The Powers of the Buddha

The Ten Powers (daśa-balāni) of the Buddha:

  1. Sthānāsthāna:

Perfect Buddhagnosis of drawing right conclusions, of what is appropriate and inappropriate. A Buddha, unlike common worldlings, makes firm resolutions that are never broken, based on former Bodhisattvic vows that are reinforced through bodhicitta.

  1. Karmavipāka:

This second power is knowing the fruition of proper [actions], thus having a firm grasp of the workings of karma.

  1. Nānādhimukti:

Knowing full-well the dispositions of various beings. Thus having the proper Buddhagnosis concerning their degree of intelligibility. This is reinforced through sutra-literature in which the Buddha gave various teachings that were suitable given the level of development of a given subject. Also, the ability to “see right-through” a being’s energy signature.

  1. Nānādhātu:

Gnosis of the true nature of various dhātus (elements) in the universe.

  1. Indriyaparāpara:

Clearly discerning the higher or lower faculties inherent in a given sentient being.

  1. Sarvatragāminīpratipad:

From having cultivated all vehicles there is knowledge of the path reaching the entire range of samsara and nirvana. [This is to say that a buddha fully knows all the paths leading into cyclic existence as well as those leading to complete liberation]. (Rosemarie Fuchs)

  1. Sarvadhyānavimokṣasamādhisamāpatti-saṃkleśavyavadānavyavasthāna:

Gnosis concerning the defilement and purification of all meditative absorptions (DHYĀNA), liberations (VIMOKṢA), samādhis, and trances (SAMĀPATTI)

Buswell  Jr., Robert E.; Donald S., Jr. Lopez. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Kindle Locations 7928-7931). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

  1. Pūrvanivāsānusmti:

The Buddha’s ability to recollect all previous rebirths.

  1. Cyutyupapatti:

From supreme noble-mindedness towards sentient beings and so on there is knowledge of birth and the transmigration of death, [which are seen] through divine vision. (Rosemarie Fuchs)

  1. Āsravakṣaya:

The tenth power is the knowledge of the purification of all impurities so the Buddhas know that impurities of any kind have been totally eliminated. (Venerable Khenchen Thrangu, Rinpoche Abbot of Rumtek Monastery)

*These Ten Powers of the Buddha are by no means exhaustible given various other definitions in Buddhaic Literature; the Ratna highlights these as being the most prominent and indestructible—like that power of the Mighty Vajra which penetrates through all veils of ignorance and illusions.

The 4 Forms of Intrepidity (Fearlessness):

Obermiller:

It is said that (the Buddha) has attained the 4 kinds of intrepidity.—

The intrepidity (of the Buddha) is of 4 kinds:
That of cognizing all elements of existence,
Of removing all the impediments,
Of showing the Path, and the annihilation of defilement.
He knows himself and makes known to others
All the things cognizable in all their forms,
He has removed all the Obscurations and causes others to
remove them,
Has entered the Path and induces others to do the same,
And has attained himself and causes to attain
The purest and highest of all aims.
Thus, teaching the Truth for himself and for others,
The Sage, wherever he might be, meets with no opposition.

It is said that (this intrepidity of the Buddha) is akin to the lion.—
As the king of beasts in the forest is always free from fear,
And, fearless, roams about amidst the other animals,
Similarly, in the multitude of hearers, that lion who is the
Lord of Sages,
Abides without depending on others,
And endowed with firmness and dexterity.

Another term for these 4 forms is Vaiśāradyāni, meaning perfect self-confidence or self-satisfaction.

The function of these [four fearlessnesses] is as follows: Perfect buddhas themselves know the truth of suffering in every respect. They know all the things that are to be known in relation to oneself and others, and they cause the other beings to gain this knowledge (1). They themselves have abandoned everything contained in the truth of origination. They have abandoned all things to be abandoned in relation to oneself and others, and they lead the other beings to abandon them as well (2). They themselves have relied on the truth of the path.

They have relied on everything that needs to be relied upon in relation to oneself and others, and cause the other beings to gain access to this reliance (3). They themselves have attained the truth of cessation. They have attained the peerless and stainless state that is to be attained by oneself and others, and they manifest for all other sentient beings so that they attain it as well (4). Having themselves made the meaning of the Four Noble Truths immediately apparent, they truthfully relate this meaning to all other beings. For these reasons the perfect buddhas are the great sages who manifest in an unhindered way with respect to teaching the sacred Dharma in any assembly, be it a gathering of monks, of Brahmins, and so on.

(From The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra, by Arya Maitreya, translated by Rosemarie Fuchs)

THE 18 EXCLUSIVE PROPERTIES:

Buddha possesses eighteen unique and exclusive properties, Āveṇika[ Buddha] dharma:

In Sanskrit and Pāli, “unshared factors”; special qualities that are unique to the buddhas. They usually appear in a list of eighteen (aṣṭādaśa Āveṇikā buddhadharmāḥ): (1)–( 2) the buddhas never make a physical or verbal mistake; (3) their mindfulness never diminishes; (4) they have no perception of difference; (5) they are free from discursiveness; (6) their equanimity is not due to a lack of discernment; (7)–( 12) they do not regress in their devotion, perseverance, recollection, concentration, wisdom, or liberation; (13)–( 15) all their physical, verbal, and mental actions are preceded and followed by gnosis; and (16)–( 18) they enter into the perception of the gnosis that is unobstructed and unimpeded with respect to the past, future, and present.

Buswell  Jr., Robert E.; Donald S., Jr. Lopez. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Kindle Locations 7290-7297). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Thus, The Buddha has reached the unobscured vision of primordial wisdom that is free from all obstructions and attachments.

The 32 Qualities of Maturity:

Takasaki:

(Kārikās 15-23)

The feet are firmly placed, marked by circles on the soles,
And with broad insteps and leveled heels which hide the ankles
The fingers are long, and those of hands and toes alike
Are connected with each other by a web.
His skin is soft and fine like that of youths,
His body is round with 7 elevated parts,
His shanks are like those of the deer, and
The private parts are concealed as with an elephant.
The upper part of the body is like that of a lion,
The parts between the shoulders are closely set and elevated
And his shoulders are well heaped arid round;
His arms are fleshy, tender and of no unevenness,
And are hanging low [down to the knees].
The body has a radiant, pure halo around it,
His neck is immaculate like a white conch,
And his jaws have a resemblance with those of a lion.
He has forty teeth all of which are equal,
And are clear and closely set, pure and straight,
And his eye-teeth are white and of excellent form.
His tongue is broad and long, [by which he tastes]
The highest taste, infinite and unthinkable;
The voice of the Self-Born is like that of the Kalaviñka,
And has the most excellent sound.
He, the highest of living beings, is of beautiful eyes, like a blue-lotus,
with eyelashes like those of a bull,
Of handsome face, endowed with the immaculate Urna-hair,
Of a head adorned with the Usnīsa, and of skin,
Purified, subtle and of golden colour;
Hairs on the body grow separately from each other,
Soft and subtle, turning upward and to the right,
Hairs on his head are of pure blue colour like sapphires,
And his figure is fully circular like a Nyagrodha tree.
He, the Great Sage, whose body is firm and possessed of
The power of Nārāyana, looks sublime and incomparable
These 32 features of infinite splendour are taught
By the Preceptor as the marks of the Lord of Men.

Thus these 10 Powers of the Buddha, 4 kinds of Intrepidity, 18 Exclusive Properties of the Buddha, as well as the 32 Marks of the Superman, being united under one head, make up the number sixty-four.

These 64 properties are to be understood, Along with their causes for attainment, One after the other, according to [the same] order, Through the investigation of the Ratna-sūtra.

Ratnadārikāsūtra: “As it turns out, this is actually just another name of the Mahāyānopadesasūtra. At the end of the Mahāyānopadesasūtra, the Buddha gives a list of synonyms for this sūtra, which include Ratnadārikāpariprcchā.

In the Mahāyānopadesasūtra, the main interlocutor is indeed Ratnadārikā and the Buddha teaches her the sixty-four qualities of awakening (including their individual causes) in the exact order as they are presented in the third chapter of the Uttaratantra (which explicitly refers to the Ratnadārikāsūtra as the source of these qualities.” (Karl Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part)

The Ratna concludes this section by highlighting the threefold significance of the 32 on Dharmakayic, Sambhogakayic, and Nirmanakayic Planes of reference:

Takasaki:

These 32 Properties mentioned above
Represent the Body of the Absolute,
Since they are indivisible from it,
As with a gem, the lustre, colour and shape.
[On the other hand], the 32 marks are
The properties, visible and causing delight in the body,
And are based on the two Corporeal Bodies
The Apparitional Body and the Body enjoying the Truth.
To those who are far from purity and near to it,
The pure manifestation of the Corporeal Body is twofold,
[One is] in the World, and [the other] in the circle of the Buddha,
Just as the moon shows her form in both the sky and the water.

Leave a Reply

Categories