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
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.”
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?’
“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?