Category Archives: Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva

Sutra of the Past Vows of EARTH STORE BODHISATTVA with commentary on Sutra by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua


Namo Earth Store Bodhisattva

Namo Ti Tsang Wang P’u Sa

Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

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with commentary on Sutra by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua



FOREWARD

FROM ANCIENT TIMES, the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva has been one of the most popular Chinese Buddhist sutras.  “Earth Store” is a literal rendering of the bodhisattva’s original Sanskrit name, Ksitigarbha.  In the Buddhist pantheon, he is one of the most highly celebrated bodhisattva, along with Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, and Samantabhadra.  These four represent the four basic Mahayana qualities:  Manjusri represents great wisdom; Avalokitesvara, great compassion; Samantabhadra, great meritorious deeds; and Ksitigarbha, the great vow – the vow to help and to cross over all sentient beings.  “If I do not go to hell (to help them there), who else will go?” is the famous pronouncement of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha.

In the seventh century A.D., this sutra was translated by Siksananda from the Sanskrit into Chinese, but not until this publication has it ever been translated into English.  Dharma Master Heng Ching’s work is not a critical study in the traditional Western scholarly sense.  However, it bears special importance, as it is accompanied by the comprehensive commentary of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua.  Without such an accompaniment, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for Western readers to understand the significance and applications of this sutra.

One of the aims of the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions is to make available religious teachings that were previously inaccessible to the English-speaking student of religion.  In this light, the Institute is honored to publish this invaluable source of learning and awareness.

The Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions

APRIL 1974

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Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva // about rebirth and belief // Master Hsuan Hun


About: rebirth and belief
Excerpt from : Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva
The collected lectures of  Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hun
Translated by American Bhiksu Heng Ching

“…..after I had discussed this matter, a young officer asked if I really believe that people could become animals after death. I replied, “If you believe that people can become animals, that is fine, and if you don’t believe, that is also fine. If you are due to become an animal in your next life, and you believe that people can be reborn as animals, then you will end up as an animal; if you don’t believe that you can become an animal, and you are due to become one, then, your disbelief notwithstanding, you will become an animal all the same. If you do the deeds of a Bodhisattva, you will become a Bodhisattva; if you do the deeds of a human, you will be born among men; and if you do ghostly deeds you will end up among the ghosts. You are what you do.  It is not a case of your belief making a situation go one way, and your disbelief making it  go another. Believe it or not, you will be what you ought to be and you will certainly not be what you should not be.”

At this pint everyone should ask himself , “When am I going to die? The sutra says that the life of the Brahman woman’s mother ended before long. When will mine end? Will I, like her, fall into the hells?” When studying the sutras the important point is to reverse one’s illumination; in other words, study yourself a little. Simply to study books and let it go at that is useless.

Everyone, without exception, is going to die. Don’t worry weather death is a good thing or not; if you do good, your death will be good, and if you do bad, your death will be horrible. If you plant deeds you will reap good fruits; if you plant bad deeds you will reap bad fruits. An ancient author said,
When I see another’s death,
my heart burns like fire;
It burns, nut not for him;
for death rolls on toward me.