Day 12 concludes Chapter 12, The Parable of a Magic City.
Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata assented to the requests from the Brahman-heavenly-kings to turn the wheel of the Dharma, offering first the Four Truths:
“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, aging-and-death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation are eliminated.’ “
But the sons of the Buddha, the young princes, wanted more than the teaching for Śrāvakas. They renounced the world and became śrāmaṇeras and asked the Buddha: “Expound to us the teaching of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi! If we hear that teaching, we will study and practice it. World-Honored One! We wish to have the insight of the Tathāgata. You know what we have deep in our minds.”
The Buddha assented but he waited 20,000 kalpas before “he expounded to the four kinds of devotees the sūtra of the Great Vehicle called the ‘Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas.’ ” It took 8,000 kalpas to expound the sutra after which the Buddha entered a quiet room and practiced dhyāna-concentration for 84,000 kalpas.
While the Buddha was in his quiet place, each of the princes taught “six hundred billion nayutas of living beings” the Lotus Sutra. Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata explained, “Those living beings were always accompanied by the Bodhisattva[, by whom they were taught,] in their consecutive existences. [In each of their consecutive existences,] they heard the Dharma from him, and understood it by faith. By the merits [they had thus accumulated], they were given a privilege to see four billion Buddhas, that is, four billion World-Honored Ones. They have not yet seen all of them.”
Each of the 16 princes attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi and expounded the Drama in the worlds of the ten quarters.
[T]he sixteenth śrāmaṇera is I, Sakyamuni Buddha. I attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi in this Sahā-World.
I was one of the sixteen śrāmaṇeras.
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 Sūtra 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!
Here’s the Parable of the Magic City