Day 32 covers Chapter 28, The Encouragement of Universal-Sage Bodhisattva, closing the Eighth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.
Having last month heard Universal-Sage Bodhisattva’s dhārāṇi spells, we learn of the supernatural powers of UniversalSage.
[He said to the Buddha:]
“World-Honored One! It is by my supernatural powers, know this, that a Bodhisattva can hear these dhārāṇis. Anyone who keeps the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma [while it is] propagated in the Jambudvipa, should think, ‘I can keep [this sūtra] only by the supernatural powers of UniversalSage.’ Anyone who keeps, reads and recites this sūtra, memorizes it correctly, understands the meanings of it, and acts according to it, know this, does the same practices that I do. He should be considered to have already planted deeply the roots of good under innumerable Buddhas [in his previous existence]. He will be caressed on the head by the hands of the Tathāgatas. Anyone who copies this sūtra will be reborn in the Heaven of the Trāyastriṃs̒a Gods immediately after his present life. On that occasion, eighty-four thousand goddesses will come and receive him, making many kinds of music. A crown of the seven treasures will be put on his head, and he will enjoy himself among the ladies in waiting. Needless to say, [more merits will be given to] the person who [not only copies this sūtra but also] keeps, reads and recites it, memorizes it correctly, understands the meanings of it, and acts according to it. Anyone who keeps, reads and recites this sūtra, and understands the meanings of it, will be given helping hands by one thousand Buddhas immediately after his present life. He will be fearless. He will not fall into any evil region. He will be reborn in the Tusiita Heaven. There he will go to Maitreya Bodhisattva who, adorned with the thirty-two marks, will be surrounded by great Bodhisattvas, and attended on by hundreds of thousands of billions of goddesses. He will be given the benefits of these merits. Therefore, anyone who has wisdom should copy this sūtra with all his heart, cause others to copy it, and also keep, read and recite it, memorize it correctly, and act according to it.
“World-Honored One! I will protect this sūtra with my supernatural powers so that it may be propagated and not be destroyed in the Jambudvipa after your extinction.”
Rather than be distracted by the idea of being reborn in the Heaven of the Trāyastriṃsa Gods … [where] eighty-four thousand goddesses will come and receive him or reborn in the Tusiita Heaven … attended on by hundreds of thousands of billions of goddesses, let’s consider this description of Universal Sage Bodhisattva – Samantabhadra – by Taigen Daniel Leighton in his book Faces of Compassion:
Samantabhadra is the bodhisattva of enlightening activity in the world, representing the shining function of wisdom. Samantabhadra also embodies the luminous web of the interconnectedness of all beings, and radiant visions that express it. …
Samantabhadra and Manjushri are often paired together as attendants on either side of Shakyamuni Buddha, with Manjushri on his lion representing the essence of wisdom, and Samantabhadra, mounted on an elephant, representing the application of wisdom actively benefiting the world.
On the Shutei Mandala Gohonzon, Universal Sage Bodhisattva is on the left of the Daimoku in the row below Śākyamuni, with Mañjuśrī on the right of the Daimoku beneath Many Treasures.
Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon