Three New Publications
84000 is pleased to announce three closely related publications:
Toh 44-37, Toh 104 and Toh 268
Today we are publishing three new closely related translations at the same time. The existence of all three texts in the Kangyur, reflecting different versions brought to Tibet via different routes and translated at different times, gives us a fascinating glimpse of how carefully the Tibetan translations preserved the precious texts available at the time.
The theme of these texts stretches our minds, expands our perspective on time, and brings us an inkling of the inconceivable presence and activity of awakened buddhas everywhere and throughout time.
These three short texts share the same central theme—the enormous spans of time that are used to measure the passage of time itself in the buddhafields, and the relativity, on an ever-increasing scale, of how these units of time compare over a range of eleven different buddhafields, with an eon in the first being equivalent to just a day in the second, and so forth.
Since each buddhafield is manifested by one buddha, these vast lengths of time are also a measure of how long each of these buddhas lives, teaches, and brings bodhisattvas to reach the state of buddhahood themselves.
The presence of infinite buddhas and buddhafields throughout time and space, how ordinary beings become bodhisattvas, and how bodhisattvas become buddhas, are among the principal threads woven together in the vast sūtra known as The Ornaments of the Buddhas (Buddhāvataṃsaka). So it is no surprise that one of the three versions of this text is incorporated within it as the very short thirty-seventh chapter, "The Chapter on the Scale of Life" (Toh 44-37).
The other two versions of this text, as is the case with many of the later chapters of The Ornaments of the Buddhas, seem to have circulated as independent texts in India but as members of the same “family” of texts with similar perspectives. In these two standalone versions, Expounding the Qualities of the Thus-Gone Ones’ Buddhafields (Toh 104) and The Sūtra of King of the Inconceivable (Toh 268), the texts’ main subject matter is enclosed in a narrative frame story, while in The Ornaments of the Buddhas that frame has already been provided in earlier chapters.
Although some details and names differ between the texts, the teaching in all three takes place at the seat of the Buddha’s awakening in Bodhgaya (a setting almost unique to The Ornaments of the Buddhas) and is spoken by one of the bodhisattvas while the Buddha remains silent (another feature of The Ornaments of the Buddhas).