At that time, relying on Buddha’s divine power, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, Mahasattva, rose from his seat, knelt down, placed his hands together in front of the Buddha and said, “World Honored One, as I have observed, the charitable deeds which all beings do are all different. Some benefactions can benefit people for one generation. Another for ten generations, some for a hundred or a thousand generations. Why is this? Please World Honored One, explain it for us.”
Buddha told Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, “Now, here in the Trayastrimsa Heaven Palace, I am going to explain the comparative merits which are earned from the virtuous act of giving done by those living beings in the worlds. You should listen to thy explanation carefully.”
Ksitigarbha replied to Buddha, “I have no doubts about this matter, therefore, I will be glad to listen.”
Buddha told Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, “In the worlds, there are kings, prime minister, officials, elders, Kshatriyas, Brahmins and so on. Suppose they do favors with benevolent hearts for the poor, blind, deaf, mute or crippled, asking others to help, or comfort the sufferings with tender words – the merits they gain will be the same as making offerings to Buddha.
Why? Because if they can stimulate great benevolent and compassionate hearts for the poor and crippled, they can obtain merits. They can own the seven treasures completely, not to mention food and clothing.
Moreover, Ksitigarbha, in the future world, if any king or Brahmin offers sacrifices or makes contributions to Buddha’s temple or to the images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Sound-Hearers, Pratyeka Buddhas, the king or Brahmin will certainly be Shakra god for three aeons and enjoy the most wonderful happiness. If they can dedicate to all beings in the Dharma World the merits which they earned by their contributions, these kings can always be Great Brahma Heaven Kings for ten aeons.
Furthermore, Ksitigarbha, in the future worlds, if the kings can rebuild or repair any ruined or broken temples or images, or they encourage others to do this, these kings will be Wheel-Turning Kings for hundreds or thousands of generations. These people who help these kings will be the kings of small countries. If they can make vows in front of the temples to dedicate the merits which they obtain from rebuilding or repairing the temples or images, their Buddhadharma will be complete. Their good karma is boundless or limitless.
Additionally, Ksitigarbha, in the future world, if these kings or Brahmins show mercy and give medicine, food or bedding to old people, sick people or pregnant women and make them peaceful and happy, such welfare and benefits are the best imaginable. They will be a king of Pure Dwelling Heaven for one hundred aeons, they will be a king of Six Desire Heaven for two hundred aeons and they will surely become Buddhas. They will never fall into the evil level and will hear no distressful voice for hundreds or thousands of generations.
Furthermore, Ksitigarbha, in the future world, the kings or Brahmins who can bestow such a gift will obtain endless merits. If they can dedicate these merits to all those beings around the Dharma World, they will finally all become Buddhas – not to mention becoming Shakra, Brahma or Wheel-Turning Kings. Therefore, Ksitigarbha, you should persuade all those beings to do this.
Moreover, Ksitigarbha, in the future world, if any good man or woman can plant the smallest good root, even as little as a hair, sand or dust, their welfare and benefits will be beyond description.
Furthermore, Ksitigarbha, in the future world, if any good man or woman makes contributions or offers sacrifices when encountering the images of the Buddha, Bodhisattva, Pratyeka Buddha or Wheel-Turning King, he or she will obtain endless welfare and always enjoy the most wonderful happiness in the worlds or heavens. If this man or woman can return this merit to those beings around the Dharma World, this person’s merit will be incomparable.
Furthermore, Ksitigarbha, in the future world, any man or woman who reads a Mahayana sutra, even one single word or sentence, shows a respectful heart, praises it reverently and dedicates the sutra to others, will earn good karma. If the person can dedicate the merits to the Dharma World, this person’s welfare will be beyond description.
Furthermore, Ksitigarbha, in the future world, if any good man or woman worships, praises, places their hands together in respect, and bestows a gift when he or she a new Buddha-temple or Mahayana Sutra; or who repairs, or cleans up any old, ruined or broken temple or sutra himself, or persuades others to do so, they will be kings for thirty generations. If one leads others in these affairs, he or she may always be a Wheel-Turning King. And this Wheel-Turning King will enjoy using many good ways to cultivate and teach the other kings of small countries.
Furthermore, Ksitigarbha, in the future world, any good man or good woman who plants a minor root in the Dharma World, such as making contributions or offerings, repairing a temple or binding a book of sutras, even if these things are as tiny as a hair, a speck of dust, a grain of sand, or a drop of water – if this person can dedicate the merit he or she has earned to those beings in the Dharma World, this person can enjoy the most wonderful happiness for hundreds or thousands of generation.
If one dedicates the merit to one’s own relatives or oneself, this person can enjoy happiness for only three generations. Once one abandons one’s own merit, he may earn millions of merits. Thus, Ksitigarbha, such are the conditions for bestowing gifts.”