Probably I don’t need to tell you what the text says about how much merit you collect each time you hear this sutra. Each time you hear it, how much merit do you collect? One buddha has completed the merit of wisdom and the merit of virtue – there is nothing more to collect. The merit you collect by hearing the Arya Sanghata Sutra is equal to the merit of the number of buddhas equaling the number of grains of sand in the Ganga River, multiplied by twelve. And these grains of sand are not the ordinary type. It is explained in the teachings, in the great enlightened Pabongka Rinpoche’s notes, that these grains are made of extremely subtle atoms. There are seven kinds of subtle atoms: water atoms, earth atoms, and so forth. These sand grains are much, much finer than the normal kind.
In addition to that, when it comes to talking about the benefits of bodhicitta, or the benefits of the Arya Sanghata Sutra, the Ganga does not refer to the Indian River Ganges but to the Pacific Ocean. The merit of just one set of buddhas equaling the number of sand grains in the River Ganga is beyond words, unimaginable. Even just the merit that one buddha has collected is beyond words. So, beyond that, the merit that you collect every time you hear the Arya Sanghata Sutra is equal to twelve times the merit of the number of buddhas equal to the grains of sand in the River Ganga. That is just through hearing it. This means that anyone hearing it – animals, frogs, birds, your pets, even spirits – collects that much merit. Can you imagine? When those animals hear you recite Buddha’s teachings, it definitely causes them to receive a higher rebirth and to meet the Dharma.
The minute you hear it, the five uninterrupted negative karmas – the extremely heavy negative karmas that send you immediately after death to the lowest hot hell, which has the heaviest suffering of the lower realms, with a lifespan that lasts for one intermediate eon – are completely purified. Therefore, in the past, when I was in Washington, I played a CD of the sutra in the car on the way to go shopping, which is a 40 minute drive. I was sitting in the front of the car, so I kept the window down. Sitting behind me were two nuns. The weather was not sunny; it was a bit foggy and cold. The wind was going back through the window and making them cold. But if I had cared only for them, then all those people living in the houses along the road and all the animals would not have heard the CD. There is a big difference. So, I kept the window down and played the CD very loud, like young people playing music in a car—those young people, teenagers who have that strange hair that goes straight up onto their head or who have a lot of rings on their ears or on their face, around the eyes or whatever…just to be descriptive.
So, just while going to do shopping, you are liberating so many sentient beings on the way there – just one way. During that drive there was a deer in the road, so the car stopped and then the deer had the opportunity to hear a little bit of the sutra. So, if the five uninterrupted actions are purified, there is no question about the ten non-virtuous actions – they are also purified. I thought that was a great thing to do. Also, the people in the car are purified of all those negative karmas and collect incredible amounts of merit. It is such an easy way to make life meaningful. You just put the CD on in the car and play it, that’s it. As long as you are not deaf and can hear, you don’t need to use much effort. It’s the easiest way to purify negative karma and collect vast amounts of merit. It is the quickest, easiest way to achieve liberation from samsara and end all the oceans of samsaric suffering that one has experienced over and over, countless times, without beginning. It is a quick way to achieve enlightenment for anyone who hears it. Also, more merit makes it easy and quick to realize the emptiness of the “I,” the aggregates, and phenomena; it is a quick way to eliminate the root of samsara, ignorance, and a quick way to actualize bodhicitta. You need so much merit to actualize bodhicitta. If you have bodhicitta, you are a bodhisattva. In that second, you become the spiritual son of all the buddhas; you become the supreme object of offerings of all sentient beings. They collect so much merit when they make offerings to you – when they see you, hear your voice, touch you, or offer something to you. Even if some sentient beings harm you, after you have the realization of bodhicitta, then from your side, you only benefit in return. You pray for good things to happen to that person. There is a saying regarding bodhisattvas, “If you can’t make a good connection by doing good things, then by doing some harm, make a connection with a bodhisattva.”
This does not mean that you must harm a bodhisattva, but that in case that happens, it is saying it is worthwhile. In return the bodhisattva only benefits, only prays, so in return that sentient being is guided by that bodhisattva from life to life. For example, the Buddha, during his time as a bodhisattva, sacrificed his blood for the five yakshas; they drank his blood. Then, due to that connection, in the next life, they became his disciples as human beings – they became the first five disciples and Buddha gave them teachings at Sarnath. That was the first turning of the Dharma Wheel. They drank his blood, but the bodhisattva made a prayer for them in the next life to be his direct disciples, to be able to receive teachings and so forth. Of course, they then go on to liberation and enlightenment. There is incredible benefit for sentient beings if one is a bodhisattva. Only with bodhicitta can you complete the two types of merits and achieve the two kayas. Without bodhicitta, even if you have wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, you cannot achieve the two kayas. The highest you can achieve is arhatship, liberation from samsara – eliminating the delusions and karma.
If you read the Arya Sanghata Sutra, you collect far greater merit than just through hearing it, and if you write it, there is even more merit. Remember the merit of the buddhas equaling the number of grains of sand in the Ganges River multiplied by twelve? The amount of merit if you write it is eight times that (eg, 96 x one set of buddhas).
The last time I went to South-east Asia, because of my little advertisement about how much more merit you collect if you write it, many people had written it and had finished already. This is wonderful. The director of a Dharma center there told me that when they recited it incredible things happened, for example, somebody offered $100,000 to build a school. In another country, a student read it one time. When he read it, he thought, “Buddha wouldn’t lie,” and he read it with that strong faith. He then won the lottery and built a large house with the money to sell and use the money for Dharma projects. Also, when a woman who had been smoking her whole life read the sutra the first time, she was able to stop smoking just like that. This means that Buddha is really working and blessing through this text. Buddha is really in action.
Through the merit you collect, you are able to fulfill all the wishes of all sentient beings. You are able to liberate the countless hell beings and bring them to a higher rebirth, liberation from samsara, and to enlightenment. You are able to help the countless hungry ghosts, animals, humans, sura beings, asura beings, and intermediate state beings. Please remember each time you begin to recite the Sanghata Sutra these incredible advantages you can offer yourself and others from collecting so much merit.
Not only you, but so many people who have recited the Arya Sanghata Sutra have received so much benefit to their mind and heart, becoming more and more Dharma. It is extremely good if you can write a few lines every day. When you write it, you are also reading it. I am extremely happy that you enjoy this sutra so much. You see the benefit for your mind and you see that it is an amazing sutra.