Category Archives: LS32

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

At the close yesterday, the leaders of the Bodhisattvas from underground inquired after the Buddha as an old acquaintance might. The answer reinforces the fact that those in the congregation have been his disciples for many lifetimes:

Thereupon the World-Honored One said to them in the presence of the great multitude of Bodhisattvas:

Truly, truly good men! I am peaceful. I am in good health. The living beings are ready to be saved. They do not fatigue me because I already taught them in their consecutive previous existences, and also because they have already honored the past Buddhas respectfully and planted the roots of good. As soon as they saw me and heard my teachings, they received my teachings by faith and entered into the wisdom of the Tathagata, except those who had previously studied and practiced the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle. Now I am causing [the followers of the Lesser Vehicle] to hear this sutra and to enter into the wisdom of the Buddha.”

But just exactly who are these Bodhisattvas from Underground? No one recognizes them and everyone is puzzled.

Thereupon Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahasattva, seeing what the Bodhisattvas numbering eight thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges had in their minds, and also wishing to remove his own doubts, joined his hands together towards the Buddha, and asked him in gathas:

We have never seen
These many thousands of billions
Of Bodhisattvas.
Tell me, Most Honorable Biped!
Where did they come from?
They have gigantic bodies,
Great supernatural powers, and inconceivable wisdom.
They are resolute in mind.
They have a great power of patience.
All living beings are glad to see them.
Where did they come from?

And…

These Bodhisattvas have
Great powers, virtues and energy.
Who expounded the Dharma to them? Who taught them?
Who qualified them to attain [perfect enlightenment]?

Under whom did they begin to aspire for enlightenment?
What teaching of the Buddha did they extol?
What sutra did they keep and practice?
What teaching of the Buddha did they study?

The Buddha tells everyone to “concentrate your minds, wear the armor of endeavors, and be resolute” and then proceeds to tell them:

[I know that] you have never seen these great, innumerable, asamkhya Bodhisattva-mahasattvas who sprang up from underground. After I attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi in this Saha-World, I taught these Bodhisattvas, led them, trained them, and caused them to aspire for enlightenment. They lived in the sky below this Saha-World. When they were there, they read many sutras, recited them, understood them, thought them over, evaluated them, and remembered them correctly. Ajita! These good men did not wish to talk much with others [about things other than the Dharma] but to live in a quiet place. They practiced the way strenuously without a rest. They did not live among gods and men. They had no hindrance in seeking profound wisdom. They always sought the teaching of the Buddha. They sought unsurpassed wisdom strenuously with all their hearts.

And in gathas:

I once sat under the Bodhi-tree
In the City of Gaya,
Attained perfect enlightenment,
And turned the wheel of the unsurpassed Dharma.

Then I taught them,
And caused them to aspire for enlightenment.
Now they do not falter [in seeking enlightenment].
They will be able to become Buddhas.

My words are true.
Believe me with all your hearts!
I have been teaching them
Since the remotest past.

But Maitreya and everyone else are overcome with doubts:

It is not long
Since you renounced the family of the Sakyas
And sat under the Bodhi-Tree
Near Gaya.

These sons of yours are innumerable.
They have practiced
The way to Buddhahood for a long time.
They have supernatural powers and the power of wisdom.

They have studied the Way of Bodhisattvas well.
They are not defiled by worldliness
Just as the lotus-flower
Is not defiled by water.

They sprang up from underground,
And are now standing before you respectfully.
This is difficult to understand.
How can we believe this?

It is as though a young man says some old men are his sons or an old man says a young man is his father.

We do not doubt your words
Because we heard them direct from you.
Explain all this so that the living beings in the future
May be able to understand your words, Buddha!

Those who doubt this sutra
And do not believe it
Will fall into the evil regions.
Explain all this to us now!

How did you teach these innumerable Bodhisattvas
In such a short time,
And cause them to aspire for enlightenment
And not falter in seeking enlightenment?

Stay tuned for the answer tomorrow!

Day 19

Day 19 concludes Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices, and begins Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground.

We continue with the peaceful practices of a bodhisattva:

Again, Manjusri! A Bodhisattva-mahasattva who keeps this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in the latter days after [my extinction) when the teachings are about to be destroyed, should have great loving-kindness towards laymen and monks, and great compassion towards those who are not Bodhisattvas. He should think: ‘They do not know that the Tathagata expounded expedient teachings according to the capacities of all living beings. They do not hear, know or notice it, or ask a question about it or believe or understand it. Although they do not ask a question about this sutra, or believe or understand it, I will lead them and cause them, wherever they may be, to understand the Dharma by my supernatural powers and by the power of my wisdom when I attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.’

These will not be easy times:

Manjusri! It is difficult to hear even the title of this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma [even if you try to do so, walking about] innumerable worlds. Needless to say, it is more difficult to see, keep, read and recite this sutra.

PARABLE OF THE PRICELESS GEM IN THE TOP-KNOT

In another telling of the use of expedients to help people defeat Mara:

Manjusri! I am like the king. I obtained the world of the Dharma by my powers of dhyana-concentration and of wisdom, and became the king of the triple world. But the kings of the Maras did not assent to my demand for surrender to me. Therefore, my army led by generals, that is, by sages and saints, fought with them. I was glad to see that some distinguished themselves [in war]. In order to cause them to rejoice, I expounded many sutras to the four kinds of devotees. I gave them the treasures of the Dharma such as dhyana-concentrations, emancipations, the roots without asravas, and the powers without asravas, and also the city of Nirvana, telling them that they had already attained extinction. Although I led them [by giving these things to them] and caused them to rejoice, I did not expound to them the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

And with victory, comes the ultimate reward:

I am the great king of the Dharma in the triple world. I expound the Dharma and teach all living beings. Because I see that my soldiers led by generals, that is, by sages and saints, have already obtained extraordinary merits in their fight with the Mara of the five aggregates, with the Mara of illusions, and with the Mara of death, and that they have already eliminated the three poisons, left the triple world, and destroyed the nets of the Maras, I now expound this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma with great joy. This sutra leads all living beings to the knowledge of all things. I did not expound it before because, if I had done so, many people in the world would have hated it and few would have believed it.

And in gathas:

The people were under the pressure
Of various sufferings.
They were fighting with the Maras
In order to emancipate themselves
From suffering.
Because I saw all this,
I expounded various teachings to them.
I expounded many sutras with skillful expedients.

Now I know that they can understand the Sutra
Of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.
Therefore, I expound it to them lastly
Just as the king took the brilliant gem
Out of his top-knot
And gave it [to the bravest man lastly].

This is the most honorable sutra.
It is superior to all the other sutras.
I kept it [in secret]
And refrained from expounding it.
Now is the time to do so.
Therefore, I expound it to you now.

In the next chapter with open with Bodhisattva-mahasattvas, more than eight times the number of the sands of the River Ganges, who had come from the other worlds, offering “to protect, keep, read, recite and copy this sutra, and make offerings to it strenuously in this Saha-World after your extinction, we will [do so, and] expound it in this world.”

Thereupon the Buddha said to those Bodhisattva-mahasattvas:

No, good men! I do not want you to protect or keep this sutra because there are Bodhisattva-mahasattvas sixty thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges in this Saha-World. They are each accompanied by attendants also numbering sixty thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges. They will protect, keep, read, recite and expound this sutra after my extinction.

If the arrival of this Bodhisattvas wasn’t enough of a miracle:

A period of fifty small kalpas elapsed from the Bodhisattva-mahasattvas 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 Sakyamuni 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.

Day 18

Day 18 concludes Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra, and begins Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices.

We start with “eighty billion nayuta Bodhisattva-mahasattvas” who vow with a “voice like the roar of a lion”:

World-Honored One! After your extinction, we will go to any place [not only of this Saha-World but also] of the worlds of the ten quarters, as often as required, and cause all living beings to copy, keep, read and recite this sutra, to expound the meanings of it, to act according to the Dharma, and to memorize this sutra correctly. We shall be able to do all this only by your powers. World-Honored One! Protect us from afar even when you are in another world!

It’s not going to be an easy task:

There will be many dreadful things
In the evil world of the kalpa of defilements.
Devils will enter the bodies [of those bhik$us]
And cause them to abuse and insult us.

We will wear the armor of endurance
Because we respect and believe you.
We will endure all these difficulties
In order to expound this sutra.

We will not spare even our lives.
We treasure only unsurpassed enlightenment.
We will protect and keep the Dharma in the future
If you transmit it to us.

In the next chapter, Manjusri points out that the Bodhisattvas in the previous chapter are “extraordinarily rare” and asks the Buddha how “an ordinary Bodhisattva-mahasattva should expound the Lotus Sutra.

The Buddha said to him:

A Bodhisattva-mahasattva who wishes to expound this sutra in the evil world after [my extinction] should practice four sets of things.

First, he should perform proper practices, approach proper things, and then expound this sutra to all living beings.

Manjusri! What are the proper practices the Bodhisattva-mahasattva should perform? He should be patient, mild and meek. He should not be rash, timorous, or attached to anything. He should see things as they are. He should not be attached to his nonattachment to anything. Nor should he be attached to his seeing thing as they are. These are the proper practices the Bodhisattva-mahasattva should perform.

And…

The Bodhisattva-mahasattva also should know the following truth. All things are insubstantial. They are as they are. Things are not perverted. They do not move. They do not go. They do not turn. They have nothing substantial just as the sky has not. They are inexplicable. They are not born. They do not appear. They do not rise. They are nameless. They are formless. They have no property. They are immeasurable and limitless. They have no obstacle or hindrance. He should see all this. Things can exist only by dependent origination. Only perverted people say, ‘Things are permanent and pleasant.’ This truth is the second thing he should approach.

And in gathas:

Things are insubstantial.
They have no property.
They are not permanent.
They do not rise or perish.
This is the Dharma to be approached
By a man of wisdom.

Only perverted people say:
“All things exist,” or “Nothing exists,”
Or “All things are real,” or “Nothing is real,”
Or “All things are born,” or “Nothing is born.”

And in addition:

Second, MafijusrI! A Bodhisattva-mahasattva who wishes to expound this sutra in the age of the decline of the teachings after my extinction should perform the following peaceful practices. When he expounds or reads this sutra, he should not point out the faults of other persons or sutras. He should not despise other teachers of the Dharma. He should not speak of the good points or bad points or the merits or demerits of others. He should not mention Sravakas by name when he blames them. Nor should he do so when he praises them. He should not have hostile feelings against them or disike them. He should have this peace of mind so that he may not act against the wishes of the hearers. When he is asked questions, he should not answer by the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle, but expound the Dharma only by the teachings of the Great Vehicle so that the questioners may be able to obtain the knowledge of the equality and diiferences of all things.

And in gathas:

He should expound the Dharma to them,
Wishing only two things:
To attain the enlightenment of the Buddha
And also to cause them to do the same.
This is a peaceful offering to them.
This offering will bring them a great benefit.

And when the teachings are about to be destroyed:

Again, Manjusri! A Bodhisattva-mahasattva who wishes to keep, read and recite this sutra in the latter days after [my extinction] when the teachings are about to be destroyed, should not nurse jealousy against others, or flatter or deceive them. He should not despise those who study the Way to Buddhahood in any way. He should not speak ill of them or try to point out their faults. Some bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas or upasikas will seek Sravakahood or Pratyekabuddhahood or the Way of Bodhisattvas. He should not disturb or perplex them by saying to them, ‘You are far from enlightenment. You cannot obtain the knowledge of the equality and differences of all things because you are licentious and lazy in seeking enlightenment.’ He should not have fruitless disputes or quarrels about the teachings with others. He should have great compassion towards all living beings. He should look upon all the Tathagatas as his loving fathers, and upon all the Bodhisattvas as his great teachers. He should bow to all the great Bodhisattvas of the worlds of the ten quarters respectfully and from the bottom of his heart. He should expound the Dharma to all living beings without partiality. He should be obedient to the Dharma. He should not add anything to the Dharma or take away anything from the Dharma. He should not expound more teachings to those who love the Dharma more [than others do].

And in gathas:

Anyone who wishes to expound this sutra
Should give up jealousy, anger, arrogance,
Flattery, deception and dishonesty.
He should always be upright.

He should not despise others,
Or have fruitless disputes about the teachings.
He should not perplex others by saying to them:
“You will not be able to attain Buddhahood.”

Any son of mine who expounds the Dharma
Should be gentle, patient and compassionate
Towards all living beings.
He should not be lazy.

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Sakyamuni explains a past life lesson:

I remember that I became a kjng in a kalpa of the past.
Although I was a king,
I did not indulge in the pleasures of the five desires
Because I was seeking the Great Dharma.

I tolled a bell, and said loudly in all directions;
“Who knows the Great Dharma?
If anyone expounds the Dharma to me,
I will become his servant.”

There was a seer called Asita.
He came to [me, who was] the great king, and said:
“I know the Wonderful Dharma.
It is rare in the world.
If you serve me well,
I will expound the Dhanna to you.”

Hearing this, I had great joy.
I became his servant at once.
I offered him
Anything he wanted.

I collected firewood and the fruits of trees and grasses,
And offered these things to him respectfully
from time to time.
I never felt tired in body and mind
Because I was thinking of the Wonderful Dhanna.

I sought the Great Dharma strenuously
Because I wished to save all living beings.
1 did not wish to benefit myself
Or to have the pleasures of the five desires.

Although I was the king of a great country,
1 sought the Dharma strenuously.
I finally obtained the Dharma and became a Buddha.
Therefore, I now expound it to you.

And the kicker:

The seer at that time was a previous life of Devadatta. Devadatta was my teacher. He caused me to complete the six paramitas. He caused me to have loving-kindness, compassion, joy and impartiality. … I attained perfect enlightenment and now save all living beings because Devadatta was my teacher.

Not only that, but Devadatta will even become a Buddha and expound the Wonderful Dharma to all living beings. From teacher in a past life to enemy in the present life to Buddha in a future.

Good men or women in the future who hear this chapter of Devadatta of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma with faithful respect caused by their pure minds, and have no doubts [about this chapter], will not fall into hell or the region of hungry spirits or the region of animals. They will be reborn before the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten quarters. They will always hear this sutra at the places of their rebirth. Even when they are reborn among men or gods, they will be given wonderful pleasures. When they are reborn before the Buddhas, they will appear in lotus-flowers.

And we still have the story of Manjushri’s efforts to expound the Dharma in the realm of the dragon king.

Accumulated-Wisdom asked Manjusri:

“The sutra is exceedingly profound and wonderfu1. This is the treasure of all the sutras. It is rare in the world. Do you know anyone who acted according to this sutra so strenuously that he has already been qualified to become a Buddha quickly?”

Manjusri answered:

“Yes. There is a daughter of Dragon-King Sagara [among those whom I taught]. She is eight years old. She is clever. She knows the karmas of all living beings. She obtained dharanis. She keeps all the treasury of the profound and hidden core expounded by the Buddhas. She entered deep into dhyana-concentration, and understood all teachings. She aspired for Bodhi in a ksana, and reached the stage of irrevocability. She is eloquent without hindrance. She is compassionate towards all living beings just as a mother is towards her babe. She obtained all merits. Her thoughts and words are wonderful and great. She is compassionate, humble, gentle and graceful. She [has already been qualified to] attain Bodhi[, and to become a Buddha quickly].”

Despite objections:

Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva said:

“As far as I know, [when he was a Bodhisattva,] Sakyamuni Buddha sought Bodhi, that is, enlightenment incessantly for innumerable kalpas. He accumulated merits by practicing austerities. Even the smallest part, even the part as large as a poppy-seed of this world – this world being composed of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds – is not outside the places where the Bodhisattva made efforts to save all living beings at the cost of his life. It was after doing all this that he attained Bodhi, that is, enlightenment. I do not believe that this girl will be able to attain perfect enlightenment[, that is, to become a Buddha] in a moment.”

And…

Thereupon Sariputra said to the daughter of the dragon-king:

“You think that you will be able to attain unsurpassed enlightenment [and become a Buddha] before long. This is difficult to believe because the body of a woman is too defiled to be a recipient of the teachings of the Buddha. How can you attain unsurpassed Sodhi? The enlightenment of the Buddha is far off. It can be attained only by those who perform the [Bodhisattva] practices with strenuous efforts for innumerable kalpas. A woman has five impossibilities. She cannot become 1. the Brahman-Heavenly-King, 2. King Sakra, 3. King Mara, 4. a wheel-turning-holy-king, and 5. a Buddha. How can it be that you, being a woman, will become a Buddha, quickly [or not]?”

But she proved them wrong:

Thereupon the congregation saw that the daughter of the dragon-king changed into a man all of a sudden, performed the Bodhisattva practices, went to the Spotless World in the south, sat on a jeweled lotus-flower, attained perfect enlightenment, obtained the thirty-two major marks and the eighty minor marks [of the Buddha], and [began to] expound the Wonderful Dharma to the living beings of the worlds of the ten quarters. Having seen from afar that [the man who had been] the daughter of the dragon-king had become a Buddha and [begun to] expound the Dharma to the men and gods in his congregation, all the living beings of the Saha-World, including Bodhisattvas, Sravakas, gods, dragons, the [six other kinds, that is, in total] eight kinds of supernatural beings, men, and nonhuman beings, bowed [to that Buddha] with great joy.

Although that joy was muted for some:

The Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva, Sariputra, and all the other living beings in the congregation received the Dharma faithfully and in silence.

The remainder of the day covered the start of Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

While “Medicine-King Bodhisattva-mahasattva and Great-Eloquence Bodhisattva-mahasattva, together with their twenty thousand attendants who were also Bodhisattvas” vowed to expound the sutra in the Saha-World after the Buddha’s extinction, the Arhats and Sravakas offered only to do so in “some other worlds rather than the Saha-World.”

Maha-Prajapatr Bhiksuni, the sister of the mother of the Buddha, and six thousand bhiksunis, as well as Yasodhara Bhiksuni, the mother of Rahula, received assurances of their future Buddhahood, but they too would only expound the Lotus Sutra in some other world.

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stupa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Many Treasures, the Buddha who arrives in the Stupa of Treasures, made two Great Vows:

When he was yet practicing the Way of Bodhisattvas, he made a great vow: ‘If anyone expounds a sutra called the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in any of the worlds of the ten quarters after I become a Buddha and pass away, I will cause my stupa-mausoleum to spring up before him so that I may be able to prove the truthfulness of the sutra and say ‘excellent’ in praise of him because I wish to hear that sutra [directly from him].’

And…

Many-Treasures Buddha made another great vow: ‘If a Buddha wishes to show me to the four kinds of devotees when my stupa of treasures appears before him in order that I may be able to hear the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma [directly from him], he must call back all the Buddhas of his replicas who will be expounding the Dharma in the worlds of the ten quarters at that time. Then I will show myself [to the four kinds of devotees].’

Which brings us to the big reveal:

Thereupon Sakyamuni Buddha, having seen that all the Buddhas of his replicas had already arrived and sat on the lion-like seats, and also having heard that they had told their attendants of their wish to see the stupa of treasures opened, rose from his seat, and went up to the sky. All the four kinds of devotees stood up, joined their hands together towards him, and looked up at him with all their hearts. Now he opened the door of the stupa of the seven treasures with the fingers of his right hand. The opening of the door made a sound as large as that of the removal of the bolt and lock of the gate of a great city. At that instant all the congregation saw Many-Treasures Tathagata sitting with his perfect and undestroyed body on the lion-like seat in the stupa of treasures as if he had been sitting in dhyana-concentration. They also heard him say:

“Excellent, excellent! You, Sakyamuni Buddha, have joyfully expounded the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma. I have come to hear this sutra [directly from you].”

After Sakyamuni takes a seat beside Many-Treasures and Sakyamuni raises everyone up to see him beside Many Treasures, he asks:

Who will expound the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in this Saha-World? Now is the time to do this. I shall enter into Nirvana before long. I wish to transmit this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to someone so that this sutra may be preserved.

And in gathas:

(The Buddha said to the great multitude.)
Who will protect
And keep this sutra,
And read and recite it
After my extinction?
Make a vow before me to do this!

Many-Treasures Buddha,
Who had passed away a long time ago,
Made a loud voice like the roar of a lion
According to his great vow.

Many-Treasures Tathagata and I
And the Buddhas of my replicas,
Who have assembled here,
Wish to know who will do [all this].

My sons!
Who will protect the Dharma?
Make a great vow
To preserve the Dharma forever!

The payoff for this job:

Anyone who expounds this sutra
Will be able to see me,
To see Many-Treasures Tathagata,
And to see the Buddhas of my replicas.

But, as Sakyamuni explains, it won’t be easy:

It is not difficult
To expound all the other sutras
As many as there are sands
in the River Ganges.

It is not difficult
To grasp Mt. Sumeru And hurl it to a distance
Of countless Buddha-worlds.

It is not difficult to move [a world]
[Composed of] one thousand million Sumeru-worlds
With the tip of a toe
And hurl it to another world.

It is not difficult
To stand in the Highest Heaven
And expound innumerable other sutras
To all living beings.

It is difficult
To expound this sutra
In the evil world
After my extinction.

And after outlining the rigors to be faced by the expounder of the Lotus Sutra, Sakyamuni says:

Since I attained
The enlightenment of the Buddha,
I have expounded many sutras
In innumerable worlds.

This sutra is
The most excellent.
To keep this sutra
Is to keep me.

Good men!
Who will receive and keep this sutra,
And read and recite it
After my extinction?
Make a vow before me
[To do all this]!

The Hotoge verses follow which reminds me of the scene described in Lotus in a Sea of Flames.

Day 15

Day 15 concludes Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma, and opens Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures.

The powers of the expounder of the Lotus Sutra:

I have expounded many sutras. I am now expounding this sutra. I also will expound many sutras in the future. The total number of the sutras will amount to many thousands of billions. This Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand.

Medicine-King! This sutra is the store of the hidden core of all the Buddhas. Do not give it to others carelessly! It is protected by the Buddhas, by the World-Honored Ones. It has not been expounded explicitly. Many people hate it with jealousy even in my lifetime. Needless to say, more people will do so after my extinction.

Medicine-King, know this! Anyone who copies, keeps, reads and recites this sutra, makes offerings to it, and expounds it to others after my extinction, will be covered by my robe. He also will be protected by the present Buddhas of the other worlds. He will have the great power of faith, the power of vows, and the power of roots of good. Know this! He will live with me. I will pat him on the head.

Without laziness:

Medicine-King! How should the good men or women who live after my extinction expound this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to the four kinds of devotees when they wish to? They should enter the room of the Tathagata, wear the robe of the Tathagata, sit on the seat of the Tathagata, and then expound this sutra to the four kinds of devotees. To enter the room of the Tathagata means to have great compassion towards all living beings. To wear the robe of the Tathagata means to be gentle and patient. To sit on the seat of the Tathagata means to see the voidness of all things. They should do these [three] things and then without indolence expound this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to Bodhisattvas and the four kinds of devotees.

Without laziness in gathas:

If you wish to give up all indolence,
Hear this sutra!
It is difficult to hear this sut:ra.
Few receive it by faith.

And…

If you wish to expound this sutra,
Enter the room of the Tathagata,
Wear the robe of the Tathagata,
Sit on the seat of the Tathagata,
[And after doing these three things,]
Expound it to people without fear!

To enter the room of the Tathagata means to have great compassion.
To wear his robe means to be gentle and patient.
To sit on his seat means to see the voidness of all things.
Expound the Dharma only after you do these [three] things!

Behold, a stupa of treasures appears from underground:

Thereupon a loud voice of praise was heard from within the stupa of treasures:

Excellent, excellent! You, Sakyamuni, the World-Honored One, have expounded to this great multitude the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the Teaching of Equality, the Great Wisdom, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas. So it is, so it is. What you, Sakyamuni, the World-Honored One, have expounded is all true.

To be continued…

Day 14

Day 14 covers all of Chapter 9, The Assurance of Future Buddhahood of the Śrāvakas Who Have Something More to Learn and the Śrāvakas Who Have Nothing More to Learn, and opens Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma.

Chapter 9 covers the assurance of Buddhahood for Ananda, foremost in hearing the sutras, and Sakyamuni’s son, Rahula, foremost in inconspicuous practice, and 2,000 additional Sravakas.

The Bodhisattvas complained about the attention Ananda and the previous Sravakas were receiving:

There were eight thousand Bodhisattvas who had just resolved to aspire [for Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi] in this congregation. They thought, ‘As far as we have heard, even great Bodhisattvas have never been assured of their future Buddhahood. Why have these Sravakas been so assured?’

But Ananda, as with Purna yesterday, is not an ordinary Sravaka:

“Good men! Ananda and I resolved to aspire for Anuttara-samyak-sarnbodhi under the Void-King Buddha at the same time [in our previous existence]. At that time Ananda always wished to hear much while I always practiced strenuously. Therefore, I have already attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi [, but he has not yet]. Now he protects my teachings. He also will protect the store of the teachings of future Buddhas, teach Bodhisattvas, and cause them to attain [Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi], according to his original vow. Therefore, now he has been assured of his future Buddhahood.”

As for Rahula, he too has a special relationship:

When I was a crown prince,
Rahula was my eldest son.
When I attained the enlightenment of the Buddha,
He received the Dharma, and became the son of the Dharma.

In his future life he will see
Many hundreds of millions of Buddhas,
Become the eldest son of those Buddhas, and seek
The enlightenment of the Buddha with all his heart.

Only I know his secret practices.
He shows himself
To all living beings
In the form of my eldest son.

He has many thousands of billions of merits.
His merits are countless.
He dwells peacefully in the Dharma of the Buddha,
And seeks unsurpassed enlightenment.

Sakyamuni then assured the 2,000 Sravakas in the audience of their future Buddhahood:

Thereupon the two thousand Sravakas, of whom some had something more to learn while others had nothing more to learn, having heard the Buddha assure them of their future Buddhahood, danced with joy, and sang in a gatha:

You, the World-Honored One, are the light of wisdom.
Hearing from you
That we are assured of our future Buddhahood,
We are as joyful as if we were sprinkled with nectar.

All of that, though, was prelude for the big news to come in Chapter 10, “The Teacher of the Dharma.”

Thereupon the World-Honored One said to Medicine-King Bodhisattva in the presence of the eighty thousand great men:

Medicine-King! Do you see the innumerable gods, dragon-kings, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, men, and nonhuman beings, and [the four kinds of devotees:] bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, and upasikas, and those who are seeking Sravakahood or Pratyekabuddhahood or the enlightenment of the Buddha in this great multitude? If in my presence any of them rejoices, even on a moment’s thought, at hearing even a gatha or a phrase of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, I will assure him of his future Buddhahood, saying to him, ‘You will be able to attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.’

The Buddha said to Medicine-King:

If after my extinction anyone rejoices, even on a moment’s thought, at hearing even a gatha or a phrase of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, I also will assure him of his future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. If anyone keeps, reads, recites, expounds and copies even a gatha of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, and respects a copy of this sutra just as he respects me, and offers flowers, incense, necklaces, incense powder, incense applicable to the skin, incense to burn, canopies, banners, streamers, garments and music to it, or just joins his hands together respectfully towards it, Medicine-King, know this, he should be considered to have appeared in the world of men out of his compassion towards all living beings, although he already made offerings to ten billion Buddhas and fulfilled his great vow under those Buddhas in a previous existence.

And…

The good men or women who expound even a phrase of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma even to one person even in secret after my extinction, know this, are my messengers. They are dispatched by me. They do my work. It is needless to say this of those who expound this sutra to many people in a great multitude.

Don’t shoot the messenger:

An evil man who speaks ill of me in my presence with evil intent for as long as a kalpa is not as sinful as the person who reproaches laymen or monks with even a single word of abuse for their reading and reciting the Sntra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Praise the messenger:

Why is that? It is because, while he is expounding the Dharma with joy, if you hear it even for a moment, you will immeruately be able to attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

In gathas:

If you wish to dwell in the enlightenment of the Buddha,
And to obtain the self-originating wisdom,
Make offerings strenuously to the keeper
Of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma!

If you wish to obtain quickly the knowledge
Of the equality and differences of all things,
Keep this sutra, and also make offerings
To the keeper of this sutra!

Anyone who keeps
The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma,
Know this, has compassion towards all living beings
Because he is my messenger.

Day 13

Day 13 covers all of Chapter 8, The Assurance of Future Buddhahood of the Five Hundred Disciples.

Purna, the son of Maitrayani, is one of the 10 great voice hearers. But he is not just any Sravaka:

Thereupon the Buddha said to the bhiksus:

“Do you see this Purna, the son of Maitrayani, I always praise him, saying that he is the most excellent expounder of the Dharma. I also praise him for his various merits. He strenuously protects my teachings, and helps me propagate them. He shows the Way to the four kinds of devotees, teaches them, benefits them and causes them to rejoice. He explains my right teachings perfectly, and gives great benefits to those who are performing brahma practices’ with him. No one except the Tathagata excels him in eloquence.

Purna is not an ordinary Sravaka seeking to remove himself from the World of Endurance. He is a son of the Buddha, a secret Bodhisattav:

Bhiksus, listen to me attentively!
The Way practiced by my sons
Is beyond your comprehension
Because they learned how to employ expedients.

Knowing that people wish to hear
The teachings of the Lesser Vehicle,
And that they are afraid of having the great wisdom,
[My sons, that is,] the Bodhisattvas transform themselves
Into Sravakas or cause-knowers,
And teach the people with innumerable expedients.

Saying to the innumerable living beings, [for instance,]
“We are Sravakas.
We are far from the enlightenment of the Buddha,”
They save them, and cause them to attain [Sravakahood]
Even the lazy people who wish to hear the Lesser Vehicle
Will become Buddhas with this expedient
in the course of time.

My disciples are performing
The Bodhisattva practices secretly
Though they show themselves in the form of Sravakas.
They are purifying my world
Though they pretend to want little
And to shun birth-and-death.
In the presence of the people,
They pretend to have the three poisons and wrong views.
They save them with these expedients.
They change themselves into various forms.
If I speak of all their transformations,
The listeners will doubt me.

After assuring the 1,200 Arhats of their future Buddhahood, the 500 Arhats tell the PARABLE OF THE PRICELESS GEM. Telling the Buddha that he is like the friend who sewed a priceless gem in the garment, they said:

We are like the poor man.
In the long night you taught us
Out of your compassion towards us,
And caused us to aspire for unsurpassed [enlightenment].

Because we had no wisdom, we did not notice that.
The Nirvana we attained was only part [of your wisdom].
Satsifying ourselves with it,
We did not wish to attain anything more.

Now you have awakened us, saying:
“What you attained was not true extinction.
When you have the unsurpassed wisdom of the Buddha,
You will attain true extinction.”

Hearing from you that we are assured
Of becoming Buddhas one after another,
And that our worlds will be adorned,
We are joyful in body and mind.

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Following the appeals of the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the 10 directions, Gerat-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathagata turned the wheeel of the Dharma.

The wheel of this teaching could not be turned by any other one in the world, be he a sramana, a brahmana, a god, Mara or Brahman. The Buddha said, ‘This is suffering. This is the cause of suffering. This is extinction of suffering. This is the Way to extinction of suffering.’

“Then he expounded the teaching of the twelve causes, saying, ‘Ignorance causes predisposition. Predisposition causes consciousness. Consciousness causes name-and-form. Name-and-form causes the six sense organs. The six sense organs cause impression. Impression causes feeling. Feeling causes craving. Craving causes grasping. Grasping causes existence. Existence causes birth. Birth causes aging-and-death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation. When ignorance is eliminated, predisposition is eliminated. When predisposition is eliminated, consciousness is eliminated. When consciousness is eliminated, name-and-form is eliminated. When name-and-form is eliminated, the six sense organs are eliminated. When the six sense organs are eliminated, impression is eliminated. When impression is eliminated, feeling is eliminated. When feeling is eliminated, craving is eliminated. When craving is eliminated, grasping is eliminated. When grasping is eliminated, existence is eliminated. When existence is eliminated, birth is eliminated. When birth is eliminated, aging-and-death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation are eliminated.’

The sixteen princes, however, wanted something more than the teaching for Sravakas.

‘World-Honored One! All these Sravakas of great virtue, many thousands of billions in number, have already done [what they should do]. World-Honored One! Expound to us the teaching of Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi! If we hear that teaching, we will study and practice it. World-Honored One! We wish to have the insight of the Tathagata. You know what we have deep in our minds.’

Seeing the sixteen princes having renounced the world, eight billion followers of the wheel-turning-holy-king begged the king to allow them to do the same. He conceded to them immediately.

The Buddha assented to the appeal of the sramaneras, but it was twenty thousand kalpas afterwards that he expounded to the four kinds of devotees the sutra of the Great Vehicle called the ‘Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas.’

The results were inconclusive:

When the Buddha completed the expounding of this sutra, the sixteen sramaneras kept, recited and understood this sutra in order to attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. The sixteen sramaneras, [who were] Bodhisattvas, received this sutra by faith. Some Sravakas understood it by faith, but the other Sravakas and other living beings, thousands of billions in number, doubted it.

It took 8,000 kalpas without rest for the Buddha to complete his expounding of the sutra. When finished he retired to sit quietyly in dhyana-concentration for 84,000 kalpas. During this time, the 16 Bodhisattva-scramaneras “sat on a seat of the Dharma, expounded the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to the four kinds of devotees for eighty-four thousand kalpas, and saved six hundred billion nayutas of living beings.”

Each of the 16 princes who had become Bodhisattva-scramaneras became a Buddha. The 16th was Sakyamuni. “I attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi in this Saha-World.”

Those living beings as many as there are sands in the River Ganges, whom I taught [when I was a sramanera], included you bhiksus and those who will be reborn as my disciples in Sravakahood after my extinction.

PARABLE OF THE MAGIC CITY

Bhiksus! I, the Tathagata, am like the leader. I am your great leader. I know that the bad road, which is made of birth-and-death and illusions, is dangerous and long, and that we should pass through it and get off it. If you had heard only of the One Vehicle of the Buddha, you would not have wished to see or approach the Buddha, but would have thought, ‘The Way to Buddhahood is too long for us to pass through unless we make painstaking efforts for a long time.’

I knew that you were mean and timid. In order to give you a rest halfway, I expounded expediently to you the teaching of Nirvana by the two vehicles. To those who attained the two [vehicles], I say, ‘You have not yet done all that you should do. You are near the wisdom of the Buddha. Think it over and consider it! The Nirvana you attained is not true. I divided the One Vehicle of the Buddha into three only expediently.’

I say this just as the leader, who saw that his party had had a rest in the great city which he had made by magic in order to give them a rest, said to them, ‘The place of treasures is near. This city was not true. I made it by magic.”

The lessons of the chapter are then repeated in gathas:

It is difficult to meet a World-Honored One.
He appears only once in a very long time.
When he appears, he causes all the worlds to quake
In order to awaken all living beings.

And:

Those who heard the Dharma from those sramaneras
Are now living under those Buddhas.
To those who are still in Sravakahood
[The Buddhas] teach the Way to Buddhahood.

I was one of the sixteen sramaneras.
You were among those to whom I expounded the Dharma.
Therefore, I now lead you with expedients
To the wisdom of the Buddha.

Because I taught you in my previous existence,
I expound the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
In order to lead you into the Way to Buddhahood.
Think it over! Do not be surprised! Do not be afraid!

Finally:

The Buddhas expound the teaching of the Three Vehicles
Only as an expedient.
There is only the One Buddha-Vehicle.
The two [vehicles] were taught only as resting places.

Day 11

Day 11 continues Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City

Continuing the story of the enlightenment of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha a very, very long time ago:

The Buddha said to the bhiksus:

When Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, five hundred billion Buddha-worlds in each of the ten quarters quaked in the six ways, and all those worlds, including those intercepted from the brilliant rays of light of the sun and the moon by the neighboring worlds, were illumined [by great rays of light], and the living beings of those worlds were able to see each other for the first time. They said to each other, ‘How did you appear so suddenly?’ The palaces of the gods of those worlds, including the palace of Brahmans, also quaked in the six ways. The great rays of light which illumined all those worlds were brighter than the rays of light emitted by those gods.

In each direction Brahman-heavenly-kings were surprised to find their palaces illumined twice as bright as ever before. The Brahman-heavenly-kings of each of the 10 directions wondered (using the Zenith as the example):

Our palaces are adorned
More brightly than ever.
Why are they illumined
By this powerful light?

We have never seen nor heard
Of such a wonderful thing as this before.
Did a god of great virtue or a Buddha appear
Somewhere in the universe?

From each of the 10 directions, the Brahman-heavenly-kings traveled toward the light bringing offerings of heavenly flowers and their palaces.

They [reached the Well-Composed World and] saw that Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathagata was sitting on the lion-like seat under the Bodhi-tree of the place of enlightenment, surrounded respectfully by gods, dragon-kings, gandharvas, kiqrnaras, mahoragas, men and non-human beings. They also saw that the sixteen princes were begging the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma.

After offering the flowers and their palaces to the Buddha, the Brahman-heavenly-kings sang their praises:

How good it is to see a Buddha,
To see the Honorable Saint who saves the world!
He saves all living beings
From the prison of the triple world.

The All-Knower, the Most Honorable One of Gods and Men,
Opens the gate of the teachings as sweet as nectar,
And saves all living beings
Out of his compassion towards them.

There has been no Buddha
For the past innumerable kalpas.
Before you appeared,
The worlds of the ten quarters were dark.

The living beings in the three evil regions
And asuras are increasing.
The living beings in heaven are decreasing.
Many fall into the evil regions after their death.

They do not hear the Dharma from a Buddha.
Because they did evils,
Their appearances are getting worse;
And their power and wisdom, decreasing.
Because they did sinful karmas,
They lose pleasures and the memory of pleasures.
They are attached to wrong views.
They do not know how to do good.
They are not taught by a Buddha;
Therefore, they fall into the evil regions.

Now you have appeared for the first time after a long time,
And become the eyes of the world.
You have appeared in this world
Out of your compassion towards all living beings,
And finally attained perfect enlightenment.

We are very glad.
All the others also rejoice at seeing you,
Whom they have never seen before.

Our palaces are beautifully adorned
With your light.
We offer them to you.
Receive them out of your compassion towards us!

May the merits we have accumulated by this offering
Be distributed among all living beings,
And may we and all other living beings
Attain the enlightenment of the Buddha!


To be continued