Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.
Having last month opened Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, we consider the 50th person’s reward.
“Suppose the Jambudvipa was filled with wonderful treasures such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, shell, agate, coral and amber; elephant-carts and horse-carts; and palaces and stately buildings made of the even treasures. Suppose a man who was seeking merits gave all those pleasing things [filling the Jambudvipa] to the living beings of four hundred billion asaṃkhya worlds according to their wishes. A world consists of the six regions. The living beings [of the six regions] are of one or another of the four kinds of births: oviparous, viviparous, from moisture, or without any medium. Some of them have form while others do not. Some have desire while others do not. Some have no feet while other have two feet or four or more. Having continued giving those alms to them for eighty years, this great almsgiver thought, ‘I gave those pleasing things to them according to their wishes. Now they are old and decrepit. They are more than eighty years old. Their hair is grey; and their face , wrinkled. They will die before long. I will lead them by the Dharma of the Buddha.’
“Then he collected them. He propagated the Dharma to them, led them by the Dharma, showed them the Dharma, taught them, benefited them, and caused them to rejoice. He caused them to attain in a moment the enlightenment of the Srota-āpanna, of the Sakrdāgāmin, of the Anāgāmin or of the Arhat, eliminate all āsravas, practice deep dhyāna-concentration without hindrance, and obtain the eight emancipations. What do you think of this? Do you think that the merits obtained by this great alms giver were many or not?”
Maitreya said to the Buddha:
“World-Honored One! I think that his merits were many, immeasurable and limitless. His merits were already immeasurable when he gave all those pleasing things to them. Needless to say, so were his merits when he caused them to attain Arhatship.”
The Buddha said to Maitreya:
“Now I will tell you clearly. The merits of the person who gave all those pleasing things to the living beings of the six regions of four hundred billion asaṃkhya worlds, and caused them to attain Arhatship are less than the merit of the fiftieth person who rejoices at hearing even a gāthā of this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma. The merits of the former person are less than a hundredth or a thousandth of the merits of the latter person, or less than the merits of the latter person divided by a hundred thousand billion. [The superiority of the merits of the latter person to those of the former person] cannot be explained by any calculation, parable or simile.
The Daily Dharma from March 29, 2016, offers this:
The Buddha gives this explanation to Maitreya (whom he calls Ajita – Invincible) in Chapter Eighteen of the Lotus Sūtra. He compares the benefit created by someone who teaches innumerable beings and makes exorbitant offerings through following the pre-Lotus sūtras to the benefits of finding joy in the Buddha’s Highest teaching. This joy is not the same as just getting what we want, or being relieved from what we do not want. It is the joy of seeing the world for what it is, and our place in it as Bodhisattvas who exist for the benefit of all beings.
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