Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

Alternate Agama Sutras

T802: Confidence in the Knowledge Powers

1. Thus have I heard:[1] One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī. He was accompanied by an assembly of great monks.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “Monks, you should know possession of the power of confidence. This teaching realizes the true principle and the Tathāgata’s fearlessness that can only be known by a Buddha.

3. “Monks, suppose there’s a disciple who says, ‘I understand this power of confidence as it really is. I’ll make effort that’s not in vain and part with the defilements.’ Again, they say, ‘I’m capable of good speech, and I’ll well disciplined. I will explain the teaching. Now is the right time, and it would be best. It’ll cause others to base themselves on what’s true, what should be cultivated, and what should be undertaken.’ Again, they say, ‘I should thus know such a teaching that’s most honored, supreme, and without any equal. I will thus see, thus hear, thus realize, and thus know it.’”

4. The Buddha told the monks, “You should know, what disciples that there are who make these statements are false. They don’t thus see, don’t thus hear, don’t thus realize, and don’t thus know. Why is that? This teaching is the real principle of Buddhas. Only a Buddha can understand it. It’s not a teaching he has in common with his disciples.”

5. The Buddha told the monks, “That teaching of confidence is the Tathāgata’s five powers and ten powers. What are the five? They are (1) the power of faith, (2) the power of effort, (3) the power of mindfulness, (4) the power of concentration, and (5) the power of wisdom. The teaching of confidence is endowed with these five powers.

6. “Again, the Tathāgata, Arhat, and Completely Awakened One perfects the Tathāgata’s ten powers, which understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. Again, he roars the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turns the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings. What are called the Tathāgata’s ten powers? He understands what’s possible and impossible as it really is. If he knows it as it really is, this is the Tathāgata’s first knowledge power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.

7. “Furthermore, there’s the Tathāgata knowledge power that knows as they really are past, present, and future actions, their causes and conditions, and their results. Once a Tathāgata knows as they really are past, present, and future actions, their causes and conditions, and their results, this is the Tathāgata’s second knowledge power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they can understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.

8. “Furthermore, the Tathāgata knows as they really are the meditations, liberations, concentrations, attainments … the suffering of disturbances and actions and all their purifications. Once a the Tathāgata knows as they really are the meditations, liberations, concentrations, attainments … the suffering of disturbances and actions and all their purifications, this is the Tathāgata’s third power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they can understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.

9. “Furthermore, the Tathāgata knows as they really are the various faculties and practices of sentient beings. Once the Tathāgata knows as they really are the various faculties and practices of sentient beings, this is the Tathāgata’s fourth knowledge power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they can understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.

10. “Furthermore, the Tathāgata knows as they really are the various convictions of sentient beings. Once the Tathāgata knows as they really are the various convictions of sentient beings, this is the Tathāgata’s fifth knowledge power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they can understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.

11. “Furthermore, the Tathāgata knows as they really are the various elements and destinations. Once the Tathāgata knows as they really are the various elements and destinations, this is the Tathāgata’s sixth knowledge power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they can understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.

12. “Furthermore, the Tathāgata knows as they really are the interests of sentient beings. Once the Tathāgata knows as they really are the interests of sentient beings, this is the Tathāgata’s seventh knowledge power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they can understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.

13. “Furthermore, the Tathāgata remembers limitless past lives. That is, [he remembers] one birth, 10 births, 100 births, 1,000 births, and 100,000 births … measureless and limitless eons of increase and eons of decrease. ‘I was thus born many times during many eons. The sentient beings then had these names, clans, castes, meals, pleasures and pains, and life spans, long or short. Again, they might live a long time. Dying here, they were born there. Dying there, they were born here.’ Thus were the substance, attributes, and actions undertaken during measureless and limitless past events, all of which he remembers. Once the Tathāgata remembers limitless past lives; that is, [he remembers] one birth, 10 births, 100 births, 1,000 births, and 100,000 births … measureless and limitless eons of increase and eons of decrease. ‘I was thus born many times during many eons. The sentient beings then had these names, clans, castes, meals, pleasures and pains, and life spans, long or short. Again, they might live a long time. Dying here, they were born there. Dying there, they were born here.’ Thus were the substance, attributes, and actions undertaken during measureless and limitless past events, which he knows as they really were. This is the Tathāgata’s eighth knowledge power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they can understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.

14. “Furthermore, the Tathāgata observes all the world’s sentient beings as they are born and die with his pure heavenly eye that transcends the physical eye. They are beautiful or ugly, noble or inferior, high or low, or in good or bad destinations as a result of their actions … Sentient beings endowed with unskillful physical, verbal, and mental actions. They criticize the noble ones, continue wrong views, do unskillful actions, and practice unskillful teachings, which produce wrong causes. From these wrong causes and conditions, they fall to bad destinies after their lives end and experience the suffering of hell.

15. “Furthermore, sentient beings that practice the ten skillful actions of body, speech, and mind, don’t slander noble ones, produce right view, do skillful actions, and practice skillful teachings, which produce right causes. As a result of these causes and conditions of right view, they’re born in the heavenly realm or among humans after their lives end.

16. “He knows such things as they really are. Thus, the Tathāgata observes all the world’s sentient beings as they are born and die with his pure heavenly eye that transcends the physical eye. They are beautiful or ugly, noble or inferior, high or low, or in good or bad destinations as a result of their actions … Sentient beings endowed with unskillful physical, verbal, and mental actions. They criticize the noble ones, continue wrong views, do unskillful actions, and practice unskillful teachings, which produce wrong causes. From these wrong causes and conditions, they fall to bad destinies after their lives end and experience the suffering of hell.

17. “Furthermore, sentient beings that practice the ten skillful actions of body, speech, and mind, don’t slander noble ones, produce right view, do skillful actions, and practice skillful teachings, which produce right causes. As a result of these causes and conditions of right view, they’re born in the heavenly realm or among humans after their lives end. This is the Tathāgata’s ninth knowledge power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they can understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.

18. “Furthermore, the Tathāgata has ended the contaminants and has been liberated from the contaminants and liberated in wisdom. With his own miraculous penetrations, he comprehends all things: ‘My births have been ended, the religious life has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I won’t be subject to a later existence, and I know it as it really is.’ Thus, he knows these matters as they really are. Thus, the Tathāgata has ended the contaminants and has been liberated from the contaminants and liberated in wisdom. With his own miraculous penetrations, he comprehends all things: ‘My births have been ended, the religious life has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I won’t be subject to a later existence, and I know it as it really is.’ Knowing it as it really is, this is the Tathāgata’s tenth knowledge power. If Tathāgatas, Arhats, and Completely Awakened Ones perfect this knowledge power, then they can understand the Buddha’s unsurpassed standpoint. They roar the lion’s roar amid a great assembly and skillfully turn the sublime Dharma wheel for sentient beings.”

19. It was then that the Buddha addressed the monks, “Suppose someone were ask about that power of the Tathāgata’s about what’s possible and impossible: ‘Does the Tathāgata possess the knowledge power about what’s possible and impossible? Does he see, hear, realize, and know everything … became a Completely Awakened One?’ Thus, he will answer truly for the questioner.

20. “Furthermore: ‘Regarding the knowledge power about the actions of all sentient beings, does the Tathāgata see, hear, realize, and know them all with the knowledge power about actions … became a Completely Awakened One?’ He will answer truly if someone asks him this.

21. “Furthermore: ‘Regarding meditations, liberations, concentrations, and attainments, does the Tathāgata see, hear, realize, and know them all with his knowledge power about meditation … became a Completely Awakened One?’ He will answer truly if someone asks him this.

22. “Furthermore: ‘Regarding the knowledge power about the various faculties and natures of all sentient beings, does the Tathāgata see, hear, realize, and know them using the knowledge power about faculties and natures … became a Completely Awakened One?’ He will answer truly if someone asks him this.

23. “Furthermore: ‘Regarding the knowledge power about the various convictions of all sentient beings, does the Tathāgata see, hear, realize, and know them all using the knowledge of convictions … became a Completely Awakened One?’ He will answer truly if someone asks him this.

24. “Furthermore: ‘Regarding the knowledge power about the various elements of all sentient beings, does the Tathāgata see, hear, realize, and know them all using the knowledge power of elements … became a Completely Awakened One?’ He will answer truly if someone asks him this.

25. “Furthermore: ‘Regarding the knowledge power about the interests of all sentient beings, does the Tathāgata see, hear, realize, and know them all using the knowledge power about interests … became a Completely Awakened One?’ He will answer truly if someone asks him this.

26. “Furthermore: ‘Regarding the knowledge power of recollecting the past, does the Tathāgata use the knowledge power about recollections to see, hear, realize, and know them all … became a Completely Awakened One?’ He will answer truly if someone asks him this.

27. “Furthermore: ‘Regarding the knowledge power about the birth and death of all sentient beings, does the Tathāgata see, hear, realize, and know them all use the knowledge power of the heavenly eye … became a Completely Awakened One?’ He will answer truly if someone asks him this.

28. “Furthermore: ‘Regarding the knowledge power of ending the contaminants, does the Tathāgata see, hear, realize, and know them all using the knowledge power of ending contaminants … became a Completely Awakened One?’ He will answer truly if someone asks him this.

29. Again, he addressed the monks, “‘This is the knowledge power about what’s possible and impossible.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

30. “‘Also, this is the knowledge power about actions.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

31. “‘Also, this is the knowledge power about meditations, liberations, concentrations, and attainments.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

32. “‘Also, this is the knowledge power about the various faculties of all sentient beings.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

33. “‘Also, this is the knowledge power about the various convictions of all sentient beings.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

34. “‘Also, this is the knowledge power about the various elements of all sentient beings.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

35. “‘Also, this is the knowledge power about the interests of all sentient beings.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

36. “‘Also, this is the knowledge power about past lives.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

37. “‘Also, this is the knowledge power about the heavenly eye.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

38. “‘Also, this is the knowledge power about ending the contaminants.’ I would only state this for those who meditate and no explain it in detail for those who don’t meditate.

39. The Buddha addressed the monks, “Meditation is the right path. Not meditating is not the path. Therefore, all of you should know this.”

40. Once the Buddha had spoken this sūtra, the monks who heard what the Buddha taught believed and approved of it.

Notes

  1. This sūtra is parallel with AN 6.64 and 10.21, SA 11.41, T780, and T781. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 13 December 2020