The Da fangdeng tuoluoni jing《大方等陀羅尼經》(*vaipulya dhāraṇī sūtra) has had a significant influence on the teaching of confession methods in Chinese Buddhism. This work will take the sutra as an example of the context or backdrop of Buddhist methods for confession, and use it to discuss various converse transformations therein, such as how the demons (Māra) have conversely transformed into “the Twelve Divine Kings” as dharma protectors, “kings in dreams” for the auspicious sign of confession methods, and how the legendary sinner Vasu, who has committed heinous infractions warranting a journey to hell, has, conversely, transformed into “the Bodhisattva who saves sentient beings by expedient methods.” From these events, together with the reference to the alternative interpretation to the roles of Devadatta and the Gospel of Judas, we may learn to transcend the stereotypical interpretation of certain people, situations or phenomena, which may jeopardize spiritual advancement; and as well, transcend the stereotypical image that a certain person will definitely endure the effect of good or bad karma. This alternative interpretation allows us to generate faith in achieving complete reformation from ill deeds, and thus see that there is hope for even a perpetrator of the Buddhist “five heinous crimes” to become transformed and totally cleansed through confession. This is perhaps the essential power and peculiar significance of the confession methods illustrated in the Da fangdeng tuoluoni jing《大方等陀羅尼經》.
vaipulya dhāraṇī sūtra; Buddhist confession method; conversely-changed episode; Māra; Divine Kings; kings in dreams; Vasu; Devadatta; the Gospel of Judas