About Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sutra was revealed toward the last decades of the 2st century.
It plays a significant role in establishing the reform movement Mahayana, as orthodox. It has Buddha Siddhartha preaching the new truths that make Mahayana different from the old school (now know as Theravada). This is like appealing to Moses or Mohammed to preach and prophesy a new reformation movement as a "higher truth".
Mahayana Buddhism is born
Lotus Sūtra (Sanskrit: Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra)
The earliest known Sanskrit title for the sūtra is the Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra, which translates to "Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma". In English, the shortened form Lotus Sūtra is common. The Lotus Sūtra has also been highly regarded in a number of Asian countries.
The Lotus Sutra was revealed in the mid 70s of the first century CE. It "came out of nowhere" and presented a challenge for authenticity to Buddhist Scholars.
Parts of it, especially the dharanis were written in the Magadhi dialect, mother tongue of Mari of Magadha, beloved companion of the Lord.
At about the time of the return of the Lord in His glorified Avalokitesvara form as Christ, Saviour of the World, an international council of Buddhist leaders was held in Kashmir. It was called the 2nd 4th International Buddhist Council.
On the agenda for that council was the task to decide what to do with the Lotus Sutra, is it authentic and orthodox or not. The decision came out in favour of the Sutra and it found immediate wide acceptance. Today, it is the most revered and most read of Mahayana Buddhist literature.
In a way, the Lotus Sutra gave birth to the reformation movement, Mahayana Buddhism.
The Lotus Sutra forms the basis of Wayism in the East. Western Wayists draw from some Christian and ancient Church of the East's Eastern Bible (St. Thomas in Kashmir) as well.
Parables and Sacred Teaching Skills
The Lotus Sutra teaches, as Iesous did, in parables and simile. It introduces the concept of Sacred Skills (upaya), of adapting one's message to one's audience. This upaya is called Skillful Means, in most schools of Buddhism. The epitome of this sacred skill is Avalikteshvara. He not only adapts His message to the hearer, but also His appearance and mode of transmission. He will teach you in the mode most suitable for you at the time--whether you think you received a message from your own contemplation, from Shiva or Vishnu, from watching a child do something, from a worm in the garden, or from an animal looking up at you... To this effect, Iesous teaching in the West even has the autor of the book of Hebrews say in 13:2, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares".
This sacred skill changed religion as it was known at the time. The concept is introduced in the Lotus Sutra as a story about a man who lied to his children to save them from dying in a burning house, and from there it is expounded to end with the introduction of Avalokiteshvara. It is said in the Sutra that after Avalokiteshvara was introduced and His powers and virtues extolled, that all bodhisattvas and buddhas wanted to develop those skills.
Lotus Sutra: Chapter 1
This is what I heard:
At one time the Buddha was in Rajagriha, staying on Mount Gridhrakuta. Accompanying him were a multitude of leading monks numbering twelve thousand persons.
All were arhats whose outflows had come to an end, who had no more earthly desires, who had attained what was to their advantage and had put an end to the bonds of existence, and whose minds had achieved a state of freedom. Their names were Ajnata Kaundinya, Mahakashyapa, Uruvilvakashyapa, Gayakashyapa, Nadikashyapa, Shariputra, Great Maudgaly~yana, Mahakatyayana, Aniruddha, Kapphina, Gavampati, Revata, Pilindavatsa, Bakkula, Mahakaushthila, Nanda, Sundarananda, Purna Maitrayaniputra, Subhuti, Ananda, and Rahula.
All were like these, great Arhats who were well known to others.
There were also two thousand persons, some of whom were still learning and some who had completed their learning. There was the nun Mahaprajapati with her six thousand followers. And there was Rahula's mother, the nun Yashodhara, with her followers. There were bodhisattvas and mahasattvas, eighty thousand of them, none of them ever regressing in their search for anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. All had gained dharanis, delighted in preaching, were eloquent, and turned the wheel of the Law that knows no regression.
They had made offerings to immeasurable hundreds and thousands of Buddhas, in the presence of various Buddhas had planted numerous roots of virtue, had been constantly praised by the Buddhas, had trained themselves in compassion, were good at entering the Buddha wisdom, and had fully penetrated the great wisdom and reached the farther shore. Their fame had spread throughout immeasurable worlds and they were able to save countless hundreds of thousands of living beings.
Their names were Bodhisattva Manjushri, Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World's Sounds, Bodhisattva Gainer of Great Authority, Bodhisattva Constant Exertion, Bodhisattva Never Resting, Bodhisattva Jeweled Palm, Bodhisattva Medicine King, Bodhisattva Brave Donor, Bodhisattva Jeweled Moon, Bodhisattva Moonlight, Bodhisattva Full Moon, Bodhisattva Great Strength, Bodhisattva Immeasurable Strength, Bodhisattva Transcending the Threefold World, Bodhisattva Bhadrapala, Bodhisattva Maitreya, Bodhisattva Jeweled Accumulation, and Bodhisattva Guiding Leader.
Bodhisattvas and mahasattvas such as these numbering eighty thousand were in attendance. At that time Shakra Devanam Indra with his followers, twenty thousand sons of gods, also attended. There were also the sons of gods Rare Moon, Pervading Fragrance, Jeweled Glow, and the Four Great Heavenly Kings, along with their followers, ten thousand sons of gods. Present were the sons of gods Freedom and Great Freedom and their followers, thirty thousand sons of gods, Present were King Brahma, lord of the saha world, the great Brahma Shikhin, and the great Brahma Light Bright, and their followers, twelve thousand sons of gods. There were eight dragon kings, the dragon king Nanda, the dragon king Upananda, the dragon king Sagara, the dragon king Vasuki, the dragon king Takshaka, the dragon king Anavatapta, the dragon king Manasvin, the dragon king Utpalaka, each with several hundreds of thousands of followers. There were four kimnara kings, the kimnara king Great Law, and the kimnara king Upholding the Law, each with several hundreds of thousands of followers.
There were four gandharva kings, and gandharva king Pleasant, the gandharva king Pleasant Sound, the gandharva Beautiful Sound, each with several hundreds of thousands of followers. There were four asura kings, the asura king Balin, the asura king Kharaskandha, the asura king Vemachitrin, and the asura king Rahu, each with several hundreds of thousands of followers. There were four garuda kings, the garuda king Great Majesty, the garuda king Great Body, the garuda king Great Fullness, and the garuda king As One Wishes, each with several hundreds of thousands of followers. And there was King Ajatashatru, the son of Vaidehi, with several hundreds of thousands of followers.
Each of these, after bowing in obeisance before the Buddha's feet, withdrew and took a seat to one side.
At that time the World-Honored One, surrounded by the four kinds of believers, received offerings and tokens of respect and was honored and praised. And for the sake of the bodhisattvas he preached the Great Vehicle sutra entitle Immeasurable Meanings, a Law to instruct the bodhisattvas, one that is guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas.
When the Buddha had finished preaching this Sutra, he sat with his legs crossed in lotus position and entered into the samadhi of the place of immeasurable meanings, his body and mind never moving. At that time heaven rained down mandarava flowers, great mandarava flowers, manjushaka flowers, and great manjushaka flowers, scattering them over the Buddha and over the great assembly, and everywhere the Buddha world quaked and trembled in six different ways. At that time the monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings in the assembly, as well as the petty kings and wheel-turning sage kings - all those in the great assembly, having gained what they had never had before, were filled with joy and, pressing their palms together, gazed at the Buddha with a single mind.
At that time the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows, one of his characteristic features, lighting up eighteen thousand worlds in the eastern direction. There was no place that the light did not penetrate, reaching downward as far as the Avichi hell and upward to the Akanishtha heaven.
From this world one could see the living beings in the six paths of existence in all of those other lands. One could likewise see the Buddhas present at that time in those other lands and could hear the sutra teachings which those Buddhas were expounding. At the same time one could see the monks, nuns laymen, and laywomen who had carried out religious practices and attained the way. One could also see the bodhisattvas and mahasattvas who, through various causes and conditions and various types of faith and understanding and in various forms and aspects were carrying out the way of the bodhisattva. And one could also see the Buddhas who had entered parinirvana, towers adorned with the seven treasures were erected for the Buddha relics.
At that time the Bodhisattva Maitreya had this thought: Now the World-Honored One has manifested these miraculous signs. But what is the cause of these auspicious portents? Now the Buddha, the World Honored One, has entered into samadhi. An unfathomable event such as this is seldom to be met with. Whom shall I question about this? Who can give me an answer? And again he had this thought: this Manjushri, son of a Dharma King, has already personally attended and given offerings to immeasurable numbers of Buddhas in the past. Surely he must see these rare signs. I will now question him.
At this time the monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, as well as the heavenly beings, dragons, spirits and the others all had this thought: this beam of brightness from the Buddha, these signs of transcendental powers - now whom shall we question about them?
At that time Bodhisattva Maitreya wished to settle his doubts concerning the matter. And in addition he could see what was in the minds of the four kinds of believers, the monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, as well as the heavenly beings, dragons, spirits and the others who made up the assembly. So he questioned Manjushri, saying, "What is the cause of these auspicious portents, these signs of transcendental powers, this emitting of a great beam of brightness that illumines the eighteen thousand lands in the eastern direction so we can see all the adornments of the Buddha worlds there?"
Then Bodhisattva Maitreya, wishing to state his meaning once more, asked the question in verse form:
Manjushri, Why from the white tuft between the eyebrows of our leader and teacher does this great light shine all around? Why do mandarava and manjushaka flowers rain down and breezes scented with sandalwood delight the hearts of the assembly? Because of these the earth is everywhere adorned and purified and this world quakes and trembles in six different ways. At this time the four kinds of believers are all filled with joy and delight, they rejoice in body and mind, having gained what they never had before. The beam of brightness from between the eyebrows illumines the eastern direction and eighteen thousand lands are all the color of gold. From the Avichi hell upward to the Summit of Being, throughout the various worlds the living beings in the six paths, the realm to which their births and deaths are tending, their good and bad deeds, and the pleasing or ugly recompense they receive - all these can be seen from here. We can also see Buddhas, those sage lords, lions, expounding and preaching sutras that are subtle, wonderful and foremost. Their voices are clear and pure, issuing in soft and gentle sounds, as they teach bodhisattvas in numberless millions.
Their Brahma sounds are profound and wonderful, making people delight in hearing them. Each in his own world preaches the correct Law, following various causes and conditions and employing immeasurable similes, illuminating the Law of the Buddha, guiding living beings to enlightenment. If a person should encounter troubles, loathing old age, sickness and death, the Buddhas preach to him on nirvana, explaining how he may put an end to all troubles. If a person should have good fortune, having in the past made offerings to the Buddhas, determined to seek a superior Law, the Buddhas preach the way of the pratyekabuddha. If there should be Buddha sons who carry out various religious practices, seeking to attain the unsurpassed wisdom, the Buddhas preach the way of purity.
I have been dwelling here, seeing and hearing in this manner many things numbering in the thousands of millions. Numerous as they are, I will now speak of them in brief. I see in these lands bodhisattvas numerous as Ganges sands, according with various causes and conditions and seeking the way of the Buddha. Some of them give alms, gold, silver, coral, pears, mani jewels, seashell, agate, diamonds and other rarities, men and women servants, carriages, jeweled hand carriages and palanquins, gladly presenting these donations. Such gifts they give to the Buddha way, desiring to achieve the vehicle that is foremost in the threefold world and praised by the Buddhas.
There are some bodhisattvas who give jeweled carriages drawn by teams of four, with railings and flowered canopies adorning their top and sides. Again I see bodhisattvas who give their own flesh, hands and feet, or their wives and children, seeking the unsurpassed way. I also see bodhisattvas who happily give heads, eyes, bodies and limbs in their search for the Buddha wisdom.
I see kings going to visit the place of the Buddha to ask him about the unsurpassed way. They put aside their happy lands, their palaces, their men and women attendants, shave their hair and beard and don the clothes of the Dharma.
Or I see bodhisattvas who become monks, living alone in quietude, delighting in chanting the sutras. Again I see bodhisattvas bravely and vigorously exerting themselves, entering the deep mountains, their thoughts on the Buddha way. And I see them removing themselves from desire, constantly dwelling in emptiness and stillness, advancing deep into the practice of mediation until they have gained the five transcendental powers. And I see bodhisattvas resting in meditation, palms pressed together, with a thousand, ten thousand verses praising the king of the doctrines. Again I see bodhisattvas, profound in wisdom, firm in purpose, who know how to question the Buddhas and accept and abide by all they hear.
I see Buddha sons proficient in both meditation and wisdom, who use immeasurable numbers of similes to expound the Law to the assembly, delighting in preaching the Law, converting the bodhisattvas, defeating the legions of the devil and beating the Dharma drum.
And I see bodhisattvas profoundly still and silent, honored by heavenly beings and dragons but not counting that a joy. And I see bodhisattvas living in forests, emitting light, saving those who suffer in hell, causing them to enter the Buddha way.
And I see Buddha sons who have never once slept, who keep circling through the forest diligently seeking the Buddha way.
And I see those who observe the precepts, no flaw in their conduct, pure as jewels and gems, and in that manner seeking the Buddha way.
And I see Buddha sons abiding in the strength of fortitude, taking the abuse and blows of persons of overbearing arrogance, willing to suffer all these, and in that manner seeking the Buddha way.
I see bodhisattvas removing themselves form frivolity and laughter and from foolish companions, befriending persons of wisdom, unifying their minds, dispelling confusion, ordering their thoughts in mountain and forest for a million, a thousand, ten thousand years in that manner seeking the Buddha way.
Or I see bodhisattvas with delicious things to eat and drink and a hundred kinds of medicinal potions, offering them to the Buddha and his monks; fine robes and superior garments costing in the thousands or ten thousands, or robes that are beyond cast, offering them to the Buddha and his monks; a thousand, ten thousand, a million kinds of jeweled dwellings made of sandalwood and numerous wonderful articles of bedding, offering them to the Buddha and his monks; immaculate gardens and groves where flowers and fruit abound, flowing springs and bathing pools, offering them to the Buddha and his monks; offerings of this kind, or many different wonderful varieties presented gladly and without regret as they seek the unsurpassed way.
Or there are bodhisattvas who expound the Law of tranquil extinction, giving different types of instruction to numberless living beings.
Or I see bodhisattvas viewing the nature of all phenomena as having no dual characteristics, as being like empty space. And I see Buddha sons whose minds have no attachments, who use this wonderful wisdom to seek the unsurpassed way.
there are also bodhisattvas who after the Buddha has passed into extinction make offerings to his relics. I see Buddha sons building memorial towers as numberless as Ganges sands, ornamenting each land with them, jeweled towers lofty and wonderful, five thousand yojanas high, their width and depth exactly two thousand yojanas, each of these memorial towers with its thousand banners and streamers, with curtains laced with gems like dewdrops and jeweled bells chiming harmoniously. There heavenly beings, dragons, spirits, human and nonhuman beings, with incense, flowers and music constantly making offerings.
these Buddha sons in order to make offerings to the relics adorn the memorial towers so that each land, just as it is, is as outstandingly wonderful and lovely as the heavenly king of trees when its flowers open and unfold.
When the Buddha emits a beam of light I and the other members of the assembly can see these lands in all their various outstanding wonders.
The supernatural powers of the Buddhas and their wisdom are rare indeed; by emitting one pure beam of light, the Buddhas illuminate countless lands. I and the others have seen this, have gained something never known before.
Buddha son, Manjushri,
I beg you to settle the doubts of the assembly. The four kinds of believers look up in happy anticipation, gazing at you and me.
Why does the World-Honored One emit this beam of brightness?
Buddha son, give a timely answer, settle these doubts and occasion joy!
What rich benefits will come from the projecting of this beam of brightness?
It must be that the Buddha wishes to expound the wonderful Law he gained when he sat in the place of practice. He must have prophecies to bestow. He has showed us Buddha lands with their adornment and purity of manifold treasures, and we have seen their Buddhas - this is not done for petty reasons. Manjushri, you must know. The four kinds of believers, the dragons and spirits gaze at you in surmise, wondering what explanation you will give.
At that time Manjushri said to the bodhisattva and mahasattva Maitreya and the other great men:
"Good men, I suppose that the Buddha, the World Honored One, wishes now to expound the great Law, to rain down the rain of the great Law, to blow the conch of the great Law, to beat the drum of the great Law, to elucidate the meaning of the great Law. Good men, in the past I have seen this auspicious portent among the Buddhas. They emitted a beam of light like this, and after that they expounded the great Law. Therefore we should know that now, when the present Buddha manifests this light, we will do likewise. He wishes to cause all living beings to hear and understand the Law, which is difficult for all the world to believe. Therefore he has manifested this auspicious portent."
"Good men, once, at a time that was an immeasurable, boundless, inconceivable number of asamkhya kalpas in the past, there was a Buddha named Sun Moon 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, who expounded the correct Law. His exposition was good at the beginning, good in the middle, good at the end. The meaning was profound and far-reaching, the words were skillful and wondrous. It was pure and without alloy, complete, clean and spotless, and bore the marks of Brahma practice."
"For the sake of those seeking to become voice-hearers he responded by expounding the Law of the four noble truths, so that they could transcend birth, old age, sickness and death and attain nirvana. For the sake of those seeking to become pratyekabuddhas he responded by expounding the Law of the twelve-linked chain of causation. For the sake of the bodhisattvas he responded by expounding the six paramitas, causing them to gain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi and to acquire the wisdom that embraces all species."
"Then there was another Buddha who was also named Sun Moon Bright, and then another Buddha also named Sun Moon Bright. There were twenty thousand Buddhas like this, all with the same appellation, all named Sun Moon Bright. And all had the same surname, the surname Bharadvaja. Maitreya, you should understand that from the first Buddha to the last, all had the same appellation, all were named Sun Moon Bright. They were worthy of all the ten epithets and the Law they expounded was good at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end."
"The last Buddha, when he had not yet left family life, had eight princely sons. The first was named Having Intention, the second Good Intention, the third Immeasurable intention, the fourth jeweled intention, the fifth Increased Intention, the sixth Cleansed of Doubt Intention, the seventh Echoing Intention, and the eighth Law Intention. Dignity and virtue came easily to them, and each presided over a four-continent realm."
"When these princes heard that their father had left family life and had gained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, they all cast aside their princely positions and followed him by leaving family life. Conceiving a desire for the Great Vehicle, the constantly carried out Brahma practices, and all became teachers of the Law. They had already planted good roots in the company of a thousand, ten thousand Buddhas."
"At that time the Buddha Sun Moon Bright preached the Great Vehicle sutra entitled Immeasurable Meanings, a Law to instruct the Bodhisattvas, one that is guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas. When he had finished preaching the sutra, he sat cross-legged in the midst of the great assembly and entered into the samadhi of the place of immeasurable meanings, his body and mind never moving. At this time heaven rained down mandarava flowers, great mandarava flowers, manjushaka flowers, and great manjushaka flowers, scattering them over the Buddha and the great assembly, and everywhere the Buddha world quaked and trembled in six different ways."
"At that time the monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen , heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, and mahoragas, the human and nonhuman beings in the assembly, as well as the petty kings and wheel-turning sage kings - all those in this great assembly gained what they had never had before and, filled with joy, pressed their palms together and gazed at the Buddha with a single mind"
"At that time the Thus Come One emitted a ray of light from the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows, one of his characteristic features, lighting up eighteen thousand Buddha lands in the eastern direction. There was no place that the light did not penetrate, just as you have seen it light up these Buddha lands now."
"Maitreya, you should understand this. At that time in the assembly there were twenty million bodhisattvas who were happy and eager to hear the Law. When these bodhisattvas saw this beam of light that illuminated the Buddha lands everywhere, they gained what they had never had before. They wished to know the causes and conditions that had occasioned this light."
"At that time there was a bodhisattva named Wonderfully Bright who had eight hundred disciples. At this time the Buddha Sun Moon Bright arose from his samadhi and, because of the bodhisattva Wonderfully Bright, preached the Great Vehicle sutra called the Lotus of the Wonderful Law, a Law to instruct the bodhisattvas, one that is guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas. For sixty small kalpas the Buddha remained in his seat without rising, and the listeners in the assembly at that time also remained seated there for sixty small kalpas, their bodies and minds never moving. And yet it seemed to them that they had been listening to the Buddha peach for no more than the space of a meal. At this time in the assembly there was not a single person who in body or mind had the least feeling of weariness."
"When the Buddha Sun Moon Bright had finished preaching this sutra over a period of sixty small kalpas, he spoke these words to the Brahmas, devils, shramanas and Brahmans, as well as to the heavenly and human beings and asuras in the assembly, saying, 'tonight at midnight the Thus Come One will enter the nirvana of no remainder."
"At this time there was a bodhisattva named Virtue Storehouse. The Buddha Sun Moon Bright bestowed a prophecy on him, announcing to the monks, "This bodhisattva Virtue Storehouse will be the next to become a Buddha. He will be called Pure Body, tathagata, arhat, samyak-sambuddha."
"After the Buddha had finished bestowing this prophecy, at midnight he entered the nirvana of no remainder."
"After the Buddha had passed away, Bodhisattva Wonderfully Bright upheld the Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law, for a period of fully eighty small kalpas expounding it for others. The eight sons of the Buddha Sun Moon Bright all acknowledged Wonderfully Bright as their teacher. Wonderfully Bright taught and converted them and roused in them a firm determination to gain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Those princely sons gave offerings to immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of Buddhas, and after that all were able to achieve the Buddha way. The last to become a Buddha was named Burning Torch."
"Among the eight hundred disciples of Wonderfully Bright was one named Seeker of Fame. He was greedy them, but for the most part forgot them. Hence he was called Seeker of Fame. Because this man had in addition planted various good roots, however, he was able to encounter immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of Buddhas, to make offerings to them, revere, honor and praise them."
"Maitreya, you should understand this. Bodhisattva Wonderfully Bright who lived then-could he be known to you? He was no other than I myself. And Bodhisattva Seeker of Fame was you."
"Now when I see this auspicious portent, it is no different from what I saw before. Therefore I suppose that now the Thus Come One is about to preach the Great Vehicle sutra called the Lotus of the Wonderful Law, a Law to instruct the bodhisattvas, one that is guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas."
At that time Manjushri, wishing in the presence of the great assembly to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:
I recall that in a past age immeasurable, innumerable kalpas ago there was a Buddha, most honored of men, named Sun Moon Bright.
This World-Honored One expounded the Law, saving immeasurable living beings and numberless millions of bodhisattvas, causing them to enter the Buddha wisdom.
The eight princely sons whom this Buddha sired before taking leave of family life, when they saw that the great sage had left his family did likewise, carrying out Brahma practices.
At that time the Buddha preached the Great Vehicle, a sutra named Immeasurable Meanings, and in the midst of a great assembly for the sake of the people established broad distinctions.
When the Buddha had finished preaching this sutra he sat in the seat of the Law, sitting cross-legged in the samadhi called the place of immeasurable meanings.
The heavens rained mandarava flowers, heavenly drums sounded of themselves, and the heavenly beings, dragons and spirits made offerings to the most honored of men. All the Buddha lands immediately quaked and trembled greatly. The Buddha emitted a light from between his eyebrows, manifesting signs that are rarely seen.
This light illumined the eastern direction, eighteen thousand Buddha lands, showing how all the living beings there were recompensed in birth and death for their past deed.
That one could see how these Buddha lands, adorned with numerous jewels, shone with hues of lapis lazuli and crystal was due to the illumination of the Buddha's light.
One could also see the heavenly and human beings, dragons, spirits, many yakshas, gandharvas and kimnaras, each making offerings to his respective Buddha.
One could also see Thus Come Ones naturally attaining the Buddha way, their bodies the color of golden mountains, upright, imposing, very subtle and wonderful.
It was as though in the midst of pure lapis lazuli there should appear statues of real gold. In the midst of the great assembly the World-Honored Ones expounded the principles of the profound Law. In one after another of the Buddha lands the voice-hearers in countless multitudes through the illumination of the Buddha's light all became visible with their great assemblies. There were also monks residing in the midst of forests, exerting themselves and keeping the pure precepts as though they were guarding a bright jewel.
One could also see bodhisattvas carrying out almsgiving, forbearances, and so forth, their number like Ganges sands, due to the illumination of the Buddha's light. One could also see bodhisattvas entering deep into meditation practices, their bodies and minds still and unmoving, in that manner seeking the unsurpassed way.
One could also see bodhisattvas who knew that phenomena are marked by tranquility and extinction, each in his respective land preaching the Law and seeking the Buddha way.
At that time the four kinds of believers seeing the Buddha Sun Moon Bright manifest his great transcendental powers, all rejoiced in their hearts, and each one asked his neighbor what had caused these events. The one honored by heavenly and human beings just then arose from his samadhi and praised Bodhisattva Wonderfully Bright, saying,
"You are the eyes of the world, one whom all can take faith in and believe, able to honor and uphold the storehouse of the Dharma. The law that I preach- you alone know how to testify to it."
The World-Honored One, having bestowed this praise, causing Wonderfully Bright to rejoice, preached the Lotus Sutra for fully sixty small kalpas. He never rose from this seat, and the supreme and wonderful Law that he preached was accepted and upheld in its entirety by the Dharma teacher Wonderfully Bright. After the Buddha had preached the Lotus, causing all the assembly to rejoice, on that very same day he announced to the assembly of heavenly and human beings,
"I have already expounded for you the meaning of the true entity of all phenomena. Now when midnight comes I will enter nirvana. You must strive with all your hearts and remove yourselves from indulgence and laxity, it is very difficult to encounter a Buddha- you meet one once in a million kalpas."
When the children of the World-Honored One heard that the Buddha was to enter nirvana, each one was filled with sorrow and distress, wondering why the Buddha should so quickly seek extinction. The sage lord, king of the Law, comforted and reassured the countless multitude, saying, "When I enter extinction you must not be concerned or fearful! This bodhisattva Virtue Storehouse has already fully understood in his mind the true entity that is without outflows. He will be next to become a Buddha, bearing the name Pure Body, and he too will save immeasurable multitudes."
That night the Buddha entered extinction, as a fire dies out when the firewood is exhausted. They divided and apportioned his relics and built immeasurable numbers of towers, and the monks and nuns whose number was like Ganges sands redoubled their exertions, thereby seeking the unsurpassed way.
This Dharma teacher Wonderfully Bright honored and upheld the Buddha's storehouse of the Dharma throughout eighty small kalpas, broadly propagating the Lotus Sutra. These eight princely sons whom Wonderfully Bright converted held firmly to the unsurpassed way and were thus able to encounter innumerable Buddhas. And after they had made offerings to these Buddhas they followed them in practicing the great way and one after the other succeeded in becoming a Buddha, each in turn bestowing a prophecy on his successor.
The last to become a heavenly being among heavenly beings was named the Buddha Burning Torch. As leader and teacher of seers he saved immeasurable multitudes. This Dharma teacher Wonderfully Bright at that time had a disciple whose mind was forever occupied with laziness and sloth, who was greedy for fame and profit. He sought fame and profit insatiably, often amusing himself among clansmen and those of other surnames. He threw away what he had studied and memorized, neglected and forgot it, failed to understand it. Because of this he was named Seeker of Fame. But he had also carried out many good actions and thus was able to meet with innumerable Buddhas. He made offerings to the Buddhas and followed them in practicing the great way, carrying out all the six paramitas, and now he has met the lion of the Shakyas.
Hereafter he will become a Buddha whose name will be Maitreya, who will save living beings extensively in numbers beyond calculation.
After that Buddha passed into extinction, that lazy and slothful one-he was you, and the Dharma teacher Wonderfully Bright- that was the person who is now I myself. I saw how the Buddha Torch Bright (Sun Moon Bright) earlier manifested an auspicious portent like this. And so I know that now this present Buddha is about to preach the Lotus Sutra. The signs now are like those of the earlier auspicious portent, this is an expedient means used by the Buddhas. Now when the Buddha emits this beam of brightness he is helping to reveal the meaning of the true entity of phenomena. Human beings now will come to know it. Let us press our palms together and wait with a single mind. The Buddha will rain down the rain of the Law to fully satisfy all seekers of the way. You who seek the three vehicles, if you have doubts and regrets, the Buddha will resolve them for you, bringing them to an end so that nothing remains.
Lotus Sutra: Chapter 2
At that time the Bhagavat arose tranquilly with insight out of samādhi and addressed Śāriputra: “Profound and immeasurable is the wisdom of the buddhas. The gate to their wisdom is hard to enter and difficult to understand. None of the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas may be capable of understanding it. Why is this? The buddhas have closely attended innumerable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of other buddhas. They have exhaustively carried out practices with courage and persistence under uncountable numbers of buddhas, their names becoming universally renowned. They have perfected this profound and unprecedented Dharma, and their intention in adapting their explanations to what is appropriate is difficult to understand.
“O Śāriputra! After attaining buddhahood I expounded the teaching extensively with various explanations and illustrations, and with skillful means (upāya) led sentient beings to rid themselves of their attachments. Why is this? Because all the Tathāgatas have attained perfect mastery of skillful means, wisdom, and insight.
“O Śāriputra! The wisdom and insight of the Tathāgatas is extensive, profound, immeasurable, and unhindered. They are possessed of power, fear- lessness, meditation, liberation, and samādhi that is profound and endless. They have completely attained this unprecedented Dharma.
“O Śāriputra! The Tathāgatas can, through various methods, skillfully illuminate the Dharma with gentle speech and gladden the hearts of the assemblies.
“O Śāriputra! To put it brieﬂy, the buddhas have attained this immeas- urable, limitless, and unprecedented Dharma. Enough, O Śāriputra, I will speak no further. Why is this? Because the Dharma that the buddhas have attained is foremost, unique, and difficult to understand. No one but the buddhas can completely know the real aspects of all dharmas—that is to say their character, nature, substance, potential, function, cause, condition, result, effect, and essential unity.”
Thereupon the Bhagavat spoke these verses to explain this meaning again:
The Heroes of the World are inconceivable,
Neither devas, humans, nor any other sentient beings Are able to comprehend them.
No one is able to discern the power, fearlessness, Liberation, samādhi, and
Other attributes of the buddhas. Formerly, under innumerable buddhas,
They have fully accomplished their practices
And the Dharma, which is profound and excellent, Hard to perceive and difficult to understand.
Having pursued these practices For innumerable koṭis of kalpas,
I attained the result on the terrace of enlightenment And understood completely.
I and the buddhas of the ten directions Know such matters,
Such as the great results and rewards,
And the meaning of various aspects and characteristics. It is impossible to explain this Dharma;
The powers of speech fail.
No other sentient being is able to understand it, Except for those bodhisattvas
Who, in their belief, are willing to understand. Even the multitude of the Buddha’s disciples,
Who have formerly paid homage to all the buddhas, Who have put an end to all their corruption
And are bearing their last bodies,
Are not able to understand it.
Even if this whole world
Were ﬁlled with those such as Śāriputra, And they tried together to comprehend it,
They still would not be able to understand completely
The wisdom of the buddhas.
Again, even if the worlds of the ten directions Were ﬁlled with such disciples
And they tried together to comprehend it,
They still would not be able to completely understand. And even if the worlds of the ten directions
Were ﬁlled with pratyekabuddhas,
As numerous as bamboo trees in a grove, Who had keen wisdom
And were bearing their last bodies, Free from corruption,
Even if they tried together singlemindedly, For innumerable kalpas,
To comprehend the wisdom of the buddhas, Still they would not understand it in the least. Even if the worlds of the ten directions
Were packed as thick as stalks of rice, Flax, bamboo, and reeds
With bodhisattvas, recent aspirants to enlightenment, Who had paid homage to innumerable buddhas— Though they fully understood the meaning
And could expound the Dharma, Even with this subtle wisdom,
If they tried together singlemindedly to comprehend, For as many kalpas as the sands of the Ganges River, They still would not be able to know
The wisdom of the buddhas. Even if bodhisattvas,
As numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, Who had reached the stage of nonretrogression, Tried together singlemindedly to comprehend it, Still they would not be able to know.
The Buddha, still speaking to Śāriputra, said:
I have already attained the profound and subtle Dharma That is incorruptible
And beyond all comprehension.
Only I and the buddhas of the ten directions know this. O Śāriputra! You should know that the words
Of the buddhas are never inconsistent. You should trust fully in the Dharma That the Buddha expounds;
The Dharma of the Bhagavat
Has been in existence for a long time.
I will now deﬁnitely expound the truth. I address myself to the śrāvakas
And those seeking the pratyekabuddha vehicle. It was I who caused them to become free
From the bondage of suffering, and to attain nirvana. I have revealed the teaching of the three vehicles With the power of the skillful means of the buddhas So as to free the sentient beings
From their various human attachments.
At that time it occurred to the great assembly of twelve hundred śrā- vakas, arhats free from corruption, beginning with Ājñātakauṇḍinya, and the other monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen who had set out to become śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas: “Why has the Bhagavat just now so earnestly praised skillful means? For what reason has he declared that the Dharma that the buddhas have attained is very profound and difficult to understand? Why has he said that their intention in adapting their teaching to what is appro- priate is so difficult to comprehend that all the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas are not able to understand it?
“As long as the Buddha taught the meaning of the single liberation we thought we had attained that Dharma and achieved nirvana. But now we do not understand what he means.”
At that time Śāriputra, aware of the confusion of the fourfold assem- blies and himself also feeling confused, addressed the Buddha saying:
“O Bhagavat! For what reason and on what grounds have you so earnestly praised the unique skillful means of the buddhas and the profound and subtle Dharma that is difficult to understand? Never before have I heard such a thing from the Buddha. Now Bhagavat, I entreat you to explain this because the four- fold assemblies are confused. O Bhagavat! Why have you so earnestly praised the Dharma that is profound, subtle, and difficult to understand?”
Thereupon Śāriputra, wanting to further explain what he meant, spoke these verses:
O Great Seer, Sun of Wisdom!
Now, after a long time,
You have taught this Dharma, saying,
I have attained the inconceivable Dharma,
That is to say, power, fearlessness,
Samādhi, meditation, and liberation.
No one has ever questioned the Dharma
That I attained on the terrace of enlightenment.
No one has ever questioned my intentions,
So difficult to conceive.
Without being asked
You explained it by yourself
And praised the path you have practiced, saying,
The wisdom the buddhas have attained
Is extremely subtle!
The arhats free from corruption
And those seeking nirvana
Have all fallen into confusion.
Why has the Buddha said this?
Those seeking to become pratyekabuddhas,
Monks, nuns, devas, nāgas,
Yakṣas, gandharvas, and the others
Glanced at each other in confusion
And looking toward the Best of Humans asked:
"O Buddha! We entreat you to explain why this is so!"
The Buddha has said that I am the foremost
Among the śrāvakas, yet now I am confused
About my own knowledge and unable to understand.
Is it the ultimate Dharma?
Is it a path to be practiced?
The sons born from the mouths of the buddhas
Stand waiting with palms pressed together,
Looking at the Buddha.
I entreat you to proclaim the truth,
Speaking in the ﬁnest voice!
The devas, nāgas, and others,
As numerous as the sands of the Ganges River,
As many as eighty thousand bodhisattvas
Who are seeking buddhahood, and noble emperors
Who have come from myriads of koṭis of countries,
Are all standing respectfully with palms pressed together
Asking how to accomplish the path.
Then the Buddha addressed Śāriputra, saying: “Enough, enough! Speak no more! If I explained this matter, the devas and humans in all the worlds would be astounded.”
Then Śāriputra again addressed the Buddha: “O Bhagavat! Please explain it! I entreat you to explain it, because in this assembly there are innumerable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of incalculable sentient beings, sharp in faculties and possessed of wisdom, who have previously encoun- tered the buddhas. When they hear the teaching of the Buddha they will trust, believe, and accept it.”
Thereupon Śāriputra spoke in verse to explain this again:
O King of the Dharma, the Best of Humans!
I entreat you to explain it.
Please explain it without hesitation!
In this assembly there are innumerable sentient beings
Who will trust and accept it.
Then the Buddha again tried to dissuade Śāriputra, saying: “If I explain it, the devas, humans, and asuras in all the worlds will be astounded, and arrogant monks will certainly go to their downfall.”
At that time the Bhagavat again spoke in verse:
Enough, enough! Speak no more!
The Dharma that I have attained
Is excellent and incomprehensible.
Though the arrogant hear it,
They will never accept it.
And again Śāriputra addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat! Please explain it! Please explain it! In this assembly there are people like me and others, numbering into the hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of beings, who have been led and inspired by the buddhas in their former exis- tences. Such people will certainly trust, believe, and accept it. And they will beneﬁt, proﬁt, and receive solace from it for a very long time.”
Thereupon Śāriputra spoke these verses to elaborate on what he meant:
O Best of Humans!
Please teach the ultimate Dharma!
I am the eldest son of the Buddha.
Please illuminate and explain it!
Innumerable beings in this assembly
Will certainly trust and accept this Dharma,
Because the Buddha in former existences
Led and inspired such people.
All of them will attentively listen and accept,
Their palms pressed together,
To the words of the Buddha.
I entreat you to illuminate and explain it
For the assembly of twelve hundred people like me,
And the others seeking buddhahood.
When they hear this Dharma
They will bring forth great joy.
Then the Bhagavat spoke to Śāriputra, saying: “You have now per- sistently asked me three times. How could I possibly not explain it to you?
Therefore listen carefully and pay close attention! I will now illuminate and explain it.”
When he said this, ﬁve thousand monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen in the assembly immediately got up from their seats, bowed to the Buddha, and left. What was the reason for this? Because the roots of error among this group had been deeply planted and they were arrogant, thinking they had attained what they had not attained and had realized what they had not realized. Because of such defects they did not stay. And the Bhagavat remained silent and did not stop them.
Then the Buddha addressed Śāriputra: “My assembly here is free of use- less twigs and leaves; only the pure essence remains.
“O Śāriputra! Let the arrogant ones go! Listen carefully and I will explain it to you.”
Then Śāriputra replied: “Indeed, O Bhagavat, I greatly desire to hear it.” Then the Buddha addressed Śāriputra: “Only very rarely do the Buddha Tathāgatas teach such a True Dharma as this, as rarely as the uḍumbara ﬂower blooms.
“O Śāriputra! Trust and accept what the Buddha teaches! My words are never false.
“O Śāriputra! The real intention of all the buddhas in adapting their explanations to what is appropriate is difficult to understand. Why is this? Because I have expounded the teachings with innumerable skillful means and various kinds of explanations and illustrations. Yet this Dharma is beyond reason and discernment. Only the buddhas can understand it. Why is this? Because the Buddha Bhagavats appear in this world for one great purpose alone. O Śāriputra! Now I will explain why I said that the Buddha Bhaga- vats appear in this world for only one great purpose.
“The Buddha Bhagavat appear in this world to cause sentient beings to aspire toward purity and the wisdom and insight of the buddhas. They appear in this world to manifest the wisdom and insight of the buddhas to sentient beings. They appear in this world to cause sentient beings to attain the wisdom and insight of a buddha’s enlightenment. They appear in this world in order to cause sentient beings to enter the path of the wisdom and insight of a buddha.
“O Śāriputra! For this one great reason alone the buddhas have appeared in this world.”
The Buddha addressed Śāriputra, saying: “The Buddha Tathāgatas lead and inspire only bodhisattvas. All the acts of a buddha are always for one purpose. The buddhas manifest their wisdom and insight solely to inspire sentient beings to enlightenment.
“O Śāriputra! A Tathāgata teaches sentient beings the Dharma only through the single buddha vehicle. There is no other, neither a second nor a third.
“O Śāriputra! The true nature of all the buddhas of the ten directions is exactly like this.
“O Śāriputra! All the buddhas of the past expounded the teachings for the sake of sentient beings, using incalculable and innumerable skillful means and various explanations and illustrations. These teachings were all for the sake of the single buddha vehicle. All these sentient beings, hearing the Dharma from the buddhas, ﬁnally attained omniscience.
“O Śāriputra! All the future buddhas who will appear in the world will expound the teachings for the sake of sentient beings, using incalculable and innumerable skillful means and various explanations and illustrations. These teachings will all be for the single buddha vehicle. All sentient beings who hear this Dharma from these buddhas will ultimately attain omniscience.
“O Śāriputra! All the Buddha Bhagavats of the present, in immeasurable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of buddha worlds of the ten directions, teach the Dharma to sentient beings using incalculable and innumerable skillful means with various explanations and illustrations to beneﬁt many of them and cause them to feel at peace. These Dharmas are all of the single buddha vehicle. All the sentient beings who hear the Dharma from these buddhas will ultimately attain omniscience.
“O Śāriputra! These buddhas lead and inspire only bodhisattvas, because they want to teach sentient beings with the wisdom and insight of the Buddha, to enlighten sentient beings with the wisdom and insight of the Buddha, and to cause sentient beings to enter the path of the wisdom and insight of the Buddha.
“O Śāriputra! I too am now like this. Having understood the various desires and deep-rooted inclinations of sentient beings, I teach the Dharma according to their capacities through the power of skillful means, using var- ious explanations and illustrations.
“O Śāriputra! I do this in order to cause them to attain the omniscience of the single buddha vehicle.
“O Śāriputra! Since there is no second vehicle in the worlds of the ten directions, how could there be a third!
“O Śāriputra! The buddhas appear in the troubled world of the ﬁve deﬁlements, which are the deﬁlement of the kalpa, the deﬁlement through desire’s confusion, the deﬁlement of sentient beings, the deﬁlement of views, and the deﬁlement of lifespan. Therefore, O Śāriputra, in the period of the decadent kalpa, because sentient beings are ﬁlthy, greedy, jealous, and develop roots of error, all the buddhas illuminate the three [vehicles] with the power of skillful means in order to teach the single buddha vehicle.
“O Śāriputra! If any of my disciples declare that they are arhats or pratyekabuddhas, and do not listen or comprehend that all the Buddha Tathā- gatas teach only the bodhisattvas, they are not disciples of the buddhas, nor are they arhats or pratyekabuddhas.
“Again, O Śāriputra! If there are any monks or nuns who would declare that they have attained arhatship, that they are bearing their last bodies and are destined for complete nirvana, and yet who have not sought highest, complete enlightenment, they should be considered arrogant people.
“Why is this? Because there is no case in which a monk who has actually achieved arhatship does not believe in this Dharma, except after the Buddha has entered parinirvāṇa and there is no buddha present.
“What is the reason for this? Because after the parinirvāṇa of the Buddha it is hard to ﬁnd people who preserve, recite, and understand the meaning of the sutras like this. But if they should meet other buddhas they will imme- diately understand this teaching.
“O Śāriputra! You should wholeheartedly accept and preserve the words of the Buddha. The words of the Buddha Tathāgatas are never false. There are no other vehicles, only the single buddha vehicle.”
Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate the meaning of this further, uttered these verses:
In the fourfold assembly there were ﬁve thousand
Monks and nuns who were excessively proud,
Laymen who were arrogant,
And laywomen who were unaccepting.
They did not see their own defects,
Being faulty in self-discipline,
And clung to their shortcomings;
These of little wisdom have already left.
Through the virtuous dignity of the Buddha
The dregs of the assembly have departed.
Having little virtue,
These people were incapable of accepting this Dharma.
Free of useless twigs and leaves,
Only the pure essence of this assembly remains.
O Śāriputra, listen carefully!
All the buddhas teach the Dharma
That they have attained
Through the immeasurable power of skillful means,
For the sake of sentient beings.
Completely knowing their intentions,
Their various ways of practice,
Their wishes and capacities,
And the good and bad karma
Of their previous lives,
The Buddha gladdens all sentient beings
With the power of words and skillful means,
Using examples and illustrations.
The Buddha teaches by means of sutras, verses,
Stories of his past deeds, and of past events,
Miraculous tales, explanatory tales,
Allegories, poems, and exegeses.
The Buddha teaches nirvana
To those with dull faculties,
Who are satisﬁed with lowly aspirations
And attached to birth and death,
Who have not practiced the profound path
In the presence of innumerable buddhas
And are confused by suffering.
Having devised this skillful means
I enable them to enter the wisdom of the buddhas.
But I have never said
That all of you would attain
The path of the buddhas.
I have never said this
Because the occasion never arose.
Now is precisely the right time for me
To teach deﬁnitively the Mahayana.
I apply these nine kinds of teachings
According to the capacities of sentient beings.
I teach these sutras
Because they are the basis for entering the Mahayana.
I teach the Mahayana sutras
To those heirs of the buddhas
Who are pure in mind, mild, and receptive,
Have keen faculties,
And who have practiced the profound path
Under immeasurable buddhas.
I predict that such people
Will attain the path of the buddhas
In their future lives,
Because they keep the buddhas in mind
With profound thoughts
And practice pure conduct.
Hearing that they shall attain buddhahood
They will be ﬁlled with great joy;
Because a buddha knows their intentions
He teaches the Mahayana.
Those śrāvakas or bodhisattvas,
Who have heard even a single verse
Of the Dharma that I have taught,
Will all become buddhas.
There can be no doubt about it.
In the buddha worlds of the ten directions
There is only the Dharma of the single vehicle.
Apart from the skillful means of the buddhas,
There is neither a second nor a third [vehicle].
A buddha merely uses provisional words
In order to lead sentient beings.
All the buddhas appear in the world
To teach the wisdom of the buddhas.
Only this one thing is real,
The other two are not true.
In the end,
A buddha does not save sentient beings
Through an inferior vehicle.
The buddhas themselves Abide in the Mahayana;
The Dharma that they have attained,
Is adorned with meditation, wisdom, and power;
And through these they save the sentient beings.
I would be ungenerous
If I were to lead and inspire even a single person
Through an inferior vehicle,
Having attained the highest path,
The universal Dharma of the Mahayana.
This is simply not possible.
If anyone takes refuge in the Buddha,
The Tathāgata will not deceive him.
A Tathāgata has neither stinginess nor jealousy
And has detached himself
From the evils of the phenomenal world.
That is why the buddhas of the ten directions
Are the only ones who have no fear.
Having a body adorned with the marks of a buddha,
Emitting a ray of light that illuminates the worlds
And revered by immeasurable sentient beings,
I teach the signs of the true aspects
Of the phenomenal world.
O Śāriputra! You should now know
That originally I made a vow
To make all sentient beings my equal
Without any difference.
Now I have already fulﬁlled this vow
That I made in the past.
I will lead and inspire all sentient beings
And cause them to enter the path of the buddhas.
If I met sentient beings
And taught them till the end the path of the buddhas,
Those with little understanding
Would be confused and perplexed
And would not accept the teaching.
I know that these sentient beings
Have never cultivated the roots of good merit.
They are attached to the desires of the ﬁve senses,
Disordered by delusion and passion,
And have fallen into the three troubled states of being
Because of these desires.
They are wandering through The six transmigratory states,
Tormented by every kind of suffering.
They are continually being born as tiny embryos
In one world after another.
These people of few qualities and little merit
Are afﬂicted by various sufferings.
They enter into the jungle of sixty-two false views
Such as “This exists” or “This does not exist.”
They are so ﬁrmly and deeply attached to false teachings
That they cannot get rid of them.
They are arrogant, proud, deceitful, and dishonest.
They have heard neither the names
Nor the True Dharma of the buddhas
For thousands of myriads of koṭis of kalpas.
Such people are difficult to save.
That is why, O Śāriputra, I devised the method of teaching
The way to extinguish all suffering through nirvana.
Even though I taught nirvana,
It is not the true extinction.
Every existing thing from the very beginning
Has always had the mark of quiescence.
The heirs of the buddhas who practice this path
Will thereafter become buddhas in the future.
With the power of skillful means
I have presented the teachings of the three vehicles.
Yet all of the Bhagavats
Teach the path of the single vehicle.
This great assembly
Should now rid itself of confusion.
The words of the buddhas are not inconsistent.
There is only the single vehicle;
There is no other.
In the past innumerable kalpas
There appeared immeasurable and incalculable buddhas,
Hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis in number,
Who have attained parinirvāṇa.
All the Bhagavats
Taught the characteristics of all dharmas
With the power of innumerable skillful means,
Using various examples and illustrations.
All these Bhagavats
Taught the Dharma of the single vehicle,
Led and inspired immeasurable sentient beings,
And enabled them to enter the path of the buddhas.
Understanding the deepest desires of the entire world
Of the devas, humans, and other beings,
The Great Sage Lord has illuminated
The highest meaning
With diverse skillful means.
All those sentient beings
Who encountered and heard the teaching
Of the buddhas of the past,
And who accumulated various merits
Through acts of giving (dāna), integrity (śīla), perseverance (kṣānti),
Diligence (vīrya), meditation (dhyāna), and wisdom (prajñā)
(i.e., the six perfections)
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.
And after the parinirvāṇa of the buddhas,
Those sentient beings with well-governed minds
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.
After the buddhas attained parinirvāṇa,
All those who paid homage to the relics,
Who made myriads of koṭis of stupas
Extensively and beautifully adorned with gold, silver,
Crystal, mother of pearl, agate, ruby,
Lapis lazuli, and pearl;
Those who made rock stupas,
Stupas out of sandal, aloe, deodar, and other woods,
As well as brick, tile, mud, and other materials;
All those who made buddha stupas
Out of piles of earth in desolate places;
And even children in play
Who made buddha stupas out of heaps of sand —
All such people have certainly attained
The path of the buddhas.
And all those who made images of the buddhas
Carved with their extraordinary marks
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.
All those who made buddha images
Out of the seven treasures,
Decorated with brass, copper, pewter, lead,
Tin, iron, wood, mud, glue, lacquer, and cloth,
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.
All those who made or had others make buddha images
Painted with the one hundred embellishing
Marks of merit,
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.
This even includes children in play
Who have drawn a buddha image With a blade of grass or a twig,
Brush or ﬁngernail.
Such people, having gradually accumulated merit
And perfected great compassion,
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.
Leading and inspiring the bodhisattvas,
They save countless sentient beings.
All those who paid homage to stupas, Sculpted or painted images,
Honoring them with ﬂowers, perfumes,
Banners, and canopies;
Those who paid homage with all kinds of sweet music —
With drums, horns, conches, pipes, ﬂutes, lutes, harps,
Mandolins, gongs, and cymbals;
Those who joyfully praised the qualities of the buddhas
With various songs or
Even with a single low-pitched sound,
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.
Those who, even with distracted minds
Have offered a single ﬂower to a painted image
Will in time see innumerable buddhas.
Or those who have done obeisance to images,
Or merely pressed their palms together,
Or raised a single hand, or nodded their heads,
Will in due time see immeasurable buddhas.
They will attain the highest path
And extensively save innumerable sentient beings.
They will enter nirvana without residue
Just as a ﬁre goes out after its wood is exhausted.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Homage to the Buddha!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas. Anyone who heard this teaching,
Either in the presence of a past buddha Or after their parinirvāṇa,
Has certainly attained the path of the buddhas. The future Bhagavats, Tathāgatas, Immeasurable in number,
Will teach the Dharma with skillful means.
All the Tathāgatas
Will save sentient beings
With immeasurable skillful means,
Causing them to enter the wisdom of the buddhas
That is free from corruption.
Of those hearing this Dharma There will be no one
Who will not become a buddha. The original vow of the buddhas
Was to cause all sentient beings to universally
Attain the very same buddha path
That I have practiced.
Even though the buddhas of the future Will teach hundreds of thousands of koṭis Of innumerable paths to the Dharma, Their teachings will actually be
For the sake of the single vehicle.
All the buddhas, the Best of Humans,
Know that all dharmas are ever without substance And that the buddha-seeds germinate
Through dependent origination.
That is why they will teach the single vehicle. Having realized on the terrace of enlightenment That the state of the Dharma
Is permanent and unchangeable in this world,
The Leaders will teach with skillful means. The present buddhas of the ten directions,
As numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, Revered by devas and humans,
Appear in the world and teach this Dharma To make sentient beings feel at peace.
They know the utmost tranquility, And although they teach various paths With the power of skillful means,
Their teachings are actually for the buddha vehicle. Knowing the character of sentient beings —
Their deep intentions, past acts,
Wishes, persistence, and strength, Their keen or dull faculties —
The buddhas teach with skillful means
Using various explanations, illustrations, and words, In accordance with the capacities of sentient beings.
Now I too reveal the path of the buddhas
Through various paths to the Dharma To make sentient beings feel at peace.
Through the power of my wisdom
I know the dispositions and desires of sentient beings, And explain various teachings with skillful means,
Enabling them all to obtain joy.
You should know that through the buddha-eye
I see beings wandering in the six states of existence
Who are poor, deprived of merit and wisdom,
Who are entering into the bitter path of birth and death, And are suffering repeatedly and without end.
They are deeply attached to the desires of the ﬁve senses, Just as yaks are attached to their tails.
Obstructed by greed, they are blind and cannot see.
They do not seek the buddha who has great power,
Nor the Dharma that cuts off suffering. Deeply immersed in false views,
They try to eliminate suffering through suffering.
I feel great compassion for such sentient beings.
Sitting on the terrace of enlightenment for the ﬁrst time,
Looking at the bodhi tree
And walking about,
During those twenty-one days I was thinking thus:
The wisdom I have attained Is subtle and supreme.
But the faculties of sentient beings are dull.
They are attached to pleasures and blinded by delusion.
How can I save such beings?
Then Brahma and his devaputras, Śakra,
The world-protectors of the four quarters, Maheśvara and the other devas,
Together with a retinue of hundreds of thousands of myriads of attendants,
Paid their respects with palms pressed together
And begged me to turn the wheel of the Dharma.
Then I thought:
If I only praise the buddha vehicles,
Those beings who are submerged in suffering will not believe this Dharma.
Because they reject and do not believe the Dharma,
They will fall into the three troubled states of being.
I would rather not teach the Dharma and instead immediately enter nirvana.
Then I thought of the power of skillful means
Practiced by past buddhas.
This path that I have attained
Should now also be taught as the three vehicles. When I thought this,
The buddhas of the ten directions appeared
And with beautiful voices praised me saying:
O Śākyamuni! Splendid! O Supreme Leader,
You have attained the highest Dharma,
And yet still use the power of skillful means, Following all the other buddhas.
We too have attained the best and utmost Dharma And with discretion have explained the three vehicles For the sake of sentient beings.
Those with little wisdom Seek inferior teachings
And do not believe that they will become buddhas. That is why we use skillful means
And with discretion teach of various results. Although we teach the three vehicles
It is just for the instruction of the bodhisattvas!
You should know
That when I heard this profound
And beautiful roar of the Noble Lions,
I chanted with joy, “Homage to the buddhas!” And I thought:
Since I have been born in this deﬁled world I will follow the other buddhas
And expound what they have expounded.
After contemplating this I set out for Vārāṇasī.
All dharmas have the tranquil character Of the Dharma:
This could not be expressed in words, So I taught the ﬁve monks
Through the power of skillful means.
This I named: “Turning the Wheel of the Dharma,” And immediately the word nirvana appeared in it And the different designations for Arhat (Buddha), Dharma, and Sangha.
From a great many kalpas ago I have always taught like this: I have praised and illuminated The teaching of nirvana,
Saying that it ends the sufferings Of birth and death.
You should know that I see
Immeasurable thousands of myriads of koṭis Of the Buddha’s heirs,
Who, having set out for the buddha path,
And heard the Dharma explained with skillful means, Have respectfully come before the Buddha.
Then I thought:
The reason why the Tathāgatas appear is To explain the wisdom of the buddhas. Now is precisely the right time for this!
You should know that
Those who have dull faculties and little wisdom, And those who are attached to mere signs and Are arrogant cannot accept this teaching.
Now I am happy and fearless.
Having openly set aside skillful means, I will teach only the highest path
To all the bodhisattvas. Having heard this teaching
The bodhisattvas and twelve hundred arhats, Freeing themselves from the web of doubt,
Will all become buddhas.
Just as the buddhas in the three periods Of the past, present, and future,
Teach the true nature of the Dharma, Now I too will expound the Dharma That is beyond conception.
All the buddhas
Appear in worlds far away And are difficult to meet.
Even if they appear in this world It is difficult to hear their teaching.
Even in immeasurable, innumerable kalpas It is difficult to hear this Dharma,
And those who are able to hear this Dharma Are also hard to ﬁnd.
They are just like the uḍumbara ﬂower Which appears only once in a very long while And, beloved by all,
Is considered a wonder among devas and humans. Those who, hearing this teaching,
Happily praise the buddhas By uttering even a single word
Have already paid homage to all buddhas Of the three periods.
Such people are even more extraordinary Than the uḍumbara ﬂower.
All of you, have no doubts! I, the King of the Dharma,
Now proclaim to the great assembly:
I lead and inspire the bodhisattvas
Only with the path of the single vehicle; I am here without disciples.
O Śāriputra and all of you!
The śrāvakas and bodhisattvas should know
That this True Dharma is the hidden essence Of all the buddhas.
In the troubled worlds of the ﬁve kinds of deﬁlement, Sentient beings are only attached to various desires, And ultimately do not seek the path of the buddhas. In the future the impure will hear
The Buddha teach the single vehicle,
But they will be confused and will not accept it. They will reject the Dharma
And fall into the troubled states of being. To those who are modest and pure,
And seek the path of the buddhas, I will praise extensively
The path of the single vehicle. O Śāriputra!
You should know that the Dharma Of all the buddhas is like this.
They teach the Dharma
With myriads of koṭis of skillful means, According to the capacities of sentient beings; The inexperienced cannot understand this.
You have come to know with certainty the skillful means Of the buddhas, the Teachers of the World,
That are expounded in accordance With people’s capacities.
All of you, have no further doubts! Let great joy arise in your hearts
And know that you will all become buddhas!
Lotus Sutra: Chapter 3
Thereupon Śāriputra stood up ecstatic and joyful, pressed his palms together and, gazing at the Buddha, the Bhagavat, said: “Now, hearing the words of this Dharma from the Bhagavat, my heart is full of joy for I have experi- enced something unprecedented. What is the reason for this? In the past when I heard this Dharma from the Buddha and saw the bodhisattvas receive their predictions, I was not included. I grieved because I thought I had been deprived of the immeasurable wisdom and insight of the Tathāgata.
“O Bhagavat! While I was dwelling alone under forest trees, whether sitting or walking, I was constantly thinking this: ‘Since we have also real- ized the true nature of the Dharma, why has the Tathāgata tried to save us with the teachings of the inferior vehicle?’
“The fault is ours, not the Bhagavat’s. Why is this? If we had waited for your explanation about the way to achieve highest, complete enlightenment, we certainly would have been able to save ourselves by means of the Mahayana. However, we did not understand that you were teaching with skillful means, according to what is appropriate to us. When we ﬁrst heard the Buddha’s teaching, we immediately accepted, contemplated, and under- stood it.
“O Bhagavat! Since long ago I have reproached myself incessantly day and night. But now from the Buddha we have heard the unprecedented Dharma that we have never heard before, and it has removed all our doubts.
“I have obtained peace and tranquility in body and mind. Today I have ﬁnally realized that I am truly the heir of the Buddha, born from the mouth of the Buddha, incarnated from the Dharma, and that I have inherited a part of the Buddha-Dharma.”
Then Śāriputra, wanting to elaborate this meaning, spoke again in verse:
When I heard the words of this Dharma,
Experiencing something unprecedented,
My heart overﬂowed with joy,
And I was rid of all my doubts.
From long ago, ever since I heard
The teaching of the Buddha,
I have not lost the Mahayana.
The words of the buddhas are extremely rare
And are capable of ridding sentient beings Of their suffering.
Although I had already attained freedom from corruption,
By hearing the Buddha’s voice,
I have also been rid of my anxiety.
Whether I was dwelling in mountain valleys or under forest trees,
Whether I was sitting or walking, Grieving and blaming myself deeply,
I thought incessantly:
How have I deceived myself!
I am also the heir of the buddhas,
Having entered the same incorruptible Dharma. Nevertheless, in the future,
I shall not be able to explain the highest path. The golden color, the thirty-two marks,
The ten powers, and the liberations Are all in the same Dharma;
And yet I have not attained any of these. Moreover, such qualities as
The eighty excellent and eighteen special characteristics
Are completely lost to me.
When I was wandering alone,
I saw the Buddha in the great assembly
Filling the ten directions with his fame and greatly beneﬁting sentient beings.
I then thought:
I have lost all these beneﬁts
Because I have been deceiving myself.
I thought about this constantly day and night
And wanted to ask the Bhagavat:
Have I or have I not lost these?
I always saw the Bhagavat Praising the bodhisattvas.
That is why I pondered over such matters As these both day and night.
Now I have heard the words of the Buddha, Explaining to sentient beings
The incorruptible Dharma, Which is difficult to comprehend, And making them enter
The terrace of enlightenment. Formerly, I was attached to false views And was a teacher of brahmans.
The Bhagavat, knowing my mind,
Removed the false views and taught nirvana. I got rid of false views completely
And attained the teaching of emptiness. At that time I considered myself
To have attained nirvana.
But now I have become aware That this was not the real nirvana. When I become a buddha
I shall be endowed with the thirty-two marks,
And be honored by devas, humans, yakṣas, and nāgas.
Only then can it be said that I have
Permanently attained nirvana without residue. Before the great assembly
The Buddha has proclaimed That I will become a buddha.
After hearing these words of the Dharma, I was immediately rid of all my doubts.
When I ﬁrst heard this teaching of the Buddha’s, I was greatly startled and thought:
I wonder if Māra, acting like the Buddha,
Is confusing me!
But the Buddha, who teaches skillfully
By means of various explanations and illustrations, Has made my mind tranquil like the ocean.
While listening to him
I was freed from the web of my doubts.
The Buddha has said that immeasurable buddhas Who have attained parinirvāṇa in the past, Established in the use of skillful means,
Have also taught this Dharma.
Immeasurable buddhas in the present and future Will also teach this Dharma
With various skillful means. The present Bhagavat, From the time he was born
And renounced household life Until he obtained the path
And turned the wheel of the Dharma, Has also taught through skillful means.
The Bhagavat teaches the real path, But the Wicked One does not.
Therefore I know deﬁnitely
That it was not Māra acting like the Buddha. Because I fell into a web of doubt,
I thought that Māra was impersonating the Buddha. When I heard the voice of the Buddha,
Profound and very subtle,
Fluently explaining the pure Dharma, I became full of great joy.
My doubts are completely and forever exhausted, And I have achieved the true wisdom.
I will deﬁnitely become a buddha, honored by devas and humans.
I will turn the wheel of the highest Dharma
And lead and inspire the bodhisattvas.
At that time the Buddha said to Śāriputra: “I will now reveal to you before the great assembly of devas, humans, śrāmaṇas, and brahmans that in the past, in the presence of two hundred thousand koṭis of buddhas, I led and inspired you constantly for the sake of the highest path. You have fol- lowed my instructions for a long time. Because I led you with skillful means, you were born in my Dharma.
“O Śāriputra! In the past I inspired you to seek the buddha path. Yet just now you had completely forgotten this and considered yourself to have attained nirvana. Now, because I want you to remember the path that you practiced according to your original vow in the past, I will teach the śrā- vakas the Mahayana sutra called the Lotus Sutra, the instruction for the bodhi- sattvas and treasured lore of the buddhas.’
“O Śāriputra! In the future after immeasurable, limitless, and incon- ceivable kalpas, you will have paid homage to thousands of myriads of koṭis of buddhas, preserved the True Dharma, and mastered the path practiced by the bodhisattvas. You will become a buddha called Padmaprabha, a Tathā- gata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat.
“Your land will be called Viraja. Its earth will be level and pure, orna- mented, peaceful, and rich. The devas and humans will prosper. The earth will be made of lapis lazuli with a well-planned network of roads like a chess- board bordered with golden cords. Rows of seven-jeweled trees, which are always full of ﬂowers and fruits, will line the borders of these roads. The Tathāgata Padmaprabha will also lead and inspire sentient beings by means of the three vehicles.
“O Śāriputra! When that buddha appears, even though his will not be a troubled world, he will teach the three vehicles because of his original vow.
This kalpa will be called Mahāratnapratimaṇḍita, meaning ‘Adorned with Great Jewels.’ Why will it be called Mahāratnapratimaṇḍita? Because in that world the bodhisattvas will be like great jewels. The number of these bodhi- sattvas will be immeasurable, limitless, inconceivable, and beyond all com- parison, known only by those with the power of the Buddha’s wisdom. “When they want to walk they will step on jeweled ﬂowers. And these bodhisattvas will not be those who are just setting out. Over a long time they will have planted roots of good merit and practiced the pure path of disci- pline and integrity in the presence of immeasurable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of buddhas. They will always be praised by the buddhas and continually practice the buddha wisdom. They will be endowed with transcendent powers and know well all the teachings of the Dharma. They will be honest, without falsity, and ﬁrm in recollection. That world will be
ﬁlled with bodhisattvas like these.
“O Śāriputra! The lifespan of this buddha Padmaprabha will be twelve intermediate kalpas, not including the period after he becomes a prince and before he becomes a buddha; and the lifespan of the people in that world will be eight intermediate kalpas.
“After these twelve intermediate kalpas have passed, the Tathāgata Padmaprabha will predict Bodhisattva Dhṛtiparipūrṇa’s attainment of high- est, complete enlightenment and will address the monks, saying:
This Bodhisattva Dhṛtiparipūrṇa will become the next buddha after me. His name will be Padmavṛṣabhavikrama, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Com- pletely Enlightened. His buddha world will also be like this one.
“O Śāriputra! After the parinirvāṇa of the Buddha Padmaprabha the True Dharma will remain in the world for thirty-two intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also remain in the world for thirty-two inter- mediate kalpas.”
Then the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this again, spoke these verses:
O Śāriputra! In the future
You will become a buddha of universal wisdom
Who will save innumerable sentient beings.
Having paid homage to innumerable buddhas, Perfected the bodhisattva practice,
And the qualities, including the ten powers,
You will attain the highest path.
After immeasurable kalpas have passed,
The kalpa will be called Prabhūtaratna,
And the world will be called Viraja, Pure and without dirt.
The earth will be made of lapis lazuli
And the roads, bordered with golden cords,
Will be lined with variegated trees of the seven treasures
Which are always full of ﬂowers and fruits.
The bodhisattvas in that world Will be always ﬁrm in recollection.
All of them will be completely endowed With transcendent powers and the perfections
And will have properly practiced the bodhisattva path In the presence of innumerable buddhas.
Such mahasattvas as these
Will be led and inspired by the Buddha Padmaprabha.
When this buddha becomes a prince
He will abdicate his kingship And give up his worldly fame. Bearing his last body,
He will renounce household life And attain the path of the Buddha.
This Buddha Padmaprabha will live in the world For twelve intermediate kalpas.
And the lifespan of the people in this world Will be eight intermediate kalpas.,
After the parinirvāṇa of this buddha, The True Dharma will last in the world
For thirty-two intermediate kalpas, During which time many sentient beings Will be saved.
After the extinction of the True Dharma, The Semblance Dharma will last
For thirty-two intermediate kalpas. The relics of the Buddha
Will be distributed widely
And devas and humans will pay them homage.
All that the Buddha Padmaprabha does
Will be exactly like this. That very Best of Humans,
Who will be foremost and without comparison, Is none other than you.
You should be delighted to hear this!
At that time the fourfold assembly of monks, nuns, laymen, and lay- women and the great assembly of devas, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṃnaras, and mahoragas saw Śāriputra receive his prediction of highest, complete enlightenment in the presence of the Buddha. They rejoiced greatly and became immeasurably happy. All of them removed their outer garments and proffered them to the Buddha as offerings.
Śakra, the lord of devas, and Brahma, together with innumerable deva- putras also made offerings to the Buddha of their heavenly beautiful gar- ments, heavenly māndārava ﬂowers, and great māndārava ﬂowers. Their heavenly garments ﬂoated and ﬂuttered in the air, while in the sky the devas played hundreds of thousands of myriads of kinds of music together at one time. They rained down various heavenly ﬂowers and said: “In the past the Buddha turned the wheel of the Dharma for the ﬁrst time in Vārāṇasī. Now he has turned the wheel of the utmost and greatest Dharma again.”
Thereupon the devaputras spoke these verses in order to explain this again:
In the past you turned the wheel of the Dharma
Of the Four [Noble] Truths in Vārāṇasī;
And you illuminated and explained the Dharma
Of the origination and extinction of the ﬁve aggregates.
You have now again turned the wheel
Of the subtlest, utmost, and greatest Dharma.
This Dharma is extremely profound;
Only a few will be able to believe it.
Since long ago we have frequently heard
The teaching of the Bhagavat,
Yet we have never before heard such a profound and supreme teaching.
When the Bhagavat taught this Dharma
We were all delighted.
And now Śāriputra, possessed of great wisdom,
Has received his prediction from the Bhagavat. In the same way, we too,
Shall certainly become buddhas.
We shall become peerless, Unrivaled in all the world.
The path of the Buddha,
Which is difficult to understand, Is taught with skillful means
According to what is appropriate for sentient beings.
May the merits of our beneﬁcial acts,
Whether of the past or the present,
And those acquired in meeting the Buddha,
Be completely transferred to the buddha path.
At that time Śāriputra said this to the Buddha: “O Bhagavat! I now have no further doubts. I have received the prediction of the highest supreme enlightenment in the presence of the Buddha.
“When all those twelve hundred who have attained complete mental discipline were still under training in the past, the Buddha constantly led and inspired them, saying: ‘My teaching overcomes birth, old age, illness, and death and it leads to nirvana.’ Both those who were still in training and those who were not thought that they were free from false views about the self, existence and nonexistence, and declared that they had attained nirvana. Yet now, in the presence of the Bhagavat, they have heard what they have never heard before and have fallen into doubt.
“Splendid, O Bhagavat! I entreat you to explain to the fourfold assem- bly the reason why, and free them from their doubts!”
Then the Buddha said to Śāriputra: “Did I not previously tell you that all the Buddha Bhagavats explain the Dharma with various explanations and illustrations using skillful means, all for the sake of highest, complete enlight- enment!? All of these teachings are for leading and inspiring the bodhisattvas. “Moreover, Śāriputra, I will now clarify what I mean with illustrations.
Those with wisdom will be able to understand through these illustrations. “O Śāriputra! Suppose there were an aged and extremely afﬂuent man, either in a town, city, or country, who has immeasurable wealth, abundant estates, mansions, and servants. He has a spacious house, yet it only has a single entrance. Suppose many people live there, as many as one, two, or even ﬁve hundred people. The buildings are in poor repair, the fences and walls are crumbling, the pillar bases are rotten, and the beams and frame-
work are dangerously tilted.
“Suddenly and unexpectedly, ﬁres break out everywhere, setting the house swiftly aﬂame. The children of this man, ten, twenty, or thirty in num- ber are in the house.
“The afﬂuent man, seeing the ﬁre breaking out everywhere, becomes alarmed and terriﬁed. He thinks:
I am capable of escaping through the burning entrance in safety, but my children are absorbed in play within the burning house and are not aware [of the ﬁre], do not know, are not alarmed or terriﬁed, and the ﬁre is approaching them! They are not troubled about their suffering nor do they intend to leave the house.
“O Śāriputra, this afﬂuent man thought:
Since I am still physically strong I could take the children out of the house in the folds of my garment or on top of a desk.
“He further thought:
There is only one entrance to this house and it is very narrow. The chil- dren, who are immature and still unaware, are attached to their place of play. They may fall into danger and be burned by the ﬁre. I should now tell them of the danger; this house is already burning! They must escape as quickly as they can to avoid being burned by the ﬁre!
“After considering this he urged the children according to his thought: Children! Run out immediately!
“Although their father in his concern has given them the proper advice, the children are immersed in their play and do not accept it; they are neither alarmed nor afraid and have no intention of leaving [the burning house]. Moreover, they do not even know what a ﬁre is, the condition of the house, or what they may lose. They merely run about, back and forth, looking at their father.
“Thereupon the afﬂuent man thought:
This house is already engulfed in ﬂames. If my children and I do not get out, we shall perish in the ﬁre. I will now use skillful means to help my children escape from this disaster.
“Since the father already knew that his children were attached to vari- ous rare toys and unusual things that each of them liked, he said to them:
The toys you are fond of are rare and hard to obtain. If you do not take them you will certainly regret it later. Right now, outside the house, there are three kinds of carts. One is yoked to a sheep, one to a deer, and one to an ox. Go play with them. Children! Run out of this burn- ing house immediately and I will give you whatever you want!
“The children, hearing what their father had said about the rare toys, became excited and, in their eagerness to get to them they pushed each other out of the way in a mad rush out of the burning house.
“Then the afﬂuent man saw that his children had got out safely and were sitting unharmed in an open area at a crossroad. He was relieved, happy, and joyful. The children said to their father:
Father, please give us the toys you promised: those [three] carts, one yoked to a sheep, one to a deer, and one to an ox!
“O Śāriputra, the afﬂuent man then gave each child the same kind of large cart. These carts were tall and spacious, adorned with various jewels, and encircled with railings full of hanging bells. On the tops of the carts were canopies also decorated with various kinds of jewels. These carts were draped
with jeweled cords and hung with ﬂower garlands. They were thickly piled with fabrics, and red pillows had been placed about. These carts were each yoked to an ox with a spotlessly white hide. These oxen had beautiful bod- ies with powerful muscles, even gaits, and were as swift as the wind; and there were many attendants guarding them. Why did the afﬂuent man give these carts? Because the man had great and immeasurable wealth and his abundant storehouses were full. He thus thought further:
Since my treasure has no limit, I should not give my children inferior carts. These are my children and I love them all equally. I have an immeasurable number of large carts such as these, decorated with the seven treasures. I should equally distribute them to each child without discrimination. Why is this? Even if I gave carts like these to every- one in the country, their number would not be exhausted. Why should I not give them to my own children?
“At that time, the children each climbed into a great cart and had an unprecedented experience, one beyond their original expectations.
“O Śāriputra! What do you think about this? This afﬂuent man gave to his children equally a large cart decorated with precious treasures. Has he deceived them or not?”
Śāriputra replied: “No Bhagavat! The afﬂuent man only tried to help his children escape from the disastrous ﬁre. He saved their lives and did not deceive them. This is by no means a deception. Why? Because by saving their lives they obtained marvelous toys. Moreover, they were saved from the burning house by skillful means.
“O Bhagavat! If this afﬂuent man had not given them even the smallest cart, it still would not have been a deception. Why is this? Because this afﬂuent man thought before:
I will help my children escape with skillful means.
“This is why it was not a deception. How much more so, since the afﬂuent man, knowing that he had immeasurable wealth and wanting to beneﬁt them equally, gave each of his children a large [ox]cart.”
The Buddha said to Śāriputra: “Splendid, splendid! It is exactly as you have said. O Śāriputra, the Tathāgata is also just like this. That is to say, as
the father of the entire world, he permanently dispels fear, distress, anxiety, ignorance, and blindness. He has attained immeasurable wisdom, insight, power, and fearlessness, as well as great transcendent powers and the power of wisdom. He has attained the perfection of skillful means and of wisdom. With his great mercy and compassion he incessantly and indefatigably seeks the welfare of all beings and beneﬁts them all.
“The Tathāgata appears in the triple world, which is like a decaying old house on ﬁre, to rescue sentient beings from the ﬁre of birth, old age, illness, and death, anxiety, sorrow, suffering, distress, delusion, blindness, and the three poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance. Thus he leads and inspires sentient beings and causes them to attain highest, complete enlightenment. “The Tathāgatas see all sentient beings burning in the ﬁre of birth, old age, illness, and death, anxiety, sorrow, suffering, and distress. Because of the desires of the ﬁve senses and the desire for monetary proﬁt they also experience various kinds of suffering. Because of their attachment and pur- suits they experience various kinds of suffering in the present; and in the future they will suffer in the states of existence of hell, animals, and hungry ghosts (pretas). If they are born in the heavens or in the human world they will experience a variety of sorrows such as suffering from poverty and des- titution, separation from loved ones, or suffering from encounters with those
“Although sentient beings are immersed in such sorrows, they rejoice and play. They are not aware, shocked, startled, or disgusted nor do they seek release. Running around in the burning house of the triple world, they experience great suffering and yet they do not realize it.
“O Śāriputra! Seeing these things the Buddha thought:
Since I am the father of sentient beings I must rid them of their immeas- urable suffering and distress. I will cause them to rejoice through the immeasurable and limitless pleasure of the buddha wisdom.
“O Śāriputra! The Tathāgata further thought:
If I proclaim the Tathāgata’s wisdom, insight, power, and fearlessness to sentient beings with my transcendent powers and the power of my wisdom alone, without using skillful means, it will be impossible to
save them. Why is this? Because these sentient beings have not escaped from birth, old age, illness, and death; anxiety, sorrow, suffering, and distress; and are being burned in the blazing house of the triple world. How would they be able to understand the Buddha’s wisdom?
“O Śāriputra! Although that afﬂuent man had physical strength he did not use it. He only earnestly employed skillful means to save his children from the disaster of the burning house, and later he gave each of them a large cart decorated with precious treasures. The Tathāgata is exactly like this. “Although the Tathāgata has power and fearlessness he does not use them, but rescues sentient beings from the burning house of the triple world only through wisdom and skillful means, teaching the three vehicles to the
śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and the buddhas, saying:
Do not take pleasure in living in this burning house of the triple world. And do not thirst after inferior objects, sounds, smells, ﬂavors, and tangibles. If you are attached to these objects and have desires, then you will be burned. Leave the triple world in haste and you will obtain the three vehicles—the vehicles for the śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and buddhas. I deﬁnitely guarantee this to you. In the end it will come true. You should be diligent and persistent!
“The Tathāgata attracts sentient beings through this skillful means, say- ing further:
You should know that the Noble Ones praise the teachings of these three vehicles that are self-directed, unrestricted, and independent. When they ride in them, sentient beings will enjoy faculties free from corruption and also powers, paths to enlightenment, meditation, lib- eration, and concentration. And they themselves will attain immeas- urable ease and pleasure.
“O Śāriputra! Those beings, wise by nature, who accept the Dharma from the Buddha Bhagavat, who are diligent, persistent, and wish to escape from the triple world quickly, and who are seeking nirvana, are all practic- ing the śrāvaka vehicle. They are like those children who left the burning house seeking the cart yoked to a sheep.
“Those beings who accept the Dharma of the Buddha Bhagavat, who are diligent and persevere in seeking the wisdom of the Self-generated One and enjoy tranquility for themselves, who profoundly know the causes of and reasons for existence, are all practicing the pratyekabuddha vehicle. They are just like those children who left the burning house seeking the cart yoked to a deer.
“Those beings who accept the Dharma of the Buddha Bhagavat, who are diligent and persevere in seeking the wisdom of the Omniscient One, the wisdom of the Buddha, the wisdom of the Self-generated One, the wisdom acquired without a teacher, the wisdom and insight, powers, and fearless- ness of the Tathāgata; who are compassionate, put immeasurable sentient beings at ease, beneﬁt devas and humans, and save all beings, are all prac- ticing the Mahayana. Bodhisattvas are called mahāsattvas (great beings) because they seek this vehicle. They are just like those children who left the burning house seeking the cart yoked to an ox.
“O Śāriputra! That afﬂuent man saw his children leave the burning house safely and arrive at a safe place. Knowing that he had immeasurable wealth, he gave a large cart equally to each child. The Tathāgata is exactly like this. As the father of all sentient beings he sees that immeasurable thousands of koṭis of sentient beings escape from the dangers, sufferings, and fears of the triple world through the gates of the Buddha’s teaching and attain the pleas- ure of nirvana.
“Then the Tathāgata thought:
Because I possess the treasure house of the Dharma of all the buddhas, which contains immeasurable limitless wisdom, power, and fearlessness, and because all sentient beings are my children, I will give them equally the Mahayana. I will not allow anyone to attain nirvana merely for him- self but will cause everyone to attain it through the Tathāgata’s nirvana.
I will give sentient beings who have escaped from the triple world all the toys of the Buddha’s meditations and liberations, which are of one character and one kind, are praised by the Noble Ones, and which produce pure and supreme pleasure.
“O Śāriputra! At ﬁrst that afﬂuent man attracted his children with three kinds of carts, then later gave them only the safest and best large [ox]cart,
adorned with jewels. Moreover, that afﬂuent man was never accused of telling a lie. The Tathāgata is exactly like this. He tells no lies.
“In the beginning the Tathāgata teaches the three vehicles in order to lead sentient beings. And later he saves them through only the Mahayana. Why is this? Because the Tathāgata possesses the treasure house of the Dharma, which contains immeasurable wisdom, power, and fearlessness. And although he is able to give the teaching of the Mahayana to all sentient beings, not all of them can accept it.
“O Śāriputra! You should know that the buddhas, with the power of skillful means, teach the single buddha vehicle, dividing and teaching it as three.”
Then the Buddha, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this again, spoke these verses:
Suppose there were an afﬂuent man Who had a large house,
And this house was very old, On the verge of collapsing.
The halls were extremely dangerous,
The pillar bases rotten and disintegrating, The beams and framework dangerously tilted, And the stairways were falling apart.
The fences and walls were cracked, The plaster was peeling off,
The thatched roof was falling down,
The rafters and eaves were coming apart, The partitions were everywhere askew, And the whole place was covered with ﬁlth. Five hundred people lived there,
And moving around helter-skelter were Kites, owls, hawks, eagles, crows, magpies, Doves, pigeons, lizards, snakes, vipers, Scorpions, centipedes, millipedes,
Newts, myriapods, ferrets, badgers, mice, Rats, and other harmful creatures.
It was ﬁlled with stench,
And there were places overﬂowing with excrement. All kinds of bugs
Had gathered there.
There were foxes, wolves, and vermin Devouring, trampling, and gnawing on corpses, Scattering bones and ﬂesh about;
And a pack of dogs,
Forcing each other out of the way, Rushed to the spot—
Frightened and exhausted from hunger, They were searching everywhere for food,
Fighting among themselves, snatching at food, Biting, snarling, and barking at each other.
This house was terrifying,
Corrupted to this grotesque condition: Ogres of the mountains and valleys, Yakṣas, and demons were everywhere Devouring human ﬂesh.
There were various poisonous insects, All kinds of harmful birds of prey,
And beasts who were producing, rearing, And protecting their offspring.
Yakṣas were scrabbling and ﬁghting to devour them. And after sating themselves,
Evil thoughts would arise in them. The sound of their ﬁghting
The kumbhāṇḍa demons were crouching on the ground, Sometimes rising up a foot or two.
Roaming about, pleasing themselves as they liked, They would catch two legs of a dog,
Beat it until it could not bark
And grabbing the dog’s neck with their legs, Terrify it for their own amusement.
There were also other demons living there With large bodies, naked, dark, and gaunt. They were screaming horrifying howls, Crying out while searching for food.
Other demons were there, Some with needlelike throats, While others had necks
Like a cow’s head;
Some had those of human ﬂesh-eaters or dog-devourers. Their hair was disheveled like rank weeds
And they were destructive and malicious. Driven by hunger and thirst,
They were crying and scurrying about.
Yakṣas, hungry ghosts,
And various malicious birds and beasts Were peering out of the windows
And running frantically in all directions, Driven by hunger.
In this house, with its immeasurable terrors,
There were many such horrendous things as these. Now suppose this old and decaying house Belonged to a man,
And this man came out from it a short distance. Soon after, the house suddenly
Burst into ﬂames behind him.
The ﬁre instantly spread in all directions.
The frame, beams, rafters, and pillars exploded, And shaking, split and crashed,
While the fences and walls collapsed. All the demons screamed out loudly. The hawks, eagles, other birds,
And kumbhāṇḍa demons, panicked and terriﬁed, Could not get out.
Malicious beasts and poisonous insects Concealed themselves in holes.
There were also piśāca demons dwelling there Who, because of little merit,
Were chased by the ﬂames. They were tearing at each other, Drinking blood and eating ﬂesh.
A horde of vermin had already died off, And the large malicious beasts
Raced to devour them,
While the smoke of the stench ﬂowed And ﬁlled everywhere.
As the centipedes, millipedes, And poisonous snakes rushed, Burning, out of their holes
The kumbhāṇḍa demons devoured them One after another.
The hungry ghosts, with their hair on ﬁre, Ravenous, thirsty, and suffering from the heat, Frantically scurried about.
In this way, the house was extremely terrifying With poison and ﬁre,
And disasters more than one.
Then the householder, who was standing Outside the entrance of the house,
Heard someone say:
Just a moment ago,
In the midst of their play,
Your children entered this house. Being young and ignorant,
They are attached to playing games.
Hearing this, the afﬂuent man was startled And went into the burning house
To save them from the disaster of the ﬁre. As he thought ﬁt, he warned the children And explained the various dangers:
There are malicious demons, poisonous insects, And the ﬁre is raging everywhere.
There are endless horrors, One right after another.
There are poisonous snakes, lizards, vipers, Yakṣas, kumbhāṇḍa demons, vermin, Foxes, dogs, hawks, eagles, kites,
Owls, and centipedes, all acutely suffering From hunger and thirst
And all extremely terrifying.
These horrors are difficult to deal with, How much more so the conﬂagration!
But the children, being ignorant,
Would not listen to their father’s warning. Still attached to their games,
They kept right on playing. Thereupon the afﬂuent man thought:
My children by doing this Increase my distress!
There is nothing to enjoy now in this house. Nevertheless, my children who are absorbed in play Will not accept my instructions
And so will be hurt by the ﬁre.
Then he immediately thought That he should advise his children
Using various skillful means, and said:
I have a variety of unusual toys
Such as ﬁne carts adorned with beautiful treasures, Yoked to sheep, deer, and oxen.
They are just outside the gate.
O children! Come out of the house! I had these carts made for you.
Play with them as you like!
Hearing about these carts,
The children immediately started To push each other out of the way To get out of the house.
Arriving at an open area,
They escaped from the disaster.
The afﬂuent man, seeing that his children Had escaped from the burning house And were standing at the crossroads,
Sat down on his lion seat. Then he joyously said:
Now I am happy!
It is extremely difficult to raise these children. Foolish and ignorant,
They entered a dangerous house Full of various poisonous insects,
Terrifying ogres from mountains and valleys, And a raging ﬁre that broke out in all directions. In spite of this,
These children were attached to playing their games. But by causing them to escape from the disaster,
I have saved them.
Therefore, my people, I now feel at ease.
Thereupon the children,
Seeing their father sitting in peace, Approached him saying:
Give us the three kinds of carts Adorned with treasures
That you just promised us,
When you said that if we, your children, came out You would give us three kinds of carts
Just as we like.
Now is the right time.
Give them to us right away!
This afﬂuent man,
Who was extremely wealthy, Had an abundance of treasures.
He had a number of great carts made, Adorned with various precious things Like gold, silver, lapis lazuli,
Mother-of-pearl, and agate. They were beautifully decorated, Encircled with railings,
And were covered with hanging bells Attached to golden cords.
Over them was hung a net of pearls With golden ﬂower tassels Hanging down everywhere.
They were all completely Decorated in a variety of colors. The bedding was made of soft silk That was covered with
An extremely ﬁne carpet of spotless white Which cost thousands of koṭis.
There were large white oxen,
Healthy and powerful with beautiful bodies, Yoked to the jeweled carts,
And they were guarded by many attendants. When they were given these ﬁne carts,
The children were joyful and excited. They got on the carts
And drove delightedly all about. Amusing themselves in play,
They mastered them without difficulties. The Buddha said to Śāriputra:
I am also like this.
I am the father of the world, The best of the sages.
All sentient beings are my children.
They are deeply attached to worldly pleasures And have no wisdom.
There is no peace in the triple world, Just like in the burning house, Which is full of various suffering And which is extremely terrifying. There are always the sufferings
Of birth, old age, illness, and death. Such ﬁres as these burn endlessly. The Tathāgata, who has already left The burning house of the triple world, Lives in tranquility
And dwells at ease in the forest. Now this triple world is my property
And the sentient beings in it are my children. There are now many dangers here
And I am the only one who can protect them. Although I give them advice,
They do not accept it,
Because they are tainted with desires And have deep attachments.
On this occasion
I teach the three vehicles Using skillful means.
Realizing the sufferings of the triple world, I reveal and explain it
To cause sentient beings to Escape from the mundane path. If these children are resolute,
They are endowed with the three knowledges
And six transcendent powers.
Or they can become pratyekabuddhas or Bodhisattvas who have reached
The stage of nonretrogression. O Śāriputra!
I explain the single buddha vehicle
To sentient beings, using this illustration. If you are able to accept what I say,
You will all attain the buddha path.
This vehicle is subtle, pure, and peerless. There is nothing superior to it
In all the worlds.
This is what the Buddha enjoys.
All the sentient beings should praise, Honor, and revere it.
There are immeasurable thousands of koṭis Of powers, liberations, meditations, Wisdoms, and other attributes of the Buddha. I cause my children to obtain such a vehicle And let them play continuously,
Day and night, for kalpas.
I cause the bodhisattvas as well as the śrāvakas To board this jeweled vehicle,
And lead them directly
To the terrace of enlightenment. For this reason,
There is no other vehicle but
The skillful means of the buddhas,
Even if one seeks in all the ten directions. I tell you, O Śāriputra:
All of you are my children, And I am thus your father.
Since you were burned by the ﬁre
Of various sufferings for many kalpas, I saved you all
By leading you out of the triple world. Although I have previously told you About your parinirvāṇa,
You have only extinguished birth and death And have not actually attained nirvana.
You should now seek only The wisdom of the Buddha.
If there are any bodhisattvas in this assembly, They should listen singlemindedly
To the real teaching of all the buddhas. Those sentient beings
Whom the Buddha Bhagavats
Lead and inspire with skillful means Are all bodhisattvas.
Because people have little knowledge And are deeply attached to pleasures,
I teach them the truth of suffering (i.e., the First Noble Truth). And those sentient beings rejoice,
Such an unprecedented experience.
The truth of suffering taught by the Buddha Is nothing but the truth.
To those who do not know the origin of suffering (i.e., the Second Noble Truth),
Who are deeply attached to its causes
And unable to abandon them even for a while, I teach the truth about the path to its cessation Using skillful means.
All the causes of suffering Originate from excessive craving. When this craving is extinguished, The source is removed.
The cessation of suffering
Is called the Third [Noble] Truth.
One practices the path leading to its cessation (i.e., the Fourth Noble Truth]
In order to attain the truth of cessation.
Removing the bonds of sufferings is called liberation. In what sense have these people attained liberation? They have merely removed false views
And called that liberation.
But actually, they have not yet completely attained it. The Buddha has explained that these people
Have not actually attained nirvana:
I do not intend to lead them to nirvana
Because they have not yet attained the highest path. I am the Lord of the Dharma
And have mastered the Dharma. I appear in the world
To cause sentient beings to be at peace. O, you, Śāriputra!
Teach this my Dharma sign To beneﬁt the world!
Wherever you may go,
Never propagate it recklessly.
You should know that those who hear, Rejoice, and fully accept it
Have reached the stage of nonretrogression. Those who accept the teaching of this sutra Have formerly seen the buddhas in the past, Honored, and paid homage to them,
And also heard this teaching.
Those who are able to accept what you teach, Will see me, you, the monks and the bodhisattvas. This very Lotus Sutra shall be taught
Only to the profoundly wise.
Those of superﬁcial awareness who hear it
Will become confused and will not comprehend it. This sutra is beyond the comprehension
Of all the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas. O, you, Śāriputra!
Even you understood this sutra only through faith; It is no wonder that the other disciples cannot.
They accept this sutra
Because they believe the Buddha’s teaching,
But it is beyond their intellectual comprehension. O Śāriputra!
Never teach this sutra
To those who are arrogant and lazy, Or to those who hold
False views about the self. Never teach it to those people Of superﬁcial awareness, Who are deeply attached
To the desires of the ﬁve senses, Since even if they heard it, They would not understand.
Those people who will not accept And who disparage this sutra,
Will consequently destroy the seed of the Buddha In the entire world.
Now listen to what I teach
About the results of the errors of those people Who frown upon and have doubts about this sutra. Listen also to what I teach
Concerning the results of the errors of those people, Who, whether at the time
Of the Buddha’s presence in this world
Or after his parinirvāṇa, disparage this sutra, And despise, hate, and hold grudges
Against the people who recite, copy, and preserve it. When such people die,
They will go to the Avīci Hell, And after spending a kalpa there, Will be born in the same way
Again and again for innumerable kalpas.
After coming out of this hell, They will be reborn as animals. If born as dogs or vermin,
Their bodies will be emaciated, dark-spotted, Devoid of hair, with scabies and leprosy.
Tormented, hated, and despised by people,
They will constantly suffer from hunger and thirst. With withered bones and ﬂesh,
They will be in anguish while living And covered with stones after death. Because they destroyed
The seed of the Buddha,
They will suffer the consequences Of their errors.
If they are born as camels or mules,
They will always have heavy burdens to carry. They will be whipped repeatedly
And think of nothing but water and grass. It is because they disparaged this sutra
That they suffer the consequences of their errors in this way. If they are born as vermin and enter a village,
Children will beat them because they have scabies, Leprosy, and perhaps a missing eye.
At times they will be tortured even to death. After dying,
They will be reborn as giant snakes
With great bodies as long as ﬁve hundred yojanas. Deaf, dumb, legless, slithering on their bellies, Eaten at by small insects,
They will suffer day and night without respite.
They suffer the consequences of their errors in this way, Because they disparaged this sutra.
If they are born as humans, They will have dull faculties
And be runts who twitch and are crippled,
Blind, deaf, and humpbacked. No matter what they may say People will not believe them. Their breath will always be foul.
They will be snatched at by demons.
Being poor and degraded and enslaved by others, They will be emaciated from many illnesses
And will have nowhere to turn. When they approach others, They will be disdained.
Even if they manage to get something They will immediately lose it.
Even if they study medicine
And cure themselves according to the correct method, They will suffer from other illnesses again
And may even die. When they get sick
No one will tend to them;
And even if they take the proper medicine Their pain will increase.
Every hand will be turned against them, Threatening them, pilfering and stealing from them. They will fall helplessly into this plight
Because of their transgressions. Such erring people will never see The Buddha, the king of seers,
Preaching the Dharma and leading and inspiring people. Such people will always be born
Into difficult circumstances. Crazed, unheeding, and unthinking, They will never hear the teaching. They will be born deaf and dumb, With defective faculties
For as many immeasurable kalpas As the sands of the Ganges River.
Though they will always ﬁnd themselves in hell, They will feel as if they were playing
In a pleasure garden.
Although they are in other troubled states of being, They will feel as if they were in their own home. They will live among camels, mules, boars, and dogs. These are the results of their error
In disparaging this sutra.
If they are born as human beings, They will be deaf, blind, mute, Impoverished, and decrepit.
Such will be their adornments. They will have dropsy, gonorrhea, Scabies, leprosy, and tumors.
Such diseases as these will be their clothing.
Their bodies will always be foul, ﬁlthy, and impure. Their deep attachment to false views
About the self will cause
Their anger and passion to increase. Their sexual desires will be insatiable,
With either birds or beasts as their objects. These are the results of their
Errors in disparaging this sutra. The Buddha said to Śāriputra:
If one were to explain
The consequences of the errors Of those who disparage this sutra, It would take more than a kalpa.
For that reason I am now telling you Never to expound this sutra
To those who have little wisdom. You should teach it
Only to those people of sharp faculties Who are wise, learned, and understanding,
Who have good memories and erudition, And are seeking the buddha path.
You should teach it to those who have seen Hundreds of thousands of koṭis of buddhas, Who have planted good roots, and are resolute. Teach it to those who strive,
Always practice compassion,
And give unsparingly of their bodies and lives. You should teach it to those who are respectful And devoid of hypocrisy,
Who are living alone
In mountains and valleys away from fools. O Śāriputra!
You should teach it
To those who have left their bad companions And made friends with virtuous people.
Teach it to the heirs of the Buddha
Who have good conduct, are as pure as jewels, And who are seeking the Mahayana sutras.
You should teach it
To those who are free of anger,
Honest, ﬂexible, always sympathetic to everyone, And who honor all the buddhas.
Teach it to the heirs of the Buddha In the great assembly,
Who have pure thoughts
And who teach the Dharma without doubts, Using various reasonings,
Illustrations, and explanations. You should teach it to those monks
Who, always and everywhere in search of the Dharma, Seek the Omniscient One,
To whom they joyfully press their palms together, Touch their heads, and preserve
Only the Mahayana sutras with pleasure,
Who never preserve even a single verse Of any other sutra.
Teach it to those who seek this sutra
As intently as they seek for the relics of the Buddha, Who after obtaining it will accept it
Respectfully, with bowed heads; And will not seek any other sutra
And will never think about heretical scriptures. O Śāriputra! I say to you:
I have described the characteristics of those Who seek the buddha path,
Though a kalpa would not suffice to do so in full. You should teach the Lotus Sutra
To those who are able to accept it.
Lotus Sutra: Chapter 4
At that time the noble Subhūti, Mahākātyāyana, Mahākāśyapa, and Mahā- maudgalyāyana, having heard the unprecedented teaching from the Buddha and the Bhagavat’s prediction of Śāriputra’s highest, complete enlighten- ment, were ﬁlled with wonder and ecstatic joy. They immediately rose from their seats, straightened their garments, leaving their right shoulders bared, and touched their right knees to the ground. With rapt attention and with palms pressed together they bowed in veneration and, gazing at the Bhaga- vat’s face, said to the Buddha: “We are the seniors of the sangha, old and feeble. We considered ourselves to have attained nirvana and to be incapable of further seeking highest, complete enlightenment, so we did not do so. “It has been a long time since the Bhagavat taught the Dharma in the past. Now we sit with weary bodies and only contemplate emptiness, sign- lessness, and wishlessness. Neither the bodhisattva teaching, nor the carefree sporting with transcendent powers, nor the pure buddha worlds, nor helping sentient beings attain enlightenment produced any eager desire in us.
“Why is this? Because the Bhagavat caused us to leave the triple world and to attain nirvana. But now we are old and feeble. We did not take even a single thought of pleasure in the Buddha’s inspiration of the bodhisattvas to highest, complete enlightenment. And now in the presence of the Buddha we have heard the śrāvakas receive their prediction of highest, complete enlightenment and we are very joyful to have obtained such an unprece- dented experience. We never considered that we would suddenly be able to hear this marvelous teaching; and we are overjoyed that we have attained such great beneﬁts—an immeasurable treasure which we attained, though unsought and unawaited.
“O Bhagavat! We now wish to give an illustration to clarify what we mean: Suppose there were a man who, when he was still a child, left his father and ran away. Living in another region for a long time he passed the age of ten, twenty, even ﬁfty years. The older he got the more impoverished he became. He went searching everywhere for food and clothing, and while he was wandering about he started back by chance in the direction of his native country. From the ﬁrst the father had looked for his son but in vain; in the meantime he had stayed in the city and become extremely wealthy, and now possessed uncountable treasures.
“[The father’s] storehouses were all ﬁlled to overﬂowing with gold, sil- ver, lapis lazuli, coral, amber, crystal, and other such things. He had many servants, subordinates, and clerks as well as innumerable elephants, horses, carriages, cows, and sheep. He proﬁted through lending and his trade with other countries was also great.
“Then the impoverished son, after wandering through many villages, from one country and city to another, ﬁnally reached the city where his father lived. Although the father had constantly thought about the son from whom he had been separated for over ﬁfty years, he nevertheless had spoken to no one about it. He brooded and grieved in his heart, thinking to himself:
I have become old and feeble; and although I have many treasures, and storehouses ﬁlled with gold, silver, and precious jewels, I have no son. When I die my treasures will be scattered and lost for lack of some- one to whom to entrust them.
“It was for this reason that he was always thinking anxiously about his son. He also thought:
If I could get my son back and leave my fortune to him I would be relieved and happy, and without further worry.
“O Bhagavat! At that time the impoverished son, who had been wan- dering about, taking odd jobs, by chance ﬁnally reached his father’s house. Standing at the side of the gate he saw his father in the distance sitting on the lion seat with his feet propped up on a jeweled stool, respectfully sur- rounded by many brahmans, kṣatriyas, and householders. His body was adorned with pearl necklaces worth thousands of myriads. He was attended on both sides by clerks and servants holding whisker fans. Above was a jew- eled canopy with various hanging ﬂowered banners. Perfume was sprinkled on the ground, which was strewn with a variety of beautiful ﬂowers. There
were rows of precious objects, and people were coming and going, buying and selling. With various trappings such as these, the father appeared very majestic indeed.
“The impoverished son, seeing his father wielding such great power, became terriﬁed and regretted that he had ever come to that place. He thought to himself:
He must be a king or of a similar rank. This is not a place where I can obtain things as a hired worker. It would certainly be better for me to go to a poor village, a place where I can use my ability and easily obtain clothing and food. If I stay here for very long I will be seized and put to forced labor.
“Thinking this way, he quickly ﬂed. At that time the wealthy man, sit- ting on the lion seat, realized that he had seen his son and became extremely happy. He then thought:
Now there is someone to whom I can leave my fortune and treasures. I have been constantly thinking about my son but had no way to meet him, and now suddenly he has come. This is exactly what I wanted. Although I am old I still yearn for him.
“The man immediately dispatched his attendants to chase his son and bring him back. Then the attendants quickly ran and overtook him. The impoverished son was frightened and cried out in fear:
I did nothing wrong! Why are you seizing me?
“The attendants grabbed him more ﬁrmly and forced him to return. Then the impoverished son thought:
They have seized me even though I have done nothing wrong. I shall certainly be killed.
“He was so terriﬁed that he collapsed unconscious on the ground. His father, seeing this from a distance, told the attendants:
I don’t need him. Don’t force him to come! Pour cold water on his face and bring him to consciousness. Don’t say anything more to him.
“What was the reason for this? The father knew that his son was of lowly aspiration, and that his own wealth and position would cause him problems. Although the father knew without doubt that the man was his son, he used skillful means and did not say to others, ‘This is my son.’
“The attendant then said to the son: You are free to go wherever you wish.
“Then the impoverished son, happy because he had never felt such relief, stood up and went to a poor village to seek for food and clothing.
“At that time, wanting to get his son back, the wealthy man employed skillful means and secretly dispatched two attendants of wretched and hum- ble appearance. He said to them:
Approach the impoverished fellow and gently tell him that there is a place for him to work where he will be paid double. If he gives his assent then bring him back to work. If he asks you what kind of work there is for him to do, tell him that he will be employed to sweep dung and that both of you will work with him.
“Then the two attendants immediately went in search of the impover- ished son. When they found him they told him this. At that time he took his pay and immediately went to work sweeping dung.
“The father, seeing his son, felt pity and wondered what to do. Then one day while looking through the window he saw his son in the distance appear- ing emaciated and wretched, soiled with dung and dirt. The father took off his necklaces, ﬁne garments, and ornaments and put on torn, ﬁlthy clothes. Covering himself with dirt and taking a dung sweeper in his right hand, he made himself look fearsome. He said to his workers: ‘Work hard and don’t be lazy!’
“Through this kind of skillful means he was able to approach his son.
He spoke to him further saying:
You! I want you to always work here. Don’t go anywhere else and I will pay you more. There will be no difficulty in getting the things you need, like utensils, rice, noodles, salt, and vinegar. I also have an old servant. If you need him I’ll give him to you. Be at ease! I am just like your father, so don’t worry about anything! Why am I doing this?
Because I am old and you are still young. Whenever you work you are never lazy or sullen and never complain. I never see in you the bad qualities the other workers have. From now on you will be just like my own son.
“Then the wealthy man immediately addressed him as his child. At that time, even though the impoverished son rejoiced at being treated this way, he nevertheless still considered himself a humble employee. For this reason his father let him continue to sweep dung for twenty years. At the end of this period of time each had come to trust the other. Yet even though the son had free access to his father’s house, he still lived in the same place as before. “O Bhagavat! One day the wealthy man became ill and knew he was
going to die before long. He said to the impoverished son:
This is what I have been thinking and I want you to understand my inten- tions: I now have plenty of gold, silver, and precious treasures ﬁlling my storehouses. Get to know exactly how much is being taken in and out of them. Why do I want you to do this? Because you and I are one and the same. Take good care of our fortune and don’t let it be lost!
“Then the impoverished son obeyed his instructions. Although he learned everything about the gold, silver, precious treasure, and the storehouses, he never wanted to take even the least amount. Nevertheless he still lived in the same place as before and was still not able to get rid of his feeling of inferiority.
“After a short time had passed the father knew that his son’s mind had become composed, that his will had increased, and that he was ashamed of his former feelings. When the father was just on the verge of death he ordered his son to meet the king, ministers, kṣatriyas, householders, and relatives, who had already assembled there. The father then declared:
This is my son, my own progeny. When we were in a certain city he left me and ﬂed. He wandered around for more than ﬁfty years under- going hardships. His original name is Such-and-such, and my name is Such-and-such. Long ago when I was in that city I worried and searched for him. At last and unexpectedly I met up with him. This is my true son and I am, in truth, his father. All of the fortune I now possess belongs to my son. He already knows about our ﬁnances.
“O Bhagavat! At that time the impoverished son, hearing what his father said, became extremely happy at having obtained such an unprecedented experience. Then he thought:
I never even considered receiving this; nevertheless, this treasure house has come into my possession, though unsought and unawaited.
“O Bhagavat! This very wealthy man is the Tathāgata, and all of us are the heirs of the Buddha. The Tathāgata has always said that we are his chil- dren. Because of the triple sufferings, O Bhagavat, we experienced pain, were confused, ignorant and attached to inferior teachings in life after life. Today the Bhagavat has made us think about getting rid of the dung of fal- lacies regarding the reality of the world and that, in this respect, we diligently strove to attain the nirvana only as one seeking a salary for a single day’s labor. We had already attained it and were extremely happy and satisﬁed with it. We said to ourselves:
Because we have made diligent efforts to comprehend the Buddha’s teaching we have attained a great deal.
“But the Bhagavat had formerly perceived that we were attached to desires and content with lowly aspirations. While letting us be so he did not explain that we were to have a portion of the treasure house of the Tathā- gata’s wisdom and insight. Through the power of skillful means the Bhaga- vat has taught the wisdom of the Tathāgatas. Although we had attained nir- vana from the Buddha as our salary for one day’s labor, we thought we had attained much and did not seek the Mahayana.
“Furthermore, we have manifested and explained the wisdom of the Tathāgata for the bodhisattvas; but we ourselves had no aspirations regard- ing it.
“Why is this? The Buddha, knowing that we were content with lowly aspirations, taught us according to what is appropriate through the power of skillful means. But we did not know that we really were the heirs of the Buddha.
“Now we fully know that the Bhagavat is unstinting in regard to the wis- dom of the buddhas. What is the reason for this? We have actually been the heirs of the Buddha from long ago, even though we only yearned for the inferior teaching. If we had yearned for the superior teaching, then the Buddha would have taught the teachings of the Mahayana to us. Yet, in this sutra he has taught only the single vehicle.
“Now, in the past the Buddha reviled the śrāvakas—those who yearned for the inferior teaching—in the presence of the bodhisattvas, but actually the Buddha inspired them also with the Mahayana. That is why we say that though we originally had no desire to seek the great treasure of the King of the Dharma it has now come to us unsought and unawaited. We have all attained what we should attain as the heirs of the Buddha.”
Thereupon Mahākāśyapa, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
Today we have heard the Buddha’s words, And we are joyful and ecstatic
At having attained such an unprecedented experience. The Buddha has said
That the śrāvakas will be able to become buddhas. The most magniﬁcent jewels
Have been obtained without being sought or awaited. Suppose there were a young and inexperienced child Who left his father
And ran away to a distant country.
He wandered around for more than ﬁfty years. And his worried father looked for him everywhere. The father, exhausted from searching for him, Remained in a city
Where he had a house built
And enjoyed the desires of the ﬁve senses.
His family built up a vast wealth of much gold, silver, Mother-of-pearl, agate, pearls, lapis lazuli,
Elephants, horses, cows, sheep, ﬂoats, carriages, Peasants, servants, and other employees.
He earned interest through loans and deposits And had buyers and sellers
Throughout all the other regions.
He was surrounded by thousands of Myriads of koṭis of people,
Who held him in awe; Always loved by the king,
And deeply respected by the subjects And powerful families.
There were many people
Coming and going on different business. He was thus extremely wealthy
And very powerful.
And yet as he grew older,
He increasingly worried about his son. Day and night he thought:
Soon I will die.
My foolish son has abandoned me For over ﬁfty years.
What should I do with the
Various goods in my treasure houses?
At that time the impoverished son Was going from town to town, From one country to another, Seeking food and clothing.
Sometimes he obtained them, And sometimes he did not.
He was emaciated from hunger,
And his body was covered with scabies. Through his wanderings,
He gradually reached the city Where his father lived,
And, after having been employed At one place after another,
Finally ended up at his father’s home. At that time the wealthy man
Was sitting within the gate
On a lion seat, sheltered by
A huge jewel-covered canopy.
He was surrounded by his attendants And guarded by his men.
Some were counting gold, silver, and jewels; And some were settling the ﬁnances,
While others were keeping the accounts. The impoverished son saw his father,
Who was extremely wealthy and digniﬁed. He wondered if this man were a king
Or someone of equal rank. He became intimidated
And wondered why he had gone there. He thought to himself:
If I stay here for long
I will be harassed and coerced into working.
Thinking this, he ran away In search of a poor village
Where he could ﬁnd employment. At that time the wealthy man, Who was sitting on the lion seat, Saw his son in the distance.
Though he recognized him he told no one, But sent his attendants
To pursue him and bring him back. The impoverished son was terriﬁed, Cried out, and collapsed on the ground In confusion, thinking:
Since this man has seized me I shall certainly be killed.
In vain did I come here
In search of food and clothing.
The wealthy man knew that his son’s thoughts
Were humble and foolish,
And that he would not believe what he said, Nor believe that he was his father.
Then using skillful means, He dispatched other men
With squint eyes, of small stature And little dignity, saying to them:
We will employ you
To sweep dung, at double your wages.
When he heard this
The impoverished son was overjoyed
And returned to sweep dung and clean houses. The wealthy man
Constantly watched his son Through the window and thought That his son was foolish
And willingly did menial things. Then the wealthy man
Put on torn and ﬁlthy clothes, And, holding a dung sweeper, Went out to his son.
He approached his son Through this skillful means And said to him:
I have already increased your wages And given you more balm for your feet, Given you sufficient food
And warm, thick mats.
He further advised him, saying sternly: You should work diligently.
Then he gently added:
I will treat you like my son.
The wealthy man, being wise,
Gradually gave him freedom of the house; And, after twenty years had passed,
Let him become involved In the family business.
He showed him the gold, Silver, pearls, and crystal, And made him learn about All aspects of the ﬁnances.
Yet the impoverished son still lived In a thatched hut outside the gate,
And considered himself poor, thinking That these things were not his own.
The father knew that his son
Was gradually becoming more noble; And, wanting to give him his fortune, He assembled the king, ministers, Kṣatriyas, householders, and relatives. He informed this great assembly, saying:
This is my son.
He left me and stayed away For ﬁfty years.
Twenty years have already passed Since I saw my son return here.
Long ago I lost my son in a certain city
And, after wandering around in search of him, I ended up staying here.
I entrust to him all the houses and men That I possess.
They are all at his disposal.
The son thought:
Long ago I was poor and of lowly aspiration. Now at my father’s place
I have obtained an immense fortune
Of such things as precious jewels and houses. I am overjoyed at having obtained
Such an unprecedented experience!
The Buddha is also like this.
He knew that we yearned for the inferior teaching, So he never taught us
That we should become buddhas.
Yet he did tell us that we had attained The stage of noncorruption,
That we had achieved the inferior vehicle,
And that we were the disciples of the śrāvaka vehicle. The Buddha told us to teach that
Those who practiced the highest path Would be able to become buddhas. Accepting the Buddha’s teaching, We explained the highest path
For the great bodhisattvas,
Using various explanations and illustrations, And many ﬁgures of speech.
The heirs of the Buddha Heard the teachings from us, Contemplated day and night, And practiced diligently.
The buddhas instantly made their predictions saying: You will all be able to become buddhas in the future.
We have explained the essence
Of the treasured teaching of the buddhas Only for the sake of the bodhisattvas, But did not expound it for ourselves.
Just as the impoverished son Who, after approaching his father,
Learned of various things Yet did not want them,
So, although we explained the treasure house Of the teaching of the buddhas,
We never aspired to it.
We thought that we had ourselves attained nirvana And considered this enough.
We understood only this
And did not think there was anything else. Even if we heard
About the pure buddha lands
And leading and inspiring sentient beings, We never rejoiced in it.
Why is this?
Because although we thought thus:
Every existence is quiescent, Neither produced nor extinguished, Neither large nor small, Incorrupted and unconditioned,
We felt no eagerness.
For days and nights we neither craved for
Nor were attached to the wisdom of the buddhas, Neither did we aspire to it.
Furthermore, we ourselves thought, With regard to the Dharma itself, That this was the ultimate goal.
After practicing the teaching Of emptiness day and night, We were able to shake off
The suffering of the triple world, And, bearing our last bodies, Abided in the nirvana with residue.
We were led and inspired by the buddhas
So that our attainment of the path was not in vain;
And we have already been able To pass on the beneﬁts
We received from the Buddha. Although we have expounded The teaching of the bodhisattvas To the heirs of the Buddha
To seek the buddha path,
We never longed for this teaching. Because he knew our minds
The Leader turned away from us. At ﬁrst he did not arouse our zeal
With the explanation that there exists Real proﬁt in the teaching.
Just as the wealthy man,
Who, knowing that his son was of lowly aspiration, Broadened his son’s mind using
The power of skillful means,
And only then entrusted his entire fortune to him. The Buddha is also exactly like this.
He has manifested marvelous things But perceiving that we were content With lowly aspirations.
He brought control to our minds using The power of skillful means,
And only then taught us the great wisdom. Thus today we have obtained
An unprecedented experience.
The fact that we have now spontaneously obtained What we had not longed for
Is just like the impoverished son Who obtained innumerable jewels. O Bhagavat!
We have now obtained the path and its fruit And have obtained pure sight
Into the incorruptible Dharma.
For a long while we have maintained The pure conduct of the Buddha; Today for the ﬁrst time
We have obtained the results.
For a long time we have practiced
The pure path of discipline and integrity Based on the teaching of the Dharma King, And now we have attained
The supreme fruit of noncorruption. We are now real śrāvakas
And cause everyone to hear the words “buddha path.” We are now real arhats and shall be revered
Among the devas, humans, māras, and Brahmas In all the worlds.
The Bhagavat, the Great Benefactor, Beneﬁts us with marvelous things By his inspiration and compassion. Who can repay him for it
Even in immeasurable koṭis of kalpas! Even if one were to serve him
With one’s hands and feet, Bow one’s head in reverence, And give all kinds of offerings, One could not repay him.
Even if one were to bear him On one’s head and shoulders
Out of deep respect, for as many kalpas As there are sands in the Ganges River, One could not repay him.
Or even if one were to honor him With delicious food, Uncountable jeweled garments, Beddings, various medicines,
Famed sandalwood from Mount Oxhead, And various precious jewels;
Or by building temples,
Spreading jeweled clothing and other such things
For as many kalpas as there are sands in the Ganges River, One could not repay him.
The buddhas have marvelous, immeasurable, Limitless, inconceivable great transcendent powers. They are the Kings of the Dharma.
Without depravities and unconditioned, They are patient in all matters,
For the sake of the humble ones. They teach the common people, Who are attached to tangible things,
According to what is appropriate to them. All of the buddhas having attained Complete mastery over the Dharma, Perceive the various desires and intentions Of sentient beings and explain the teachings With innumerable illustrations,
According to what is appropriate to them. Judging from the roots of good merit
That sentient beings have planted in former lives, The buddhas perceive who are mature
And who are not.
Considering this in various ways
And understanding the distinctions completely, The buddhas teach the single path,
Explaining it as three
In accordance with what is appropriate.
Lotus Sutra: Chapter 5
Thereupon the Bhagavat addressed Mahākāśyapa and other great disciples saying: “Splendid! Splendid! O Kāśyapa! You have skillfully explained the real merit of the Tathāgata. It is exactly as you have said. The Tathāgata has immeasurable, unlimited, and incalculable merits. Thus even in a period of immeasurable koṭis of kalpas you will never fully be able to explain all of his merits.
“O Kāśyapa! You should know that the Tathāgata is the king of all the teaching. What he teaches is never false. He explains all the teaching using his wisdom and skillful means and what he teaches leads everyone to the stage of omniscience.
“The Tathāgata perceives the goal of all teachings and knows the under- lying mental disposition of all sentient beings, perceiving all with no obstruc- tions. He completely understands all teachings and displays omniscience to all sentient beings.
“O Kāśyapa! Suppose in the great manifold cosmos there are mountains, rivers, valleys, and plains where many kinds of grasses, trees, shrubs, and herbs of different names and colors grow. Dense clouds thoroughly cover this great manifold cosmos and rain falls at the same time everywhere, mois- tening the small, medium, and large roots, stems, branches, and leaves of all the grasses, trees, shrubs, and herbs.
“The sizes of all the trees depend on whether their capacities are supe- rior, mediocre, or inferior; and the rain falling from the same cloud makes them grow according to the nature of their various seeds. Flowers blossom in the same place and fruit ripens in the same place moistened by the same rain, yet there are differences among these grasses and trees.
“O Kāśyapa! You should know that the Tathāgata is exactly like this. He appears in this world like a great overspreading cloud. His great voice resounds over the devas, humans, and asuras in the world, just as the great cloud thor- oughly covers the great manifold cosmos. He declares to the assembly:
I am the Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhaga- vat. I set free those who have not been freed. I enlighten those who have not been enlightened and bring calm to those who have not been calmed. I cause those to obtain nirvana who have not yet obtained it. I am the one who knows the present and future worlds exactly as they are. I am the All-Knower, the All-Seer, the Knower of the Path, the One who discloses the path and explains it. All of you devas, humans, and asuras! Come and listen to my teachings.
“At that time innumerable thousands of myriads of koṭis of sentient beings approach the Buddha and listen to his teaching. Then the Tathāgata, perceiving the faculties of sentient beings—whether they are sharp or dull, diligent or idle—explains the teachings according to their capacities in a variety of immeasurable ways, gladdening and beneﬁting them all.
“Having heard his teaching, all of these beings are at peace in this world and are born into a good existence in the future. Through this they will receive peace of mind and be able to hear the teaching. Having already heard the teaching they will become free from obstructions and be able to gradually enter the path to the Dharma according to their capacities.
“Just like the great cloud that rains upon all the grasses, trees, shrubs, and herbs, whose seeds are watered and which grow according to their capac- ities, the Tathāgata teaches the Dharma of one aspect and character; that is to say, the character of liberation, dispassion, and cessation which ultimately leads to omniscience.
“Those sentient beings who hear, hold, and recite the teachings of the Tathāgata and practice it accordingly will nevertheless not perceive the merit that they have obtained.
“Why is this? Only the Tathāgata knows the seed, character, disposi- tion, and capacity of sentient beings. Only he knows what they contemplate, think, and practice; how they contemplate, think, and practice; what teach- ings they contemplate, think, and practice; and what teaching they obtain through what teaching. Only the Tathāgata exactly perceives and knows without obstructions the various states in which sentient beings reside.
“It is just like the grasses, trees, shrubs, and herbs that do not know their own natures, whether they are superior, mediocre, or inferior. Yet the Tathā- gata knows the teachings of one aspect and character, the character of lib- eration, dispassion, cessation, complete nirvana, and eternal tranquility which ultimately leads to emptiness.
“The Buddha knows this and perceives the aspirations of sentient beings. For this reason, in order to protect them, he does not immediately teach omniscience.
“O Kāśyapa! It is a rare thing that all of you know that the Tathāgata teaches according to your capacities and that you believe and accept it. “Why is this? Because the Dharma taught by all the Buddha Bhagavats, according to what is appropriate to sentient beings, is difficult to understand and difficult to know.”
Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
The King of the Dharma,
The destroyer of delusive existence, Appears in the world
And keeping in mind the aspirations of sentient beings Teaches the Dharma in various ways
According to the wishes of sentient beings. The Tathāgata is greatly distinguished, And his wisdom is profound.
He has been silent for a long time
And intentionally has not taught the essential in haste. Those who are wise
Will be well convinced when they hear it; Those who are not wise will have doubts And remain confused for a long time.
That is why, O Kāśyapa, the Tathāgata teaches According to the capacities of sentient beings, And enables them to attain the correct perspective By using various illustrations.
O Kāśyapa, you should know
That it is as if a great cloud Arises in the world
And covers everything.
This beneﬁcent cloud contains moisture And bright lightning ﬂashes from it.
The sound of its thunder shakes the earth afar And gladdens the people.
It conceals the sun And cools the earth.
The spreading cloud hangs so low, As if it could be touched.
Everywhere, equal, and immeasurable
The rain pours down and moistens the earth. Grasses, herbs, large and small trees,
All kinds of crops, seedlings, sugarcane, and grapes Growing in the depths of the mountains,
In rivers and in precipitous valleys,
Are all watered and completely nourished by the rain. The dry earth is moistened everywhere
And the herbs and trees grow up thickly. Out of this cloud the same rain
Waters these grasses, trees, and shrubs Each according to their capacities.
All the trees, small, medium, or large
Are able to grow in accordance with their capacities. The luster and colors of the roots, stems,
Branches, leaves, and ﬂowers
Are all freshened by the same rain.
Each of these, although receiving the same moisture, Reaches a greater or lesser size
In accordance with their different Dispositions, characteristics, and natures. The Buddha is exactly like this.
He appears in the world As a great cloud
Which covers everything universally. Once appearing in this world
He illuminates and explains The essence of the teachings For the sake of sentient beings.
The Great Seer, the Bhagavat, expounds this To the assembly of all the devas and humans. I am the Tathāgata, the Best of Humans.
I appear in the world to nourish sentient beings Just as the great cloud
Moistens all the withered trees.
I cause everyone to be rid of suffering And attain ease of heart,
Worldly happiness, and the joy of nirvana. So, devas and humans, listen carefully!
Come, all of you,
And look at the Highest One! I am the Bhagavat.
No one is equal to me. I appear in this world
To bring peace of mind to sentient beings And to teach the Dharma of immortality To the great assembly.
This Dharma has a single ﬂavor Of liberation and nirvana.
I expound its meaning with the same subtle voice, Always making the Mahayana
The subject of my illustrations.
I see everywhere, and regard all as equal. I have no feelings of like or dislike;
For me there is no this or that. Nor do I have either love or hate.
I have no attachments and make no distinctions, And so always teach the Dharma equally to all; And teach the same thing to one person
As I teach to everyone else.
I always teach the Dharma and nothing else. Going or coming, sitting or standing,
I never tire of satisfying the world,
Just like the rain that gives nourishment universally. I tirelessly pour down the rain of the Dharma Equally on those who are noble or humble,
Superior or inferior, who keep or break the precepts, Who have good or bad conduct, right or wrong views, Sharp or dull faculties.
According to their power to understand, All sentient beings who hear my teaching Dwell in various stages.
Those living among humans,
Devas, noble emperors, Śakra, and Brahma kings Are like the small herbs.
Those who know the incorruptible Dharma, Who are able to attain nirvana,
Have the six transcendent powers, and Have attained the three sciences.
Those who live alone in mountain forests Always practicing meditation, and
Who attain the enlightenment of the pratyekabuddhas Are like the medium-sized herbs.
Those who seek the stage
Of the Bhagavat, thinking that They will become buddhas,
And practice persistence and meditation, Are like the large herbs.
The heirs of the buddhas
Who concentrate on the path of the Buddha,
Who always cultivate compassion within themselves And know deﬁnitely without a doubt
That they will become buddhas, Are like the small trees.
Those who are comfortable with transcendent powers, Who turn the irreversible wheel [of the Dharma]
And save innumerable hundreds
Of thousands of koṭis of sentient beings, Are the bodhisattvas
Who are like the large trees. The Buddha’s equal teaching Is like the rain of one ﬂavor. The sentient beings accept it
According to their different capacities, Just as the grasses and trees
Each differently absorb the rain.
The Buddha reveals the single teaching With illustrations, using skillful means And explains it with various explanations, And yet it is just a drop in the ocean Compared to the Buddha’s wisdom.
I pour down the rain of the Dharma, Fulﬁlling the world,
And the sentient beings
Practice the Dharma of one ﬂavor According to their capacities.
Just as the shrubs, herbs, and trees
Flourish in accordance with their capacities, Reaching either a greater or lesser size,
The teaching of the buddhas Is always of one ﬂavor
And fulﬁlls the entire world.
Anyone who practices it little by little Obtains the fruit of the path.
The śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas Living in mountain forests,
Who, in their last bodies,
Hear the Dharma and attain its fruit, Are just like the ﬂourishing herbs.
The bodhisattvas who are ﬁrm in wisdom, Who completely understand the triple world, And seek the highest vehicle,
Are just like the ﬂourishing small trees. Those who abide in meditation,
Attain transcendent powers,
Listen to the teaching regarding the emptiness Of every existence with great joy,
And save sentient beings
By emitting innumerable rays of light, Are just like the ﬂourishing large trees. In this way, O Kāśyapa,
The Dharma that the Buddha teaches
Is just like the great cloud that enriches human ﬂowers With the rain of one ﬂavor,
So that each attains its fruits. O Kāśyapa!
You should know that I reveal the buddha path Using various explanations and illustrations And that this is my skillful means.
All of the buddhas are just like this.
I will now teach the highest truth for your sake:
There are no śrāvakas who attain nirvana. What you practice is the bodhisattva path; And if you practice step by step,
You will all become buddhas.
Lotus Sutra: Chapter 6
At that time, after the Bhagavat had spoken these verses, he addressed the great assembly, proclaiming: “This disciple of mine, Mahākāśyapa, in the future will be able to meet three hundred myriads of koṭis of Buddha Bha- gavats to whom he will pay homage, respect, veneration, and praise; and he will extensively expound the immeasurable great teachings of these buddhas. In his last body he will become a buddha called Raśmiprabhāsa, a Tathā- gata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. “His world will be called Avabhāsaprāpta in the kalpa called Mahāvyūha. The lifespan of this buddha will be twelve intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in the world for twenty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for twenty intermediate kalpas.
“His world will be adorned and there will be no dirt, shards, thorns, excrement, or other impurities. The earth will be level without irregularities, hollows, or hills. The earth will be made of lapis lazuli with jeweled trees in rows. Golden cords will line the borders of these roads, which will be scat- tered with precious ﬂowers, and everywhere will be pure.
“In his world there will be immeasurable thousands of koṭis of bodhi- sattvas as well as innumerable śrāvakas. All malice will be far removed; and even though Māra and his minions will be there, they will all protect the Buddha-Dharma.”
Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to explain the meaning of this fur- ther, spoke these verses:
I tell you, O monks,
That I see with the buddha-eye That Kāśyapa in the future Will become a buddha
After innumerable kalpas have passed.
In the future he will meet and pay homage
To three hundred myriads of koṭis of Buddha Bhagavats And practice the pure path of discipline and integrity, Seeking for the wisdom of the buddhas.
Having offered respect to the highest and best of humans And having completely grasped the ultimate wisdom, He will become a buddha while in his last body.
His land will be pure.
The earth will be made of lapis lazuli, And many jeweled trees will be in rows Along roads bordered with golden cords, And those who see it will be gladdened. The air will be always ﬁlled
With a pleasant fragrance, And many beautiful ﬂowers Will be strewn about.
Various wonderful things Will adorn this earth, Which will be level Without hills or hollows.
There will be an incalculable number Of bodhisattvas there
Who will have the power of self-control, Be versed in transcendent powers,
And who will preserve the sutras of the Mahayana Taught by the buddhas.
The multitude of śrāvakas,
Bearing their last bodies, free from corruption, Heirs of the Dharma King,
Will also be unreckonable;
Their number will be impossible to calculate Even with the divine eye.
The lifespan of this buddha
Will be twelve intermediate kalpas.
The True Dharma will last in the world For twenty intermediate kalpas.
And the Semblance Dharma will also last For twenty intermediate kalpas.
Thus will things be with
The Bhagavat Raśmiprabhāsa.
At that time Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Subhūti, and Mahākātyāyana were all charged with excitement, and with palms pressed together they attentively gazed at the Bhagavat, never turning their eyes from him. They immediately spoke these verses in unison:
O Bhagavat, Great Hero!
O King of the Dharma of the Śākyas! Bestow the Buddha’s words upon us Out of your compassion for us.
If, knowing the depths of our hearts, You give us your predictions,
It will be like cooling our fevers
By sprinkling us with the Dharma of immortality. It is as though someone coming
From a country suffering from famine Were suddenly to ﬁnd
A great king’s feast spread before him, Yet is stricken with doubt
And does not venture to eat,
Until, being instructed by the king, He dares at last to do so.
We are exactly like this.
We have been constantly thinking About the faults of the inferior vehicle, And so we had no knowledge of the way
To obtain the highest wisdom of the Buddha. Although we hear the Buddha’s voice Saying that we will become buddhas,
We still have doubt in our minds
As if we dare not eat the meal.
If we receive the Buddha’s prediction It will immediately put us at ease.
The Bhagavat, the Great Hero, Always wants to put the world at ease; And so we entreat you to bestow Upon us your predictions,
As though to starving people Waiting for permission to eat.
Then the Bhagavat, knowing what lay in the thoughts of the great dis- ciples, addressed the monks saying: “This Subhūti in the future will meet, respect, venerate, praise, and pay homage to three hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of buddhas; and he will always practice the pure path of disci- pline and integrity, and complete the bodhisattva path. In his last body he will become a buddha called Yaśasketu, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat.
“His land will be called Ratnasaṃbhava in the kalpa called Ratnāva- bhāsa. The land will be even and the earth will be made of crystal and adorned with jeweled trees. It will be without pits, pebbles, thorns, or the ﬁlth of excrement. The earth will be covered with precious ﬂowers and will be every- where pure.
“The people in this world will all live in wonderful towers with jeweled terraces. The śrāvakas, the disciples there will be innumerable and limitless, beyond calculation and metaphor, and there will also be innumerable thou- sands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of bodhisattvas.
“The lifespan of this buddha will be twelve intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in the world for twenty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for twenty intermediate kalpas. This Buddha will always dwell in the air, teaching the Dharma for the multitude, and he will save incalculable bodhisattvas and śrāvakas.”
Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to explain the meaning of this fur- ther, spoke these verses:
I shall now make something known to you. You should attentively listen
To what I have to say. My great disciple Subhūti
Will become a buddha called Yaśasketu. He will pay homage to innumerable Myriads of koṭis of buddhas,
And, following the Buddha’s practice,
He will gradually come to complete the great path. He will attain the thirty-two marks
In his last body,
And his form will be ﬁne and beautiful Just like a jeweled mountain.
His buddha world will be ultimately pure. Of the sentient beings who see it
There will be none who do not rejoice. There the Buddha will bring
Incalculable sentient beings to enlightenment. In the midst of his Dharma
There will be many bodhisattvas With keen faculties,
Who turn the irreversible wheel [of the Dharma]. This world will always
Be graced with bodhisattvas. There will also be
Incalculable numbers of śrāvakas.
All of them will have perfected the three sciences, And the six transcendent powers,
Will abide in the eight liberations, And have great dignity and virtue. The Buddha will expound the Dharma And reveal immeasurable, Unthinkable, transcendent powers.
All the devas and humans,
As numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, Will listen to the Buddha’s words
With palms pressed together. The lifespan of this buddha
Will be twelve intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in the world For twenty intermediate kalpas,
And the Semblance Dharma will also last For twenty intermediate kalpas.
Thereupon the Bhagavat addressed the monks, saying: “I will now tell you that this Mahākātyāyana in the future will honor, respect, and pay hom- age to eight thousand koṭis of buddhas with offerings. After the parinirvāṇas of these buddhas, he will erect stupas, each of which will be one thousand yojanas in height and ﬁve hundred yojanas in both width and depth. These stupas will all be constructed of the seven precious treasures—gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, agate, pearls, and rubies. He will pay homage to these stupas with many ﬂowers and necklaces, fragrant ointments, scented powders, burning incense, canopies, ﬂags, and banners.
“After this he will also pay homage to two myriads of koṭis of buddhas in exactly the same way and, having done so, he will perfect the bodhisattva path and become a buddha called Jāmbūnadābhāsa, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Com- pletely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat.
“His land will be level. The earth will be made of crystal and it will be adorned with jeweled trees. The roads will be bordered with golden cords and beautiful ﬂowers will cover the earth. It will be pure everywhere and those who see it will rejoice.
“There will be none of the four troubled states of being, namely the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, and asuras. There will be many devas and humans, and immeasurable myriads of koṭis of śrāvakas and bodhisattvas will grace this world.
“The lifespan of this buddha will be twelve intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in the world for twenty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for twenty intermediate kalpas.”
At that time the Bhagavat, wanting to explain the meaning of this fur- ther, spoke these verses:
O monks, listen carefully! What I shall say
Is nothing but the truth. This Kātyāyana
Will pay homage to the buddhas With various wonderful offerings.
After the parinirvāṇas of those buddhas, He will erect stupas constructed
Of the seven precious treasures And offer respect to their relics With ﬂowers and incense.
In his last body
He will attain the wisdom of the Buddha And will achieve complete enlightenment. His world will be pure
And he will save incalculable Myriads of koṭis of sentient beings.
He will be venerated in the ten directions. There is nothing that surpasses
This Buddha’s ray of light, So this buddha
Will be called Jāmbūnadābhāsa.
There will be innumerable, uncountable Bodhisattvas and śrāvakas gracing this world, Who have shaken free from every state of being.
Thereupon the Bhagavat again addressed the assembly saying: “I will now tell you that this Mahāmaudgalyāyana will respect, venerate, and pay homage to eight thousand buddhas with various offerings; and after the parinirvāṇas of these buddhas, he will erect stupas, each of which will be one thousand yojanas in height and ﬁve hundred yojanas in both depth and width. These stupas will be constructed with the seven precious treasures— gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, agate, pearls, and rubies. He will
offer them various ﬂowers, necklaces, fragrant ointments, scented powders, burning incense, canopies, ﬂags, and banners.
“After this he will pay homage to two hundred myriads of koṭis of buddhas in exactly the same way, and will become a buddha called Tamālapatracan- danagandha, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowl- edge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat.
“His world will be called Mano’bhirāma in the kalpa called Ratiprapūrṇa. The land will be level. The earth will be made of crystal, adorned with jew- eled trees, and strewn with ﬂowers of pearls. It will be pure everywhere and those who see it will rejoice. There will be many devas and humans, innu- merable bodhisattvas, and śrāvakas.
“The lifespan of this buddha will be twenty-four intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in this world for forty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for forty intermediate kalpas.”
Then the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on this meaning, spoke these verses:
This disciple of mine, Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Having abandoned this body,
Will meet eight thousand and then two hundred Myriads of koṭis of Buddha Bhagavats.
For the sake of the buddha path
He will pay them homage and respect them,
And always practice holy conduct (brahmacarya) Of discipline and integrity
In the presence of these buddhas. He will uphold the Buddha-Dharma For immeasurable kalpas.
After the parinirvāṇas of these buddhas He will erect stupas
Constructed with the seven precious treasures On which golden banners
Will be long displayed. He will pay homage to
These stupas of the buddhas
With ﬂowers, incense, and music. After having mastered
The bodhisattva path step by step, In a land called Mano’bhirāma, He will become a buddha
Called Tamālapatracandanagandha. The lifespan of this buddha
Will be twenty-four intermediate kalpas. He will always expound the buddha path For the sake of devas and humans.
There will be countless śrāvakas,
As numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, Who will have perfected the three sciences, And six transcendent powers,
And have great dignity and virtue. There will be innumerable bodhisattvas,
Resolute and persevering, who will never turn away From the wisdom of the buddhas.
After the parinirvāṇa of this buddha The True Dharma will last
For forty intermediate kalpas, And the Semblance Dharma Will also be like this.
All of my disciples, Five hundred in number,
Who are endowed with dignity and virtue, Will also receive my prediction.
In the future they will all become buddhas. I will now explain the relationships
That you and I have formed in past lives. All of you, listen carefully!
Lotus Sutra: Chapter 7
The Apparational City
The Buddha addressed the monks, saying: “Once upon a time, immeasura- ble, limitless, inconceivable, incalculable kalpas ago, there was a buddha called Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū Tathāgata, an Arhat, Completely Enlight- ened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. His land was called Susaṃbhavā in the kalpa called Mahārūpa.
“O monks, it has been an extremely long time since this buddha entered nirvana. Suppose there were a man who ground the earth of the entire great manifold cosmos into powdered ink, and he were to then pass through a thou- sand worlds to the east, where he let fall a single particle of ink, the size of a speck of dust.
“After passing through another thousand worlds, he let fall another par- ticle; and he continued in this way until he had completely used all the ink. “What do you think about this? Do you think that a mathematician or a mathematician’s pupil would be able to count those worlds to the last particle or not?”
“O Bhagavat! No, they could not.”
“O monks! Suppose that all the worlds this man passed through, whether letting fall a particle or not, were all ground into dust, and one speck of this dust were equal to one kalpa. The time since the parinirvāṇa of this buddha surpasses this number by immeasurable, limitless, incalculable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of kalpas; and through the power of the Tathā- gata’s wisdom and insight, I can see his distant past, as if it were today.”
Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
I recall that in the past, Immeasurable kalpas ago,
There was a buddha, the most honored among two-legged beings, Called Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū.
Suppose there was a man
Who vigorously ground up in its entirety The earth of the great manifold cosmos And turned it all to powdered ink.
After passing through one thousand worlds, He let fall one particle of ink;
And in this way
He continued to let fall particles Until he had used up all the ink. If all these worlds,
Those where he let fall a particle And those where he did not,
Were to be ground into specks of dust,
And one speck of dust were equal to a single kalpa,
Their number would be surpassed By the number of kalpas
That have passed since that buddha’s parinirvāṇa,
So incalculable has this number of kalpas been. With the Tathāgata’s unobstructed wisdom,
I know of these bodhisattvas and śrāvakas And the parinirvāṇa of this buddha;
It is as if I see his parinirvāṇa today. O monks, you should know
That with the knowledge of the Buddha, Which is pure and subtle,
Incorrupted and without obstructions,
I perceive what happened immeasurable kalpas ago.
The Buddha addressed the monks, saying: “The lifespan of this buddha Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū was ﬁve hundred and forty myriads of koṭis of nayu- tas of kalpas. When that buddha was seated on the terrace of enlightenment after having defeated Māra’s army, he tried to obtain highest, complete enlightenment, yet the Dharma of the buddhas did not appear to him. In this way, even after having sat cross-legged for one to ten intermediate kalpas, undisturbed in body and mind, the Dharma of the buddhas still did not appear to him.
“At that time a group of thirty-three devas ﬁrst prepared for that buddha a lion seat one yojana in height under the bodhi tree, for this buddha was to attain highest, complete enlightenment on that seat. As soon as the Buddha sat on this seat, all the Brahmas rained down various heavenly ﬂowers for a hundred yojanas around; periodically a fragrant breeze would blow away the withered ﬂowers and they would rain down fresh ones.
“In this way they unceasingly paid homage to the Buddha for a full ten intermediate kalpas, raining down these ﬂowers continuously until his parinirvāṇa. The devas of the four quarters constantly struck heavenly drums to honor the Buddha, and in the same way all the other devas made divine music for a full ten intermediate kalpas until his parinirvāṇa.
“O monks! The Dharma of the buddhas appeared to the Buddha Mahā- bhijñājñānābhibhū after ten intermediate kalpas had passed, and he attained highest, complete enlightenment.
“This Buddha had had sixteen children before he renounced household life. The eldest child was called Jñānākara. Each child had various kinds of rare toys. After hearing about their father’s attainment of highest, complete enlightenment, they all put aside their toys and set out for where the Buddha was. Weeping sad tears, their mothers saw them off. Their grandfather, the wheel-turning sage king, went with them, along with a hundred ministers and hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of people.
“When they arrived at the terrace of enlightenment, they all wanted to approach the Tathāgata Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū, and pay homage and respect, honor, and praise him. They came up to him and bowed until their foreheads touched his feet, and then circled around him. Attentively, with palms pressed together, they gazed at the Bhagavat and spoke these verses:
The Bhagavat of great, virtuous dignity,
In order to bring sentient beings to the path, After immeasurable koṭis of kalpas
And perfecting all the vows, Finally became a buddha.
There is nothing more auspicious!
The Bhagavat is truly extraordinary!
He sat tranquil for ten intermediate kalpas With his body and limbs immobile.
His mind was always calm and never distracted. He has attained ultimate, eternal tranquility, And is ﬁrmly established
In the incorruptible Dharma. Now seeing the Bhagavat,
Who has serenely attained the buddha path, We receive beneﬁt and celebrate
With great joy.
Sentient beings, ever suffering, Are blind and without a teacher.
They are unaware of the path that leads To the extinction of suffering,
Ignorant of the way to seek liberation. From one blind state to the next,
Those in the troubled states of being daily increase While the devas decrease.
They never hear the Buddha’s name. Now the Buddha has attained the highest, Serene, and incorruptible Dharma.
Thus we and the devas and humans, Shall obtain the greatest beneﬁt.
Therefore we all bow and pay homage To the highest Lord.
“At that time the sixteen princes, having praised the Buddha in verse, requested that the Bhagavat turn the wheel of the Dharma, saying:
O Bhagavat, teach the Dharma! Put all the devas and people at ease and beneﬁt them through your compassion!
“They spoke further in verse, saying:
O Hero of the World,
The One Who Has No Equal,
Who is adorned with a hundred merits, And has attained the highest wisdom! We entreat you to teach
For the sake of the world, And bring us and all the other Sentient beings to the path.
Illuminate and reveal this wisdom So that we may attain it.
If we can become buddhas,
So can the other sentient beings. The Bhagavat knows
The deep-seated intentions of sentient beings And the paths they practice,
As well as the power of their wisdom. May the Bhagavat, being wholly aware Of their positive intentions, Accumulated merits, and past deeds, Turn the highest wheel of the Dharma.
The Buddha addressed the monks, saying: “When the Buddha Mahā- bhijñājñānābhibhū attained highest, complete enlightenment, ﬁve hundred myriads of koṭis of buddha worlds in each of the ten directions quaked in six ways. The dark places between the worlds, where the rays of the sun and moon had been unable to penetrate, were brightly illuminated. The sentient beings there were able to see each other and said:
How is it possible that sentient beings have suddenly appeared here?
“Moreover, those worlds from the heavenly palaces up to the palaces of the Brahmas, also quaked in six ways. The great ray of light shone every- where, ﬁlling the worlds with a radiance that surpassed the light of the devas. “At that time the palaces of Brahmas in the ﬁve hundred myriads of koṭis of worlds in the east were illuminated twice as brightly as usual. The great Brahmas each thought:
The palaces are illuminated now as never before. What has caused this phenomenon?
“At that time all of the great Brahmas approached each other to discuss this matter. In that assembly there was a great Brahma called Sarvasattva- trātar who spoke to the assembly of Brahmas in verse, saying:
This illumination of our palaces Has never occurred before!
Let us ﬁnd out
The reason for this! This great ray of light
Has illuminated the ten directions. Has a deva of great merit been born,
Or has a buddha appeared in the world?
“Then the great Brahmas of the hundred myriads of koṭis of worlds went toward the west with their palaces to enquire about this phenomenon, car- rying heavenly ﬂowers in their robes. They saw the Tathāgata Mahābhijñā- jñānābhibhū on the terrace of enlightenment, sitting on the lion seat under the bodhi tree. He was respectfully surrounded by humans and such non- humans as devas, nāga kings, gandharvas, kiṃnaras, and mahoragas. They also saw the sixteen princes requesting the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma. Then the great Brahmas bowed until their foreheads touched the Buddha’s feet and then circled around him one hundred thousand times. They scattered heavenly ﬂowers on the Buddha, and the ﬂowers they scat- tered were piled as high as Mount Sumeru. They also paid homage to the Buddha’s bodhi tree, which was ten yojanas in height. Having reverently offered him ﬂowers, they presented their palaces to the Buddha, saying:
Please accept the palaces we now offer you, and beneﬁt us through your compassion!
“Then the great Brahmas spoke these verses wholeheartedly and in uni- son before the Buddha:
The Bhagavat, who is truly extraordinary, Is extremely difficult to meet.
He is endowed with immeasurable qualities And seeks to protect all.
The Great Teacher of Devas and Humans
Feels compassion for the world And causes all sentient beings In the ten directions
To be universally beneﬁted. All of us, who have come from
Five hundreds of myriads of koṭis of worlds, Have given up the pleasure of deep meditation In order to pay homage to the Buddha.
To the Bhagavat we now present our palaces, Which the merits of our previous lives
Have caused to be completely adorned. Please accept them through your compassion!
“Thereupon, having praised the Buddha in verse, the great Brahmas each said this:
O Bhagavat! We entreat you to turn the wheel of the Dharma, open the path to nirvana, and guide sentient beings to it.
“Then the great Brahmas attentively spoke these verses in unison:
O Hero of the World, the most honored among two-legged beings!
We entreat you to expound the Dharma And bring the suffering beings to the path
Through the power of your great compassion.
“Then the Tathāgata Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū silently consented. “Furthermore, O monks, the great Brahmas in the ﬁve hundred myriads
of koṭis of worlds in the southeast saw their palaces illuminated with a ray of light that had never occurred before. Joyful and ecstatic, they were struck with wonder. They assembled to discuss this matter. At that time there was a great Brahma called Adhimātrakāruṇika. He spoke to the assembly of Brah- mas in verse saying:
What is the reason
That this phenomenon has appeared?
Even since the olden times,
This illumination of all of our palaces Is without precedent.
Has a deva of great merit been born,
Or has a buddha appeared in the world?
Since we have never seen such a phenomenon, We should seek thoroughly for its source.
Even if we have to pass
Through thousands of myriads of koṭis of worlds, We should seek together for the source of this light. Possibly a buddha has appeared in the world
To save suffering sentient beings.
“Thereupon ﬁve hundred myriads of koṭis of great Brahmas went toward the northwest with their palaces, carrying heavenly ﬂowers in their robes, to enquire about this phenomenon. They saw the Tathāgata Mahābhijñā- jñānābhibhū on the terrace of enlightenment, sitting on the lion seat under the bodhi tree. He was respectfully surrounded by humans and such nonhu- mans as devas, nāga kings, gandharvas, kiṃnaras, and mahoragas. They also saw the sixteen princes requesting the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma.
“Then all the Brahmas bowed until their foreheads touched the Buddha’s feet and then circled around him one hundred thousand times. They scat- tered heavenly ﬂowers on the Buddha, and the ﬂowers they scattered were piled up as high as Mount Sumeru. They also paid homage to the Buddha’s bodhi tree. Having reverently offered the Buddha ﬂowers, they presented their palaces to him, saying:
Please accept the palaces we now offer you and beneﬁt us through your compassion!
“Then the great Brahmas spoke these verses wholeheartedly and in uni- son before the Buddha:
O Great Sage, Deva of Devas! We now bow to the one
Whose voice is as beautiful as the kalaviṅka bird’s
And who has compassion for sentient beings. The Bhagavat is truly extraordinary
And can only be seen once In an extremely long time.
One hundred and eighty kalpas Have passed away fruitlessly,
And no buddhas have appeared during this time. The worlds have been ﬁlled
With people in the three troubled states of being, And the devas have decreased.
The Buddha has now appeared in the world To be the eyes of sentient beings.
He will be the refuge of the world And will seek to protect all.
As the father of sentient beings,
He is the compassionate benefactor. Because of our past merits,
We now have the good fortune to be able To meet the Bhagavat!
“Thereupon, having praised the Buddha in verse, the great Brahmas said
O Bhagavat! We entreat you to turn the wheel of the Dharma out of your compassion for all and save sentient beings.
“Then the great Brahmas spoke these verses wholeheartedly and in uni-
O Great Sage! Make us very happy! Turn the wheel of the Dharma, Reveal the character of all dharmas, Save the suffering beings!
If sentient beings hear this Dharma
They will attain the path and be born as devas.
The beings in the troubled states of being will decrease
While those who persevere in the good will increase. 24a
“Then the Tathāgata Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū silently consented. “Furthermore, O monks, the great Brahmas in the ﬁve hundreds of thou- sands of koṭis of lands in the south each saw their palaces illuminated as they had never been before. Joyful and ecstatic, they were struck with wonder.
They immediately assembled to discuss this matter together, asking: Why have our palaces been illuminated?
“At that time there was a great Brahma, called Sudharma. He spoke to the assembly of Brahmas in verse saying:
Our palaces are illuminated With brilliant light.
There must be a reason for this, And we should seek its source.
We have not seen such a phenomenon
During the past hundreds of thousands of kalpas. Has a deva of great merit been born,
Or has a buddha appeared in the world?
“Thereupon ﬁve hundred myriads of koṭis of great Brahmas went toward the north with their palaces, to enquire about this phenomenon, carrying heavenly ﬂowers in their robes. They saw the Tathāgata Mahābhijñā- jñānābhibhū on the terrace of enlightenment, sitting on the lion seat under the bodhi tree. He was respectfully surrounded by humans and such nonhu- mans as devas, nāga kings, gandharvas, kiṃnaras, and mahoragas. They also saw the sixteen princes requesting the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma.
“Then all the great Brahmas bowed until their foreheads touched the Buddha’s feet and then circled around him one hundred thousand times. They scattered heavenly ﬂowers on the Buddha, and the ﬂowers they scat- tered piled up as high as Mount Sumeru. They also paid homage to the Buddha’s bodhi tree. Having revered the Buddha with ﬂowers, they offered their palaces to him, saying:
Please accept the palaces we now offer you, and beneﬁt us through your compassion!
“Then the great Brahmas spoke these verses wholeheartedly and in uni- son before the Buddha:
O Destroyer of Afﬂictions!
It is extremely difficult to meet a Bhagavat.
We are now meeting the Buddha for the ﬁrst time Since one hundred and thirty kalpas have passed away. Please satisfy sentient beings,
Who are suffering from hunger and thirst, By pouring down the rain of the Dharma!
O One Possessed of Immeasurable Wisdom, Whom we have never met before!
Today we have encountered The one who appears as rarely
As the uḍumbara ﬂower blooms. Our palaces are beautifully adorned By this ray of light.
We entreat you to accept them Out of your great compassion!
“Thereupon, having praised the Buddha in verse, the great Brahmas said O Bhagavat! We request that you turn the wheel of the Dharma, thus causing the devamāras, Brahmas, śrāmaṇas, and brahmans to be at ease and saving them all!
“Then the great Brahmas spoke these verses wholeheartedly and in uni-
We entreat you, O Best of Devas and Humans, To turn the wheel of the highest Dharma,
Beat the drum of the great Dharma, Blow the conch of the great Dharma,
Rain the rain of the great Dharma everywhere, And save incalculable sentient beings!
We have all come to request
That you expound it
With your profound voice!
“Then the Tathāgata Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū silently consented.
“The very same thing happened in the worlds from the southwestern to the lower regions, as well as those in other directions.
“Then all the great Brahmas in the ﬁve hundred myriads of koṭis of lands in the upper region saw their palaces illuminated with a light that had never existed before. Joyful and ecstatic, they were struck with wonder. They imme- diately assembled to discuss this matter together, asking:
Why have our palaces been illuminated?
“There was a great Brahma in that assembly called Śikhin. He spoke to the assembly of Brahmas in verse, saying:
Why have all our palaces Been brilliantly illuminated
With this light of virtuous dignity
And adorned in this unprecedented way?
We have never seen such a wonderful phenomenon! Has a deva of great merit been born,
Or has a buddha appeared in the world?
“Thereupon ﬁve hundred myriads of koṭis of great Brahmas went into the lower regions with their palaces to enquire about this phenomenon, car- rying heavenly ﬂowers in their robes. They saw the Tathāgata Mahābhijñā- jñānābhibhū on the terrace of enlightenment sitting on the lion seat under the bodhi tree. He was respectfully surrounded by humans and such nonhu- mans as devas, nāga kings, gandharvas, kiṃnaras, and mahoragas. They also saw the sixteen princes requesting the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma.
“Then all the great Brahmas bowed until their foreheads touched the Buddha’s feet and then circumambulated him one hundred thousand times. They scattered heavenly ﬂowers on the Buddha, and the ﬂowers they scat- tered were piled up as high as Mount Sumeru. They also paid homage to the Buddha’s bodhi tree. Having reverently offered him ﬂowers, they presented their palaces to the Buddha saying:
Please accept the palaces we now offer you, and beneﬁt us through your compassion!
“Then all the great Brahmas spoke these verses wholeheartedly and in unison before the Buddha:
How splendid it is to meet the buddhas, The Great Sages who deliver the world, Who diligently work to get sentient beings Out of the hell of the triple world!
The Best of Devas and Humans, Who has universal wisdom,
Out of compassion for everyone Opens the gate to immortality And extensively saves all.
Since olden times, immeasurable kalpas Have passed away in vain
Without the presence of the Buddha.
In the time before the Bhagavat appears, The ten directions are in constant darkness.
Those in the three troubled states of being increase And the asuras also ﬂourish.
The devas decrease all the more, And when they die
Many of them fall into those troubled states. Having never heard the teaching from the Buddha, All of them always behave badly,
And their physical power and wisdom decreases. Because of their erring deeds
They lose happiness or any notion of it. Abiding in the teaching of false views They know nothing of good conduct. Deprived of the buddhas’ inspiration,
They always fall into the troubled states of being. After a very long time, the Buddha has now Appeared as the Eye of the World.
It is out of compassion for sentient beings That the Buddha appears in the world.
Transcending everything, the Buddha Has attained complete enlightenment. We are all extremely happy,
And all the other beings joyfully acclaim This unprecedented experience.
All our palaces are beautifully adorned By this ray of light.
We now offer them to the Bhagavat.
Please accept them out of your compassion! By the universal transference of this merit, May we and all other beings
Together attain the buddha path!
“Thereupon the ﬁve hundred myriads of koṭis of great Brahmas, having praised the Buddha in verse, each spoke to him, saying:
O Bhagavat! We strongly entreat you to turn the wheel of the Dharma, give ease to many, and enable them to attain the path.
“Then all the great Brahmas spoke these verses:
O Bhagavat! Turn the wheel of the Dharma, Beat the drum of the Dharma of immortality, Save the suffering sentient beings,
And reveal the path to nirvana!
We strongly entreat you to accept our request; And out of your compassion
And with your wonderful voice, Expound the Dharma
That you have perfected Over immeasurable kalpas.
“And then the Tathāgata Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū acceded to the request made by all the great Brahmas from the ten directions and the sixteen princes. He then immediately turned three times the Dharma wheel of twelve spokes that no śrāmaṇas, brahmans, devamāras, Brahmas, or any other being in the world could turn. He taught:
This is suffering. This is the origination of suffering. This is the ces- sation of suffering, and this is the path that leads to the cessation of suffering. (i.e., the Four Noble Truths)
“He also extensively taught the Dharma of the twelve-linked chain of dependent origination, saying:
Conditioned states are dependent on ignorance. Consciousness is dependent on conditioned states. Name and form are dependent on consciousness. The six sense ﬁelds are dependent on name and form. Contact is dependent on the six sense ﬁelds. Feelings are dependent on contact. Craving is dependent on feelings. Grasping is dependent on craving. Becoming is dependent on grasping. Birth is dependent on becoming. And old age, illness, death, anxiety, sorrow, suffering, and distress are dependent on birth.
When ignorance ceases, then conditioned states cease. When con- ditioned states cease, then consciousness ceases. When consciousness ceases, then name and form cease. When name and form cease, then the six sense ﬁelds cease. When the six sense ﬁelds cease, then con- tact ceases. When contact ceases, then feelings cease. When feelings cease, then craving ceases. When craving ceases, then grasping ceases. When grasping ceases, then becoming ceases. When becoming ceases, then birth ceases. When birth ceases, then old age, illness, death, anx- iety, sorrow, suffering, and distress cease.
“When the Buddha explained this Dharma to the great assembly of the devas and humans, at that time six hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of people, because they were not attached to any existent thing, became free of all corruption. All of them perfected profound meditations, the three sciences, the six transcendent powers, and were endowed with the eight liberations. “When he taught the Dharma for the second, third, and fourth time, thou- sands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of sentient beings, equal to the sands of the Ganges River, who were not attached to any existent thing, became free of all corruption. Innumerable, immeasurable, incalculable śrāvakas followed in their turn.
“At that time the sixteen princes who were still young renounced house- hold life and became śrāmaṇeras. All their faculties were sharp, and their wisdom was penetrating. They had paid homage to hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of buddhas, practiced the pure path of discipline and integrity, and sought highest, complete enlightenment.
“They all spoke to the Buddha, saying:
O Bhagavat! All of these immeasurable thousands of myriads of koṭis of śrāvakas of great merit have all attained perfection. O Bhagavat! You should also expound the teaching of highest, complete enlight- enment to us! Hearing it, we shall all practice it. O Bhagavat! We aspire for the wisdom and insight of the Tathāgata. The Buddha himself knows what is deep in our minds.
“At that time eight myriads of koṭis of people in the assembly who served the noble emperor saw the sixteen princes renounce household life and appealed to the emperor to allow their own renunciation. The emperor imme- diately gave his permission.
“Then the Buddha accepted the request of the śrāmaṇeras. After twenty thousand kalpas had passed he taught to the fourfold assembly this Mahayana sutra called the Lotus Sutra, the instruction for bodhisattvas and treasured lore of the buddhas.
“After the Buddha taught this sutra, all the sixteen śrāmaṇeras pre- served, recited, and understood it in order to achieve highest, complete enlight- enment. When the Buddha taught this sutra, all the sixteen śrāmaṇeras, the bodhisattvas, completely accepted it. There were also some among the śrā- vakas who believed it. But all the other thousands of myriads of koṭis of sen- tient beings became confused.
“The Buddha continuously taught this sutra for eight thousand kalpas without stopping. After teaching this sutra, he immediately entered a quiet place and abided in meditation for eighty-four thousand kalpas.
“At that time each of the sixteen śrāmaṇeras, the bodhisattvas, know- ing that the Buddha had entered the quiet place and was abiding tranquilly in meditation, ascended the Dharma seat and extensively taught and explained the Lotus Sutra to the fourfold assembly for eighty-four thousand kalpas. Each of them saved six hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of sentient beings equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River. By revealing and teach- ing it, they gladdened these sentient beings and awoke in them the thought of highest, complete enlightenment.
“Having arisen from samādhi after eighty-four thousand kalpas had passed, the Buddha Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū approached the Dharma seat and sat down with complete mindfulness. He addressed everyone in the great assembly, saying:
These sixteen śrāmaṇeras, bodhisattvas, are extraordinary. All their faculties are sharp and their wisdom is penetrating. In times past they have paid homage to immeasurable thousands of myriads of koṭis of buddhas and have constantly practiced the pure path of discipline and integrity under them. They preserved the wisdom of the buddhas and revealed it to sentient beings, causing them to enter into it. All of you should approach and pay them homage again and again. Why is this?
If there are any śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas who are able to believe and preserve the teaching in this sutra expounded by these sixteen bodhisattvas and not disparage it, they will all attain the wisdom of the Tathāgata, highest, complete enlightenment.
The Buddha addressed the monks, saying: “These sixteen bodhisattvas always willingly taught this Lotus Sutra. Each bodhisattva has inspired six hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of sentient beings equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River. In life after life, they remained with these bodhisattvas and, hearing this teaching from them, they believed and under- stood. For this reason they were able to meet four myriads of koṭis of Buddha Bhagavats during a period uninterrupted up to the present.
“O monks! I shall now tell you that these sixteen śrāmaṇeras, disciples of that buddha Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū, have now attained highest, com- plete enlightenment and presently teach the Dharma in the lands of the ten directions. There are immeasurable hundreds of thousands of myriads of bodhisattvas and śrāvakas who have become their attendants.
“Two of these śrāmaṇeras have became buddhas in the east. One is called Akṣobhya in the land called Abhirati and the other is called Merukūṭa. In the southeast there are two buddhas. One is called Siṃhaghoṣa and the other is called Siṃhadhvaja. In the south there are two buddhas called Ākāśapratiṣṭhita and Nityaparinirvṛta. There are also two buddhas in the southwest. One is called Indradhvaja and the other is called Brahmadhvaja. In the west there are two buddhas called Amitāyus and Sarvalokadhātū- padravodvegapratyuttīrṇa. There are two buddhas in the northwest. One is called Tamālapatracandanagandhābhijña. The other is called Merukalpa. In the north there are two buddhas. One is called Meghasvaradīpa and the other is called Meghasvararāja. In the northeast there is a buddha called Sarva- lokabhayacchambhitatvavidhvaṃsanakara. And the sixteenth one is myself, Buddha Śākyamuni, who in this sahā world achieved highest, complete enlightenment.
“O monks! When we were śrāmaṇeras, each of us inspired immeasur- able hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of sentient beings equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River. Those sentient beings who heard the teaching from me attained highest, complete enlightenment. There are sentient beings who still abide in the stage of a śrāvaka and whom I will inspire to attain highest, complete enlightenment. By means of this teach- ing, they will gradually enter the buddha path. Why is this?
“The wisdom of the Tathāgatas is hard to believe and hard to under- stand. Those incalculable sentient beings equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River who were inspired at that time were you, O monks, and those disciples who will be śrāvakas in the future after my parinirvāṇa.
“After my parinirvāṇa there will be disciples who will not hear this sutra and will neither know nor understand the bodhisattva practice; yet through the merit they have acquired, the thought of extinction will awake in them and they will enter parinirvāṇa.
“I will become a buddha in another land with a different name. Although the idea of extinction has awoken in these disciples and they have entered parinirvāṇa, in that land they will still seek the wisdom of the buddhas and will then be able to hear this sutra. They can obtain parinirvāṇa only through the buddha vehicle. There are no other vehicles except the one taught through the skillful means of the Tathāgatas.
“O monks! When the Tathāgata realizes that the time of his parinirvāṇa is approaching, knowing that the assembly is pure, ﬁrm in belief and under- standing, has penetrated the teaching of emptiness, and has deeply entered meditation, he will then gather the assembly of bodhisattvas and śrāvakas together and teach this sutra to them. In this world there is no second vehi- cle through which one can attain parinirvāṇa; only through the single buddha vehicle can one attain it.
“You should know, O monks, that the Tathāgata through skillful means deeply penetrates the dispositions of sentient beings. Knowing their incli- nation toward the inferior teachings and that they are deeply attached to the desires of the ﬁve senses, he teaches nirvana for their sake. If they listen, they will accept it.
“Suppose in a desolate, fearful place there were a dangerous road ﬁve hundred yojanas long. There is a large group that wants to travel along this road to reach a place where there is great treasure. They have a leader who is wise and penetrating and who knows the passable and impassable parts of this dangerous road very well. Although he wants to guide these people past the danger, they become exhausted along the way. Addressing the leader they say:
We are extremely tired and frightened. We cannot go any further. We are still far away from our destination, and we want to turn back.
“The leader, knowing many skillful means, thinks:
These people are to be pitied. How could they want to turn back and abandon the great treasure?
“After thinking this the leader, through his skillful means, magically creates a city three hundred yojanas away along the dangerous road. He addresses the people, saying:
Do not be frightened. Do not turn back! You may now stay in this great city and be at your leisure. If you enter this city, you can be comfort- able and at ease. Once you are able to go on and reach the treasure site, then you can depart once more.
“Then the exhausted people rejoice greatly and praise this unprecedented experience, saying:
We are now free of this evil road and will be comfortable and at ease.
“Then they proceed to the apparitional city and enter it. They believe that their hardships are over and feel at ease. Then the leader realizes that they are rested and their fatigue has gone. He immediately makes the appari- tional city vanish and says to the people:
All of you, come along! The treasure site is near. I made that great apparitional city only in order to let you rest.
“O monks! The Tathāgata is exactly like this. Now for your sake he has become a great leader who knows the long, dangerous, and evil road of birth, death, and desire’s confusion. You should leave it and be saved.
“If sentient beings hear only about the single buddha vehicle they will then want neither to see nor approach a buddha. They will think that the buddha path is long and attainable only after enduring severe and protracted suffer- ing. The Buddha, knowing their minds, knowing that they are weak-willed and of lowly aspiration, teaches them the two nirvanas through skillful means in order to let them rest halfway to the goal. If there are sentient beings who abide in either of these two stages, the Tathāgata immediately teaches:
What you have accomplished is not complete. The stage you abide in is close to the wisdom of the buddhas. You should observe and con- sider that the nirvana you have obtained is not the true one. It is only through the power of the Tathāgata’s skillful means that the single buddha vehicle is explained as three.
“The Buddha is just like that leader who conjured a great apparitional city to let the people rest. Knowing that they were rested, he addressed them, saying: “The treasure site is near. This city is not real. It is only my inven- tion.”
Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
The Buddha Mahābhijñājñānābhibhū sat
On the terrace of enlightenment for ten kalpas, But still the Dharma of the buddhas
Did not appear to him,
And he did not attain the buddha path. The devas, nāga kings, asuras, and others Constantly rained down heavenly ﬂowers In order to pay homage to that buddha.
The devas beat heavenly drums And played various kinds of music.
The fragrant winds blew the withered ﬂowers away And then they rained down fresh, beautiful ones.
After ten intermediate kalpas had passed, He then attained the buddha path;
And all the devas and humans Became joyful and ecstatic.
The sixteen princes of that buddha, Surrounded by thousands of Myriads of koṭis of attendants,
Came to the place where the Buddha was.
Having bowed until their foreheads touched his feet, They requested him to turn the wheel of the Dharma Saying:
O Noble Lion!
Fill us and everyone else with the rain of the Dharma! It is extremely difficult to meet a Bhagavat,
Since he appears only once in a very long time!
To get the attention of the beings, The Buddha shook the entire world.
The palaces of the Brahmas in the ﬁve hundred Myriads of koṭis of lands in the east
Were illuminated as never before.
All of the Brahmas, seeing this phenomenon, Came to the place where the Buddha was.
They reverently scattered ﬂowers And offered him their palaces.
Requesting the Buddha
To turn the wheel of the Dharma, They praised him in verse.
The Buddha knew that the right time Had not yet arrived,
And although he had been asked,
He sat in silence.
The other three directions, the four remaining quarters, And the upper and lower regions were all like this.
All the Brahmas scattered ﬂowers,
Offered their palaces, and requested the Buddha To turn the wheel of the Dharma,
It is extremely difficult to meet a Bhagavat.
We entreat you to open wide the gate to immortality And turn the wheel of the highest Dharma
Through your great compassion!
The Bhagavat, having immeasurable wisdom, Accepted their request
And expounded various teachings, Such as the Four [Noble] Truths
And the twelve-linked chain of dependent origination, saying:
Beginning with ignorance
And ending with old age and death, All these derive from birth.
You should know about such miseries!
When the Buddha expounded this teaching,
Six hundred myriads of koṭis of trillions of people Attained the complete extinction of all suffering, And became arhats.
At the time of the second teaching, Thousands of myriads of people,
Equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River, Unattached to any existent thing,
Also attained arhatship.
After that an incalculable number Of beings attained the path.
Even if one were to count
For myriads of koṭis of kalpas,
One could not ﬁnish counting their number. Then the sixteen princes renounced Household life and became śrāmaṇeras. They all asked the Buddha to expound The teaching of the Mahayana, saying:
Let us and all of our attendants Attain the buddha path!
We entreat you to let us obtain
The Bhagavat’s eye of wisdom, supreme in purity!
The Buddha, knowing the minds of his children And their past conduct, taught the six perfections And various transcendent powers
Through incalculably numerous explanations And various illustrations.
Explaining the true teaching
And the path to be practiced by the bodhisattvas, He taught this Lotus Sutra in verses
Equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River. After the Buddha taught this sutra,
He entered meditation in a quiet place
And sat with complete concentration in the same spot For eighty-four thousand kalpas.
Those śrāmaṇeras, knowing that the Buddha Had not arisen from meditation,
Taught the highest wisdom of the buddhas To immeasurable koṭis of beings.
Each sat on the Dharma seat
And explained this Mahayana sutra.
After the great parinirvāṇa of that buddha,
They propagated the Dharma and inspired others. Each śrāmaṇera saved
Six hundred myriads of koṭis of sentient beings, Equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River. Those who heard the teaching
After the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa
Were always born together with their teachers In various other buddha lands.
These sixteen śrāmaṇeras
Completely cultivated the buddha path And now, in the ten directions,
They have attained highest, complete enlightenment. Then those who heard the Dharma
In the presence of each of these buddhas And those who are in the śrāvaka stage Will gradually be taught the buddha path. I am one of the sixteen.
I have also taught you in the past. Therefore through skillful means
I will now also lead you to the goal Which is the wisdom of the buddhas.
Through these former causes and conditions, I will now teach the Lotus Sutra
In order to let you enter the buddha path. Do not be worried or frightened!
Suppose there were a dangerous road In a deserted wasteland far away, Where there are many harmful beasts. There is neither water nor grass.
It is a fearful place for human beings. Innumerable thousands of myriads of beings Wish to pass along this dangerous way.
But that road is very long, Some ﬁve hundred yojanas. Then there is a leader,
Endowed with deep wisdom and knowledge, Discerning and resolute,
Who saves the people from various calamities When they meet with danger.
The people all get tired
And address the leader, saying:
We are all now totally exhausted. We want to turn back from here!
The leader thinks:
These people are really to be pitied. How could they possibly want to return And lose the great treasure!
He immediately thinks of skillful means
And how he should now use his transcendent powers; And he makes a great apparitional city
With houses adorned and surrounded With gardens, moats, and ponds.
There are fortiﬁed gates and tall towers, And it is full of men and women.
When the apparition is complete,
He immediately consoles the people, saying:
Do not be afraid!
When you enter the city,
You can each do as you please.
All the people enter the city.
They are very happy and feel at ease, Thinking they have been saved.
When the leader knows they are rested,
He gathers them together and addresses them, saying:
You should now proceed,
For this is just an apparitional city! Seeing that you were extremely fatigued And that you wanted to turn back
After coming halfway,
I made this apparitional city through skillful means. You should now strive
To reach the treasure site together.
I am exactly like this. I am the leader of all.
Perceiving that those seeking the way Have become timid, have stopped halfway,
And are unable to walk to the end of the dangerous road Of birth, death, and desire’s confusion,
I use skillful means and teach nirvana So that they may rest, saying:
You have extinguished suffering,
And you have completed what must be done.
Knowing that they have reached nirvana
And attained arhatship, the Buddha immediately Gathers the great assembly together
And teaches the True Dharma. All the buddhas explain and teach
The three vehicles through skillful means. Although there is only the single buddha vehicle, They teach two in order to provide a place of rest. For your beneﬁt I now teach the truth:
What you have attained is not the ultimate goal. You must call forth great efforts
In order to obtain the omniscience of a buddha. If you attain omniscience
And the qualities of the Buddha, Such things as the ten powers,
And become endowed with the thirty-two marks, Then you will have attained the ultimate goal.
The buddhas, the Leaders, teach nirvana In order to let beings rest in comfort.
When they know that they have rested,
They lead them to the wisdom of the buddhas.
Lotus Sutra: Chapter 8
The Five Hundred Disciples Receive Their Predictions
At that time, Pūrṇa, the son of Maitrāyaṇī, after hearing the Buddha teach the Dharma according to what is appropriate to sentient beings through the wisdom of skillful means and bestow the prediction of highest, complete enlightenment on all the great disciples, and then hearing stories about past causes and conditions and that all the buddhas have obtained perfect mas- tery of transcendent powers, obtained an unprecedented experience and became pure in mind and joyful. He immediately rose from his seat, went into the presence of the Buddha, bowed until his forehead touched the Buddha’s feet, and then stood to one side gazing unwaveringly at the Buddha and thought this:
The Bhagavat is truly marvelous. His actions are rare. He teaches the Dharma according to the natural capacities of the beings in the world through skillful means, wisdom, and insight. He leads sentient beings away from their various attachments. We have no words to describe the Buddha’s qualities. Only the Buddha, the Bhagavat, is able to know our deep intentions and original vow.
Then the Buddha addressed the monks, saying: “Do you see Pūrṇa, the son of Maitrāyaṇī? I always praise him as the foremost among the teachers of the Dharma. I also always praise his various qualities. He diligently main- tains and propagates my teaching and is able to gladden and beneﬁt the four- fold assembly. He interprets the True Dharma of the buddhas perfectly and greatly beneﬁts those who practice the pure path of discipline and integrity together with him. With the exception of the Tathāgata no one else explains the doctrine more eloquently.
“You must not think that Pūrṇa is only now able to protect and propa- gate my teaching. He also protected and propagated the True Dharma of the buddhas in the presence of ninety koṭis of buddhas in the past when he was always the foremost among the teachers of the Dharma. Moreover he was completely versed in the teaching of emptiness that the buddhas taught, and attained the fourfold unobstructed wisdom. He has always been able to teach the Dharma clearly and purely. He never had any doubts and was endowed with the transcendent powers of the bodhisattvas.
“Throughout each life he always practiced the pure path of discipline and integrity. The people who lived in the same buddha world all thought he really was a śrāvaka, yet Pūrṇa beneﬁted immeasurable hundreds of thou- sands of sentient beings through this skillful means and also led and inspired immeasurable incalculable numbers of beings and caused them to attain high- est, complete enlightenment. In order to purify the buddha land he always did what the buddhas have done and led and inspired sentient beings. “O monks! Pūrṇa also was able to become the foremost among the teachers of the Dharma under the past seven buddhas; and he is also the foremost of those who preach the Dharma under me. He will also be the foremost among the teachers of the Dharma under the future buddhas in this auspi- cious kalpa. He will protect and propagate the Buddha-Dharma; and also in the future he will protect and propagate the Dharma of incalculable limit- less buddhas. He will lead, inspire, and beneﬁt incalculable sentient beings and cause them to attain highest, complete enlightenment. In order to purify the buddha lands he will always be diligent and persevering, leading and inspiring sentient beings.
“He will gradually perfect the bodhisattva path and, after immeasura- ble incalculable kalpas, he will attain highest, complete enlightenment in this land. He will be called Dharmaprabhāsa, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. That Buddha’s land will consist of all the worlds in the great manifold cosmos, equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River. The earth will be made of the seven treasures and it will be level, just like the palm of one’s hand. There will be no mountains, valleys, or hollow places. This land will be ﬁlled with towers of the seven treasures. The heavenly palaces will be in the sky close at hand, and the humans and devas will come and go between them, so that they will be able to see each other. There will be no troubled states of being nor any women. All the sentient beings will
be born here spontaneously, without any sexual desires. They will attain great transcendent powers, emit rays of light from their bodies, and ﬂy freely through the air.
“These beings will be ﬁrm in recollection, persevering, and wise. They will all be of golden hue and adorned with the thirty-two marks. The sen- tient beings in that land will always eat two meals: one being the meal of delight in the Dharma, and the other the meal of pleasure in meditation. “There will be immeasurable incalculable thousands of myriads of koṭis
of nayutas of bodhisattvas who have attained great transcendent powers and the fourfold unobstructed wisdom. They will be able skillfully to lead and inspire sentient beings. The number of śrāvakas there will be impossible to calculate. They will all perfect the six transcendent powers, the three sci- ences, and the eight liberations.
“Such will be the immeasurable merits of this buddha’s land, being per- fect in adornment. The kalpa will be called Ratnāvabhāsa and his land will be called Suviśuddha. This buddha’s lifespan will last for immeasurable incalculable kalpas, and the Dharma will abide for a very long time. After the parinirvāṇa of that buddha, stupas of the seven treasures will be erected everywhere throughout the land.”
Then the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
O monks! Listen carefully!
The path that the heir of the buddhas Has practiced by learning skillful means Cannot be conceived.
Because the bodhisattvas know
That sentient beings long for inferior teachings And are afraid of great knowledge,
They make themselves either śrāvakas Or pratyekabuddhas.
They inspire those sentient beings
Using innumerable skillful means, saying:
We are śrāvakas and still very far away From attaining the buddha path.
They save immeasurable sentient beings, All of whom they cause to attain perfection; And they even cause those who are lazy,
Or who have lowly intentions, Gradually to become buddhas.
These beings secretly carry out the bodhisattva practice While outwardly calling themselves śrāvakas.
Having little desire,
Their thoughts ﬁxed on birth and death, They in fact purify the buddha lands.
These bodhisattvas show sentient beings That they have the three poisons
And further they reveal the mark of false views. In this way my disciples save
Sentient beings through skillful means. If I fully disclosed
That they had taken on various forms, The sentient beings hearing this Would immediately become doubtful. This Pūrṇa has now practiced the path
Under thousands of koṭis of buddhas in the past, And he has propagated and protected
The teaching of these buddhas. Seeking the highest wisdom Under all these buddhas,
He showed that he was the foremost Among the disciples,
And that he was knowledgeable and wise. Fearless in his teaching,
He was able to gladden the people. He never tired in performing
The actions of a buddha.
He has already attained the great transcendent powers And is endowed with the fourfold unobstructed wisdom. Knowing whether the faculties
Of sentient beings are sharp or dull, He always teaches the pure Dharma. Expounding such doctrines as these,
He has taught thousands of koṭis of beings
And, by making them abide in the Mahayana teaching, He himself has puriﬁed his buddha land.
In the future he will also pay homage to Incalculable innumerable buddhas, Protect and propagate the True Dharma, And also purify his buddha land.
He will always fearlessly teach the Dharma Using his skillful means,
Save incalculable sentient beings,
And enable them to achieve omniscience. Paying homage to all the Tathāgatas
And preserving the treasure house of the Dharma, He will eventually become the Buddha
His land will be called Suviśuddha Which will consist of the seven treasures; His kalpa will be called Ratnāvabhāsa.
There will be a large number of bodhisattvas there Numbering immeasurable koṭis.
His buddha land will be ﬁlled
With bodhisattvas who have attained Great transcendent powers,
And are endowed with dignity.
There will also be innumerable śrāvakas Who have perfected the three sciences, The eight liberations,
And the fourfold unobstructed wisdom. Such beings as these will form the sangha. The sentient beings in his land
Will have already cut themselves off from sexual desires. Everyone there will thus be pure and born spontaneously,
With bodies adorned with the thirty-two marks. They will feast on delight in the Dharma
And pleasure in meditation,
Never thinking of eating anything else. There will be neither women
Nor troubled states of existence. The qualities of the monk Pūrṇa Will be completely perfected
And there will be many wise people In this pure land.
I am now only brieﬂy explaining These immeasurable things.
Thereupon there were twelve hundred arhats, who had attained complete mental discipline, who thought this: “We have joyfully attained an unprece- dented experience. If the Bhagavat would give each of us a prediction like those he has given the other great disciples, we would be overjoyed!”
The Buddha, knowing their minds, addressed Mahākāśyapa, saying: “I shall now bestow the prediction of highest, complete enlightenment one by one on these twelve hundred arhats who are in my presence.
“My great disciple, the monk Ājñātakauṇḍinya who is in this assembly, will pay homage to sixty-two thousands of koṭis of buddhas. He will there- after become the buddha called Samantaprabha, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Com- pletely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat.
“The ﬁve hundred arhats beginning with Uruvilvakāśyapa, Gayākāśyapa, Nadīkāśyapa, Kālodāyin, Udāyin, Aniruddha, Revata, Kapphiṇa, Bakkula, Cunda, Svāgata, and the others will all attain highest, complete enlighten- ment. They will all have the same name, that of Samantaprabha.”
Then the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
The monk Kauṇḍinya
Will meet immeasurable buddhas
And, after incalculable kalpas have passed,
He will attain perfect enlightenment. He will always emit a great ray of light
And will be endowed with transcendent powers. His fame will spread universally
Throughout the ten directions. He will be honored by all beings
And will always teach the highest path;
He will therefore be called Samantaprabha. His land will be pure,
And the bodhisattvas there Will all be of great vigor.
They will all ascend marvelous towers
And roam in the lands of the ten directions; They will present the most excellent offerings To all of the buddhas.
After having shown their reverence in this way, They will be full of great joy
And immediately return to their own lands. Such will be their transcendent powers.
The lifespan of this buddha Will be sixty thousand kalpas And the True Dharma will last Twice as long as his lifespan. The Semblance Dharma
Will last twice as long as this. When the Dharma disappears,
The devas and humans will grieve. Those ﬁve hundred monks
Will become buddhas each in their turn, All having the same name Samantaprabha. They will give predictions
One after the other, saying:
After my parinirvāṇa
So-and-so will become a buddha. The world he inspires
Will be exactly like mine today. The embellishments of their lands, All the transcendent powers,
The assembly of bodhisattvas and śrāvakas, The True and Semblance Dharma,
The lifespan and duration of the kalpa,
Will be just as I explained before.
O Kāśyapa! You now know That the ﬁve hundred arhats Whose minds are free,
And the remaining śrāvakas Will also be exactly like this. You should teach those
Who are not in this assembly!
Thereupon the ﬁve hundred arhats, having obtained their predictions from the Buddha, were joyful and ecstatic. They rose from their seats, approached the Buddha, bowed until their foreheads touched his feet, repented of their faults, and reproached themselves, saying: “O Bhagavat! We have always thought we had attained complete nirvana. We now realize that we were ignorant. Why is this? We should have attained the wisdom of the Tathāgatas. Yet we were satisﬁed with little wisdom!
“O Bhagavat! Suppose there were a man who came to the house of a close friend and went to sleep after becoming intoxicated with wine. The intimate friend, having to go out on official business, sews a priceless jewel into the inside of his friend’s garment and, giving it to him, leaves. But the man who was drunk and asleep is totally unaware of this. After getting up he leaves and roams around until he arrives in another country. Although he diligently seeks for food and clothing they are very difficult to obtain. He is satisﬁed if he just obtains a very meager amount. Later on the intimate friend happens to meet this man. Seeing him, he says:
O poor fellow! How have you come to this state through lack of food and clothing? Once, on such-and-such a day in such-and-such a month and year, I sewed a priceless jewel into the inside of your garment, wanting to make things easier for you and to let you enjoy the desires of the ﬁve senses as much as you wished.
It is still there, although you aren’t aware of it, and you seek your livelihood with great effort and hardship! You have been very foolish. Sell this jewel and use it to buy what you need. From now on you will know neither poverty nor want and can live as you wish.
“The Buddha is exactly like this. When he was a bodhisattva he aroused in us the aspiration for omniscience. Nevertheless we forgot, we did not know or understand. We attained the path of the arhats and considered that we had attained nirvana. It was very hard for us to support ourselves and we were satisﬁed with little. But we never fully lost our wish for all-knowledge. Now the Bhagavat, perceiving our minds, has said this:
O monks! What you have attained is not the complete nirvana. For a long time I have made you plant the various roots of good merit of a buddha and shown you the marks of nirvana through skillful means. That is why you consider yourselves to have actually attained nirvana!
“O Bhagavat! We now know that we are actually bodhisattvas and will obtain a prediction of highest, complete enlightenment. For this reason we are extremely happy at having obtained such an unprecedented experience.”
At that time Ājñātakauṇḍinya and the others, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
We have heard his voice
Giving the prediction of utmost ease. Rejoicing in this unprecedented experience,
We bow to the Buddha whose wisdom is immeasurable. We now repent of our faults
In the presence of the Bhagavat. Although we had attained
Only a small measure of nirvana,
Out of the immeasurable treasures of the Buddha, We were self-satisﬁed,
Just like ignorant fools! Suppose there were a poor man
Who went to the house of a close friend Whose family was very wealthy.
He was entertained with a feast And had a priceless jewel sewn To the inside of his garment.
The wealthy friend made him this gift Without saying anything, and went away. The poor man had fallen asleep
And did not know of this.
Shortly afterward this man gets up, And after wandering around Arrives in another country.
He manages to seek out
Enough food and clothing to live
But has great difficulty in supporting himself. Yet he is satisﬁed to obtain a little
And does not desire anything better.
He is still unaware of the priceless jewel Sewn inside his garment.
The intimate friend who gave him the jewel Meets this poor man later
And bitterly reproaches him, Showing him the jewel
That had been sewn into his garment.
The poor man, seeing this jewel, rejoices greatly And with this rich treasure he enjoys
To his satisfaction the desires of the ﬁve senses. We are exactly like this.
For a long time, the Bhagavat Has led and inspired us Through his compassion,
And planted in us the highest aspiration. Because we were ignorant
We neither noticed nor knew; We were satisﬁed with attaining
Only a small measure of nirvana And did not seek for the rest.
Now the Buddha has enlightened us, saying:
This is not the real nirvana.
Attaining the highest wisdom of the buddhas Is indeed the only real nirvana.
Now, having heard the predictions from the Buddha and of the adorned lands,
And the subsequent predictions,
We universally rejoice in body and mind!
Lotus Sutra: Chapter 9
The Predictions for Those Who Still Have More to Learn and for Those Who Do Not
At that time Ānanda and Rāhula thought this: “The delight we would feel if we were to receive our predictions is constantly before our minds!”
Then arising from their seats and going into the presence of the Buddha, they bowed until their foreheads touched his feet, and spoke to him in uni- son, saying: “O Bhagavat! We should also be qualiﬁed to receive our pre- dictions! Both of us take refuge only in the Tathāgata. Moreover we are well known by the devas, humans, and asuras throughout the entire world! Ānanda has always attended the Tathāgata, preserving the treasure house of the Dharma; and Rāhula is the son of the Buddha. If the Buddha would bestow upon us the prediction of highest, complete enlightenment then our vows would be fulﬁlled and our wishes also realized!”
Then two thousand disciples, śrāvakas, some who still had more to learn, and some who did not, all arose from their seats and with their right shoul- ders bared went into the presence of the Buddha. Attentively, with palms pressed together, they gazed at the Bhagavat, all having the same wish as Ānanda and Rāhula, and stood to one side. Then the Buddha addressed Ānanda, saying: “In the future world you will become a buddha called Sāgara- dharabuddhivikrīḍitarājābhijña, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. You will pay homage to sixty-two koṭis of buddhas, preserve the treasure house of the Dharma and ultimately attain highest, complete enlight- enment. Further, you will inspire twenty thousands of myriads of koṭis of bodhisattvas, equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River, causing them to attain highest, complete enlightenment.
“Your land will be called Avanāmitavaijayantā. It will be pure and the earth will be made of lapis lazuli. The kalpa will be called Manojñaśabdā-bhigarjita. The lifespan of this buddha will be for immeasurable, incalculable thousands of myriads of koṭis of kalpas. Their number would be incalculable even if one were to count for immeasurable, innumerable thousands of myriads of koṭis of kalpas. The True Dharma will abide in the world twice as long as his lifespan and the Semblance Dharma will abide in the world twice as long as the True Dharma.
“O Ānanda! The virtues of this buddha Sāgaradharabuddhivikrīḍita-rājābhijña will be praised by immeasurable thousands of myriads of koṭis of Buddha Tathāgatas in the ten directions, equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River.”
Thereupon the Tathāgata, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
I now tell the assembly
That Ānanda, the preserver of the Dharma, Will pay homage to the buddhas
And ultimately attain complete enlightenment. He will be called the Buddha Sāgaradharabuddhivikrīḍitarājābhijña.
His land will be pure
And called Avanāmitavaijayantā
He will lead and inspire bodhisattvas
In numbers equal to the sands of the Ganges River. This buddha will be endowed
With great virtue and dignity, and his fame Will ﬁll the ten directions.
His lifespan will be immeasurable
Due to his compassion for sentient beings. The True Dharma will abide
Twice as long as his lifespan
And the Semblance Dharma will abide Twice as long as the True Dharma.
Countless sentient beings
Within the Dharma of this buddha,
Equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River, Will plant the seed of the buddha path.”
At that time the eight thousand bodhisattvas in the assembly, in whom the thought of enlightenment (bodhicittta) had recently awakened, all thought this: “Since we have never heard the great bodhisattvas receive predictions like this, why should the śrāvakas now obtain it?”
Then the Bhagavat, knowing what the bodhisattvas were thinking, spoke to them, saying: “O sons of a virtuous family! The thought of highest, com- plete enlightenment once awoke simultaneously in Ānanda and myself in the presence of the Buddha Dharmagaganābhyudgatarāja. Ānanda always wanted to hear a great deal about the Dharma, and I always made diligent efforts. For this reason I was shortly able to attain highest, complete enlight- enment, whereas Ānanda preserves my teaching and in the future will uphold the treasure house of the Dharma of all the buddhas. He will lead, inspire, and perfect the bodhisattvas. Since this was his original vow, he has obtained this prediction!”
Ānanda, while facing the Buddha in the audience, heard his own pre- diction and about the adornments of his land. His vow fulﬁlled, he rejoiced greatly at attaining such an unprecedented experience. With his unobstructed penetration he immediately remembered the treasure house of the Dharma of the past immeasurable thousands of myriads of koṭis of buddhas as if he had just heard of it today; and he also became aware of his original vow.
Thereupon Ānanda spoke these verses:
The Bhagavat is truly extraordinary.
He has enabled me to recollect the Dharma
Of incalculable numbers of buddhas of the past, Just as if I had ﬁrst heard of the matter today.
I now have no further doubts.
I am established in the buddha path.
I have become an attendant of the Tathāgata And, as an attendant, I will preserve
The Dharma of all the buddhas, using skillful means.
Then the Buddha addressed Rāhula, saying: “In the future you will become a buddha called Saptaratnapadmavikrama, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Com- pletely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. You will pay homage to the Buddha Tathā- gatas, whose number is equal to that of the grains of dust in the ten worlds; and you will always become the eldest son of all the buddhas just as you are my eldest son now.
“The adornments of the land, the number of disciples led and inspired, the duration of the True and Semblance Dharma of this buddha Saptaratna- padmavikrama will be just like those of the Buddha Sāgaradharabuddhi- vikrīḍitarājābhijña, without the slightest difference. You will also become the eldest son of this buddha and after that attain highest, complete enlight- enment.”
At that time the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
When I was a prince, Rāhula was my eldest son.
And now that I have perfected the buddha path, He accepts my teaching as the heir of the Dharma. In the future he will meet
Immeasurable koṭis of buddhas.
Becoming the eldest son of all these buddhas, He will wholeheartedly seek
The buddha path.
Only I am able to discern Rāhula’s unseen practice.
But now that he has become my eldest son, He reveals it to the sentient beings.
His thousands of myriads
Of koṭis of merits are uncountable and incalculable; He will become established in the Buddha-Dharma And seek the highest path.
Then the Bhagavat perceived that the minds of those two thousand peo- ple, some of whom had more to learn and some of whom did not, were sin- cere, mild, and receptive. They were all attentively gazing at the Buddha. The Buddha said to Ānanda: “Do you not see these two thousand people, some of whom have more to learn and some of whom do not?”
Ānanda replied: “Yes, I see them.”
The Buddha said: “O Ānanda! All of these people will pay homage to the Buddha Tathāgatas, whose number is equal to that of the grains of dust in ﬁfty worlds. They will respect, honor, and preserve the treasure house of the Dharma and will later all become buddhas simultaneously in the worlds of the ten directions. They will all have the same name, Ratnaketurāja, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Con- duct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. Their lifespans will last one kalpa. The adornments of their lands, the number of śrāvakas and bodhi- sattvas, and the duration of the True and Semblance Dharma will be the same for all.”
Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
Now in my presence
These two thousand śrāvakas Have all received their predictions.
In the future they will all become buddhas. The buddhas they will revere
Will be equal to the number of grains of dust, Just as mentioned above.
Preserving this treasure house of the Dharma, They will later attain complete enlightenment. They will all have the same name
And dwell in the lands of the ten directions. All sitting at the exact same time,
On the terrace of enlightenment, They will attain the highest wisdom.
All of them will be called Ratnaketurāja. Their lands, the number of disciples, Duration of the True and Semblance Dharma Will all be the same without any difference. Moreover, through their transcendent powers, They will save sentient beings
Throughout the ten directions.
Their fame will spread universally And they will gradually enter nirvana.
Then the two thousand people, some of whom had more to learn and some of whom did not, having heard their predictions from the Buddha, rejoiced ecstatically and spoke in verse:
O Bhagavat, the Light of Wisdom!
We have just heard you give us our predictions And our minds are full of joy,
Just as if we had been sprinkled With the Dharma of immortality.