Category Archives: LS32

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground.

Something about the shocked reaction of Maitreya and the other Bodhisattvas to the appearance of the horde that rises from the ground and struts around as though they are great pals of the Buddha just tickles me.

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 better still is the reaction after Śākyamuni explains:

“Now I will tell all of you in this great multitude, Ajita! [I know that] you have never seen these great, innumerable, asaṃkhya Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas who sprang up from underground. After I attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi in this Sahā-World, I taught these Bodhisattvas, led them, trained them, and caused them to aspire for enlightenment.”

Continuing …

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

Thereupon Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahāsattva and the innumerable Bodhisattvas in the congregation doubted the Buddha’s words which they had never heard before. They thought:

‘How did the World-Honored One teach these great, innumerable, asaṃkhya Bodhisattvas, and qualify them to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi in such a short time?’

Continuing …

“World-Honored One! It is difficult for anyone in the world to believe this. It is as difficult as to believe a handsome, black-haired man twenty-five years old who points to men a hundred years old and says, ‘They are my sons,’ or as to believe men a hundred years old who point to a young man and say, ‘This is our father. He brought us up.’ You are like the young man. It is not long since you attained enlightenment. But it is many thousands of billions of kalpas since the great multitude of these Bodhisattvas began to practice the Way strenuously in order to attain the enlightenment of the Buddha.”

Despite Maitreya’s protestation, I think he’s in need of reassurance as much as everyone:

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 sūtra
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?

Day 19

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

The loving-kindness of Bodhisattvas:

A Bodhisattva-mahāsattva who keeps this Sūtra 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 Tathāgata 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 sūtra, 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-saṃbodhi.’

Mañjuśrī! A Bodhisattva-mahāsattva who performs this fourth set of [peaceful] practices after my extinction, will be able to expound the Dharma flawlessly.

The difficulty:

Mañjuśrī! It is difficult to hear even the title of this Sūtra 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 sūtra.

The reward for the good fight:

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

Now I know that they can understand the Sūtra
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 sūtra.
It is superior to all the other sūtras.
I kept it [in secret]
And refrained from expounding it.
Now is the time to do so.
Therefore, I expound it to you now.

And the benefits:

Anyone who expounds
This supreme teaching
In the evil world after [my extinction]
Will obtain great benefits as previously stated.

And yet not everyone is invited to come to the Sahā-World and preach. Bodhisattvas who had come from other worlds to hear the Lotus Sutra said:

“World-Honored One! If you permit us to protect, keep, read, recite and copy this sūtra, and make offerings to it strenuously in this Sahā-World after your extinction, we will [do so, and] expound it in this world.”

Thereupon the Buddha said to those Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas:

“No, good men! I do not want you to protect or keep this sūtra because there are Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas sixty thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges in this Sahā-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 sūtra after my extinction.”

The solicitude of the practiced Bodhisattvas from Underground:

Those Bodhisattvas had four leaders: 1. Superior-Practice, 2. Limitless-Practice, 3. Pure-Practice, and 4. Steadily-Established-Practice. These four [great] Bodhisattvas were the highest leaders [of those Bodhisattvas]. In the presence of the great multitude, they joined their hands together towards Śākyamuni Buddha, looked up at him, and inquired after him saying:

“World-Honored One! Are you in good health? Are you peaceful or not? Are the living beings, whom you are to save, ready to receive your teachings or not? Do they not fatigue you?’

Thereupon the four great Bodhisattvas sang in gāthās:

World-Honored One, are you peaceful?
Are you in good health?
Are you not tired
With teaching the living beings?
Are they ready
To receive your teaching,
Or are they not?
Do they not fatigue you?

Day 18

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

Chapter 13, which opened with Mahā-Prajāpatī Bhikṣuṇī, the sister of the mother of the Buddha, and Yaśodharā Bhikṣuṇī, the mother of Rāhula, being assured future buddhahood, concludes with eighty billion nayuta Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas saying:

“If the World-Honored One commands us to keep and expound this sūtra, we will expound the Dharma just as the Buddha teaches.”

They also thought, “The Buddha keeps silence. He does not command us. What shall we do?”

In order to follow the wish of the Buddha respectfully, and also to fulfill their original vow, they vowed to the Buddha with a loud voice like the roar of a lion:

“World-Honored One! After your extinction, we will go to any place [not only of this Sahā-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 sūtra, to expound the meanings of it, to act according to the Dharma, and to memorize this sūtra 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!”

In Chapter 14, Mañjuśrī asks, “How should an [ordinary] Bodhisattva-mahāsattva expound this sūtra in the evil world after [your extinction]?”

To which the Buddha replies:

What are the proper practices the Bodhisattva-mahāsattva 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 non-attachment to anything. Nor should he be attached to his seeing things as they are. These are the proper practices the Bodhisattva-mahāsattva should perform.

And:

“The Bodhisattva-mahāsattva 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:

“A Bodhisattva-mahāsattva who wishes to expound this sūtra in the age of the decline of the teachings after my extinction should perform the following peaceful practices. When he expounds or reads this sūtra, he should not point out the faults of other persons or sūtras. 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 Śrāvakas by name when he blames them. Nor should he do so when he praises them. He should not have hostile feelings against them or dislike 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 differences of all things.”

And:

“Again, Mañjuśrī! A Bodhisattva-mahāsattva who wishes to keep, read and recite this sūtra 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.”

And finally in gāthās:

Anyone who wishes to expound this sūtra
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 the start of Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping the Sutra.

Senchu Murano’s footnote for the title of Chapter 12 says, “This chapter was not translated by Kumārajīva. It was inserted into Kumārajīva’s version.”

But I still believe:

“Good men or women in the future who hear this chapter of Devadatta of the Sūtra 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 sūtra 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.”

Back on Day 10, I commented: Becoming a Buddha at the time the Lotus Sutra was preached was no mean feat. On Day 17, I appreciate Śāriputra’s doubts about the daughter of the dragon-king quickly becoming a Buddha:

“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 Bodhi? 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 Śakra, 3. King Māra, 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]?”

And after the daughter of the dragon-king quickly became a Buddha:

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

No singing. No dancing. Just “faithfully and in silence.”

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.

The Saintly Master, the World-Honored One,
Who had passed away a long time ago,
Came riding in the stūpa of treasures
To hear the Dharma [directly from me].
Could anyone who sees him
Not make efforts to hear the Dharma?

The easy acts and the difficult acts:

Good men! Think this over clearly!
It is difficult
[To expound this sūtra].
Make a great vow to do this!

It is not difficult
To expound all the other sūtras
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 sūtras
To all living beings.

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

It is not difficult
To grasp the sky,
And wander about with it
From place to place.

It is difficult
To copy and keep this sūtra
Or cause others to copy it
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To put the great earth
On the nail of a toe
And go up to the Heaven of Brahman.

It is difficult
To read this sūtra
Even for a while in the evil world
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To shoulder a load of hay
And stay unburned in the fire
At the end of the kalpa [of destruction].

It is difficult
To keep this sūtra
And expound it to even one person
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To keep the store
Of eighty-four thousand teachings
Expounded in the sūtras
Composed of the twelve elements,
And expound it to people,
And cause the hearers to obtain
The six supernatural powers.

It is difficult
To hear and receive this sūtra,
And ask the meanings of it
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To expound the Dharma
To many thousands of billions of living beings
As many as there are sands
In the River Ganges
So that they may be able
To obtain the benefits:
Arhatship and the six supernatural powers.

It is difficult
To keep
This sūtra
After my extinction.

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

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

Day 15

Day 15 concludes Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma, and introduces Chapter 11, Beholding the Stupa of Treasures

The difficulty:

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

The support:

“Medicine-King, know this! Anyone who copies, keeps, reads and recites this sūtra, 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.”

The reward:

Anyone who, while seeking the enlightenment of the Buddha, sees or hears this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, and after hearing it, understands it by faith and keeps it, know this, will approach Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.

The view from the room of the Tathāgata:

“Medicine-King! How should the good men or women who live after my extinction expound this Sūtra 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 Tathāgata, wear the robe of the Tathāgata, sit on the seat of the Tathāgata, and then expound this sūtra to the four kinds of devotees. To enter the room of the Tathāgata means to have great compassion towards all living beings. To wear the robe of the Tathāgata means to be gentle and patient. To sit on the seat of the Tathāgata means to see the voidness of all things.”

In gāthās:

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

To enter the room of the Tathāgata 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!

And finally, in Beholding the Stupa of Treasures, confirmation:

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

“Excellent, excellent! You, Śākyamuni, the World-Honored One, have expounded to this great multitude the Sūtra 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, Śākyamuni, the World-Honored One, have expounded is all true.”

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 the first part of Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma

In Chapter 9, the Śrāvakas, having heard of their future Buddhahood, sing:

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.

Rejoicing in the Lotus Sutra in Chapter 10:

The Buddha said to Medicine-King:
“If after my extinction anyone rejoices, even on a moment’s thought, at hearing even a gāthā or a phrase of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, I also will assure him of his future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.”

Compassion of the Bodhisattvas:

Anyone who keeps
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Should be considered to have given up his pure world and come here
Out of his compassion towards all living beings.

The Buddha’s messengers:

The good men or women who expound even a phrase of the Sūtra 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.

A sinful person:

Medicine-King! 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 Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

And in gāthās:

Whoever for as long as a kalpa,
With evil intent and flushed face,
Speaks ill of me,
Will incur immeasurable retributions.
Whoever for even a moment
Reproaches those who read, recite and keep
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Will incur even more retributions.

Day 13

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

Pūrṇa, the son of Maitrāyaṇī, reminds us that “Only the Buddha, only the World-Honored One, knows the wishes we have deep in our minds.”

The 500 Arhats react to learning of their future Buddhahood:

“World-Honored One! We thought that we had already attained perfect extinction. Now we know that we were like men of no wisdom because we were satisfied with the wisdom of the Lesser Vehicle although we had already been qualified to obtain the wisdom of the Tathāgata.

“World-Honored One! Suppose a man visited his good friend. He was treated to drink, and fell asleep drunk. His friend had to go out on official business. He fastened a priceless gem inside the garment of the man as a gift to him, and went out. The drunken man did not notice what his friend had given him. After a while he got up, and went to another country. He had great difficulty in getting food and clothing. He satisfied himself with what little he had earned. Some time later the good friend happened to see him. He said, ‘Alas, man! Why have you had such difficulty in getting food and clothing? I fastened a priceless gem inside your garment on a certain day of a certain month of a certain year so that you might live peacefully and satisfy your five desires. The gem is still there, and you do not notice it. You are working hard, and worrying about your livelihood. What a fool you are! Trade that gem for what you want! You will not be short of anything you want.’

“You, the Buddha, are like his friend. We thought that we had attained extinction when we attained Arhatship because we forgot that we had been taught to aspire for the knowledge of all things by you when you were a Bodhisattva just as the man who had difficulty in earning his livelihood satisfied himself with what little he had earned. You, the World-Honored One, saw that the aspiration for the knowledge of all things was still latent in our minds; therefore, you awakened us, saying, ‘Bhikṣus! What you had attained was not perfect extinction. I caused you to plant the good root of Buddhahood a long time ago. [You have forgotten this; therefore,] I expounded the teaching of Nirvāṇa as an expedient. You thought that you had attained true extinction when you attained the Nirvāṇa [which I taught you as an expedient].’

“World-Honored One! Now we see that we are Bodhisattvas in reality, and that we are assured of our future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. Therefore, we have the greatest joy that we have ever had.”

Not an Arhat by any stretch of the definition, I too feel great joy in finding this gem. What a fool I have been.

Day 12

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.

And later:

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

Day 11

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

The entire day is spent with the reaction to the light of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha’s enlightenment:

The Buddha said to the bhikṣus:

“When Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, 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 Brahman-heavenly-kings of each of the five hundred billion worlds of each of the 10 directions each realize something is up.

Let us go even to the end of one thousand billion worlds,
And find the place from where this light has come.
A Buddha may have appeared somewhere in the universe
In order to save the suffering beings.

Heavenly kings from each of the 10 directions descend on the Well-Composed World of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha to ask the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma:

Most Honorable of Gods and Men!
Turn the wheel of the unsurpassed Dharma,
Beat the drum of the Great Dharma,
Blow the conch-shell horn of the Great Dharma,
Send the rain of the Great Dharma,
And save innumerable living beings!
Devoting ourselves to you, we beg you.
Resound your profound teaching!

And as the Heavenly kings arrive they find Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha’s sixteen sons begging the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma.