The Sūtra of Golden Light: The 29 Chapter Version, Chapter 9 – Voidness

Chapter 9: Voidness


Then after the Bhagavān had taught that Dhāraṇī, for the benefit and happiness of those assembled retinues of Bodhisattva Mahāsattavas, gods, humans and so on, in order to demonstrate the characteristics of voidness, the ultimate truth, at that time he spoke the following verses:

In inconceivably many other Sūtras,
I have thoroughly and extensively explained empty phenomena;
And so, in this most excellent of Transcendent Sūtras,
I will describe empty phenomena only in brief.

Sentient beings of small intellect, intensely ignorant,
Cannot understand all things;
And so, in this most excellent of Transcendent Sūtras,
I will describe empty phenomena only in brief.

So that all sentient beings can know with certainty,
So that they may be released;
Through the power of compassion, methods, means and other causes,
I have expounded this most excellent of Transcendent Sūtras.

This body is like an empty village or house,
And the sense faculties are like armies and thieves;
Although they all live in the same village,
They are totally unaware of each other.

The eye sense faculty chases after forms,
The ear sense faculty hankers after sounds,
The nose sense faculty is captivated by various smells;
The tongue sense faculty constantly runs after tastes.

The body sense faculty hunts tactile sensations,
And the mental sense faculty intensely analyzes phenomena;
Each of these, the six sense faculties,
Are fully absorbed in their respective objects.

As for the mind, it is as unsteady as a magical illusion,
Its six senses totally engrossed in their objects;
It is like a man running through an empty town,
Dwelling there amongst soldiers and thieves.

Dwelling among the six sense objects, like a bird,
Thoroughly familiar with the sense organs’ spheres of activity, too,
Thus the mind dwells, involved in objects;
And intimately implicated in the experiential domain of the senses, as well.

Forms, sounds, and likewise smells,
Tastes, tactile sensations and phenomena, which are objects of experience;
The mind, with all six sense faculties,
Engages with the senses, flitting like a bird;
And, in whichever sense it abides in,
Lends that sense its knowing nature.

The body is without motion, and without action,
Has no core essence, and arises from conditions.
Unreal, it arises from concepts;
Abiding like a work machine for an empty city.

Earth, fire, water and air,
Dwell in separate towns, in this direction and that direction;
Like poisonous snakes living together in the same abode, for example,
They are always out of harmony with each other.

Furthermore, two of these elemental snakes move upwards,
And two move down;
Moving by twos into the directions and sub-directions,
All these elemental snakes disappear.

The earth snake and the water snake:
Those two exhaust below.
The fire snake and wind snake:
Those two drift off into space above.

In just this way, due to actions performed in the past,
The ever-present mind, and consciousness,
Are born into existence among gods, humans, and in the three bad destinies;
Due to similarly created Karma.

When phlegm, wind and bile have been exhausted,
The body is filled with urine and foul vomit;
Utterly unpleasant, it becomes a heap of worms,
Discarded like wood at the burial grounds.

O Goddess, you should look upon these phenomena.
Given this, what are sentient beings or persons?
All these phenomena are empty;
And arise from the continuum of ignorance.

These great elements are not great elements;
Originating from the non-originated, they are not originated.
Why is this so? The originated is non-originated:
Therefore, I call them ‘the great elements’.

Not coming into being, and never existent,
They arise from the conditions of ignorance;
This ignorance itself does not come into being:
Therefore, I call it ‘this ignorance’.

Volitional factors, consciousness, and name together with form;
The six sense fields, contact and feelings,
Craving, grasping and likewise existence,
Birth, aging, and death, sorrows and harm:
The suffering of Saṃsāra is inconceivable.

All you who dwell in this way on the wheel of Saṃsāra,
Should fully analyze with your minds what has originated from the non-originated,

And what is not originated;
As well as all that is not correct.

Cut through the view of self,
Tear down the net of mental afflictions, with the sword of genuine deep wisdom;
And see the abode of the aggregates as empty:
Realize the great ocean of Awakening’s qualities.

I have opened wide the gate to the city of immortality’s elixir,
I have extensively revealed the vessel of deathless nectar’s essence as well,
I have entered into the abode of the city of immortality’s elixir;
I have been satisfied by deathless nectar’s vital juice.

I have beaten the transcendent great drum of Dharma,
I have blown the supreme Dharma conch,
I have lit the supreme lamp;
I have caused the transcendent rain of Dharma to fall.

I have conquered the enemy host of afflictive mental states,
I have hoisted the transcendent victory banner of the Dharma,
I have freed sentient beings from the ocean of conditioned existence;
I have blocked the roads to the three unfortunate destinies.

When sentient beings are scorched by the fires of mental affliction,
Without help or supportive forces,
I sooth those living beings burnt by the fire of disturbing mental states;
And, cooling them with the nectar of deathlessness, I satisfy them.

Why? For many eons past,
I made offerings to an inconceivable number of Guides.
As I fervently sought the Dharmakāya,
With firm resolve, for the sake of Awakening I practiced.

Giving my hands, eyes and legs,
The supreme appendage of the head, beloved sons and daughters,
Wealth, jewels, gems, pearls, ornaments and gold;
Blue sapphire, and all kinds of precious stones.

If you were to cut down all the woods in the three thousand-fold world-system,
All the grasses and shrubs,
Forests, and all that grows from the ground;
And grind all of them down to a powder,

Reducing them to extremely fine particles,
And pile up a mound of powder,
Reaching up to the vault of the skies:
Then it could be divided into three parts.

If everything that all sentient beings know about the particles existing on earth,
And the realms of particles
In the three thousand-fold great world systems,
Beyond the reaches of thought,

Were to be put into one sentient being,
Then with that knowledge, he might count
The particles of that powder;
And be most superior over all sentient beings.

Although it is possible that someone, strongly endowed with deep wisdom,
Might be able to count everything,
They could never fathom

The knowledge of the Jina.

What is the deep wisdom of the Great Sage?
Even in many billions of eons,
Merely a single moment of its operation
Cannot be quantified.


You can find the text at The Sūtra of Golden Light: The 29 Chapter Version, Chapter 9 – Voidness

Buddha in Lingshan, Jiangsu, China

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