Chapter Four
The Cessation of Suffering: The Realm of the Buddha


Fourth Magnificent Vow of the Bodhisattva:
I vow to realize the unsurpassed path of the Buddha.

The Thus Come One observes the world
and produces a heart of great compassion.
In order to benefit living beings, he appears
And shows them the peace and
happiness of the most supreme Path.1

This corresponds to the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.

What, Bhikshus, is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering? It is the passionless cessation of this very thirst (mentioned in the Truth of the Cause of Suffering) without remainder. Abandoning and renouncing it, being released from and averting from it.2 The Cessation of Suffering should be realized.

The Bodhisattva perfects his Enlightenment through study and practice over many lifetimes. The Bodhisattva then becomes a Buddha “Buddha” literally means “Awakened One” or “Enlightened One”. He is one of ultimate wisdom and compassion. His wisdom encompasses the entire universe without obstruction; his compassion for beings in all states of existence in all worlds knows no bounds. Only when one becomes a Buddha, will one fully realize the cessation of all suffering.

Therefore, the realm of the Buddha is difficult to fathom. Those who see the Buddha perceive him differently reflecting their own karma. For example, the great Bodhisattvas observe the Buddha always teaching and influencing living beings in every realm of existence. In contrast, common people, because of their limited knowledge and vision, find it difficult to even believe or imagine the state of a Buddha.

How can living beings in the three realms of existence, in their worldly state and even the Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions3 in their transcendent state, speculate about the Supreme Enlightenment of the Thus Come One? With their limited minds and worldly language and expressions, how could they enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha?4

The wisdom of all the Buddhas is limitless and most profound. The gateway to this wisdom is difficult to discover, difficult to enter. It cannot be known by any of the Sound Hearers or Pratyeka Buddhas.5

Why? In the past, these Buddhas have drawn near to countless billions f Buddhas, exhaustively practicing their uncountable Dharmas of the Path.6

Only one Buddha comes into a world-system at a time, but many Buddhas may appear in a single world system in succession. After the previous Buddha’s Dharma has totally disappeared from the world, the next Buddha appears prompting the Dharma to flourish again. For example, In the Sutra of the Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma, Shakyamuni Buddha discusses Maitreya Buddha, the next Buddha to appear in our world system.

When my Dharma disappears, it will be like an oil lamp which flares brightly for an instant just before it goes out. So too, will the Dharma flare and die. It is difficult to speak with certainty of what will follow after that time.

And so it will remain for the next ten million years. Then, when Maitreya is about to appear in the world as the next Buddha, the planet will be entirely peaceful. Evil vapors will have dissipated, rain will be ample and regular, the crops will grow abundantly.7

Nor is there just one Buddha. In the Sutras the Buddha explained that numerous world systems in the universe have Buddhas in them.

Shariputra, all Buddhas, the World Honored Ones, throughout the ten directions in limitless quadrillions of Buddha-lands, presently are greatly benefitting living beings and bringing them peace and happiness.8

The following selection of Sutra passages describes the scope of the Buddha’s compassion and wisdom.

The Buddha’s Compassion

The Buddha contemplates all those in the world: upside-down, ever confused and deluded. They revolve in the suffering of birth and death; so he gives rise to a heart of great compassion. Throughout billions of eons, he cultivates the practices of Enlightenment, wishing to rescue beings through the power of great compassion.

His head, eyes, hands, feet and so forth, all he can totally renounce for the sake of seeking Enlightenment. He does this for limitless eons.

The Buddha toiled through eons
for the sake of living beings,
Cultivating limitless, oceanic great compassion,
In order to comply with living beings
he enters birth and death,
Transforming the multitudes everywhere,
and causing them to be pure.

The Buddha’s Wisdom

All the gods and people in the world, and all species of living beings, cannot know the Buddhas. The Buddhas’ powers, fearlessness, liberations and samadhis, and other Dharms of the Buddhas, cannot be fathomed by anyone. Long ago, I followed countless Buddhas; I perfectly walked all the paths of the Dharma, subtle, wonderful and deep, hard to see and hard to grasp. Through limitless millions of eons, I walked down all these paths. In the place of Enlightenment, I realized the fruit, and have fully known and seen everything.11

Knowing the conduct of living beings, the thoughts deep within their minds, their habitual actions in the past, the nature of their desires, the power of their vigor, and their faculties, keen or dull, they employ various past causes, analogies and expressions, teaching them with appropriate skill-in-means.12

Further seen are all the Buddhas, the Lions, the Sagely Masters, expounding on the supreme subtlety and wonder of the Sutras. Clear and pure is the sound of their gentle, mild voices, teaching all the Bodhisattvas, numbering in the countless millions. This pure sound, profound and wondrous, fills those who hear it with joy, as within his world, each one proclaims the proper Dharma. Using past causes and limitless analogies, they clarify the Buddha-dharma to enlighten living beings.13

The Scope of the Buddha’s Spiritual Power

The Buddha told the Bhikshus, “In the past, limitless, boundless, inconceivable, asamkhyeyas14 of eons ago, there was a Buddha named Vast Penetrating Wisdom Victory, Thus Come One, One Worthy of Offerings, One of Proper and Universal Knowledge, One Whose Understanding and Conduct are Complete, Well Gone One Who Understands the World, Unsurpassed Lord, Taming and Regulating Hero, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, World Honored One. His country was named ‘Good City’, and his eon was named ‘Great mark’. O Bhikshus, it has been a great, long time since that Buddha passed into Nirvana.”

“Now suppose someone were to grind all the earths in a galaxy of a billion world systems into ink powder. Then suppose he travelled beyond a thousand worlds to the east and dropped a particle of that ink powder the size of a mote of dust. Then passing through another thousand worlds he deposited another mote, and continued to do this until all the ink supply made from these earths was exhausted.”

“What do you think? Could a mathematician or his students ever finish computing those worlds and know their number?”

“No, World Honored One.”

“O Bhikshus, if the lands this person had passed through, whether or not he set down a particle in them, were all ground into dust, and if each dust mote was equal to an eon, then the time since that Buddha passed into Nirvana would exceed that number by limitless, boundless, quadrillions of asamkhyeyas of eons.”

“The power of the Thus Come One’s knowledge and vision lets me behold that time in the distant past as if it were today.”15

All Buddhas share the same special characteristics and qualities unique to a Buddha. The following area lists of some of the most well-known attributes and virtues of a Thus Come One.

The Ten Powers of a Buddha  

1. The wisdom-power of being enlightened to what is possible or not possible.

2. The wisdom-power of knowing the karmic retributions in the past, present and future.

3. The wisdom-power of knowing all of the dhyanas16, liberations, and samadhis.

4. The wisdom-power of knowing the superiority or inferiority of the faculties of all living beings.

5. The wisdom-power of knowing all of the various understandings of living beings.

6. The wisdom-power of knowing all of the various realms of living beings.

7. The wisdom-power of knowing where all paths lead.

8. The wisdom-power of the knowledge derived from the unobstructed Heavenly Eye.

9. The wisdom-power, free from outflows, of knowing former lives.

10. The wisdom-power of having severed all habitual energies forever.

The Eighteen Exceptional characteristics of a Buddha

1. His body is flawless.
2. His speech is flawless.
3. His thought is flawless.
4. He has no perception of differences.
5. He has no unconcentrated thoughts.
6. There is nothing he does not know and has not already renounced.
7. His resolve never diminishes.
8. His vigor never diminishes.
9. His mindfulness never wanes.
10. His wisdom never wanes.
11. His liberation never diminishes.
12. His knowledge and vision of liberation never diminish.
13. All of his bodily karma is done with wisdom.
14. All of his speech karma is done with wisdom.
15. All of his thought karma is done with wisdom.
16. His wisdom gives him unobstructed knowledge of the past.
17. His wisdom gives him unobstructed knowledge of the future.
18. His wisdom gives him unobstructed knowledge of the present.

The Thirty-two Physical Hallmarks of a Buddha

1. Level and full feet.
2. Thousand-spoke wheels on each of his feet.
3. Long, slender fingers.
4. Supple and soft hands and feet.
5. Fine webbing lacing his fingers and toes.
6. Well set and even heels.
7. Arched insteps.
8. Thighs like the royal stag Aineya (king of deer).
9. Long, graceful hands which reach below the knees.
10. Well-retracted male organ (like that of a horse).
11. Height and stretch of arms equal.
12. Every hair root imperial blue color.
13. Hair on his body curling upward.
14. Body the color of true gold.
15. Ten foot aura encircling him.
16. Soft, smooth skin.
17. The seven places (the convex places at the back of the four limbs, the two shoulders and the trunk of the body) distinctive and full.
18. Well filled area below the armpits.
19. Upper torso like that of a royal lion.
20. Body erect and upright.
21. Full and round shoulders like a Nyagrodha tree (perfectly symmetrical like the Banyan tree).
22. Forty teeth.
23. Teeth white, even and close.
24. Four pure white canine teeth.
25. Jaws like a lion.
26. Saliva which improves the taste of all food.
27. Vast and long tongue.
28. Voice deep and resonant (emits Brahma-pure sounds).
29. Eyes violet blue.
30. Eyelashes like a royal bull.
31. White hair-tuft (urna) between the eyebrows which emits light.
32. Cowl on the summit of his crown.

Each of these attributes is a natural reward for a specific kind of good karma Buddhas create during many past lives.

The Ten Titles of a Buddha

1. Thus Come One.
2. One Worthy of Offerings.
3. One of Proper and Universal Knowledge.
4. One Perfect in Understanding and Conduct.
5. Well Gone One Who Understands the World.
6. Unsurpassed Lord.
7. Hero Who Tames and Regulates.
8. Teacher of Gods and Humans.
9. Buddha.
10. World Honored One.


1 Rulers of the World, Chapter 1, Flower Adornment Sutra.
2 Turning the Dharma Wheel Sutra, Dhamma Cakka Ppavattana Sutra, Samyutta Nikaya LVI, 11.
3 “Sound Hearers”, also known as “Arhats”, are Sages who have attained a level of genuine Enlightenment in the Buddha’s teaching. “Those Enlightened to Conditions”, and “Pratyekabuddhas”, like the Arhats, are enlightened Sages. Refer to the section on the “Sangha of the Sages” in Chapter 5
4 Shurangama Sutra, Volume 4, BTTS
5 Pratyekabuddha literally means a “Solitary Buddha”. This is an individual who like the Arhat on the 4th Stage (see Chapter 5, “Sangha of the Sages”) has attained personal liberation, that is, he has transcended the realm of Samsara. Unlike the Arhat, he has discovered the path of Enlightenment on his own like a Buddha has done. However, he does not have the ability to teach living beings in the way a Buddha does.
6 Expedient Devices, Chapter 2, Dharma Flower Sutra, Volume 3, BTTS.
7 The complete text of this sutra appears in the Preface to the Shurangama Sutra, Volume 1, BTTS.
8 Expedient Devices, Chapter 2, Dharma Flower Sutra, Volume 3, BTTS.
9 Entering the Dharma Realm, Chapter 39, Part 5, Flower Adornment Sutra.
10 Wondrous Adornments of the World-Rulers, Chapter 1, Flower Adornment Sutra.
11 Expedient Devices, Chapter 2, Dharma Flower Sutra, Volume 3, BTTS.
12 Expedient Devices, Chapter 2, Dharma Flower Sutra, Volume 3, BTTS.
13 Introduction, Chapter 1, Dharma Flower Sutra, Volume 2, BTTS.
14Asamkhyeya” means an immeasurable number.
15 Transformation City, Chapter 7, Dharma Flower Sutra, Volume 7, BTTS.
16Dhyana” literally means meditation or absorption in abstract thought.
Refer to Appendix I, Chart of Samsara, the Realm of Birth and Death.


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