The Scripture on the Immeasurable Life of the Tathagata

The World-honored One, then desiring to reiterate the Teaching’s meaning, spoke thus in verse:
“Since I have realized Buddhahood, the aeons through which I have passed are immeasurable hundreds of thousands of millions of billions.
Continuously have I voiced the Dharma, teaching untold billions of beings how to turn their hearts around that they might enter the Buddha’s path;
To ferry these sentient beings to the Other Shore I reveal to them, by skillful means, My parinivana yet truly I am not extinct but always abiding here giving voice to the Dharma.
I continue to abide in this world, using my spiritual powers to make confused creatures not see Me, though I am near, so that they may look on Me as extinct and make offerings to my relics,
Cherishing longing desires and giving rise to hearts thirsting for hope.
When these sentient beings in faith and humility, honest and forthright in manner, gentle in thought, wholeheartedly yearn to see the Buddha, not begrudging even their own lives.
Then I, with all the Sangha, appear together on the Divine Vulture Peak.
I then tell these sentient beings that I continue to abide here without extinction:
By the power of my skillful methods I show myself as extinct, even though not extinct.
If in some other region there are beings reverent and with faith beseeching,
Again I am in their midst to proclaim the unsurpassed Dharma, though you who do not hear this will say that I am extinct. When I behold sentient beings sunk in their suffering and distress,
I do not show myself but set them all to look up in thirsting and, when their hearts are filled with fervent longing, I then appear and proclaim the Dharma.
Such are my spiritually pervading powers that, throughout the boundless aeons, I abide on the Divine Vulture Peak,
As well as in every other dwelling place.
When sentient beings see, at kappa’s ending, the raging fires consuming all,
Tranquil will this realm of Mine be, ever filled with devas and humans in parks and groves, amongst towers and palaces bedecked with gems of every kind.
Under bejeweled trees, heavy with blossoms and fruit, may these beings take their delight and play,
Whist devas beat their heavenly drums, ever making pleasing music, and showering down coral tree flowers upon the Buddha and His great assembly.
My Pure Land will not be destroyed, though sentient beings may see it as utterly consumed by fire,
Letting themselves be filled with grief and horror, distress and fear.
All these besmirched creatures pass through countless aeons, hearing not the same of the Triple Treasure.
Due to their wretched karma,
Those who practice deeds of merit and are gentle, honest and forthright,
All see Me in body and hear Me voice the Dharma.
At times for the sake of that assembly I tell them that a Buddha’s life is immeasurable,
Then to those who, at long last, see a Buddha I say that a Buddha is rarely met.
Such is the power of My wisdom and intelligence that My light of insight shines forth beyond measure,
My life of countless aeons is due to the karma of long practice and training.
You who have intelligence and wit, do not let doubt arise in this regard,
But sever them from yourself and bring them forever to an end for the Buddha’s Words are true, not something that is empty and vain.
Just as the physician who would cure his demented sons by cover and skillful methods proclaiming his own death whist, in fact, he is alive, and none can say he willfully lies,
I, too, being as a parent to this world, as one who helps all those in misery and affliction because of the topsy-turvy views of these ordinary people, say I am extinct, though I am truly alive.
I do this lest, by always seeing Me, they should beget hearts unrestrained and self-indulgent,
Be dissolute and only fixed upon the five forms of desire and thereby fall into evil ways,
I know at all times whether a sentient being is treading the Path or walks in other ways,
And, according to what needs to be done to aid that one, voice Teachings of various kinds, making for each this my intention.
‘How my I help this being enter the unsurpassed Way,
And quickly realize Buddhahood?’ ”