Furthermore, when the Buddha was first born, he dropped to the ground, strode seven steps, and spontaneously uttered words. After speaking, he then fell silent and, like other infants, neither walked nor talked. He was nursed to the age of three. His [step]mothers raised him and he gradually grew to maturity.
Now, although the bodies of the Buddha are countless and exceed in number the sum of all the worlds, for the sake of beings, he manifested like an ordinary person. Because the faculties of the body as well as the intellectual consciousness of ordinary people are not yet completely developed when they are born, the four types of deportment: sitting, lying down, walking and standing, as well as speaking, silence, and all manner of other human qualities—all of these are not yet perfected. As the days, months and years pass, one gradually practices, studies and then is able to refine the various aspects of being a person.
Now how was the Buddha, upon birth, immediately able to speak and walk whereas afterwards he was then not able to do so? One finds this astonishing. One should know that it is solely by dint of the power of skillful means that the Buddha manifests involvement in human endeavors, and comports himself as people do, thus influencing beings to believe in the profound Dharma.
If when the Bodhisattva was born, he was then from that point on able to walk and was able to talk, ordinary people of the world would think, “Now we behold this man such as has never existed in the world before. Certainly he is a god, a dragon, a ghost or a spirit. That dharma which he studies is certainly not such that people like us might accomplish it. Why is that? Our fleshly bodies, bound to birth and death, are dragged about by the karma of the fetters. We are unable to gain freedom. Who would be able to approach such a profound dharma as this?” In this manner they would cut themselves off so that they could not become receptacles for the Dharma of the worthies and holy ones. For the sake of these people, he was born in the Lumbini gardens.
Although he was capable of proceeding immediately to the Bodhi tree and achieving Buddhahood, because of the power of skillful means he then manifested as an infant, as a youth, as a young man, and as a grown man, and in each phase sequentially took on [the corresponding activities of] playing, becoming skilled in the arts, utilizing the objects of the five desires, and consummately perfecting human endeavors, afterwards gradually perceiving the suffering of senescence , disease, and death and [finally] generating thoughts of aversion and distress [which led to his] traversing the city wall in the middle of the night, leaving behind the homelife, and going to the location of the hermits Udraka and ÀrÁÉa. He gave the appearance of becoming a disciple, but did not practice their dharmas.
Although on account of constant use of his superknowledges he recalled his previous lives wherein at the time of KÁäyapa Buddha he upheld the prohibitions and cultivated the way, still, he now manifested [in the role of] cultivating ascetic practices for six years in search of the way.
Although the Bodhisattva was [already] the sovereign of the great trichiliocosm , nonetheless he demonstrated [the capacity of] demolishing the demon armies and realizing the unsurpassed way. In order to go along with the dharmas of the world, he displayed these various transformations. Because in the PrajñÁpÁramitÁ he now demonstrates the great power of superknowledges and wisdom, people ought to know that the Buddha’s bodies are innumerable and surpass the sum of all the worlds.
To be continued