At that time, millions of divinely incarnated forms of Ksitigarbha from inconceivable, uncountable and unutterable worlds and hells came together to Trayastrimsa Heaven Palace. Buddha used his divine power to lead all Bodhisattvas from all worlds, and all those beings released from the hells to come here. Everybody brought flowers to Buddha.
These multitudes were those beings whom Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha had instructed, and who would never regress from Buddha’s wisdom. For many aeons, they have floated throughout life and death, suffering in the six levels, with no time to rest. Because of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s benevolence and compassion, and his great vow, all had attained a certain level of spiritual development. They came happily to Trayastrimsa and reverently gazed at Buddha.
At that time, World Honored One stretched out his golden arms and touched all the incarnated heads of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, Mahasattva. He said, “I cultivate those hard and violent living beings in the world and in the human condition, subduing their hearts. I hope they can renounce evil and do good deeds. However, one or two-tenths of them still have evil habits. I incarnate myself into billions of forms, and use many convenient ways to save them from suffering. Some of them are very receptive; they believe and practice the Dharma as soon as they hear it. Some of them who have done a few good deeds can become better after I patiently teach and guide them. Some of them are dark and dull – it takes a long time to cultivate them before they will take refuge in the Dharma. Some of them who have heavy karma do not even respect the Triple Gems at all.”
Since such beings have many distinct characters, I always incarnate myself to deliver them from pain and suffering. In order to help them, I incarnate myself in the mountain, forest, stream, plain, river, pond, fountain or well. I show myself not only in the image of Buddha but also in the image of man, woman, heavenly being, dragon, ghost or god. In order to benefit them, I also show myself as an emperor king, Brahma King, Wheel-Turning King, layman, country’s king, prime minister, government official, monk, nun, Sound-Hearer, Arhan, Pratyeka Buddha or Bodhisattva.”
You, Ksitigarbha, have observed that I have diligently worked for a long time to release hard and obstinate suffering criminal beings. As for those who have not improved, if they fall into evil or suffer from past karma retribution, you should remember what I gently taught and repeated to you in Trayastrimsa Heaven Palace – that is, to release all those beings in the Saha World, until the coming of Maitreya, from suffering forever; and to encounter Buddhas and receive the Dharma.”
At that time, all the incarnated forms of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha from many worlds gathered into a single form and said to Buddha tearfully, “I have been instructed by Buddha for long aeons. I have gained inconceivable divine power and wisdom. The boundless worlds are filled with my incarnations. In order to make them take refuge in and respect the Three Treasures, to escape from life and death forever, and achieve Nirvana’s bliss, I have incarnated billions of bodies in every world. Every one I have incarnated has taught hundreds, thousands or billions of people. Even if their good deeds within the Buddhadharma are as little as a hair, a drop, a grain of sand, or a speck of dust, I will gradually save them and make them gain great benefits. Please World Honored One, do not be concerned for those beings in the future.”
Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha said to Buddha three times, “Please World Honored One, do not be concerned for future beings with bad karma.”
Buddha then praised to Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha and said, “Very good, very good. I am pleased that you have made such a vow. You will achieve your vow and after all have been cultivated and instructed you will attain Bodhi.”
May the merits and virtues accrued from this work adorn the Buddha’s Pure Land, repay the Four Kindness above and relieve the sufferings of those in the Three Realms below. May those who see, hear and read this sutra bring forth the Bodhi mind and live the teachings for the rest of this life, then be born together in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.