Part 2b (including chapters from 5 to 10)


Translator: Burton Watson


CHAPTER FIVE

THE PARABLE OF THE MEDICAL HERBS

 

At that time the World-Honored One said to Mahakashyapa and the other major disciples: Excellent, excellent, Kashyapa. You have given an excellent description of the true blessings of the Thus Come One. It is just as you have said. The Thus Come One indeed has immeasurable, boundless, asamkhyas of blessings, and though you and the others were to spend immeasurable millions of kalpas in the effort, you could never finish describing them.

Kashyapa, you should understand this. The Thus Come One is king of the doctrines. In what he preaches, there is nothing that is vain. With regard to all the various doctrines, he employs wisdom as an expedient means in expounding them. Therefore the doctrines that he expounds all extends to the point where there is comprehensive wisdom. The Thus Come One observes and understands the end to which all doctrines tend. And he also understands the workings of the deepest mind of all living beings, penetrating them completely and without hindrance. And with regard to the doctrines he is thoroughly enlightened, and he reveals to living beings the totality of wisdom.

Kashyapa, it is like the plants and trees, thickets and groves, and the medicinal herbs, widely ranging in variety, each with its own name and hue, that grow in the hills and streams, the valleys and different soils of the thousand-millionfold world. Dense clouds spread over them, covering the entire thousand-millionfold world and in one moment saturating it all. The moisture penetrates to all the plants, trees, thickets and groves, and medicinal herbs equally, to their big roots, big stems, big limbs and big leaves. Each of the trees, big and small, depending upon whether it is superior, middling or inferior in nature, receives its allotment. The rain falling from one blanket of clouds accords with each particular species and nature, causing it to sprout and mature, to blossom and bear fruit. Though all these plants and trees grow in the same earth and moistened by the same rain, each has its differences and particulars.

Kashyapa, you should understand that the Thus Come One is like this. He appears in the world like a great cloud rising up. With a loud voice he penetrates to all the heavenly and human beings and the asuras of the entire world, like a great cloud spreading over the thousand-millionfold lands. And in the midst of the great assembly, he addresses these words, saying: I am the Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One. Those who have not yet crossed over I will cause to cross over, those not yet freed I will free, those not yet at rest I will put to rest, those not yet in nirvana I will cause to attain nirvana. Of this existence and future existences I understand the true circumstances. I am one who knows all things, sees all things, understands the way, opens up the way, preaches the way. You heavenly and human beings, asuras and others, you must all come here so that I may let you hear the Dharma!

At that time living beings of countless thousands, ten thousands, millions of species come to the place where the Buddha is, to listen to the Dharma. The Thus Come One then observes whether they are diligent in their efforts or lazy. And in accordance with each is capable of hearing, he preaches the Law for them in an immeasurable variety of ways so that all of them are delighted and are able to gain excellent benefits there-from.

Once these living beings have heard the Law, they will enjoy peace and security in their present existence and good circumstances in future existences, when they will receive joy through the way and again be able to hear the Law. And having heard the Law, they will escape from obstacles and hindrances, and with regard to the various doctrines will be able to exercise their powers to the fullest, so that gradually they can enter into the way. It is like the rain falling from that great cloud upon all the plants and trees, thickets and groves, and medicinal herbs. Each, depending upon its species and nature, receives its full share of moistening and is enabled to sprout and grow.

The Law preached by the Thus Come One is of one form, one flavor, namely, the form of emancipation, the form of separation, the form of extinction, which in the end comes down to a wisdom embracing all species. When the living beings hear the law of the Thus Come One, though they may embrace, read and recite it, and practice it as it dictates, they themselves do not realize or understand the blessings they are gaining thereby. Why is this? Because only the Thus Come One understands the species, the form, the substance, the nature of these living beings, he knows what things they dwell on, what things they ponder, that things they practice. He knows what Law they dwell on, what Law they ponder, what Law they practice, through what Law they attain what Law.

Living beings exist in a variety of environments, but only the Thus Come One sees the true circumstances and fully understands them without hindrance. It is like those plants and trees, thickets and groves, and medicinal herbs which do not themselves know whether they are superior, middling or inferior in nature. But the Thus Come One knows that this is the Law of one form, one flavor, namely, the form of emancipation, the form of separation, the form of extinction, the form of ultimate nirvana, of constant tranquility and emptiness. The Buddha understands all this. But because he can see the desires that are in the minds of living beings, he guides and protects them, and for this reason does not immediately preach to them the wisdom that embraces all species.

You and the others, Kashyapa, have done a very rare thing, for you can understand how the Thus Come One preaches the Law in accordance with what is appropriate, you can have faith in it, you can accept it. Why do I say this? Because the fact that the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, preach the Law in accordance with what is appropriate is hard to comprehend, hard to understand.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

The Dharma King, destroyer of being,
when he appears in the world
accords with the desires of living beings,
preaching the Law in a variety of ways.
The Thus Come One, worthy of honor and reverence,
is profound and far-reaching in wisdom.
For long he remained silent regarding the essential,
in no hurry to speak at once.
If those who are wise hear of it
they can believe and understand it,
but those without wisdom will have doubts and regrets
and for all time will remain in error.
For this reason, Kashyapa,
he adjusts to the person to gain a correct view.
Kashyapa, you should understand
that it is like a great cloud
that rises up in the world
and covers it all over.

This beneficent cloud is laden with moisture,
the lightening gleams and flashes,
and the sound of thunder reverberates afar,
causing the multitude to rejoice.
The sun’‘‘s rays are veiled and hidden,
a clear coolness comes over the land;
masses of darkness descend and spread-
you can almost touch them.

The rain falls everywhere,
coming down on all four sides,
its flow and saturation are measureless,
reaching to every area of the earth,
to the ravines and valleys of the mountains and streams,
to the remote and secluded places where grow
plants, bushes, medicinal herbs,
trees large and small,
a hundred grains, rice seedlings,
sugar cane, grape vines.

The rain moistens them all,
none ails to receive its full share,
the parched ground is everywhere watered,
herbs and trees alike grow lush.

What falls from the cloud
is water of a single flavor,
but the plants and trees, thickets and groves,
each accept the moisture that is appropriate to its portion.

All the various trees,
whether superior, middling or inferior,
take that is fitting for large or small
and each is enabled to sprout and grow.
Root, stem, limb, leaf,
the glow and hue of flower and fruit-
one rain extends to them
and all are able to become fresh and glossy,
whether their allotment
of substance, form and nature is large or small,
the moistening they receive is one,
but each grows and flourishes in its own way.

The Buddha is like this
when he appears in the world,
comparable to a great cloud
that covers all things everywhere,
Having appeared in the world,
for the sake of living beings
he makes distinctions in expounding
the truth regarding phenomena.
The great sage, the World-Honored One,
to heavenly and human beings,
in the midst of all beings,
pronounces these words:
I am the Thus Come One,
most honored of two-legged beings.
I appear in the world
like a great cloud
that showers moisture upon
all the dry and withered living beings,
so that all are able to escape suffering,
gain the joy of peace and security,
the joys of this world
and the joy of nirvana.
All you heavenly and human beings of this assembly,
listen carefully and with one mind!
All of you should gather around
and observe the one of unexcelled honor.
A am the World-Honored One,
none can rival me.

In order to bring peace and security to living beings
I have appeared it the world
and for the sake of this great assembly
I preach the sweet dew of the pure Law.
This Law is of a single flavor,
that of emancipation, nirvana.
With a single wonderful sound
I expound and unfold its meaning;
constantly for the sake of the Great Vehicle
I create causes and conditions.

I look upon all things
as being universally equal,
I have no mind to favor this or that,
to love one or hate another.
I am without greed or attachment
and without limitation or hindrance.
At all times, for all things
I preach the Law equally;
as I would for a single person,
that same way I do for numerous persons,
constantly I expound and preach the Law,
never have I done anything else,
coming, going, sitting, standing,
never to the end growing weary or disheartened.
I bring fullness and satisfaction to the world,
like rain that spreads its moisture everywhere,
Eminent and lowly, superior and inferior,
observers of precepts, violators of precepts,
those fully endowed with proper demeanor,
those not fully endowed,
those of correct views, of erroneou
s views,
of keen capacity, of dull capacity-
I cause the Dharma rain on all equally,
never lax or neglectful.
When all the various living beings
hear my Law,
they receive it according to their power,
dwelling in their different environments.
Some inhabit the realm of human and heavenly beings,
of wheel-turning sage kings,
Shakra, Brahma ane the other kings-
these are the inferior medicinal herbs.
Some understand the Law of no outflows,
are able to attain nirvana,
to acquire the six transcendental powers
and gain in particular the three understandings,
or live alone in mountain forests,
constantly practicing meditation
and gaining the enlightenment of pratyekabuddhas-
these are the middling medicinal herbs.
Still others seek the place of the World-Honored One,
convinced that they can become Buddhas,
putting forth diligent effort and practicing meditation-
these are the superior medicinal herbs.
Again there are sons of the Buddha
who devote their minds solely to the Buddha way,
constantly practicing mercy and compassion,
knowing that they themselves will attain Buddhahood,
certain of it and never doubting-
these I call small trees.
Those who abide in peace in their transcendental powers,
turning the wheel of non-regression,
saving innumerable millions
of hundreds of thousands of living beings-
bodhisattvas such as these
I call large trees.
The equality of the Buddha’s preaching
is like a rain of a single flavor,
but depending upon the nature of the living being,
the way in which it is received is not uniform,
just as the various plants and trees
each receive the moisture in a different manner.
The Buddha employs this parable
as an excellent means to open up and reveal the matter,
using various kinds of words and phrases
and expounding the single Law,
but in terms of the Buddha wisdom
this is no more than one drop of the ocean.
I rain down the Dharma rain,
filling the whole world,
and this single-flavored Dharma
is practiced by each according to the individual’s power.

It is like those thickets and groves,
medicinal herbs and trees
which, according to whether they are large or small,
bit by bit grow lush and beautiful.

The Law of the Buddhas
is constantly of a single flavor,
causing the many worlds
to attain full satisfaction everywhere;
by practicing gradually and stage by stage,
all beings can gain the fruits of the way.

The voice-hearers and pratyekabuddhas
inhabit the mountain forests,
dwelling in their final existence,
hearing the Law and gaining its fruits-
we may call them medicinal herbs
that grow and mature each in its own way,
if there are Bodhisattvas
who are steadfast and firm in wisdom,
who fully comprehend the threefold world
and seek the supreme vehicle,
these we call the small trees
that achieve growth and maturity.
Again there are those who dwell in meditation,
who have gained the strength of transcendental powers,
have heard of the emptiness of all phenomena,
greatly rejoice in it in their minds
and emit countless rays of light
to save living beings-
these we call large trees
that have gained growth and maturity
In this way, Kashyapa,
the Law preached by the Buddha
is comparable to a great cloud
which, with a single-flavored rain,
moistens human flowers
so that each is able to bear fruit.

Kashyapa, you should understand
that through various causes and conditions,
various kinds of simile and parable,
I open up and reveal the Buddha way.
This is an expedient means I employ
and the same is true of the other Buddhas.

Now for you and the others
I preach the utmost truth:
none in the Multitude of voice-hearers
has entered the stage of extinction.
What you are practicing
is the bodhisattva way,
and as you gradually advance in practice and learning
you are all certain to attain Buddhahood.

 

    

CHAPTER SIX

BESTOWAL OF PROPHECY

     At that time the World-Honored One, having finished reciting these verses, made an announcement to the great assembly, speaking in these words: This disciple of mine Mahakashyapa in future existences will be able to enter the presence of three thousand billion Buddhas, World-Honored Ones, to offer alms, pay reverence, honor and praise them, widely proclaiming the innumerable great doctrines of the Buddhas. And in his final incarnation he will be able to become a Buddha named Light Bright Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One.

His land will be called Light Virtue and his kalpa will be called Great Adornment. The life span of this Buddha will be twelve small kalpas. His Correct Law will endure in the world for twenty small kalpas, and his Counterfeit Law for twenty small kalpas.

His realm will be majestically adorned, free of defilement or evil, shards or rubble, thorns or briers, or the unclean refuse of latrines. The land will be level and smooth, without high places or sags, pits or knolls. The ground will be of lapis lazuli, with rows of jeweled trees and ropes of gold to mark the boundaries of the roads. Jeweled flowers will be scattered around, and everywhere will be pure and clean. The bodhisattvas of that realm will number countless thousands of millions, and the multitude of voice-hearers will likewise be innumerable. There will be no workings of the devil, and although the devil and the devil’‘‘s people will be there, they will protect the Law of the Buddha.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

I announce this to the monks:
when I employ the Buddha eye
to observe Kashyapa here,
I see that in a future existence,
after innumerable kalpas have passed,
he will be able to attain Buddhahood.
In future existences
he will offer alms and enter the presence
of three thousand billion
Buddhas, World-Honored Ones.

For the sake of the Buddha wisdom
he will carry out brahma practices meticulously
and will offer alms to the unexcelled ones,
the most honored of two-legged beings.

After he has done so. And has practiced
all the unsurpassed types of wisdom,
in his final incarnation
he will be able to become a Buddha.

His land will be pure and clean,

the ground of lapis lazuli.
Many jeweled trees
will line the roadsides,
with golden ropes to mark the roads,
and those who see it will rejoice.
It will constantly emit a pleasing fragrance,
with heaps of rare flowers scattered around
and many kinds of strange and wonderful things
for its adornment.
The land will be level and smooth,
without hills or depressions.
The multitude of bodhisattvas
will be beyond calculation,
their minds subdued and gentle,
having attained great transcendental powers,
and they will uphold and embrace
the Great Vehicle scriptures of the Buddhas.
The multitude of voice-hearers
will be free of outflows, in their last incarnation,
sons of the Dharma King,
and their number too will be beyond calculation-
even when one looks with the heavenly eye
one cannot determine their number.
This Buddha will have a life span
of twelve small kalpas,
and his Counterfeit Law
for twenty small kalpas.
Light Bright World-Honored One
will be of this description.

At that time the great Maudgaly~yana, Subhuti and Mahakatyayana, all of them trembling with agitation, pressed their palms together with a single mind and gazed up at the World-Honored One, their eyes never leaving him for an instant. Joining their voices in a single sound, they spoke in verse form, saying:

Great hero and stalwart, World-Honored One,
Dharma King of the Shakyas,
because you have pity on us,
favor us with the Buddha voice!
If, because you understand our innermost minds,
it would be like sweet dew bathing us,
washing away fever and imparting coolness.
Suppose that someone coming from a land of famine
should suddenly encounter a great king’‘‘s feast.
His heart still filled with doubt and fear,
he would not dare to eat the food at once,
but if he were instructed by the king to do so,
then he would venture to eat.
We now are like such a person,
for whenever we recall the errors of the Lesser Vehicle,
we do not know what we should do
to gain the Buddha’‘‘s unsurpassed wisdom.
Though we hear the Buddha’‘‘s voice
telling us that we will attain Buddhahood,
in our hearts we still harbor anxiety and fear,
like that person who did not dare to eat.
But now if the Buddha’‘‘s prophecy is bestowed upon us,
then joy and peace of mind will quickly be ours.
Great hero and stalwart, World-Honored One,
your constant desire to set the world at ease.
We beg you to bestow such a prophecy on us,
as you would instruct a starving person to eat.

At that time the World-Honored One, understanding the thoughts in the minds of his major disciples, made this announcement to the monks: Subhuti here in future existences will enter the presence of three hundred ten thousand million nayutas of Buddhas, offering alms, paying reverence, honoring and praising them. He will constantly carry out brahma practices and fulfill the bodhisattva way, and in his final incarnation he will be able to attain Buddhahood. His title will be Rare Form Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One. His kalpa will be named Possessed of Jewels and his realm will be named Jewel Born. The land will be level and smooth, the ground made of crystal, it will be adorned with jeweled trees and be free of hills and pits, rubble and thorns and the filth from latrines. Jeweled flowers will cover the ground and everywhere will be pure and clean. The people of his realm will all dwell on jeweled terraces, in rare and wonderful towers and pavilions. His voice-hearer disciples will be countless, boundless, beyond the scope of calculation or simile. The multitude of bodhisattvas will number countless thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas. The life span of this Buddha will be twelve small kalpas, his Correct Law will endure in the world for twenty small kalpas, and his Counterfeit Law for twenty small kalpas. This Buddha will constantly dwell in midair, preaching the Law for the assembly and saving numberless multitudes of bodhisattvas and voice-hearers.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

You multitude of monks,
I now announce this to you.
All of you with a single mind
should hear what I say,
My major disciple
Subhuti
is destined to become a Buddha
with the title Rare Form.
He will offer alms to countless
tens of thousands and millions of Buddhas.
By following the practices of the Buddhas
he will gradually fulfill the great way,
and in his final incarnation
will acquire the thirty-two features.
He will be imposing, exceptional, wonderful,
like a jeweled mountain.
His Buddha land
will be foremost in adornment and purity;
no living beings who sees it
will fail to love and delight in it.
There in the midst, that Buddha
will save unreckonable multitudes.
In that Buddha’‘‘s Law
will be many bodhisattvas,
all of them with keen capacities,
turning the wheel of non-regression.
That land will constantly
be adorned with bodhisattvas.
The multitude of voice-hearers
will be beyond calculation,
all gaining the three understandings
and exercising the six transcendental powers.
They will dwell in the eight emancipations
and possess great authority and virtue.
The Law preached by that Buddha
will manifest immeasurable
transcendental powers and transformations
of a wondrous nature.
Heavenly and human beings
in numbers like the Ganges sands
will all press their palms together,
listen to and receive the Buddha’‘‘s words.
That Buddha will have a life span
of twelve small kalpas,
his Correct Law will endure in the world
for twenty small kalpas
and his counterfeit Law
for twenty small kalpas.

At that time the World-Honored One once more spoke to the multitude of monks: Now I say this to you. Great Katyayana here in future existences will present various articles as offerings and will serve eight thousand million Buddhas, paying honor and reverence ta them. After these Buddhas have passed into extinction, he will raise a memorial tower for each one measuring a thousand yojanas in height and exactly five hundred yojanas in both width and depth. It will be made of gold, silver lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl and carnelian, with these seven precious substances joined together. Numerous flowers, necklaces, paste incense, powdered incense, incense for burning, silken canopies, streamers and banners will be presented as offerings to the memorial towers. And after this has been done, he will once more make offerings to twenty thousands of millions of Buddhas, and will repeat the entire process.

When he has finished offering alms to all the Buddhas, he will fulfill the way of the bodhisattva and will become a Buddha with the title Jambunada Gold Light Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One.

His land will be level and smooth, the ground made of crystal, adorned with jeweled trees, with ropes of gold to mark the boundaries of the roads. Wonderful flowers will cover the ground, everywhere will be pure and clean, and all who see it will rejoice. The four evil paths of existence, hell and the realms of hungry spirits, beasts and asuras, will not exist there. There will be many heavenly and human beings, and multitudes of voice-hearers and bodhisattvas in innumerable tens of thousands of millions will adorn the land. That Buddha’‘‘s life span will be twelve small kalpas, his Correct Law will endure in the world for twenty small kalpas, and his Counterfeit Law will endure in the world for twenty small kalpas.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

You multitude of monks,
listen all of you with a single mind,
for in what I speak
there is nothing that departs from the truth.

Katyayana here
will give various kinds
of fine and wonderful articles
as offerings to the Buddhas,
and after the Buddhas have entered extinction
he will raise seven-jeweled towers
and present flowers and incense
as offerings to their relics.

And in his final incarnation
he will gain Buddha wisdom
and achieve impartial and correct enlightenment.

His land will be pure and clean
and he will save innumerable
ten thousands of millions of living beings,
and will receive offerings
from all the ten directions,
This Buddha’s brilliance
no one will be able to equal.

His Buddha title will be
Jambu Gold Light.
Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers,
cutting off all forms of existence,
countless and immeasurable in number,
will adorn his land.

At that time the World-Honored One spoke to the great assembly: Now I say to you. Great Maudgalyayana here will present various kinds of articles as offerings to eight thousand Buddhas, paying honor and reverence to them. After these Buddhas have passed into extinction, for each of them he will raise a memorial tower measuring a thousand yojanas in height and exactly five hundred yojanas in width and depth. It will be made of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl, and carnelian, with these seven precious substances joined together. Numerous flowers, necklaces, paste incense, and powdered incense, incense for burning, silken canopies, streamers and banners will be presented as offerings. After this has been done, he will also make offerings to two hundred ten thousand million Buddhas, repeating the process.

Then he will be able to become a Buddha with the title Tamalapatra Sandalwood Fragrance Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One. His kalpa will be named Joy Replete and his realm Mind Delight. The land will be level and smooth, the ground made of crystal, jeweled trees will adorn it, pearls and flowers will be scattered around, everywhere will be pure and clean, and all who see it will rejoice. There will be many heavenly and human beings, and the bodhisattvas and voice-hearers will be immeasurable in number. That Buddha’‘‘s life span will be twenty-four small kalpas, his Correct Law will endure in the world for forty small kalpas, and his counterfeit Law for forty small kalpas.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

This disciple of mine,
the great Maudgalyayana,
when he has cast off his present body,
will be able to see eight thousand,
two hundred ten thousand million
Buddhas, World-Honored Ones,
and for the sake of the Buddha way
will offer alms, honor and reverence them.
Where these Buddhas are
he will constantly carry out brahma practices
and for immeasurable kalpas
will uphold and embrace the Buddha law,
When these Buddhas have passed into extinction
be will raise seven-jeweled towers,
with golden implements to mark the spot for all time
and flowers, incense and music
presented as offerings
in the memorial towers of the Buddhas.
Step by step he will fulfill
all the duties of the bodhisattva way
and in the land called Mind Delight
will be able to become a Buddha
named Tamalapatra
Sandalwood Fragrance.
This Buddha’‘‘s life span
will be twenty-four kalpas.
Constantly for the sake of heavenly and human beings
he will expound the Buddha way.
Voice-hearers innumerable
as Ganges sands,
with the three understandings and six transcendental powers,
will display great authority and virtue.
Countless bodhisattvas
will be of firm will, diligent in effort,
and with regard to the Buddha wisdom
non will ever retrogress.
After this Buddha has passed into extinction,
his Correct Law will endure
for forty small kalpas,
and his Counterfeit law will be likewise.
My various disciples,
fully endowed with dignity and virtue,
number five hundred,
and every one will receive such a prophecy.
In a future existence
all will be able to attain Buddhahood.
Concerning the causes and conditions of past existences
as they pertain to me and you
I will now preach.
You must listen carefully.

    

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

THE PARABLE OF THE PHANTOM CITY

 

     The Buddha made this announcement to the monks: Once in the distant past, an immeasurable, boundless, inconceivable asamkhya number of kalpas ago, there was at that time a Buddha named Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One. His land was named Well Constituted and his kalpa was named Great Form.

Now monks, since that Buddha passed into extinction, a very great, a very long time had passed. Suppose, for example, that someone took all the earth particles in the thousand-million-fold world and ground the up to make ink powder, and as he passed through the thousand lands of the east, he dropped one grain of the ink powder no bigger in size than a speck of dust. Again., when he passed through another thousand lands, he dropped another grain of ink. Suppose he went on in this way until he had finished dropping all the grains of the ink made from the earth particles. Now what is your opinion? Do you think that, with regard to those lands, the masters of calculation or the disciples of calculation would be able to determine the number of lands that had been visited in the process, or would they not?

That would be impossible, World-Honored One.

Now monks suppose that one should take the earth of all the lands this man had passed through, whether he dropped a grain of ink there or not, and should pound it into dust. And suppose that one particle of dust should represent one kalpa. The kalpas that had elapsed since that Buddha entered extinction would still exceed the number of dust particles by immeasurable, boundless, hundreds, thousands, ten thousands millions of asamkhya kalpas. But because I employ the Thus Come One’‘‘s power to know and see, when I look at that far-off time it seems like today.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

When I think of it, in the past,
immeasurable, boundless kalpas ago,
there was a Buddha, most honored of two-legged beings,
named Great Universal Wisdom Excellence.
If a person should use his strength to smash
the ground of the thousand-million-fold world,
should completely crush its earth particles
and reduce them all to powdered ink,
and if when he passed through a thousand lands
he should drop one speck of ink,
and if he continued in this manner
until he had exhausted all the specks of ink,
and if one then took the soil of the lands he had passed
through,
both those he dropped a speck in and those he did not,
and once more ground their earth into dust,
and then took one grain of dust to represent one kalpa-
the number of tiny grains of dust would be less
than the number of kalpas in the past when that Buddha lived.
Since that Buddha passed into extinction,
an immeasurable number of kalpas such as this have passed.
The Thus Come One, through his unhindered wisdom,
knows the time when that Buddha passed into extinction
and his voice-hearers and bodhisattvas
as though he were witnessing that extinction right now.
You monks should understand
that the Buddha wisdom is pure, subtle, wonderful,
without outflows, without hindrance,
reaching to and penetrating immeasurable kalpas.

The Buddha announced to the monks: The Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellent had a life span of five hundred and forty ten thousand million nayutas of kalpas. This Buddha at first sat in the place of practice and, having smashed the armies of the devil, was on the point of attaining anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, but the doctrines of the Buddhas did not appear before him. This state continued for one small kalpa, and so on for ten small kalpas, the Buddha sitting with legs crossed, body and mind unmoving, but the doctrines of the Buddhas still did not appear before him.

At that time the heavenly beings of the Trayastrimsha heaven had earlier spread a lion seat measuring one yojana in height underneath a bodhi tree for the Buddha, intending that the Buddha should sit on this when he attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. As soon as the Buddha took his seat there, the Brahma kings caused a multitude of heavenly flowers to rain down, covering the ground for a hundred yojanas around. From time to time a fragrant wind would come up and blow the withered flowers away, whereupon new ones would rain down. This continued without interruption for the space of ten small kalpas as an offering to the Buddha. Up until the time he entered extinction, such flowers constantly rained down. The four Heavenly Kings as their offering to the Buddha constantly beat on heavenly drums, while the other heavenly beings played heavenly musical instruments, all for ten small kalpas. Until the Buddha entered extinction, such was the state of affairs.

Now, monks, the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence passed ten small kalpas before him and he was able to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Before the Buddha left the householder’s life, he had sixteen sons, the first of whom was named Wisdom Accumulated. These sons, each had various kinds of rare objects and toys of one kind or another, but when they heard that their father had attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, they all threw aside their rare objects and went to where the Buddha was. Their mothers, weeping, followed after them.

Their grandfather, who was a wheel-turning sage king, along with a hundred chief ministers, as well as hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million of his subjects, all together surrounded the sons and followed to the place of practice, all wishing to draw close to the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One, to offer alms, pay honor, venerate and praise him. When they arrived. They touched their heads to the ground and bowed before his feet. When they had finished circling the Buddha, they pressed their palms together with a single mind, gazed up in reverence at the World-Honored One, and recited these verses of praise, saying:

The World-Honored One, of great authority and virtue,
in order to save living beings
spent immeasurable millions of years
and at last succeeded in becoming a Buddha,
all your vows have now been fulfilled-
it is well-no fortune could be greater!
The World-Honored One is vary rarely met with;
having taken his seat, ten small kalpas pass,
his body and his hands and feet
rest in stillness, never moving,
his mind constantly calm and placid,
never in turmoil or disorder.
In the end he attains eternal tranquility and extinction,
resting in the Law of no outflows.
Now as we observe the World-Honored One
in tranquility, having completed the Buddha way,
we gain excellent benefits
and praise and congratulate him with great joy.
Living beings undergo constant suffering and anguish,
benighted, without teacher or guide,
not realizing there is a way to end suffering,
not knowing how to seek emancipation.
Through the long night increasingly they follow evil paths,
reducing the multitude of heavenly beings;
from darkness they enter into darkness,
to the end never hearing the Buddha’‘‘s name.
But now the Buddha has attained the unexcelled,
the tranquility of the Law of no outflows.
We and the heavenly and human beings
hereby obtain the greatest benefit.
For this reason all of us bow our heads,
dedicate our lives to the one of unexcelled honor.

At that time the sixteen princes, having praised the Buddha in these verses, urged the World-Honored One to turn the wheel of the Law, speaking all together in these words: World-Honored One, expound the law. By doing so, you will bring tranquility to and will comfort and benefit heavenly and human beings in large measure. They repeated this request in verse form, saying:

World hero without peer,
you who adorn yourself with a hundred blessings,
you have attained unsurpassed wisdom--
we beg you to preach for the sake of the world.

Save and free us
and other kinds of living beings.
Draw distinctions, enlighten us
and allow us to attain wisdom.
If we can gain Buddhahood,
then all living beings can do likewise.
World-Honored One, you know the thoughts
that living beings hold deep in their minds.

You know the paths they tread

and you know the strength of their wisdom,
their pleasures, the blessings they have cultivated,
the actions they have carried out in past existences,
World-Honored One, all this you know already-
now you must turn the unsurpassed wheel!

The Buddha announced to the monks: When the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, five hundred ten thousand million Buddha worlds in each of the ten directions trembled and shook in six different ways. The dark and secluded places within those lands, where the light of the sun and moon is never able to penetrate, were able to see one another, and they all exclaimed, saying, "How is it that living beings have suddenly come into existence in this place?"

Also the palaces of the various heavenly beings in those lands and the Brahma palaces trembled and shook in six different ways and a great light shone everywhere, completely filling the worlds and surpassing the light of the heavens. At that time in five hundred ten thousand million lands in the eastern direction the Brahma palaces shone with the brilliant light that was twice its ordinary brightness, and the Brahma kings each thought to himself. Now the brilliance of the palace is greater than ever in the past. What can be the cause of this phenomenon?

At that time the Brahma kings visited one another to discuss this matter. Among them was a great Brahma king named Save All who, on behalf of the multitude of Brahma kings, spoke these verses, saying:

Our palaces have a brilliance
never known in the past.
What is the cause of this?
Each of us seeks an answer.
Is it because of the birth of some heavenly being of great virtue,
or because the Buddha has appeared in this world
that this great light
shines everywhere in the ten directions?

At that time the Brahma kings of five hundred ten thousand million lands, accompanied by their palaces, each king taking his outer robe and filling it with heavenly flowers, journeyed together to the western region to observe the signs there. They saw the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One in the place of practice, seated on a lion seat underneath a bodhi tree, with heavenly beings, dragon kings, gandharvas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human, and nonhuman beings surrounding him and paying reverence. And they saw the sixteen princes entreating the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Law.

At once the Brahma kings touched their heads to the ground and bowed before the Buddha, circled around him a hundred thousand times, and took the heavenly flowers and scattered them over the Buddha. The flowers they scattered piled up like Mount Sumeru. They also offered them as alms to the Buddha’s bodhi tree. This bodhi tree was ten yojanas in height. When they had finished offering the flowers, each one took his place and presented it to the Buddha, speaking these words: "We hope you will bestow comfort and benefit on us. We beg you to accept and occupy these palaces that we present."

At that time the Brahma kings, in the presence of the Buddha, with a single mind and joined voices recited these verses of praise:

World-Honored One, vary rarely met with,
one whom it is difficult to encounter,
endowed with immeasurable blessings,
capable of saving everyone,
great teacher of heavenly and human beings,
you bestow pity and comfort on the world.
Living beings in the ten directions
all receive benefit everywhere.
In the five hundred ten thousand million lands
from which we come,
we have put aside the joy of deep meditation
in order to offer alms to the Buddha,
Because of our good fortune in previous existences
our palaces are very richly adorned.
Now we present them to the World-Honored One,
begging that he be kind enough to accept them.

At that time, when the Brahma kings had finished praising the Buddha in verse, they each spoke these words: "We beg the World-Honored One to turn the wheel of the Law, save living beings, and open up the way to nirvana!"

Then the Brahma kings with a single mind and joined voices spoke in verse form, saying:

World hero, most honored of two-legged beings,
we beg you to expound the Law,
Through the power of your great mercy and compassion,
save living beings in their suffering and anguish!

At that time the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One silently agreed to do so. Now, monks, in five hundred ten thousand million lands in the southeast, the Brahma kings each observed that his palace was shining with a brilliant light such as had never been known in the past. Dancing for joy, entering a frame of mind seldom experienced, they went about visiting one another and discussing these things together.

At that time there was among the assembly a great Brahma king named Great Compassion who on behalf of the multitude of Brahma kings, spoke in verse form, saying:

What cause is in operation
that such a sign should be manifest?
Our palaces display a brilliance
never known before.
Is it because of the birth of some heavenly being of great virtue,
or because the Buddha has appeared in the world?
We have never seen such a sign
and with a single mind we seek the reason.
Though we must travel a thousand, ten thousand a million lands,
together we will search out the cause of this light.
Likely it is because a Buddha has appeared in the world
to save living beings in their suffering.

At that time the five hundred ten thousand million brahma kings, accompanied by their palaces, each king taking his outer robe and filling it with heavenly flowers, journeyed together to the northwestern region to observe the signs there. They saw the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One in the place of practice, seated on a lion seat beneath a bodhi tree, with heavenly beings, dragon kings, gandharvas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings surrounding him and paying reverence. And they saw the sixteen princes entreating the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Law.

At once the Brahma kings touched their heads to the ground and bowed before the Buddha, circled him a hundred thousand times, and then took the heavenly flowers and scattered them over the Buddha. The flowers they scattered piled up like Mount Sumeru. They also offered them as alms to the Buddha’s bodhi tree. When they had finished offering the flowers, each one took his palace and presented it to the Buddha, speaking these words: "We hope you will bestow comfort and benefit on us. We beg you to accept and occupy these palaces that we present."

At that time the Brahma kings, in the presence of the Buddha, with a single mind and joined voices recited these verses of praise:

Sage lord, heavenly being among heavenly beings,
voiced like the kalavinka bird,
you who pity and comfort living beings,
we now pay honor and reverence.
The World-Honored One is vary rarely met with,
appearing only once in many long ages.

One hundred and eighty kalpas
have passed in vain without a Buddha,
when the three evil paths were everywhere
and the multitude of heavenly beings was reduced in number.
Now the Buddha has appeared in the world
to be an eye for living beings.

The world will hurry to him
and he will save and guard one and all.
He will be a father to living beings,
comforting and benefiting them.

We through the good fortune of past existences,
now we are able to encounter the World-Honored One!

At that time, after the Brahma kings had recited these verses in praise of the Buddha, they each spoke these words: We beg the World-Honored One to pity and comfort one and all, to turn the wheel of the Law and cause the heavenly beings

Then the Brahma kings with a single mind and joined voices spoke in verse form, saying:

Great sage, turn the wheel of the Law,
reveal the characteristics of teachings,
save living beings in their suffering and anguish,
allow them to attain great joy.
When living beings hear this Law
they will gain the way or be reborn in heaven;
those in the evil paths will be reduced in number
and those patient in goodness will increase.

At that time the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One silently agreed to do so. Now, monks, in five hundred ten thousand million lands in the southern region the Brahma kings each observed that his palace was shining with a brilliant light such as had never been in the past. Dancing with joy, entering a frame of mind seldom experienced, they went about visiting with one another and discussing these things together, saying, "What is the reason our palaces put forth this brilliant light?"

Among their group there was a great Brahma king named Wonderful Law who, on behalf of the multitude of Brahma kings, spoke in verse form, saying:

Our palaces
shine with exceeding brilliance.
This cannot be without reason-
it is well we should inquire.

In the past hundred thousand kalpas
such a sign has never been seen.

It is because some heavenly being of great virtue has been born,
or because the Buddha has appeared in the world.

At that time the five hundred ten thousand million Brahma kings, accompanied by their palaces, each king taking his outer robe and filling it with heavenly flowers, journeyed together to the northern region to observe the signs there. They saw the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One in the place of practice, seated on a lion seat beneath a bodhi tree, with heavenly and human beings, dragon kings, gandharvas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings surrounding him and paying reverence. And they saw the sixteen princes entreating the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Law.

At that time the Brahma kings touched their heads to the ground and bowed before the Buddha, circled around him a hundred thousand times, and then took the heavenly flowers and scattered them over the Buddha. The flowers they scattered piled up like Mount Sumeru. They also offered them as alms to the Buddha’s bodhi tree. When they had finished offering the flowers, each one took his palace and presented it to the Buddha, speaking these words: "We hope you will bestow comfort and benefit on us. We beg you to accept and occupy these palaces that we present."

At that time the Brahma kings, in the presence of the Buddha, with a single mind and joined voices recited these verses of praise:

World-Honored One, most difficult to encounter,
destroyer of all earthly desires,
one hundred and thirty kalpas have pass
and now at last we can see you.
Living beings in their hunger and thirst
are made full with the rain of the Dharma.
One such as was never seen in the past,
one of immeasurable wisdom,
like the udumbara flower
today at last appears directly before us.

Our palaces because they receive your light
are wonderfully adorned.

World-Honored One, of great mercy and compassion,
we beg you to accept them.

At that time, after the Brahma kings had recited these verses in praise of the Buddha, they each spoke these words: "We beg the World-Honored One to turn the wheel of the Law and cause the heavenly beings, devils, Brahma kings, shramanas, and Brahmans throughout the world all to gain peace and tranquility and to attain salvation."

At that time the Brahma kings with a single mind and joined voices recited in praise, saying;

We beg the most honored of heavenly and human beings
to turn the wheel of the unsurpassed Law.
Strike the great Dharma drum,
blow the great Dharma conch,
rain down the great Dharma rain all around
to save immeasurable living beings!
We direct all our faith and entreaties to you-
let your profound and far-reaching voice sound out!

At that time the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One silently agreed to do so. In the southwestern region, and so an to the lower region, a similar succession of events occurred.

At that time in the upper region, the Brahma Kings of five hundred ten thousand million lands all observed that the palaces where they were residing shone with a brilliant light such as had never been known in the past. Dancing with joy, entering a frame of mind seldom experienced, they went about visiting one another and discussing these things together, saying, "What is the reason our palaces puts forth this bright light?"

Among their group there was a Brahma king named Wonderful Law who, on behalf of the multitude of Brahma kings, spoke in verse form, saying:

Now what is the reason
that our places
glow and shine with such authority and virtue,
adorned as never before?
A wonderful sign of this kind
has never been seen or heard of in the past.
It is because some heavenly being of great virtue has been born,
or because the Buddha has appeared in the world.

At that time the five hundred ten thousand million Brahma kings, accompanied by their palaces, each king taking his outer robe and filling it with heavenly flowers, journeyed together to the lower region to observe the signs there. They saw the Great Universal wisdom Excellence Thus Come One in the place of practice, seated on a lion seat beneath a bodhi tree, with heavenly beings, dragon kings, gandharvas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings surrounding him and paying reverence. And they saw the sixteen princes entreating the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Law.

At that time the Brahma kings touched their heads to the ground and bowed before the Buddha, circled around him a hundred thousand times, and then took the heavenly flowers and scattered them over the Buddha. The flowers they scattered piled up like Mount Sumeru. They also offered them as alms to the Buddha’‘‘s bodhi tree. When they had finished offering the flowers, each one took his place and presented it to the Buddha, speaking these words: "We hope you will bestow comfort and benefit on us. We beg you to accept and occupy these palaces that we present."

At that time the Brahma kings, in the presence of the Buddha, with a single mind and joined voices recited these verses of praise:

How fine, that we may see the Buddhas,
sage and venerable ones who save the world,
capable of rescuing and releasing living beings
from the hell of the threefold world!

Venerable among heavenly and human beings, of universal wisdom,
you pity and have mercy on the mass of burgeoning creatures,
you are capable of opening the gates of sweet dew
and broadly saving one and all.

Formerly, immeasurable kalpas
passed in vain when no Buddha was present.

The time had not yet come for the World-Honored One
to appear,
and all in the ten directions were in constant darkness.
Those in the three evil paths increased in number
and the realm of the asuras flourished;
the multitude of heavenly beings was reduced,
and many when they died fell into the evil paths.
Since no one could attend the Buddha and hear the Law,
constantly people followed ways that were not good
and their physical strength and wisdom
all diminished and declined.

Because of the sinful deeds they had done,
they lost all delight or the thought of delight.
They rested in heretical doctrines
and had no knowledge of good customs or rules.
Unable to be converted by the Buddha,
constantly they fell into the evil paths.
But now you, the Buddha, who will be the eye of the world,
after this long time have at last come forth.
In order to bring pity and comfort to living beings
you have appeared it the world.
You have transcended the world to gain correct enlightenment;
we are filled with delight and admiration.
We and all others in the assembly
rejoice, delighting in what we have never known before.
Our palaces because they receive your light
are wonderfully adorned.
Now we present them to the World-Honored One,
hoping he will have pity and accept them.
We beg that the merit gained through these gifts
may be spread far and wide to everyone,
so that we and other living beings
all together may attain the Buddha way.

At that time, after the five hundred ten thousand million Brahma kings had recited these verses in praise of the Buddha, they each spoke to the Buddha, saying: "We beg the World-Honored One to turn the wheel of the Law, bringing peace and tranquility to many, bringing salvation to many."  Then the Brahma kings spoke in verse form, saying:

World-Honored One, turn the wheel of the Law,
strike the Dharma drum of sweet dew,
save living beings in their suffering and anguish,
open up and show us the way to nirvana!
We beg you to accept our entreaties
and with a great, subtle and wonderful sound
to bring pity and comfort by expounding
the Law you have practiced for immeasurable kalpas.

At that time the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One, receiving entreaties from the Brahma kings of the ten directions and from the sixteen princes, immediately gave three turnings to the twelve-spoked wheel of the Law. Neither shramana, Brahman, heavenly being, devil, Brahma, nor any other being in the world was capable of such a turning. He said, "Here is suffering, here is the origin of suffering, here is the annihilation of suffering, here is the path on the annihilation of suffering."

Then he broadly expounded the Law of the twelve-linked chain of causation: ignorance causes action, action causes consciousness, consciousness causes name and form, name and form cause the six sense organs, the six sense organs cause contact, contact causes sensation, sensation causes desire, desire causes attachment, attachment causes existence, existence causes birth, birth causes old age and death, worry and grief, suffering and anguish. If ignorance is wiped out, then action will be wiped out. If action is wiped out, then consciousness will be wiped out. If consciousness is wiped out, then name and form will be wiped out. If name and form are wiped out, then the six sense organs will be wiped out, then contact will be wiped out. If contact is wiped out, then sensation will be wiped out. If sensation is wiped out, then desire is wiped out. If desire is wiped out, then birth will be wiped out. If birth is wiped out, then old age and death will be wiped out. If birth is wiped out, then old age and death, worry and grief, suffering and anguish will be wiped out.

When the Buddha in the midst of the great assembly of heavenly and human beings expounded this Law, six hundred ten thousand million nayutas of persons, because they ceased to accept any of the things of the phenomenal world and because their minds were able to attain liberation from the outflows, all achieved profound and wonderful meditation practice, acquired the three understandings and the six transcendental powers, and were endowed with the eight emancipations. And when he expounded the second, third and fourth Laws, living beings equal the a thousand ten thousand millions of Ganges sands of nayutas, because they likewise ceased to accept any of the things of the phenomenal world, were able to liberate their minds from the outflows. From that time on, the multitude of voice-hearers became immeasurable, boundless, incapable of being counted.

At that time the sixteen princes all left their families while still young boys and became shramaneras. Their faculties were penetrating and sharp, their wisdom was bright and comprehending. Already in the past they had offered alms to a hundred thousand ten thousand million Buddhas, had carried out brahma practices in a flawless manner, and had striven to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. All together they addressed the Buddha, saying: World-Honored One, these innumerable thousands, ten thousands, millions of voice-hearers of great virtue have all ready achieved success. World-Honored One, now it is fitting that you should preach the Law of anuttara-samyak-sambodhi for our sake is that, once we have heard it, we all may join in practicing and studying it. World-Honored One, we are determined to attain the insight of the Thus Come One. Deep in our minds we have this in thought, as the Buddha himself must know."

At that time the Buddha, responding to pleas from the shramaneras, passed a period of twenty thousand kalpas and then at last, in the midst of the four kinds of believers, preached the Great Vehicle sutra entitled the Lotus of the Wonderful Law, a Law to instruct the bodhisattvas, one that is guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas. After he had preached the sutra, the sixteen shramaneras, for the sake of anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, all together accepted and embraced it, recited and intoned it, penetrated and understood it.

When the Buddha preached this sutra, the sixteen bodhisattva shramaneras all took faith in it and accepted it, and among the multitude of voice-hearers there were also those who believed in it and understood it. But the other thousand ten thousand million types of living beings all gave way to doubt and perplexity.

The Buddha preached this sutra for a period of eight thousand kalpas, never once stopping to rest. After he had preached this sutra, he entered a quiet room and dwelled in meditation for a period of eighty-four thousand kalpas.

At this time the sixteen bodhisattva shramaneras, knowing that ascended a Dharma seat and likewise for a period of eighty-four thousand kalpas for the sake of the four kinds of believers broadly preached the distinctions put forth in the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law. In this way each of them one by one saved living beings equal in number to six hundred ten thousand million nayutas of Ganges sands, instructing them, bringing them benefit and joy, and causing them to set their minds upon anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

The Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Buddha, after passing eighty-four thousand kalpas, arose from his samadhi and approached the Dharma seat. Seating himself calmly, he addressed the whole of the great assembly, saying: these sixteen bodhisattva shramaneras are of a kind very rarely to be found, their faculties penetrating and sharp, their wisdom bright and company of those Buddhas they have constantly carried brahma practices, received and embraced the Buddha wisdom, and expounded it to living beings, causing them to enter therein. Now all of you should from time to time associate closely with them and offer them alms. Why? Because if any of you, voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas or bodhisattvas, are able to take faith in the sutra teachings preached by these sixteen bodhisattvas, and will accept and embrace them and never disparage them, then such persons will all be able to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, the wisdom of the Thus Come One."

The Buddha, addressing the monks, said: These sixteen bodhisattvas have constantly desired to expound this Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law. The living beings converted by each one of these bodhisattvas are equal in number to six hundred ten thousand million nayutas of Ganges sands. Existence after existence these living beings are reborn in company with that Bodhisattva, hear the Law from him, and all have faith in and understand it. For this reason they have been able to encounter forty thousand million Buddhas, World-Honored Ones, and have never ceased to do so down to the present.

You monks, I will now tell you this. These disciples of the Buddha, these sixteen shramaneras, have now all attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. In the lands in the ten directions they are at present preaching the Law, with immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of bodhisattvas and voice-hearers for their retinue. Two of these shramaneras have become Buddhas in the eastern region. One is named Akshobhya and lives in the Land of Joy. The other is named Sumeru Peak. Two are Buddhas in the southeastern region, one named Lion Voice, the other named Lion Appearance. Two are Buddhas in the southern region, one named Void-Dwelling, the other named Ever Extinguished. Two are Buddhas in the south-western region, one named Emperor Appearance, the other named Brahma Appearance. Two are Buddhas in the western region, one named Amitayus, the other named Saving All from Worldly Suffering. Two are Buddhas in the northwestern region, one named Tamalapatra Sandalwood Fragrance Transcendental Power, the other named Sumeru Appearance. Two are Buddhas in the northern region, one named Cloud Freedom, the other named Cloud Freedom King. Of the Buddhas of the northeastern region, one is named Destroying all Worldly Fears, The sixteenth is I, Shakyamuni Buddha, who in this saha land gave attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

Monks, when I and these others were shramaneras, each one of us taught and converted living beings equal in number in immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of Ganges sands. They heard the Law from us and attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Some of these living beings are now dwelling in the ranks of voice-hearers. But we have constantly instructed them in anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, and these persons should be able, through this Law, to enter into the Buddha Way, albeit gradually. Why do I say this? Because the wisdom of the Thus Come One is difficult to believe and difficult to understand. Those living beings equal in number to immeasurable Ganges sands who converted at that time are you who are now monks, and those who, after I have entered extinction, in ages to come will be voice-hearer disciples.

After I have entered extinction, there will be other disciples who will not hear this sutra and will not understand or be aware of the practices carried out by the Bodhisattvas, but who, through the blessings they have been able to attain, will conceive an idea of extinction and enter into what they believe to be nirvana. At that time I will be a Buddha in another land and will be known by a different name. Those disciples, though they have conceived an idea of extinction and entered into what they take to be nirvana, will in that other land seek the Buddha wisdom and will be able to hear this sutra. For it is only through the Buddha vehicle that one can attain extinction. There is no other vehicle, if one excepts the various doctrines that the Thus Come Ones preach as an expedient means.

Monks, if a Thus Come One knows that the time has come to enter nirvana, and knows that the members of the assembly are pure and clean, firm in faith and understanding, thorough in their comprehension of the Law of emptiness and deeply entered into meditation practice, then he will call together the assembly of bodhisattvas and voice-hearers and will preach this sutra for them. In the world there are not two vehicles whereby one may attain extinction. There is only the one Buddha vehicle for attaining extinction and one alone.

Monks, you must understand this. The Thus Come One in his use of expedient means penetrates deeply into the nature of living beings. He knows how their minds delight in petty doctrines and how deeply they are attached to the five desires. And because they are like this, when he expounds nirvana, he does so in such a way that these persons, hearing it, can readily believe and accept it.

Let us suppose there is a stretch of bad road five hundred yojanas long, steep and difficult, wild and deserted, with no inhabitants around, a truly fearful place. And suppose there are a number of people who want to pass over this road so they can reach a place where there are rare treasures. They have a leader, of comprehensive wisdom and keen understanding, who is thoroughly acquainted with this steep road, knows the layout of its passes and defiles, and is prepared to guide the group of people and go with them over this difficult terrain.

The group he is leading, after going part way on the road, become disheartened and say to the leader, We are utterly exhausted and fearful as well. We cannot go any farther. Since there is still such a long distance ahead, we would like now to turn around and go back."

The leader, a man of many expedients, thinks to himself, What a pity that they should abandon the many rare treasures they are seeking and want to turn and go back! Having had this thought, he resorts to the power of expedient means and, when they have gone three hundred yojanas along the steep road, conjures up a city. He says to the group, "Don’t be afraid! You must not turn back, for now here is a great city where you can stop, rest, and do just as you please. If you enter this city you will be completely at ease and tranquil. Then later, if you feel you can go on to the place where the treasure is, you can leave the city."

At that time the members of the group, being utterly exhausted, are overjoyed in mind, exclaiming over such an unprecedented event, "Now we can escape from this dreadful road and find ease and tranquility!" The people in the group thereupon press forward and enter the city where, feeling that they have been saved from their difficulties, they have a sense of complete ease and tranquility.

At that time the leader, knowing that the people have become rested and are no longer fearful or weary, wipes out the phantom city and says to the group, "You must go now. The place where the treasure is is close by. That great city of a while ago was a mere phantom that I conjured up so that you could rest."

Monks, the Thus Come One is in a similar position. He is now acting as a great leader for you. He knows that the bad road of birth and death and earthly desires is steep, difficult, long and far-stretching, but that it must be traveled, it must be passed over. If living beings hear only of the one Buddha vehicle, then they will not want to see the Buddha, will now want to draw near him, but will immediately think to themselves, The Buddha road is long and far reaching and one must labor diligently and undergo difficulties over a long period before he can ever attain success!

The Buddha knows that the minds of the living beings are timid, weak and lowly, and so, using the power of expedient means, he preaches two nirvanas in order to provide a resting place along the road. If living beings choose to remain in these two stages, then the Thus Come One will say to them, "You have not yet understood that is to be done. This stage where you have chosen to remain is close to the Buddha wisdom. But you should observe and ponder further. This nirvana that you have attained is not the true one. It is simply that the Thus Come One, using the power of expedient means, has taken the one Buddha vehicle and, making distinctions, has preached it as three."

The Buddha is like that leader who, in order to provide a place to rest, conjured up a great city and then, when he knew that the travelers were already rested, said to them, "The place where the treasure is, is nearby. This city is not real. It is merely something I conjured up."

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

The Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Buddha
sat in the place of practice for ten kalpas,
but the Law of the Buddha did not appear before him
and he could not attain the Buddha way.
The assembly of heavenly gods, dragon kings,
asuras and others
constantly rained down heavenly flowers
as alms offered to that Buddha.

The heavenly beings beat on heavenly drums
and made many kinds of music.
A fragrant wind blew away the withered flowers,
whereupon fresh and beautiful ones rained down.
When ten small kalpas had passed,
then at last he was able to attain the Buddha way.
The heavenly beings and people of the world
in their hearts all felt like dancing.
That Buddha’‘‘s sixteen sons
all, in company with their followers,
a thousand ten thousand million of them gathered around,
all came to the place of the Buddha,
touching heads to the ground, bowing at the Buddha’‘‘s feet
and entreating him to turn the wheel of the Law, saying,
Saintly Lion, let the Dharma rain
fall in full upon us and all others!
The World-Honored One is very difficult to encounter;
only once in a long time does he appear.
In order to bring enlightenment to the many beings
he shakes and moves the regions all around.
In the worlds in the eastern direction
in five hundred ten thousand million lands
the palaces of the Brahma kings glowed with a light
they had never known in the past.
When the Brahma kings saw this sign
they came in search of the Buddha’‘‘s place
scattering flowers as a form of offering,
at the same time presenting their palaces,
entreating the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Law
and praising him in verses.
The Buddha knew that the time had not yet come,
and though they entreated, he sat in silence.
In the other three directions and the four directions in between
and in the upper and lower regions, the same occurred,
the Brahma kings scattering flowers, presenting their palaces,
entreating the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Law, saying,
The World-Honored One is very difficult to encounter.
We beg you in your great mercy and compassion
to open wide the gates of sweet dew
and turn the wheel of the unsurpassed Law.
The World-Honored One, immeasurable in wisdom,
accepted the entreaties of the assembly
and for their sake proclaimed various doctrines,
the four noble truths, the twelve-linked chain of causation,
describing how, from ignorance to old age and death,
all are produced through the cause of birth, saying,
With regard to these many faults and vexations,
you should understand this about them.
When he expounded this Law,
six hundred ten thousand million trillion beings
were able to exhaust the limits of sufferings,
all attaining the status of arhat.
The second time he preached the Law
a multitude like a thousand Ganges sands
ceased to accept the things of the phenomenal world
and they too were able to become arhats.
Thereafter those who attained the way
were immeasurable in number-
one might calculate for ten thousand million kalpas
and never be able to reckon their extent.
At that time the sixteen princes
left their families and became shramaneras.
All together they entreated that Buddha
to expound the Law of the Great Vehicle, saying,
We and our attendants
are all certain to attain the Buddha way.
We desire the wisdom eye of foremost purity
such as the World-Honored One possesses.
The Buddha understood their boyish minds
and the actions they had carried out in past existences,
and employing immeasurable causes and conditions
and various similes and parables,
he preached the six paramitas
and matters concerning transcendental powers,
distinguishing the true Law,
the way practiced by bodhisattvas,
preaching this Lotus Sutra
in verses as numerous as the Ganges sands.
When the Buddha had finished preaching the sutra
he entered into meditation in a quiet room,
with a single mind sitting in a single place
for eighty-four thousand kalpas.
The shramaneras knew
the Buddha would not yet emerge from meditation
and so for the assembly of immeasurable millions
they preached the unsurpassed wisdom of the Buddha,
each one sitting in a Dharma seat,
preaching this Great Vehicle sutra.
And after the Buddha had entered peaceful tranquility,
they continued to proclaim, helping to convert others to
the Law.

The living beings saved
by each one of those shramaneras
were equal in number
to six hundred ten thousand million Ganges sands.
After that Buddha had passed into extinction,
those persons who had heard the Law
dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands,
constantly reborn in company with their teachers.
And these sixteen shramaneras,
having fully carried out the Buddha way,
at present are dwelling in the ten directions,
where each has attained correct enlightenment.

The persons who heard the Law at that time
are each in a place where there is one of these Buddhas,
and those who remain at the stage of voice-hearer
are gradually being instructed in the Buddha way.
I myself was numbered among the sixteen
and in the past preached for you.
For this reason I will employ an expedient means
to lead you in the pursuit of Buddha wisdom;
because of these earlier causes and conditions
I now preach the Lotus Sutra.
I will cause you to enter the Buddha way-
be atteÃive and harbor no fear!
Suppose there was a stretch of steep bad road,
in a remote wasteland with many harmful beasts,
a place moreover without water or grass,
one dreaded by people.
A group of countless thousands and ten thousands
wanted to pass over this steep road,
but the road was very long and far-stretching,
extended five hundred yojanas.
At this time there was a leader,
well informed, possessing wisdom,
of clear understanding and determined mind,
capable of saving endangered persons from manifold difficulties.
The members of the group were all weary and disheartened
and said to their leader,
We are now exhausted with fatigue
and wish at this point to turn around and go back.

The leader thought to himself,
These people are truly pitiful!
Why do the wish to turn back
and miss the many rare treasures ahead?
At that time he thought of an expedient means,
deciding to exercise his transcendental powers.
He conjured up a great walled city
and adorned its mansions,
surrounding them with gardens and groves,
channels of flowing water, ponds and lakes,
with double gates and tall towers and pavilions,
all filled with men and women.
As soon as he had created this illusion,
he comforted the group, saying, Have no fear-
you can enter this city
and each amuse himself as he pleases.
When the people had entered the city,
they were all overjoyed in heart.
All had a feeling of ease and tranquility,
telling themselves that they had been saved.
When the leader knew they were rested,
he called them together and announced,
Now you must push forward--
this is nothing more than a phantom city.
I saw that you were weary and exhausted
and wanted to turn back in mid-journey.
Therefore I used the power of expedient means
to conjure up this city for the moment.
Now you must press forward diligently
so that together you may reach the place where the treasure is.
I too do likewise,
acting as a leader to all beings.
I see the seekers of the way
growing disheartened in mid-journey,
unable to pass over the steep road
of birth and death and earthly desires,
and therefore I see the power of expedient means
and preach nirvana to provide them with rest,
saying, Your sufferings are extinguished,
you have carried out all there is to be done.
When I know they have reached nirvana
and all have attained the stage of arhat,
thin I can call the great assembly together
and preach the true Law for them.
The Buddhas through the power of expedient means
make distinctions and preach three vehicles,
but there is only the single Buddha vehicle--
the other two nirvanas are preached to provide a resting place.
Now I expound the truth for you-
what you have attained is not extinction.
For the sake of the comprehensive wisdom of the Buddha
you must expend great effort and diligence.
If you gain enlightenment in the Law of the Buddha
with its comprehensive wisdom and ten powers
and are endowed with the thirty-two features,
then this will be true extinction.
The Buddhas in their capacity as leaders
preach nirvana to provide a rest.
But when they know you have become rested,
they lead you onward to the Buddha wisdom.

 

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

PROPHECY OF ENLIGHTENMENT OF FIVE HUNDRED DISCIPLES  

 

     At that time Purna Maitrayaniputra, hearing from the Buddha this Law as it was expounded through wisdom and expedient means and in accordance with what was appropriate, and also hearing the prophecy that the major disciples would attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, hearing matters relating to causes and conditions of previous existences, and hearing how the Buddha possesses great freedom and transcendental powers, obtained what he had never before, and his mind was purified and felt like dancing. Immediately he rose from his seat, advanced to a position in front of the Buddha, touched his head to the ground and bowed to the Buddha’‘‘s feet. Then he withdrew to one side, gazed up in reverence at the face of the Honored One, his eyes never leaving it for an instant, and thought to himself: the World-Honored One is very extraordinary, very special, his actions rarely to be encountered! Adapting himself to the various natures of the people of this world and employing expedient means and insight, he preaches the Law for them, drawing living beings away from their greed and attachment to this or that. The Buddha’‘‘s blessings are such that we cannot set them forth in words. Only the Buddha, the World-Honored One, is capable of knowing the wish that we have had deep in our hearts from the start.

At that time the Buddha said to the monks: Do you see this Purna Maitrayaniputra? I have always commended him as being foremost among those who preach the Law. And I have always praised his various blessings, his diligence in protecting, upholding, aiding and proclaiming my Law, his ability in teaching, benefitting and delighting the four kinds of believers, the thoroughness with which he understands the correct Law of the Buddha, the great degree to which he enriches those who carry out its brahma practices. If one excepts the Thus Come One, there is no other who can so thoroughly exemplify the eloquence of its theories.

You should not suppose that Purna is capable of protecting, upholding, aiding and proclaiming my Law only. In the presence of ninety million Buddhas of the past too he protected, upheld, aided and proclaimed the correct Law of the Buddhas. Among all those who at that time preached the Law, he was likewise foremost.

In addition, concerning the Law of emptiness preached by the Buddhas he has clear and thorough understanding, he has gained the four unlimited kinds of knowledge, and is at all times capable of preaching the Law in a lucid and pure manner, free of doubts and perplexities. He is fully endowed with the transcendental powers of a bodhisattva. Throughout his allotted life span he constantly carries out brahma practices, so that the other people living in the era of that particular Buddha all think, ‘‘‘Here is a true voice-hearer!

And Purna by employing this expedient means has brought benefit to immeasurable hundreds and thousands of living beings, and has converted immeasurable asamkhyas of persons, causing them to turn toward anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. In order to purify the Buddha lands he constantly devotes himself to the Buddha’‘‘s work, teaching and converting living beings.

Monks, Purna was foremost among those who preached the Law in the time of the seven Buddhas. He is also foremost among those who preach the Law in my presence now. And he will likewise be foremost among those who preach the Law in the time of the future Buddhas who appear in the present Wise Kalpa, in all cases protecting, upholding, aiding and proclaiming the Law of the Buddha. In the future too he will protect, uphold, aid and proclaim the Law of immeasurable, boundless Buddhas, teaching, converting and enriching immeasurable living beings and causing them to turn toward anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. In order to purify the Buddha lands he will constantly apply himself with diligence, teaching and converting living beings.

Little by little he will become fully endowed with the way of the bodhisattva, and when immeasurable asamkhya kalpas have passed, here in the land where he is dwelling he will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. He will be called Law Bright Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One.

This Buddha will have thousand-millionfold worlds equal in number to Ganges sands as his Buddha land. The ground will be made of the seven treasures and level as the palm of a hand, without hills or ridges, ravines or gullies. The land will be filled with terraces and towers made of the seven treasures, and the heavenly palaces will be situated close by in the sky, so that human and heavenly beings can communicate and be within sight of each other. There will be no evil paths of existence there, nor will there be any women. All living beings will be born through transformation and will be without lewd desires. They will gain great transcendental powers, their bodies will emit a bright glow, and they will be able to fly at will. They will be firm in intent and thought, diligent and wise, and all alike will be adorned with golden color and the thirty-two features. All the living beings in that land will regularly take two kinds of food, one being the food of Dharma joy, the other the food of meditation delight. There will be immeasurable asamkhyas, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of bodhisattvas there, who will gain great transcendental powers and the four unlimited kinds of knowledge, and will be skilled and capable in teaching and converting the different varieties of living beings. The number of voice-hearers will be beyond the power of calculation or reckoning to determine. All will be fully endowed with the six transcendental powers, the three understandings, and the eight emancipations.

This Buddha land will thus possess measureless blessings of this kind that will adorn and complete it. The kalpa will be named Treasure Bright and the land named Good and Pure. The Buddha’‘‘s life span will be immeasurable asamkhya kalpas, his Law will endure for a very long time, and after the Buddha has passed into extinction, towers adorned with the seven treasures will be erected to him throughout the entire land.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spake in verse form, saying:

You monks, listen carefully!
The way followed by the sons of the Buddha,
because they are well learned in expedient means,
is wonderful beyond conception.
They know how most beings delight in a little Law
and are fearful of great wisdom.
Therefore the bodhisattvas
pose as voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas,
employing countless expedient means
to convert the different kinds of living beings.
They proclaim themselves to be voice-hearers
and say they are far removed from the Buddha way,
and so bring emancipation to immeasurable multitudes,
allowing them all to achieve success.

Limited in aspiration, lazy and indolent though the
multitudes are,
bit by bit they are led to the attainment of Buddhahood.
Inwardly, in secret, the sons act as bodhisattvas,
but outwardly the show themselves as voice-hearers.
They seem to be lessening desires out of hatred for birth
and death,
but in truth they are purifying the Buddha lands.
Before the multitude they seem possessed of the three poisons
or manifest the signs of heretical views.
My disciples in this manner
use expedient means to save living beings.
If I were to describe all the different ways,
the many manifestations they display in converting others,
the living beings who heard me
would be doubtful and perplexed in mind.
Now this Purna in the past
diligently practiced the way
under a thousand million Buddhas,
proclaiming and guarding the Law of those Buddhas.
In order to seek out unsurpassed wisdom
he went to where the Buddhas were,
became a leader among their disciples,
one of wide knowledge and wisdom.
He showed no fear in what he expounded
and was able to delight the assembly.
Never was he weary or disheartened
in assisting the work of the Buddhas.
Already he had passed over into great transcendental powers
and possessed the four unlimited kinds of knowledge.
He knew whether the capacities of the multitude were keen
or dull
and constantly preached the pure Law.
He expounded such principles as these,
teaching a multitude of thousands of millions,
causing them to reside in the Great Vehicle Law
and himself purifying the Buddha lands.
And in the future to will offer alms
to immeasurable, countless Buddhas,
protecting, aiding and proclaiming their correct Law
and himself purifying the Buddha lands,
constantly employing various expedient means,
preaching the Law without fear,
saving multitudes beyond calculation,
causing them to realize comprehensive wisdom.

He will offer alms to the Thus Come Ones,
guarding and upholding the treasure storehouse of the Law.

And later he will become a Buddha
known by the name Law Bright.
His land will be called Good and Pure
and will be composed of the seven treasures.
The kalpa will be named Treasure Bright.
The Multitude of bodhisattvas will be very numerous,
numbering immeasurable millions,
all having passed over into great transcendental powers,
endowed with dignity, virtue, strength,
filling the entire land.
Voice-hearers too will be numberless,
with the three understandings and eight emancipations,
having attained the four unlimited kinds of knowledge--
such as these will be monks of the Order.
The living beings of that land
will all be divorced from lewd desires.
They will be born in a pure manner by the process
of transformation,
with all the features adorning their bodies.
With Dharma joy and meditation delight to feed upon,
they will have no thought of other food.
There will be no women there
and non of the evil paths of existence.
The monk Purna
has won all these blessings to the fullest
and will acquire a pure land such as this,
with its great multitude of worthies and sages.
Of the countless matters pertaining to it
I have now spoken only in brief.

At that time the twelve hundred arhats, being free in mind, thought to themselves, We rejoice at gaining that we have never had before. If the World-Honored One should give each of us a prophecy of enlightenment such as he has given to this other major disciples, would that be a cause for delight?

The Buddha, knowing that this thought was in their minds, said to Mahakashyapa: on these twelve hundred arhats who are now before me I will one by one bestow a prophecy that they will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Among this assembly is a major disciple of mine, the monk Kaundinya he will offer alms to sixty-two thousand million Buddhas, and after that will become a Buddha. He will be designated Universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One. Five-hundred arhats, including Uruvilvakashyapa, Gayakashyapa, Nadikashyapa, Kalodayin, Udayin, Anirudda, Revata, Kapphina, Bakkula, Chunda, Svagata, and others, will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. All will have the same designation, being called Universal Brightness.

The World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

The monk Kaundinya
will see immeasurable Buddhas
and after asamkhya kalpas have passed
will at last achieve impartial and correct enlightenment.
Constantly he will emit a great bright light,
will be endowed with transcendental powers,
and his name will be known in all ten quarters,
respected by one and all.
Constantly he will preach the unsurpassed way;
therefore he will be named Universal Brightness.
His realm will be pure and clean,
his bodhisattvas brave and spirited.

All will ascend the wonderful towers,
travel to the lands in the ten directions,
in order to offer unsurpassed articles
as gifts to the various Buddhas.
After they have offered these alms
their minds will be filled with great joy
and they will speedily return to their native lands--
such will be their supernatural powers.
The life span of this Buddha will be sixty thousand kalpas,
his Correct Law will endure twice that time,
his Counterfeit Law twice that time again,
and when his Law is extinguished, heavenly and human beings
will grieve.
The five hundred monks
will one by one become Buddhas,
all with the same name, Universal Brightness.
Each will bestow a prophecy on his successor, saying,
After I have entered extinction,
you, so-and-so, will become a Buddha.
The world in which you carry out conversions
will be like mine today.
The adornment and purity of their lands,
their various transcendental powers,
their bodhisattvas and voice-hearers,
their Correct Law and Counterfeit Law,
the number of kalpas in their life span--
all will be as I have described above.
Kashyapa, now you know the future
of these five hundred who are free in mind.
The remainder of the multitude of voice-hearers
will also be like this.
As for those not in this gathering,
you must expound and preach to them.

At that time the five hundred arhats in the presence of the Buddha, having received a prophecy of enlightenment, danced for joy. Immediately they rose from their seats, advanced to a position in front of the Buddha, touched their heads to the ground and bowed to the Buddha’‘‘s feet. They bewailed their error, reproving themselves and saying, World-Honored One, we always used to think to ourselves, We have already attained the ultimate extinction. But now we know that we were like persons of no wisdom. Why? Because, although we were capable of attaining the wisdom of the Thus Come One, we were willing to content ourselves with petty wisdom.

World-Honored One, it was like the case of a man who went to the house of a close friend and, having become drunk on wine, lay down to sleep. At that time the friend had to go out on official business. He took a priceless jewel, sewed it in the lining of the man’‘‘s robe, and left it with him when he went out. The man was asleep drunk and knew nothing about it. When he got up, he set out on a journey to other countries. In order to provide himself with food and clothing he had to search with all his energy and diligence, encountering very great hardship and making do with what little he could come by.

Later, the close friend happened to meet him by chance. The friend said, "How absurd, old fellow! Why should you have to do all this for the sake of food and clothing? In the past I wanted to make certain you would be able to live in ease and satisfy the five desires, and so on such-and-such a day and month and year I took a priceless jewel and sewed it in the lining of your robe. It must still be there now. But you did not know about it, and fretted and wore yourself out trying to provide a living for yourself. What nonsense! Now you must take the jewel and exchange it for goods. Then you can have whatever you wish at all times and never experience poverty or want."

The Buddha is like this friend. When he was still a bodhisattva, he taught and converted us, inspiring in us the determination to seek comprehensive wisdom. But in time we forget all that, became unaware, unknowing. Having attained the way of the arhat, we supposed we had gained extinction. Finding it difficult to provide for our livelihood, as it were, we made do with what little we could come by. However, we not yet lost the desire for comprehensive wisdom. And now the World-Honored One awakens us and makes us aware, speaking these words: "Monks, what you have acquired is not the ultimate extinction. For a long time I caused you to cultivate the good roots of Buddhahood, and as on expedient means I showed you the outward signs of nirvana, but you supposed that you had in truth attained nirvana."

World-Honored One, now we understand. In fact we are bodhisattvas and have received a prophecy that we will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Fro this reason we are filled with great joy, having gained what we never had before.

At that time Ajnata Kaundinya and the others, wishing to state their meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

We have heard the sound of this prophecy
assuring us of unsurpassed ease and tranquility;
we rejoice in gaining what we never had before
and make obeisance to the Buddha of measureless wisdom.
Now in the presence of the World-Honored One
we bewail our faults and errors.

Of the Buddha’‘‘s immeasurable treasure
we have gained only a small portion of nirvana,
and like ignorant and foolish persons
have taken that to be sufficient.
We are like the poor and impoverished man
who went to the house of a close friend.
The house was a very prosperous one
and he served many trays of delicacies.
The friend took a priceless jewel,
sewed it in the lining of the poor man’s robe,
gave it without a word and then went away,
and the man, being asleep, knew nothing of it.
After the man had gotten up,
he journeyed here and there to other countries,
seeking food and clothing to keep himself alive,
finding it very difficult to provide for his livelihood
He made do with what little he could get
and never hoped for anything finer,
unaware that in the lining of his robe
he had a priceless jewel.
Later the close friend who had given him the jewel
happened to meet the poor man
and after sharply rebuking him,
showed him the jewel sewed in the robe.

When the poor man saw the jewel
his heart was filled with great joy,
for he was rich, possessed of wealth and goods
sufficient to satisfy the five desires.
We are like that man.
Through the long night the World-Honored One
constantly in his pity teaches and converts us,
causing us to plant the seeds of an unsurpassed aspiration.
But because we are without wisdom,
we are unaware of this, unknowing.
Having gained a small portion of nirvana,
we are satisfied and seek nothing more.
But now the Buddha awakens us,
saying "This is not really extinction,
when you have gained the Buddha’s unsurpassed wisdom,
then that will be true extinction!"
Now we have heard from the Buddha
these prophecies and descriptions of adornment,
and how each in turn will bestow a prophecy on his successor,
and in body and mind we are filled with joy.

 

  

CHAPTER NINE

PROPHECIES CONFERRED ON LEARNERS AND ADEPTS

 

    At that time Ananda and Rahula thought to themselves, whenever we reflect, we consider how delightful it would be if we should receive a prophecy of enlightenment! Immediately they rose from their seats, advanced to a position in front of the Buddha, touched their heads to the ground and bowed to the Buddha’s feet. Together they spoke to the Buddha, saying:

World-Honored One, we too should have a share of this! We have put all our trust in the Thus Come One alone, and we are well known to the heavenly and human beings and asuras of all the world. Ananda constantly attends the Buddha and guards and upholds the Dharma storehouse, and Rahula is the Buddha’s son. If the Buddha should bestow on us a prophecy that we will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, then our wishes will be fulfilled and the longings of the multitude will likewise be satisfied.

At that time two thousand of the voice-hearers disciples, both learners and adepts who had nothing who had nothing more to learn, all rose from their seats, bared their right shoulders, advanced to a position in front of the Buddha, pressed their palms together with a single mind and, gazing up in reverence at the World-Honored One, repeated the wish expressed by Ananda and Rahula and then stood to one side.

At that time the Buddha said to Ananda: In a future existence you will become a Buddha with the name Mountain Sea Wisdom Unrestricted Power King Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, and trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One. You will offer alms to sixty-two million Buddhas and will guard and uphold their Dharma storehouses, and after that you will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. You will teach and convert bodhisattvas as numerous as twenty thousand ten thousand million Ganges sands and will cause them to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Your land will be named Ever Standing Victory Banner, its soil will be clean and pure and made of lapis lazuli. The kalpa will be named Wonderful Sound Filling Everywhere. The life span of that Buddha will be immeasurable thousands, ten thousands millions of asamkhyas of kalpas-though men should calculate and reckon thousands, ten thousands, millions of immeasurable asamkhyas of kalpas, they could never ascertain the life span of the Buddha and the Counterfeit Law will endure in the world for twice the time of the correct law. Ananda, this Mountain Sea Wisdom Unrestricted Power King Buddha will be praised alike by Thus Come Ones of the ten directions who are equal in number to immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of Ganges sands, and they will extol his blessings.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

I now say to the monks that
Ananda, upholder of the Law,
will give alms to the Buddhas
and after will achieve correct enlightenment.
His name will be Mountain Sea Wisdom
Unrestricted Power King Buddha,
His land will be clean and pure,
named ever Standing Victory Banner.
He will teach and convert bodhisattvas
in numbers like Ganges sands.
This Buddha will possess great dignity and virtue,
his renown will fill the ten directions.
His life span will be immeasurable
because he takes pity on living beings.

His Correct Law, twice that again.
His Counterfeit Law, twice again.
As numerous as Ganges sands
will be the countless living beings
who in the midst of the Buddha’s Law
will plant causes and conditions leading to the Buddha way.

At that time in the assembly eight thousand bodhisattvas who had newly conceived the determination to attain enlightenment all thought to themselves, We have never heard of even a great bodhisattva receiving a prophecy such as this. For what reason should these voice-hearers receive such a prediction?

At that time the World-Honored One, knowing the thought that was in the mind of these bodhisattvas, said to them: Good men, when Ananda and I were at the place of Void King Buddha, we both at the same time conceived the determination to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Ananda constantly delighted in wide knowledge [of the Law], I constantly put forth diligent effort. Therefore I have already succeeded in attaining anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, while Ananda guards and upholds my Law. And he will likewise guard the Dharma storehouses of the Buddha of future existences and will teach, convert and bring success to the multitude of bodhisattvas. Such was his original vow, and therefore he has received this prophecy.

When Ananda in the presence of the Buddha heard this prophecy delivered to him and heard of the land and adornments he was to receive, all that he had vowed to achieve was realized and his mind was filled with great joy, for he had gained what he had never had before. Immediately he recalled to mind the Dharma storehouses of immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of Buddhas of the past, and he could fully comprehend them without hindrance, as though he had just now heard them. He also recalled his original vow.

At that time Ananda spoke in verse form, saying:

The World-Honored One, very rarely met with,
has caused me to recall the past,
the Law of immeasurable Buddhas,
as though I had heard it today.
Now I have no more doubts
but dwell securely in the Buddha way.
As an expedient means I act as attendant,
guarding and upholding the Law of the Buddhas.

At that time the Buddha said to Rahula: In a future existence you will become a Buddha with the name Stepping on Seven Treasure Flowers Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One. You will offer alms to Buddhas and Thus Come Ones as numerous as the dust particles of ten worlds. In all cases you will be the eldest son of those Buddhas, just as you are my son now. The adornments of the land of Stepping on Seven Treasure Flowers Buddha, the number of kalpas in his life span, the disciples he converts, his Correct Law and Counterfeit Law will not differ from those of the Thus Come One Mountain Sea Wisdom Unrestricted Power King. You will be the eldest son of that Buddha, and after that you will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

When I was crown prince
Rahula was my eldest son.
Now that I have gained the Buddha way
he receives the Dharma and is my Dharma son.

In existences to come
he will see immeasurable millions of Buddhas.

As eldest son to all of them,
with a single mind he will seek the Buddha way.
The covert actions of Rahula
I alone am capable of knowing.
He manifests himself as my eldest son,
showing himself to living beings.

With immeasurable millions, thousands, ten thousands
of blessings beyond count,
he dwells securely in the Buddha’s Law
and thereby seeks the unsurpassed way.

At that time the World-Honored One observed the two thousand learners and adepts, mild and gentle in will, serenely clean and pure, gazing at the Buddha with a single mind. The Buddha said to Ananda, Do you see these two thousand learners and adepts?

Yes, I see them.

Ananda, these persons will offer alms to Buddhas and Thus Come Ones equal in number to the dust particles of fifty worlds, paying honor and reverence to them, guarding and upholding their Dharma storehouses. In their final existence they will all at the same time succeed in becoming Buddhas in lands in the ten directions. All will have the identical designation, being called Jewel Sign Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One. Their life span will be one kalpa, and the adornment of their lands, their voice-hearers and bodhisattvas, Correct Law and Counterfeit Law will be all cases the same.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning in verse form, saying:

These two thousand voice-hearers
who now stand in my presence-
on all of them I bestow a prophecy
that in a future existence they will become Buddhas.
The Buddhas to whom they offer alms
will be numerous as the dust particles described above.
They will guard and uphold the Dharma storehouses
and after that will gain correct enlightenment.
Each will have a land in one of the ten directions
and all will share the same name and designation.
All at the same time will sit in the place of practice
and thereby will gain proof of unsurpassed wisdom.
All will be named Jewel Sign
and their lands and disciples,
their Correct Law and Counterfeit Law
will all be identical and without difference.
All will employ transcendental powers
to save living beings in the ten directions.
Their renown will spread everywhere around
and in due time they will enter nirvana.

At that time, when the two thousand learners and adepts heard the Buddha bestow this prophecy, they danced for joy ad spoke in verse form, saying:

World-Honored One, bright lamp of wisdom,
we hear your voice bestowing this prophecy
and our hearts are filled with joy
as though we were bathed in sweet dew!
 

 

 

CHAPTER TEN

THE TEACHER OF THE LAW

     At that time the World-Honored One addressed Bodhisattva Medicine King. And through him the eighty thousand great men, saying: Medicine King, do you see in this great assembly the immeasurable number of heavenly beings, dragons kings, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings, as well as monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, those who seek to become voice-hearers, who seek to become pratyekabuddhas, or those seek the Buddha way? Upon these various kinds of beings who in the presence of the Buddha listen to one verse or one phrase of the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law and for a moment think of it with joy I will bestow on all of them a prophecy that they will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

The Buddha said to Medicine King: In addition, if after the Thus Come One has passed into extinction there should be someone who listens to the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, even one verse or one phrase, and for a moment thinks of it with joy, I will likewise bestow on him a prophesy that he will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Again if there are persons who embrace, read, recite, expound and copy the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, even only one verse, and look upon this sutra with the same reverence as they would the Buddha, presenting various offerings of flowers, incense, necklaces, powdered incense, paste incense, incense for burning, silken canopies, streamers and banners, clothing and music, and pressing their palms together in reverence, then, Medicine King, you should understand million Buddhas that such person have already offered alms to a hundred thousand million Buddhas and in the place of the Buddhas have fulfilled their great vow, and because they take pity on living beings they have been born in this human world

Medicine King, if someone should ask what living beings will be able to attain Buddhahood in a latter-day existence, then you should show him all these people in a latter-day existence are certain to attain Buddhahood. Why? Because if good men and good women embrace, read, recite, expound and copy the Lotus Sutra, even one phrase of it, offer various kinds of alms to the sutra, flowers, incense, necklaces, powdered incense, paste incense, incense for burning, silken canopies, streamers and banners, clothing and music, and press their hands together in reverence, then these persons will be looked up to and honored by all the world. Alms will be offered to them such as would be offered to the Thus Come One. You should understand that these persons are great bodhisattvas who have succeeded in attaining anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Pitying living beings, they have vowed to be born among them where they may broadly expound and make distinctions regarding the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law. How much more so is this true, then, of those who embrace the entire sutra and offer various types of alms to it!

Medicine King, you should understand that these persons voluntarily relinquish the reward due for their pure deeds and, in the time after I have passed into extinction, because they pity living beings, they are born in this evil world so they may broadly expound this sutra. If one of these good men or good women in the time after I have passed into extinction is able to secretly expound the Lotus Sutra to one person, even one phrase of it, then you should know that de or she is the envoy of the Thus Come One. He has been dispatched bf the Thus Come One and carries out the Thus Come One’‘‘s work. And how much more so those who in the midst of the great assembly broadly expound the sutra for others!

Medicine King, if there should be an evil person who, his mind destitute of goodness, should for the space of a kalpa appear in the presence of the Buddha and constantly curse and revile the Buddha, that person’‘‘s offense would still be rather light. But if there were a person who spoke only one evil word to curse or defame the lay persons or monks or nuns who read and recite the Lotus Sutra, then his offense would be very grave.

Medicine King, these persons who read and recite the Lotus Sutra-you should understand that these persons adorn themselves with the adornments of the Buddhas they are borne upon the shoulders of the Thus Come One. Wherever they may go, one should greet them with bows, with palms pressed single-mindedly together, with reverence and alms, with respect and praise, flowers, incense, necklaces, powdered incense, paste incense, incense for burning, silken canopies, streamers and banners, clothing, delicacies and the making of music. The finest alms that can be offered to a person should be offered to them. Heavenly treasures should be scattered over them, the treasure hoards of heaven should be given them as gifts. Why do I say this? Because these persons delight in expounding the Law. And if one listens to them for even a moment, he will immediately attain the ultimate anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

An that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

If you wish to abide in the Buddha way
and successfully gain the wisdom that comes of itself,
you should be constantly diligent in offering alms
to those who embrace the Lotus Sutra.
If you have a wish to quickly obtain
wisdom regarding all species of things,
you should embrace this sutra
and at the same time give alms to those who do so.
If one is capable of embracing
the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law,
know that such a person is an envoy of the Buddha
who thinks wit pity of living beings.
Those who are capable of embracing
the Lotus of the Wonderful Law
relinquish their claim to the pure land
and out of pity for living beings are born here.
Know that persons such as these
freely choose where they will be born,
and choose to be born in this evil world
so they may broadly expound the unsurpassed Law.
You should offer heavenly flowers and incense,
robes decked with heavenly treasures,
the wonderful treasure hoards of heaven
as alms to those who preach the Law.
In the evil world following my extinction
if there are those who can embrace this sutra,
you should press your palms together in reverence
and offer alms to them as you would to the
World-Honored One.
The choicest delicacies, all that is sweet and tasty,
along with various types of clothing
you should offer as alms to these Buddha sons
in hopes you may hear a moment of their preaching.
If there are those in a later age
who can accept and embrace this sutra,
they are my envoys sent out among the people
to perform the Thus Come One’‘‘s work.
If for the space of a kalpa
one should constantly harbor a mind destitute of good
and with angry looks should revile the Buddha,
he will be committing an offense of immeasurable gravity.
But if toward those who read, recite and embrace
this Lotus Sutra
one should even for a moment direct evil words,
his offense will be even greater.
If there is someone who seeks the Buddha way
and during a certain kalpa
presses palms together in my presence
and recites numberless verses of praise,
because of these praises of the Buddha
he will gain immeasurable blessings.
And if one lauds and extols those who uphold this sutra,
his good fortune will be even greater.
For the space of eighty million kalpas,
with the most wonderful shapes and sounds,
with that which is pleasing to smell, taste and touch,
offer alms to the upholders of this sutra!
If you have offered alms in this manner
and have heard the teachings for even a moment,
then you will experience joy and good fortune,
saying, I have gained great benefit!
Medicine King, now I say to you,
I have preached various sutras,
and among those sutras
the Lotus is foremost!

At that time the Buddha spoke once more to the bodhisattva and mahasattva Medicine King, saying: The sutras I have preached number immeasurable thousands, ten thousands millions, among the sutras I have preached, now preach, and will preach, this Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand. Medicine King, this sutra is the storehouse of the secret crux of the Buddhas, it must not be distributed recklessly transmitted to others. It has been guarded by the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, and from times past until now has never been openly expounded, and since hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound even when the Thus Come One is in the world, how much more will this be so after his passing?

Medicine King, you should know that after the Thus Come One has entered extinction, if there are those who can copy, uphold, read and recite this sutra, offer alms to it and expound it for others, then the Thus Come One will cover them with his robe, and they will also be protected and kept in mind by the Buddhas who are now present in other regions. Such persons possess the power of great faith, the power of aspiration, the power of good roots, you should know that such persons lodge in the same place as the Thus Come One, and the Thus Come One pats them on the head with his hand.

Medicine King, in any place whatsoever where this sutra is preached, where it is read, where it is recited, where it is copied, or where a roll of it exists, in all such places there should be erected towers made of the seven kinds of gems, and they should be made very high and broad and well adorned. There is no need to enshrine the relics of the Buddha there. Why? Because in such towers the entire body of the Thus Come One is already present. All kinds of flowers, incense, necklaces, silken canopies. Streamers and banners, music and hymns should be offered as alms to these towers. And they should be accorded reverence, honor and praise. If when people see these towers they bow in obeisance and offer alms, then you should know that such persons have all drawn near to anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

Medicine King, suppose there is a man who is parched with thirst and in need of water. On an upland plateau he begins digging a hole in search of water, but he sees that the soil is dry and knows that water is still far away. He does not cease his efforts, however, and bit by bit he sees the soil becoming damper, until gradually he has worked his way into mud. Now he is determined in his mind to go on, for he knows that he is bound to be nearing water.

The way of the bodhisattva is the same as this. As long as a person has not yet heard. Not yet understood. And not yet been able to practice this Lotus Sutra, then you should know that person is still far away from anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Why? Because all bodhisattvas who attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi in all cases do so through this sutra. This sutra opens the gate of expedient means and shows the form of true reality. This storehouse of the Lotus Sutra is hidden deep and far away where no person can reach it. But the Buddha, teaching, converting and leading to success the bodhisattvas, opens it up for them.

Medicine King, if there are bodhisattvas who, on hearing this Lotus Sutra, respond with surprise, doubt and fear, then you should know that they are bodhisattvas who have only newly embarked on their course. And if there are voice-hearers who, on hearing this sutra, respond with surprise, doubt, and fear, then you should know that they are persons of overbearing arrogance.

Medicine King, if there are good men and good women who, after the Thus Come One has entered extinction, wish to expound this Lotus Sutra for the four kinds of believers, how should they expound it? These good men and good women should enter the Thus Come One’‘‘s room put on the Thus Come One’‘‘s robe, sit in the Thus Come One’‘‘s seat, and then for the sake of the four kinds of believers broadly expound this sutra.

The ‘‘‘Thus Come One’‘‘s room’‘‘ is the state of mind that shows great pity and compassion toward all living beings. The Thus Come One’‘‘s robe is the mind that is gentle and forbearing. The ‘‘‘Thus Come One’‘‘s seat is the emptiness of all phenomena. One should seat oneself comfortably therein and after that, with a mind never lazy or remiss, should for the sake of the bodhisattvas and the four kinds of believers broadly expound this Lotus Sutra.

Medicine King, I will send persons conjured up by magic to other lands to gather together assemblies to listen to the Law, and I will also send monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen conjured up by magic to listen to the preaching of the Law, believe and accept it, and abide by it without violation. If the preachers of the Law are in an empty and silent place, I will at that time send large numbers of heavenly beings, dragons, spirits, gandharvas, asuras, and others to listen to their preaching of the law. Though I should be in another land, from time to time I will make it possible for the preachers of the Law to see my body. If they should forget a phrase of this sutra, I will appear and prompt them so that they are able to recite the text correctly and in full.

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

If you wish to put aside all sloth and remissness,
you must listen to this sutra,
It is hard to get a chance to hear this sutra,
and believing and accepting it too is hard.
If a person is thirsty and wants water
he may dig a hole in the high plateau,
but as long as he sees the soil dry
he knows the water is still far away.

But bit by bit he sees the soil grow damp and muddy
and then he knows for certain he is nearing water.
Medicine King, you should understand
that people are like this-
if they do not hear the Lotus Sutra,
they will be far removed from the Buddha’s wisdom,
But if they hear this profound sutra
which defines the Law of the voice-hearer,
if they hear this king of the sutras
and afterward carefully ponder it,
then you should know such persons
are close to the wisdom of the Buddha.
If a person expounds this sutra,
he should enter the Thus Come One’s room,
put on the Thus Come One’s robe,
sit in the Thus Come One’s seat,
confront the assembly without fear
and broadly expand it for them, making distinctions.

Great pity and compassion are the room.
Gentleness and patience are the robe.
The emptiness of all phenomena is the seat,
and from that the position one should expound the Law for them.

If when a person expounds this sutra
there is someone who speaks ill and reviles him
or attacks him with swords and staves, tiles and stones,
he should think of the Buddha and for that reason be patient.
In a thousand, ten thousand, million lands
I will manifest my pure and durable body
and for immeasurable millions of kalpas
will expound the Law for living beings,
If after I have entered extinction
there are those who can expound this sutra,
I will send the four kinds of believers, magically conjured,
monks and nuns
and men and women of pure faith,
to offer alms and cause them to listen to the Law;
they will lead and guide living beings,
assemble them and cause them to listen to the Law.

If someone thinks to do evil to the preachers
with swords and staves or with tiles and stones,
I will dispatch persons magically conjured
who will act to guard and protect them.
If those who expound the Law
are alone in an empty and silent place,
and in that stillness where no human voice sounds
they read and recite this sutra
at that time I will manifest
my pure and radiant body for them.

If they forget a passage or a phrase
I will prompt them so they will be thorough and effective,
If persons endowed with these virtues
should expound to the four kinds of believers
and read and recite the sutra in an empty place,
I will enable all of them to see my body.
And if the expounders are in an empty and silent place
I will send heavenly beings, dragon kings,
yakshas, spirits and others
to be an assembly and listen to the Law.

Persons such as this will delight in expounding the Law,
making distinctions and encountering no hindrance.

Because the Buddhas guard and keep them in mind.
They will be able to bring joy to the great assembly.

If one stays close to the teachers of the Law
he will speedily gain the bodhisattva way.
By following and learning from these teachers
he will see Buddhas as numerous as the Ganges sands.

 

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