Shakyamuni while in the Causal Stages (of Bodhisattva-hood) Cultivates the Act of Abandoning One’s Body in Search of the Law

The Buddha said, “In the past, the World-Honored One cultivated the bodhi course and had the capability to understand all heterodox doctrines and theories. He cultivated the practices of cessation, his practice not defeated by these outside doctrines. He received and upheld (the truth of) permanence, purity, true selfhood and joy (of Mahayana nirvana), and sought the Great Vehicle (Mahayana). On the Snowy Mountain, he sat in meditation through endless years, and did not hear that the Thus-Come One had entered the world, or know the names of the greater vehicle’s scriptures. At that time, he practiced ascetic acts. Indra and the gods convened an assembly and spoke a verse, their hearts filled with fear, ‘On the Snowy Mountain, a great master seeks enlightenment. The people of future times who do good will die and pass along except for those who have been destroyed by force, for they will be filled with vexation. Truly this is difficult to believe. I now will test him to see if he can accomplish the bodhi task.’

(Indra) then appeared in a raksa demon form, coming down to the Snowy Mountain, and to the Buddha spoke half of a verse, “All actions are impermanent; this is the law of reincarnation.” The Buddha replied, “As I hear this half-verse, my heart wells with joy. Who is capable of uttering this half-verse, which awakens my heart? This half-verse is truly the path of all the Buddhas of the past, the future and the present.” The raksa replied, “Ask me for the meaning. I have had no food for many days, hungry and vexed my heart is in disorder. This runs counter to what I feel in my heart, but begging for food and not obtaining any, for this reason I have made this statement.” I, the Buddha, asked the demon, “What (kind of) creatures do you eat?” He replied, “I eat people’s warm meat and hot blood.” Then the Buddha said “If you tell me the meaning of this chant, I will offer my body to you. I will abandon this body since in the end it has no use. As a bodhisattva, I cast off this un-firm body for bodhi and will obtain an adamantine body. Please tell me what I wish to know, and I will obtain much.”

The demon then said, “Life and death is extinguished; alone such extinguishing brings joy.” Hearing the chant, the bodhisattva (Shakyamuni) then (climbed a) tall tree (and threw himself) from the top, sacrificing his life for the verse. Before reaching the bottom, the raksa demon transformed back into Indra and caught him. Indra and Brahma and all of the heavens prostrated themselves in homage and in praise saying, “You are truly a bodhisattva, doing good and benefiting all the myriad beings. In the midst of (a world of) ignorance and darkness, (you will) light the torch of the Great Law. We will receive the Thus-Come One’s Great Law. As a consequence, we are relieved of our worries; you assuredly will achieve unexcelled complete enlightenment and perfection.” Indra and the devas circled around the bodhisattva’s feet, touched their heads in prostration, then departed.

释迦因地修行舍身求法 大藏佛言:过去师尊修菩萨行,能通达一切外道经论。修寂灭行,不为外道破坏受持,常乐我净,求学大乘。雪山坐禅,经无量岁,亦不闻如来出世,大乘经名。我修如是苦行时,帝释诸天,心生惊怖,集会说偈:雪山大士,惟求菩提,世人当来世中,做善逝者,除灭力量,炽燃烦恼,实为难信,我今试之,堪任菩提重担不?即现罗刹形,下至雪山,说半偈云:诸行无常,是生灭法。我闻半偈,心生欢喜,谁能说是半偈,启悟我心。如是半偈,□□□□是过去未来现在诸佛之正道也。罗刹答曰:问我是义,我不食多日,饥恼心乱,非我本心所为,求食不得,故说是语。我问罗刹:所食何物?答曰:我食人暖肉热血。但为我说偈竟,我当以此身供养。我设命终,此身无用,我为菩提舍不坚身,得金刚身。愿为我说,今得具足。罗刹即说:生灭灭已,寂灭为乐。我若□□□壁道□□□上高树舍生,以报偈赞。未至地时,罗刹复帝释,接取菩萨。释梵诸天,稽首赞曰:真是菩萨,利益众生。无明暗中,燃大法炬,我爱如来大法,故相婞恼,□愿听忏悔,汝必定成阿耨菩提,愿见济度。时帝释诸天,绕菩萨足,顶礼而去。