Gems of Chinese Literature/Kumârajiva-Subhûti Asks for Guidance

Gems of Chinese Literature  (1922)  translated by Herbert Allen Giles
Subhûti Asks for Guidance by Kumārajīva


5th Century a.d.

[An Indian missionary monk who reached the Chinese capital, in order to preach the gospel of Buddha, in a.d. 401. He translated various sûtras into Chinese, from one of which, the so-called “Diamond Sûtra,” the following passages have been taken. At his death, about 412-417 b.c., his body was cremated, but his tongue remained unhurt in the midst of the fire.]

" Orare world-honoured One, Tathâgata, thou who dost protect and instruct those who are Bôdhisattvas! O world-honoured One! If a good man, or a good woman, should show signs of unexcelled perfect intelligence, upon what should such a one rely, and how should such a one subdue the heart?” Buddha replied, “Good indeed! Good indeed! As you say, I protect and instruct those who are Bôdhisattvas. Listen therefore attentively, and I will tell you.” Subhûti promptly answered that he would be glad to hear, and Buddha thereupon told the Bôdhisattvas and Mahâsattvas, as follows: “All living creatures whatsoever, whether born from the egg, or from the womb, or from damp (as wood-lice), or by metamorphosis, whether having form or not, whether possessed of intelligence or not, whether not possessed of intelligence or not not-possessed of intelligence―all such I command to enter into the absolutely non-material state of Nirvâna, and so by extinction (of all sense-values, etc.), to obtain salvation. Thus, all living creatures will be freed from measurement, from number, and from space-limit, though in reality there are no living creatures by such extinction to obtain salvation. Why so? Subhûti, if a Bôdhisattva recognizes such objective existences as self, others, living creatures, or such a concept as old age―he is not a Bôdhisattva…A good disciple must accustom himself to think in terms of negation as regards the existence of all living beings, whereafter it will follow that for him there will be no living beings to think about.”