Day 19 concludes Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices, and begins Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground.
Having last month witnessed the arrival of Bodhisattvas from Underground, we greet them today.
Those Bodhisattvas who appeared from underground, came to Many-Treasures Tathāgata and Śākyamuni Buddha both of whom were in the wonderful stūpa of the seven treasures hanging in the sky. They [joined their hands together] towards the two World-Honored Ones, and worshiped their feet with their heads. Then they [descended onto the ground and] came to the Buddhas sitting on the lion-like seats under the jeweled trees, bowed to them, walked around them from left to right three times, joined their hands together respectfully, and praised them by the various ways by which Bodhisattvas should praise Buddhas. Then they [returned to the sky,] stood to one side, and looked up at the two World-Honored ones with joy. A period of fifty small kalpas elapsed from the Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas’ springing up from underground till the finishing of the praising of the Buddhas by the various ways by which Bodhisattvas should praise Buddhas. All this while Śākyamuni Buddha sat in silence. The four kinds of devotees also kept silence for the fifty small kalpas. By his supernatural powers, however, the Buddha caused the great multitude to think that they kept silence for only half a day. Also by the supernatural powers of the Buddha, the four kinds of devotees were able to see that the skies of many hundreds of thousands of billions of worlds were filled with those Bodhisattvas.
The Daily Dharma from May 8, 2016, offers this:
All this while Śākyamuni Buddha sat in silence. The four kinds of devotees also kept silence for the fifty small kalpas. By his supernatural powers, however, the Buddha caused the great multitude to think that they kept silence for only half a day.
We find this description of the Buddha and his congregation in Chapter Fifteen of the Lotus Sūtra. Innumerable Bodhisattvas have sprung up from underground and come to pay their respects to the Buddha. This passage shows that in our suffering and attachment, we have a different concept of time than the Buddha. The kalpas the Lotus Sūtra uses to measure time are unimaginably long periods. When a stone a mile on each side is worn down to a pebble by a celestial being flying past it every thousand years and brushing it with her veil, a kalpa expires. When we see the world on this scale of time, rather than the limited years we have in our lives, it opens us up to the Buddha’s wisdom.
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