Not one to be deterred by such erudite skillfulness, Śāriputra simply inquires again as to the nature of Aksayamati’s origin and its proximity to his own universe. Aksayamati throws it back into his court when suggesting he should turn and ask the Buddha himself. Perhaps testing the Blessed One’s own acumen as the All-Knowledgeable one.
“Lord, where does this Bodhisattva Aksayamati come from? What is the name of the Tathagata there, and what is the name of that world-sphere? And how far away from here is that world-sphere? So that living beings whose number is without end, who cannot be counted, will put on the armor for the sake of awakening when they have heard the name of that Tathagata, and the name of that Buddha-field, may the Joyous Tathagata please teach us.”
The Blessed One replied: “Because of that Śāriputra, attend well and listen intently. And having heard the elucidation of the qualities of that world-sphere, the names of those bodhisattvas and that Tathagata, one should, with faith and confidence, have no fear and no doubts as to the unattached and unhindered wisdom of the Tathagata.”
“There is a world-sphere known as “Unblinking.” which lies east of this Buddha-field, far-removed as many Buddha-fields from here as there are dustlike grains of sand in ten Ganga-rivers. There a Tathagata, worthy of offerings and fully awakened, named Samantabhadra remains [not entering extinction] and lives on teaching the Dharma. It is from there that the Bodhisattva Aksayamati has arrived to greet us. Within that Buddha-field, Unblinking, there doesn’t exist any conceptual frame bearing the mark of disciples or isolated buddhas; hence the united and undivided assembly of Samantabhadra consists exclusively of Bodhisattvas.”
Samantabhadra: one of the many manifestations of the Primordial Buddha bearing the same name.
“Having been firmly rooted in the Buddhadharma they all exude total self-control, are free from all aversion due to their power of tolerance and are skillful in employing the teachings of the Buddha since they are inspired by the great shining light of pure insight.”
“Through this insight that is lathered with Buddhagnosis, they are empowered to bring all beings into maturity and protect them from any nefarious designs of the Evil One.”
“They are skilled in approaching and departing from Buddha-fields in endless succession since they have been gifted with a vast array of Buddhaic-siddhis, all originating from the Buddha’s own demonstration of magical and supernal Powers.”
“Those Bodhisattvas send down the awesome thunder from the Dharma-cloud, hurling-forth the Lightening-bolts of Right Reason and Liberation, thus pouring-downward the rain of ambrosia upon the parched-ground of the stupefied.”
“The whole congregation of that Tathagata, Śāriputra, consists of bodhisattvas of that nature.”
“Further, Śāriputra, within that marvelous Dharma-sphere of Animisa [winkless eyes] there are no words signifying any lower worlds bearing unfavorable conditions, including suffering of any form. Nor is there any word consisting of bewilderment for one’s sins. Neither is there any neglect of self-discipline nor a word signaling being born of the female sex…
[Or, not being born from the unclean female sex, but rather from a lotus]
…nor any discriminatory differences among sundry beings, spiritual ways, or Buddha-fields; nor any word for thirst or hunger; and especially, nor are there any maras in that perfected universe.”
Nor are there any maras: most astounding! Elsewhere within the sutrayana the [maras] make their appearance felt, especially in the Śūramgamasamādhisūtra, wherein a lesser-mara is converted by the Buddhadharma.
“That realm is broad and wide, having [sixty times ten million times a hundred-billion times a hundred thousand continents], and because of the vows of the bodhisattvas it is illumined extensively by the light of one sun and moon.”
“Further, in that world-sphere the ground is level like the surface of water and made of blue lapis lazuli, fused with all kinds of jewels, pleasant to touch like soft cloth, patterned like a chess-board, adorned with jewel-trees, beautified with flowers always blooming, without rocks, stones, gravel, pebbles and black mountains, adorned with Sumeru-mountains.”
“In that realm there is no difference in the joys shared by both gods and men alike; the drink of those beings is joy in the Dharma and the food of meditation.”
“The Lord, Samantabhadra, does not teach the Dharma to those bodhisattvas through any differentiation by syllables, words and conventional phrases [like the Lord Sakyamuni], instead the bodhisattvas turn to Samantabhadra , and one-pointedly looking at him with eyes steady and unblinking they learn to master that one-pointedness of mind which consists in recollection of the Buddha, and he gives them the prophecy which is connected with the attainment of the tolerance that all moments of existence are unborn. That is why that world-sphere is called “Unblinking”.
Then the venerable Śāriputra addressed himself to the Bodhisattva Aksayamati and the other bodhisattvas:
“Sons of good family, it is really a wonder to behold that you are able to see the Lord Tathagata Samantabhadra, those bodhisattvas and that world-sphere Unblinking.
“Honorable Śāriputra , do you also wish to see the world-sphere Unblinking, the Lord Tathagata Samantabhadra, those arrays of flowers and those other bodhisattvas?”
“Son of good family, I will see it for the sake of increasing the potentialities for the good in the entire assembly present here.”
Then, at that moment, the Bodhisattva Aksayamati entered the concentration called “The Display of all Buddha-fields“; as soon as he had entered it, the entire assembly and the elder Śāriputra beheld the world-sphere Unblinking, the Lord Tathagata worthy of offerings and fully awakened Samantabhadra, those arrays of flower and those bodhisattvas. Seeing them they all rose from their respective seats, and joining the palms of their hands they paid homage to the Lord Tathagata worthy of offerings, the fully awakened Samantabhadra and those bodhisattvas.
Then, by the power of the Buddha [Shakyamuni] and the magic of the Bodhisattva Aksayamati, there appeared in their right hands flower-buds, never seen before, never heard of before, most fragrant and multicolored and so beautiful to behold.
They threw them towards the east, where the Lord Tathagata worthy of offerings, the fully awakened Samantabhadra resided. Those flower-buds cast by them appeared in that other Buddha-field, and having been sprinkled on the Dharma Lord, Samantabhrada, they filled the whole world- sphere with flowers. Then the bodhisattvas living in that world-sphere asked the Lord Samantabhrada:
“O Lord, what is the origin of this marvelous flowery display?”
The Lord Samantabhadra spoke thusly:
“This, my noble sons, is because the Bodhisattva Aksayamati has arrived in the world-sphere known as Enduring, the Buddha-field of the Lord Sakyamuni, to see and honor that Blessed One, give him offerings, listen to his holy Dharma; whereupon the bodhisattvas who have gathered in that world-sphere from the ten directions have scattered those flowers. And that Lord Tathagata Shakyamuni is explaining the exposition of religion called “A chapter of the Great Collection“, and living beings whose numbers are beyond measure are about to comprehend his holy Dharma.”
“Lord, what is the distance from here is that world-sphere where the Tathagata Sakyamuni resides and teaches the holy Dharma?”
The Lord Samantabhadra spoke thusly:
Yes, as I have spoken, there is a world-sphere called “Enduring“, which lies west of this Buddhafield, past as many Buddha-fields from here as there are dust-like grains of sand in ten Ganges-rivers. There a Tathagata, worthy of offerings, fully awakened, Shakyamuni by title, resides and also forever abides incessantly teaching the holy Dharma.
“We would like to witness that resilient world-sphere called Enduring, where the Blessed and fully awakened Shakyamuni and his bodhisattvas resides and forever contemplate the holy Dharma.”
Then, in an instant faster than the blinking of an eye, the Tathagata Samantabhadra emitted such a light from his body, that it directly penetrated all those Buddha-fields, the world-sphere Enduring, where the Lord Tathagata Shakyamuni and his bodhisattvas were seen by his own bodhisattvas. When they saw them, they all got up from their respective seats and joined the palms of their hands, and bowing to the Lord Tathagata Shakyamuni and his bodhisattvas they uttered:
“Blessed Lord, whence have so many bodhisattvas gathered, crowding this world sphere to the point where one could not even insert a tip of hair between them?”
“These bodhisattvas, Noble sons, have gathered from immeasurable Buddha-fields in the ten directions to hear the Holy Dharma preached.”
world-sphere called “Enduring”: most appropriate name for own familiar world-sphere as the Buddha’s teaching endures on beyond this realm of misery and endless dukkha. Once again this strikes a chord with that sister scripture, the Vimalakirti Sutra, wherein numerous bodhisattvas from a distant universe come and pay homage to our own Buddha and marvel how he chooses to remain in such a dark place. Quite a turn-around for Lord Samantabhadra’s bodhisattvas since their own realm is devoid of suffering in any form.