The Appearance of a Jeweled Stupa
At that time there appeared before the Buddha a seven-jeweled stupa, ﬁve hundred yojanas in height and two hundred and ﬁfty yojanas both in length and width, which emerged from the ground and hovered in the air. It was adorned with various jewels, had ﬁve thousand railings, and thousands of myriads of chambers. It was decorated with innumerable ﬂags and banners and hanging jeweled necklaces, and myriads of koṭis of jeweled bells hung from the top. The fragrance of tamāla leaves and sandalwood trees exuded from all sides of the stupa, covering the world. The banners and umbrellas were composed of the seven jewels such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother- of-pearl, agate, pearl, and ruby; and they rose as high as the palaces of the world-protectors of the four quarters.
The thirty-three devas rained down heavenly māndārava ﬂowers in hom- age to the jeweled stupa. The other thousands of myriads of koṭis of humans, and such nonhumans as devas, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṃnaras, and mahoragas also respected, honored, revered, and praised the precious stupa by offering all kinds of ﬂowers, perfumes, necklaces, ﬂags, banners, and music.
Then a tremendous voice issued forth in praise from the jeweled stupa, saying: “Splendid, splendid! O Śākyamuni! The Bhagavat teaches the Lotus Sutra to the great assembly: the instruction for bodhisattvas and treasured lore of the buddhas, which is the wisdom attainable by every sentient being! Just so! Just so, O Śākyamuni Bhagavat! What you teach is true!”
Thereupon the fourfold assembly saw the great jeweled stupa hovering in the air and also heard the voice that issued forth from the stupa. They all were pleased with the teaching and marveled at this unprecedented experi- ence. They stood up from their seats, honored Śākyamuni with their palms pressed together, and withdrew to one side.
At that time there was a bodhisattva mahāsattva called Mahāpratibhāna who, realizing that the devas, humans, and asuras of the entire world were puzzled, addressed the Buddha saying: “O Bhagavat! Why has this jeweled stupa emerged from the earth? And why has this voice come forth from it?”
Then the Buddha told Bodhisattva Mahāpratibhāna: “The Tathāgata is in this jeweled stupa. In the remote past, immeasurable, incalculable thou- sands of myriads of koṭis of worlds away in the east there was a land called Ratnaviśuddha. In that land there was a buddha called Prabhūtaratna. When this buddha was practicing the bodhisattva path in his previous lives he made a great vow, saying:
If I become a buddha, after my parinirvāṇa if the Lotus Sutra is being taught anywhere in all the lands of the ten directions, my stupa shall appear there so that this sutra may be heard, and in order that I may bear testimony to it and praise it with the word “Splendid!”
“After the Buddha had perfected the path and immediately before his parinirvāṇa, he addressed the monks among the great assembly of devas and humans, saying:
After my parinirvāṇa anyone who wishes to pay me homage should build a great stupa!
“If there is anyone teaching the Lotus Sutra anywhere in the worlds of the ten directions, this buddha makes a jeweled stupa emerge out of the ground in that place through his transcendent powers and the power of his vow. He is in the stupa giving praise with the words, ‘Splendid, splendid!’ “O Mahāpratibhāna! The Tathāgata Prabhūtaratna has now emerged from the earth, within his stupa, so that he may hear the Lotus Sutra and give praise with the words, ‘Splendid, splendid!’”
At that time Bodhisattva Mahāpratibhāna spoke to the Buddha through the Tathāgata’s transcendent powers, saying: “O Bhagavat! We all want to see this buddha’s form.”
The Buddha answered Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Mahāpratibhāna, say- ing: “This Buddha Prabhūtaratna made a great vow, saying:
Whenever my jeweled stupa appears in the presence of a buddha in order to hear the Lotus Sutra, if that buddha wants to show my form to the fourfold assembly he should gather into one place all his mag- ically created forms that are teaching the Dharma in the worlds of the ten directions. After that my form will appear.
“O Mahāpratibhāna! I shall now gather all my magically created forms who are teaching the Dharma in the worlds of the ten directions.”
Mahāpratibhāna spoke to the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat! We also strongly wish to see the Bhagavat’s magically created forms, to honor and pay homage to them!”
Then the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows; and they immediately saw the buddhas in ﬁve hundred myr- iads of koṭis of nayutas of lands in the eastern direction equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River. In these lands the soil was of crystal and adorned with treasure trees and jeweled garments; and these lands were full of innumerable thousands of myriads of koṭis of bodhisattvas. Jeweled drapes were hung everywhere and were covered with jeweled nets. All the buddhas in these lands were teaching the Dharma in most harmonious voices. They also saw immeasurable thousands of myriads of koṭis of bodhisattvas, ﬁlling all the lands and teaching the Dharma to sentient beings.
The other directions to the south, north, and west, the four intermediary directions, and the upper and lower regions were also illuminated by the ray of light emitted from the tuft of white hair between the Buddha’s eyebrows; and they were also exactly like this.
Then all the buddhas in the ten directions each addressed the assembly of bodhisattvas, saying: “O sons of a virtuous family! We will now go to the place where Śākyamuni is in the sahā world and pay homage to the jeweled stupa of the Tathāgata Prabhūtaratna.”
At that time the sahā world was immediately puriﬁed; the earth was of lapis lazuli, adorned with jeweled trees, its roads laid out like a chessboard and bordered with golden cords; and there were no villages, towns, cities, oceans, rivers, mountains, streams, forests, or groves. Very precious incense was burning, māndārava ﬂowers were spread everywhere on the earth, and it was covered with jeweled nets and drapes from which jeweled bells hung. With the exception of this assembly the devas and human beings were all moved to other lands.
Then the buddhas each took one great bodhisattva as an attendant and arrived under a jeweled tree in the sahā world. Each jeweled tree was ﬁve hundred yojanas in height and adorned with branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruits in their proper turn. Under all these jeweled trees were lion seats ﬁve yojanas in height that were adorned with great jewels. The buddhas each sat cross-legged on these seats. They sat one after another in this way, ﬁlling the great manifold cosmos. Yet the separate forms of Śākyamuni Buddha of even one direction had not all arrived yet.
At that time Śākyamuni Buddha, wanting to be able to receive all of his magically created forms, transformed and puriﬁed two hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of lands in each of the world-systems in the eight directions. There were no hells, hungry ghosts, animals, or asuras; and all the devas and humans were moved to other lands.
In these transformed lands the earth was made of lapis lazuli and adorned with jeweled trees. These trees were ﬁve hundred yojanas in height and were adorned with branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruits in their proper turn. Under every tree was a jeweled lion seat ﬁve yojanas in height which was adorned with various jewels. There were no oceans, rivers, or great mountain kings such as Mount Mucilinda, Mount Mahāmucilinda, Mount Cakravāḍa, Mount Mahācakravāḍa, or Mount Sumeru. The lands were all made into one buddha world throughout. The jeweled earth was level and covered everywhere with jewel-studded drapes. Banners and umbrellas were set up, precious incense was burning, and heavenly jeweled ﬂowers covered the ground everywhere. Then Śākyamuni Buddha again transformed and puriﬁed two hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of lands in each of the eight directions so that the buddhas could come and sit. There were no hells, hungry ghosts, ani- mals, or asuras; and the devas and humans were moved to other lands. In the transformed lands the earth was of lapis lazuli and adorned with jeweled trees. The trees were ﬁve hundred yojanas in height and were adorned with branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruits in their proper turn. Under these trees were jeweled lion seats that were ﬁve yojanas in height and decorated with great jewels. There were no oceans, rivers, or great mountain kings such as Mount Mucilinda, Mount Mahāmucilinda, Mount Cakravāḍa, Mount Mahācakravāḍa, or Mount Sumeru. The lands were all made into one buddha world throughout. The jeweled earth was level and covered everywhere with jewel-studded drapes. Banners and umbrellas were set up, precious incense was burning, and heavenly jeweled ﬂowers covered the ground everywhere. Then the magically created forms of Śākyamuni Buddha, which had been teaching the Dharma in the hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of lands in the east, equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River, gathered here.
In this way all the buddhas in the ten directions gradually came until all were assembled, sitting in the eight directions. At that time these Buddha Tathāgatas ﬁlled four hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of lands in each direction. Then sitting on the lion seats under the jeweled trees, the buddhas each dispatched their attendants with hands full of jeweled ﬂowers to inquire after the Buddha Śākyamuni, saying: “O son of a virtuous family! You should approach the Buddha Śākyamuni on Mount Gṛdhrakūṭa and give him a greet- ing, saying:
Are you without illness and pain and are you full of vigor and at ease; and are the assemblies of bodhisattvas and śrāvakas all at ease or not?
“Then, having paid homage to the Buddha by scattering him with these jeweled ﬂowers, say this to him:
The Buddha So-and-so wishes you to open this jeweled stupa.
All the other buddhas dispatched their messengers like this.”
Then the Buddha Śākyamuni saw that his magically created forms had already gathered and were each sitting on a lion seat. And he heard that all the buddhas also wanted him to open the treasured stupa. Immediately ris- ing, he hovered in the air and the entire fourfold assembly rose and gazed attentively at the Buddha with their palms pressed together.
Thereupon Śākyamuni Buddha opened the entrance to the seven-jew- eled stupa with his right ﬁnger. There was a tremendous sound as if the bar and lock to the gateway of a large city were being pushed aside. Then imme- diately the entire gathering saw the Tathāgata Prabhūtaratna in the jeweled stupa sitting on a lion seat as if he were in meditation, his body whole and undecomposed.
They heard him say: “Splendid, splendid! The Buddha Śākyamuni is teaching the Lotus Sutra and I have come in order to hear it.”
At that time the fourfold assembly saw the Buddha who had entered parinirvāṇa immeasurable thousands of myriads of koṭis of kalpas ago speak- ing those words. They praised this unprecedented experience and scattered heavenly jeweled ﬂowers upon the buddhas Prabhūtaratna and Śākyamuni.
Then from within the stupa the Buddha Prabhūtaratna offered half of his seat to the Buddha Śākyamuni, saying: “O Śākyamuni Buddha, please take a seat here!”
The Buddha Śākyamuni immediately entered the stupa and sat cross- legged on half of the seat. Thereupon the great assembly saw the two Tathā- gatas sitting cross-legged on the lion seat in the seven-jeweled stupa and they each thought thus: “The buddhas are seated far away. O Tathāgata, we entreat you to use your transcendent powers so that we may be in the air together with you.”
The Buddha Śākyamuni immediately moved the entire fourfold assem- bly into the air through his transcendent powers and addressed them with a great voice, saying: “Who in the sahā world is able to extensively teach the Lotus Sutra? It is now the right time! The Tathāgata will enter parinirvāṇa before long and the Buddha wants to transmit this Lotus Sutra to you.
Thereupon the Buddha, wanting to further elaborate upon the meaning of this, spoke these verses:
Although the Great Sage, the Bhagavat, Entered parinirvāṇa long ago,
He has been abiding in a jeweled stupa;
And he has now come for the sake of the Dharma. Why is it that people
Do not strive for the Dharma?
Although this buddha entered parinirvāṇa
Incalculable kalpas ago,
Because it is difficult to encounter, He listens to the Dharma Wherever it is taught.
The original vow of this buddha was:
After my parinirvāṇa
I will always listen to the Dharma Wherever it may be.
My magically created forms,
Incalculable as the sands of the Ganges River, Have come to hear the Dharma
And see the Tathāgata Prabhūtaratna, Who has entered nirvana.
Each buddha-form, having abandoned his beautiful land, Disciples, devas, humans, nāgas,
And ritual tributes, has come here
So that the Dharma may abide forever. In order to seat all these buddhas,
I transferred immeasurable beings And puriﬁed the lands
Through my transcendent powers; And each of these buddhas Settled under a jeweled tree—
As lotus blossoms
Adorn a limpid, cool pond.
Under every jeweled tree was a lion seat On which the buddhas sat radiating light— As a great bonﬁre
Blazes in the dark of the night.
They emitted a subtle fragrance from their bodies Which ﬁlled the lands of the ten directions.
Sentient beings who smelled this fragrance Were overcome with unsurpassed joy, Like branches of a small tree
Being blown by a great wind. Through this skillful means
I enable the Dharma to abide forever. I tell the great assembly
That after my nirvana
Whoever can preserve and recite this sutra Should now individually make a declaration In the presence of the buddhas.
Although the Buddha Prabhūtaratna
Entered parinirvāṇa long ago, Through his great vow
He has roared the lion’s roar. The Tathāgata Prabhūtaratna,
I myself, and all the magically created forms Who have gathered here
Should know this intention. O heirs of the buddhas!
Whoever is able to preserve the Dharma Should make a great vow
So that it may abide forever. Whoever is able to preserve The teaching of this sutra Will thus honor me
This Buddha Prabhūtaratna Always roams the ten directions In a jeweled stupa
In order to hear this sutra. He also honors
All the transformed buddhas
Who have come here and who adorn All the worlds with light.
Whoever teaches this sutra will see me, The Tathāgata Prabhūtaratna,
And the transformed buddhas. O sons of a virtuous family!
Each of you must carefully consider this. This is indeed a difficult matter.
Make a great vow accordingly! It is not really difficult
To teach all of the other sutras, The number of which is
Equal to the sands of the Ganges River. It is not difficult
To take Mount Sumeru
And throw it to another quarter, Over innumerable buddha worlds. It is also not difficult
To shake free the manifold cosmos With one toe and throw it
Far into another distant world. It is not difficult to stand
On the highest summit of the world And teach the other innumerable sutras For the sake of sentient beings.
However, it will indeed be difficult
To teach this sutra in the troubled world After the Buddha’s nirvana.
It is not difficult for anyone To grasp empty space
And wander around with it.
But it will certainly be difficult to copy And preserve this sutra
And cause others to copy it After my nirvana.
It is not really difficult
To put the great earth on a toenail And ascend with it
To the world of Brahmas. However, it will indeed be difficult To recite this sutra,
Even for a moment, In the troubled world
After the Buddha’s nirvana. It is not really difficult
To enter into the conﬂagration
At the time of the close of a kalpa
Carrying hay on your back And yet not be burned.
It certainly will be difficult To preserve this sutra
And teach it to even a single person After my nirvana.
It is indeed not really difficult for anyone to preserve The eighty-four thousand treasure houses of the Dharma, And the twelvefold scriptures,
And teach them so that the listeners Can attain the six transcendent powers. It will indeed be difficult for anyone To hear and accept this sutra
And to ask about its meaning After my nirvana.
It is not really difficult for people to do
Such beneﬁcial things as teaching the Dharma And making thousands of myriads of koṭis of Immeasurable, incalculable sentient beings,
Numbering as many as the sands of the Ganges River, Attain arhatship and perfect
The six transcendent powers. It will certainly be difficult
To preserve such a sutra as this After my nirvana.
I have extensively taught many sutras In incalculable lands
From the beginning until now, For the sake of the buddha path; And yet among them
This sutra is the best. If anyone preserves it,
He preserves the form of the Buddha. O sons of a virtuous family!
Those who preserve and recite this [Lotus] Sutra
After my nirvana
Must now individually make a declaration
In the presence of the buddhas. It is hard to preserve this sutra. If anyone preserves it
Even for a single moment, I shall truly rejoice.
All of the other buddhas Will do so also.
Such people as these
Are praised by the buddhas. They are courageous.
They are persevering. They are known as those
Who follow the rules of good conduct And carry out ascetic practices.
Subsequently they quickly attain The highest buddha path.
Those in the future
Who recite and preserve this sutra, Are the true heirs of the Buddha And abide in the stage of purity.
Those who can understand its meaning After the Buddha’s nirvana
Will become the Eyes of the World For devas and humans.
Those who teach it, even for a moment, In the fearful world
Will be revered
By all the devas and humans.