the poor. They return and tell the kings, ‘Heavenly Kings, those in the world who are dutiful to their parents, respect their elders, cultivate the fasting rules purely, give offerings, and aid the poor are very few. Very few, indeed!’

102. “When the four god kings hear this, they’re distraught and unhappy. They reply, ‘What!? How did this happen? Most of the world’s people are bad. They aren’t dutiful to their parents, don’t serve their elders, don’t cultivate the fasting rules, nor aid the poor. The host of gods will dwindle, and the host of asuras will grow!’

103. “Suppose the princes see that the world’s people are dutiful to their parents, respect their elders, diligently cultivate the fasting rules, and aid the poor. They return and tell the god kings, ‘The world’s people are dutiful to their parents, respect their elders, diligently cultivate the fasting rules, and aid the poor.’

104. “When the four god kings hear this, they rejoice. They exclaim, ‘Excellent! We’ve heard good news! The world’s people are capable of being dutiful to their parents, respecting their elders, diligently cultivating the fasting rules, and aiding the poor. The host of gods will grow, and the host of asuras will dwindle!’ This is why there’s a fast on the fourteenth day.

105. “Why is there a fast on the fifteenth day? On the fifteenth day fast, the four god kings personally go down to check on the conduct of the world. They examine the multitude of people. ‘Do the world’s people prefer to be dutiful to their parents, respectful to their elders, diligently cultivate the fasting rules, and aid the poor?’ They see that many of the world’s people aren’t dutiful to their parents, don’t serve their elders, don’t diligently cultivate the fasting rules, nor aid the poor.

106. “The four god king then go to the Sudharma Hall and tell Lord Śakra, ‘Great King, you should know that many sentient beings in the world aren’t dutiful to their parents, don’t respect their elders, don’t cultivate the fasting rules, nor aid the poor.’

107. “When they hear this, Lord Śakra and the Trāyastriṃśa gods are distraught and unhappy. They say, ‘What!? How did this happen? Most of the world’s people are bad. They aren’t dutiful to their parents, don’t respect their elders, don’t cultivate the fasting rules, nor aid the poor. The host of gods will dwindle, and the host of asuras will grow!’

108. “Suppose the four god kings see that the world’s people are dutiful to their parents, honor and serve their elders, diligently cultivate the fasting rules, and aid the poor. They return to the Sudharma Hall and tell Lord Śakra, ‘The world’s people are dutiful to their parents, honor and serve their elders, diligently cultivate the fasting rules, and aid the poor.’

109. “When they hear this, Lord Śakra and the Trāyastriṃśa gods rejoice. They exclaim, ‘Excellent! The world’s people are dutiful to their parents, honor and serve their elders, diligently cultivate the fasting rules, and aid the poor. The host of gods will grow, and the host of asuras will dwindle!’ This is why there’s a fast on the fifteenth day fast.

110. “These are the reasons for these three fasts.

Śakra’s Verse Praising the Fasts

111. “Lord Śakra then wants the gods rejoice twice as much, so he speaks this verse:

112. The Buddha told the monks, “Lord Śakra speaks this verse, but it’s neither well put nor well spoken. I wouldn’t agree with it. Why is that? That Lord of Gods Śakra hasn’t ended lust, anger, and delusion, and he isn’t free from birth, old age, illness, death, grief, sorrow, pain, and trouble. I say such a person isn’t yet free of the basis for suffering.

113. “Suppose a monk of mine is an arhat who’s ended the contaminants, who’s accomplished the task, put done the heavy burden, won their own reward, ended the bonds of existence, and become fully liberated. Such a monk should speak this verse:

114. The Buddha told the monks, “When that monk speaks this verse, I call it well put and well spoken. I would agree with it. Why is that? That monk has ended lust, anger, and delusion, and he’s freed from birth, old age, illness, death, grief, sorrow, pain, and trouble. I say that person is free of the basis for suffering.”

Yakṣa Spirits that Inhabit the Earth

115. The Buddha told the monks, “The homes, dwellings, and buildings of all people have yakṣa spirits. None are empty of them. Yakṣa spirits are in all avenues, streets, intersections, butcher shops, markets, and graveyards. None are empty of them. All those yakṣa spirits are named for their places of refuge. They’re named for the people, towns, cities, countries, lands, mountains, and rivers in which they take refuge.”

116. The Buddha told the monks, “All trees, even the smallest of them that are the size of wheel hubs, have yakṣa spirits who take refuge in them. None of them are empty. All men and women when they are first born have yakṣa spirits who protect them. At the time of their death, those guardian yakṣa spirits take their spirits, and then they die.”

117. The Buddha told the monks, “Suppose there are practitioners from other religions who ask, ‘Gentlemen, suppose that all men and women have yakṣa spirits who follow them as protectors from when they are first born. When they’re about to die, those guardian yakṣa spirits take their spirits, and then they die. Why are there yakṣa spirits who harass people, or are there no yakṣa spirits who harass people?’

118. “Supposing someone asks this question, you should answer in this way, ‘Worldly people do things contrary to the Dharma, become deluded by wrong views, and commit the ten bad deeds. There may be only one yakṣa spirit for every hundred or thousand of these people, just as a herd of a hundred or a thousand cattle or sheep has only one a person tending it. Those yakṣa spirits are likewise for people who act contrary to the Dharma, become deluded by wrong views, and commit the ten bad deeds. There’s only one spirit guarding a hundred or a thousand of those people.

119. “Suppose there are people who practice the good Dharma, who’s views are correct and act according to their belief, and who perfect the ten good deeds. One such person has a hundred or a thousand spirits protecting them, just as the king or a king’s minister has a hundred or a thousand people guarding them. They are likewise. A single person who practices the good Dharma and perfects the ten good deeds has a hundred or a thousand spirits protecting them. As a result of this, some worldly people are harassed by yakṣa spirits, and some are not harassed by them.”

Comparing Various Places to Jambudvīpa

120. The Buddha told the monks, “People in Jambudvīpa have three ways they are better than people in Godānīya. What are the three? First, they are courageous, have good memories, and can perform their work. Second, they are courageous, have good memories, and diligently cultivate the religious life. Third, they are courageous, have good memories, and buddhas appear in their land. These are three ways they are better than people in Godānīya.

121. “People in Godānīya have three ways they are better than people in Jambudvīpa. What are the three? First, they have many cattle. Second, they have many sheep. Third, they have many treasures. These are three ways they are better than people in Jambudvīpa.

122. “[People in] Jambudvīpa have three ways they are better than [people in] Pūrvavideha. What are the three? First, they are courageous, have good memories, and can perform their work. Second, they are courageous, have good memories, and can cultivate the religious life. Third, they are courageous, have good memories, and buddhas appear in their land. These are three ways they are better than [people in] Pūrvavideha.

123. “[People in] Pūrvavideha have three ways that they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa. What are the three? First, their land is the broadest. Second, their land is the largest. Third, their land is the most wondrous. These are three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa.

124. “[People in] Jambudvīpa have three ways they are better than [people in] Uttarakuru. What are the three? First, they are courageous, have good memories, and can perform their work. Second, they are courageous, have good memories, and can cultivate the religious life. Third, they are courageous, have good memories, and buddhas appear in their land. These are three ways they are better than [people in] Uttarakuru.

125. “[People in] Uttarakuru have three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa. What are the three? First, they have no relationship ties. Second, they are selfless. Third, they live for exactly 1,000 years. These are three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa.

126. “People in Jambudvīpa are also better than hungry ghosts in the above three ways.

127. “Hungry ghosts have three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa. What are the three? First, they live longer. Second, they are larger. Third, they receive [merits] made by others. These are three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa.

128. “People in Jambudvīpa are also better than nāgas and garuḍas in the above three ways.

129. “Nāgas and garuḍas have three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa. What are the three? First are their long life spans. Second, they are larger. Third are their palace halls. These are three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa.

130. “[People in] Jambudvīpa are also better than the asuras in the above three ways.

131. “Asuras have three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa. What are the three? First are the height and breadth of their palace halls. Second are the decorations of their palace halls. Third is the purity of their palace halls. These are three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa.

132. “People in Jambudvīpa are also better than the four god kings in the above three ways.

133. “The four god kings have three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa. What are the three? First are their long life spans. Second is their handsome appearance. Third are their many pleasures. These are three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa.

134. “People in Jambudvīpa are also better than the Trāyastriṃśa gods … Yama gods … Tuṣita gods … Nirmāṇarati gods … Paranirmitavaśavartin gods … in the above three ways.

135. “These gods have three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa. What are the three? First are their long life spans. Second are their handsome appearances. Third are their many pleasures. These are three ways they are better than [people in] Jambudvīpa.”

The Thirty-Eight Kinds of Beings

136. The Buddha told the monks, “The desire realm has twelve kinds of sentient beings. What are the twelve? First are those in hell. Second are those born as animals. Third are the hungry ghosts. Fourth are humans. Fifth are the asuras. Sixth are the four god kings. Seventh are the Trāyastriṃśa gods. Eighth are the Yama gods. Ninth are the Tuṣita gods. Tenth are the Nirmāṇarati gods. Eleventh are the Paranirmitavaśavartin gods. Twelfth are the Māra gods.

137. “The form realm has twenty-two kinds of sentient beings. [What are the twenty-two?] First are the Brahmakāyika gods, second are the Brahmapurohita gods, third are the Brahmapāriṣadhya gods, and fourth are the Mahābrahma gods. Fifth are the Ābha gods, sixth are the Parīttābha gods, seventh are the Apramāṇābha gods, and eighth are the Ābhāsvara gods. Ninth are the Śubha gods, tenth are the Pārīttaśubha gods, eleventh are the Apramāṇāśubha gods, and twelfth are the Śubhakṛtsna gods. Thirteenth are the Adornment gods, fourteenth are the Lesser Adornment gods, fifteenth are the Measureless Adornment gods, and sixteenth are the Adornment Bṛhatphala gods.[10] Seventeenth are the Asaṃjñika gods, eighteenth are the Avṛha gods, nineteenth are the Atapa gods, twentieth are the Sudarśana gods, twenty-first are the Mahāsudarśana gods, and twenty-second are the Akaniṣṭha gods.

138. “The formless realm has four kinds of sentient beings. What are the four? First are the gods who cognize space, second are the gods who cognize consciousness, third are the gods who cognize nothingness, and fourth are the gods who cognize having and not having conception.”

The Spirits of the Four Gross Elements

139. The Buddha told the monks, “There are spirits of the four gross elements. What are the four? First is the earth spirit, second is the water spirit, third is the wind spirit, and fourth is the fire spirit.

140. “Once, the earth spirit had a bad view. She said, ‘There’s no water, fire, or wind in earth.’

141. “Knowing that the earth spirit had this thought, I went to her and said, ‘Did you have this thought, “There’s no water, fire, or wind in earth”?’

“The earth spirit replied, ‘There really is no water, fire, or wind in earth.’

142. “I then said, ‘Don’t have this thought that there’s no water, fire, or wind in earth. Why is that? There’s water, fire, and wind in earth. It’s only because there’s much more earth present that it’s called the earth element.’”

143. The Buddha told the monks, “That time I spoke with the earth spirit, I successively taught her the Dharma, removed her bad view by teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting her. I discussed generosity, precepts, how to be born in heaven, that desire is impure, and the trouble of the higher contaminants. [I praised] escaping [desire] as the [most subtle, pure, and] supreme thing. I broadly explained and revealed the pure religious life to her. I then knew that her mind was pure, gentle, gladdened, devoid of the hindrances, and easy to teach. According to the eternal way of buddhas, I taught the noble truth of suffering and the truths of suffering’s formation, suffering’s cessation, and suffering’s escape. I explained them broadly for her.

144. “The earth spirit became removed from dust and free of defilement right there on her seat, and her vision of the Dharma was purified. The earth spirit was like white cloth that readily accepts a dye. Her faith was purified, and she attained the Dharma eye without any doubts. Seeing the Dharma with certainty, she didn’t fall to the unpleasant destinies, nor did she set out on some other path. Achieving fearlessness, she said to me, ‘I now take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, and take refuge in the Saṅgha. I won’t kill, steal, engage in sex, lie, or drink alcohol for the rest of my life. Permit me to become an laywoman in the correct Dharma.’”

145. The Buddha told the monks, “Once, the water spirit had a bad view. She said, ‘There’s no earth, fire, or wind in water.’

146. “Knowing that the water spirit had this view, the earth spirit went to her and said, ‘Did this view really occur to you, “There’s no earth, fire, or wind in water”?’

“She replied, ‘It really did.’

147. “The earth spirit then said, ‘Don’t have this view that there’s no earth, fire, or wind in water. Why is that? There’s earth, fire, and wind in water. It’s only because there’s much more water present that it’s called the water element.’”

148. The Buddha told the monks, “The earth spirit taught the Dharma for the water spirit, removing her bad view by teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting her. She discussed generosity, precepts, how to be born in heaven, that desire is impure, and the trouble of the higher contaminants. [She praised] escaping [desire] as the [most subtle, pure, and] supreme thing. She broadly explained and revealed the pure religious life to her. The earth spirit then knew that the water spirit’s mind was gentle, gladdened, confident, purified, devoid of the hindrances, and easy to teach. According to the eternal way of buddhas, she taught the noble truth of suffering and the truths of suffering’s formation, suffering’s cessation, and suffering’s escape. She explained them broadly for her.

149. “The water spirit became removed from dust and free of defilement right there on her seat, and her vision of the Dharma was purified. The water spirit was like white cloth that readily accepts a dye. Her faith was purified, and she attained purity of the Dharma eye without any doubts. Attaining the reward of certainty, she didn’t fall to the unpleasant destinies, nor did she set out on some other path. Achieving fearlessness, she told the earth spirit, ‘I now take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, and take refuge in the Saṅgha. I won’t kill, steal, engage in sex, lie, or drink alcohol for the rest of my life. Permit me to become an laywoman in the correct Dharma.’”

150. The Buddha told the monks, “Once, the fire spirit had a bad view. She said, ‘There’s no earth, water, or wind in fire.’

151. “Knowing that the fire spirit had this view, the earth and water spirits both went to her and said, ‘Has this view really occurred to you[, “There’s no earth, water, or wind in fire”]?’

“The fire spirit replied, ‘It really did.’

152. “Both spirits said, ‘Don’t have this view [that there’s no earth, water, or wind in fire.] Why is that? There’s earth, water, and wind in fire. It’s only because there’s much more fire present that it’s called the fire element.’”

153. “Those two spirits [successively] taught the fire spirit the Dharma, removing her bad view by teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting her. They discussed generosity, precepts, how to be born in heaven, that desire is impure, and the trouble of the higher contaminants. [They praised] escaping desire as the [most subtle, pure, and] supreme thing. They broadly explained and revealed the pure religious life to her. Those two spirits then knew that the fire spirit’s mind was gentle, gladdened, confident, pure, devoid of the hindrances, and easy to teach. According to the eternal way of buddhas, they taught the noble truth of suffering and the truths of suffering’s formation, suffering’s cessation, and suffering’s escape. They explained them broadly for her.

154. “The fire spirit became removed from dust and free of defilement [right there on her seat], and her vision of the Dharma was purified. The fire spirit was like white cloth that readily accepts a dye. Her faith was purified, and she attained the Dharma eye without any doubts. Attaining the reward of certainty, she didn’t fall to the unpleasant destinies, nor did she set out on some other path. Achieving fearlessness, she told the two spirits, ‘I now take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, and take refuge in the Saṅgha. I won’t kill, steal, engage in sex, lie, or drink alcohol for the rest of my life. Permit me to become an laywoman in the correct Dharma.’”

155. The Buddha told the monks, “Once, the wind spirit had a bad view. She said, ‘There’s no earth, water, or fire in wind.’

156. “The earth, water, and fire spirits knew this thought that the wind spirit had, so they went to her and said, ‘Has this view really occurred to you, “There’s no earth, water, or fire in wind?”’

“The wind spirit replied, ‘It really did.’

157. “Those three spirits then said, ‘Don’t have this view [that there’s no earth, water, or fire in wind]. Why is that? There’s earth, water, and fire in wind. It’s only because there’s much more wind present that it’s called the wind element.’”

158. The Buddha told the monks, “Those three spirits [successively] taught the wind spirit the Dharma, removed her bad view by teaching, instructing, profiting, and delighting her. They discussed generosity, precepts, how to be born in heaven, that desire is impure, and the trouble of the higher contaminants. [They praised] escaping desire as the [most subtle, pure, and] supreme thing. They broadly explained and revealed the pure religious life to her. Those three spirits then knew that the wind spirit’s mind was gentle, gladdened, confident, pure, devoid of the hindrances, and easy to teach. According to the eternal way of buddhas, they taught the noble truth of suffering and the truths of suffering’s formation, suffering’s cessation, and suffering’s escape. They explained them broadly for her.

159. “The wind spirit became removed from dust and free of defilement [right there on her seat], and her vision of the Dharma was purified. The wind spirit was like white cloth that readily accepts a dye. Her faith was purified, and she attained the Dharma eye without any doubts. Attaining the reward of certainty, she didn’t fall to the unpleasant destinies, nor did she set out on some other path. Achieving fearlessness, she told the three spirits, ‘I now take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, and take refuge in the Saṅgha. I won’t kill, steal, engage in sex, lie, or drink alcohol for the rest of my life. Permit me to become an laywoman in the correct Dharma.’”

On Clouds, Lightning, and Rain

160. The Buddha told the monks, “There are four kinds of clouds. What are the four? The first is white-colored, the second is black-colored, the third is red-colored, and the fourth is crimson-colored. The white clouds have a large amount of earth element in them. The black clouds have a large amount of water element in them. The red clouds have a large among of fire element in them. The crimson clouds have a large among of wind element in them.

161. “Those clouds are sometimes five kilometers, ten kilometers, fifteen kilometers, twenty kilometers … 2,000 kilometers away from the Earth. The exception is right after the eon begins when the clouds go up to the Ābhāsvara Heaven.

162. “Lightning has four kinds. What are the four? Eastern lightning, which is called Body Light. Southern lightning, which is called Hard to Destroy. Western lightning, which is called Streaming Fire. Northern lightning, which is called Fixed Illumination.[11]

163. “Why are there these lightning flashes in the clouds and sky? Sometimes, Body Light and Hard to Destroy touch each other. Sometimes Body Light and Stream of Fire touch each other. Sometimes the Body Light and Fixed Illumination touch each other. Sometimes Hard to Destroy and Stream of Fire touch each other. Sometimes Hard to Destroy and Fixed Illumination touch each other. Sometimes Stream of Fire and Fixed Illumination touch each other. These are the reasons that there are lightning flashes in the sky and clouds.

164. “Again, why does the sound of thunder happen in the sky and clouds? Sometimes, the earth and water elements come into contact in the sky. Sometimes, the earth and fire elements come into contact. Sometimes, the earth and wind elements come into contact. Sometimes, the water and fire elements come into contact. Sometimes, the water and wind elements come into contact. These are the reasons the sound of thunder happens in the sky and clouds.

165. “There are five causes and conditions that make predicting rain uncertain and confuse forecasters. What are the five? First, the clouds may have thunder and lightning, and a forecaster says it will rain. However, the clouds are baked by too much fire element and don’t release rain. This is the first reason forecasters are mistaken.

166. “Second, the clouds may have thunder and lightning, and a forecaster says it will rain. However, a great wind rises that scatters the clouds in all four directions, blowing them into the mountains. This is the [second] reason forecasters are mistaken.

167. “Third, clouds may have thunder and lightning, and a forecaster says it will rain. However, a great asura approaches, disperses the clouds, and sends them over the ocean. This is the [third] reason forecasters are mistaken.

168. “Fourth, clouds may have thunder and lightning, and a forecaster says it will rain. However, the master of clouds and master of rain are careless and lustful, so they never release the rain. This is the [fourth] reason forecasters are mistaken.

169. “Fifth, clouds may have thunder and lightning, and a forecaster says it will rain. However, the world’s population behaves contrary to the Dharma. They carelessly do impure deeds, and they are stingy, jealous, and hold deluded views. This causes the heavens not to release its rain. This is the [fifth] reason forecasters are mistaken. These are the five causes and conditions for forecasters to be uncertain about rain.


Endnotes

  1. Pāruṣaka. C. 麤澁, P. Phārusaka, S. Pāruṣaka. The C. translation means “rough,” which matches the meaning of S. paruṣa. Alternate C. sources agree on this meaning, and one (T 25) transliterates the name as paruṣa (波婁沙). S. Pāruṣa, on the other hand, is the name of a tree. This confusion might happen in G. or T., which drop long vowels. As we’ll see below, DĀ 30 glosses the names of these parks as referring to the effects they have on the gods who visit them. [back]
  2. Citraratha. The Chinese translates the name as “Painting (畫) Pleasure (樂),” which translates S. citra-ratha literally. This agrees with the name of a Trāyastriṃśa park in S. and P. sources. [back]
  3. Miśrakā. C. 雜. The Chinese translates this name as “Mixed,” which matches the meaning of S. miśra. Miśrakāvana is the name of a Trāyastriṃśa park in S. and P. sources. [back]
  4. Anusudarśana (?). C. 順善見. The Chinese translates the second seat’s name as “Following Good View.” Alternate Chinese translations of this passage render it as “Smaller Good View” (小善見). It must have been smaller, meant for a servant to sit on, perhaps. I’ve guessed that 順 translates the prefix S. anu-, but I’ve found no Indic parallels to use for confirmation. [back]
  5. Nandana. C. 大喜. The Chinese translates the park’s name as “Great Joy.” In P. and S. sources, a fourth Trāyastriṃśa park is called Nandana, which can mean “rejoicing.” [back]
  6. This list of ten names was transliterated to C. I’ve reconstructed it to possible Sanskrit equivalents. The first four names of this list are more certain than the remainder, which are only educated guesses. There are two other Chinese translations of the list, but after the fourth name, they vary widely with each other. There are no Indic parallels extant to my knowledge. [back]
  7. maiden flowers. Ch. 童女花. Presumably the Indic name of this flower was also a word for girls or young women, but it elludes me. [back]
  8. Earth Sovereign gods. Ch. 地自在天. This is not a standard class of gods that appear anywhere else in DĀ. An alternate Taisho reading changes it to read Paranirmitavaśavartin (他化自在天), but this doesn’t make sense coming after the Akaniṣṭha gods. I’ve left the passage as-is. [back]
  9. cubits. C. 肘. A cubit was an ancient measure of length, taking the average distance from a man’s elbow to the tip of his fingers. It varied from place to place but was approximately 18 inches (45.7 cm). [back]
  10. Adornment gods. C. 嚴飾天. This group of four heavens, which are the fourth dhyāna heavens in this list, appears unique. I’m not sure what the S. equivalent was, so I’ve translated it to English. [back]
  11. This passage has a couple alternate C. translations, but they vary widely from this version, and they are largely translated rather than transliterated. The original Indic is unclear, so I’ve translated the C. names literally. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 28 June 2022