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T0262

THE LOTUS SUTRA

Translated by Burton Watson

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Expedient Means

Chapter 3: Simile and Parable

Chapter 4: Belief and Understanding

Chapter 5: The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs

Chapter 6: Bestowal of Prophecy

Chapter 7: The Parable of the Phantom City

Chapter 8: Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples

Chapter 9: Prophecies Conferred on Learners and Adepts

Chapter 10: The Teacher of the Law

Chapter 11: The Emergence of the Treasure Tower

Chapter 12: Devadatta

Chapter 13: Admonition to Embrace the Sutra

Chapter 14: Peaceful Practices

Chapter 15: Emerging from the Earth

Chapter 16: The Life Span of the Tathagata

Chapter 17: Distinction of Benefits

Chapter 18: The Benefits of Joyful Acceptance

Chapter 19: The Benefits of the Teacher of the Law

Chapter 20: Bodhisattva Never Disparaging

Chapter 21: The Mystic Powers of the Tathagata

Chapter 22: Entrustment

Chapter 23: The Former Deeds of Bodhisattva Medicine King

Chapter 24: Bodhisattva Myozon

Chapter 25: The Universal Gate of Bodhisattva Kanzeon

Chapter 26: Dharani

Chapter 27: The Former Deeds of King Wondrous Splendor

Chapter 28: The Encouragement of Bodhisattva Universally Worthy

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THE LOTUS SUTRA

Translated by Burton Watson

Chapter One: Introduction

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.

Manjushri,

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.

Manjushri,

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.

Manjushri,

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.

Manjushri,

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 for gain and support, and though he read and recited numerous sutras, he could not understand 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.

Chapter Two: Expedient Means

At that time the World-Honored One calmly arose from his samadhi and addressed Shariputra, saying: "The wisdom of the Buddhas is infinitely profound and immeasurable. The door to this wisdom is difficult to understand and difficult to enter. Not one of the voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas is able to comprehend it.

"What is the reason for this? A Buddha has personally attended a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million, a countless number of Buddhas and has fully carried out an immeasurable number of religious practices. He has exerted himself bravely and vigorously, and his name is universally known. He has realized the Law that is profound and never known before, and preaches it in accordance with what is appropriate, yet his intention is difficult to understand.

"Shariputra, ever since I attained Buddhahood I have through various causes and various similes widely expounded my teachings and have used countless expedient means to guide living beings and cause them to renounce attachments. Why is this? Because the Thus Come One is fully possessed by both expedient means and the paramita of wisdom.

"Shariputra, the wisdom of the Thus Come One is expansive and profound. He has immeasurable [mercy], unlimited [eloquence], power, fearlessness, concentration, emancipation, and samadhis, and has deeply entered the boundless and awakened to the Law never before attained.

"Shariputra, the Thus Come One knows how to make various kinds of distinctions and to expound the teachings skillfully. His words are soft and gentle and delight the hearts of the assembly.

"Shariputra, to sum it up: the Buddha has fully realized the Law that is limitless, boundless, never attained before.

"But stop, Shariputra, I will say no more. Why? Because what the Buddha has achieved is the rarest and most difficult-to-understand Law. The true entity of all phenomena can only be understood and shared between Buddhas. This reality consists of the appearance, nature, entity, power, influence, inherent cause, relation, latent effect, manifest effect, and their consistency from beginning to end."

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

The hero of the world is unfathomable.

Among heavenly beings or the people of the world,

among all living beings,

none can understand the Buddha.

The Buddha's power, fearlessness,

emancipation and samadhis

and the Buddha's other attributes

no one can reckon or fathom.

Earlier, under the guidance of countless Buddhas

he fully acquired and practiced various ways,

profound, subtle and wonderful doctrines

that are hard to see and hard to understand.

For immeasurable millions of kalpas

he has been practicing these ways

until in the place of practice he achieved the goal.

I have already come to see and know completely

this great goal and recompense,

the meaning of these various natures and characteristics.

I and the other Buddhas of the ten directions

can now understand these things.

This Law cannot be described,

words fall silent before it.

Among the other kinds of living beings

there are none who can comprehend it,

except the many bodhisattvas

who are firm in the power of faith.

The many disciples of the Buddhas

in the past have given offerings to the Buddhas,

have already cut off all outflows

and now are dwelling in their last incarnation.

But even such persons as they

have not the power needed.

Even if the whole world

were filled with men like Shariputra,

though they exhausted their thoughts and pooled there capacities,

they could not fathom the Buddha's knowledge.

Even if ten directions were all filled with men like Shariputra

or like the other disciples,

though they filled the lands in the ten directions

and exhausted their thoughts and pooled their capacities,

still they could not understand it.

If pratyekabuddhas, acute in understanding,

without outflows, in their last incarnation,

should fill the worlds in the ten directions,

as numerous as bamboos in a grove,

though they should join together with one mind

for a million or for countless kalpas,

hoping to conceive of the Buddha's true wisdom,

they could not understand the smallest part of it.

If bodhisattvas newly embarked on their course

should give offerings to numberless Buddhas,

completely mastering the intent of the various doctrines

and also able to preach the Law effectively,

like so many rice and hemp plants, bamboos or reeds,

filling the lands in the ten directions,

with a single mind, with their wonderful knowledge,

for kalpas numerous as Ganges sands

should all together pool their thoughts and capacities,

they could not understand the Buddha's knowledge.

If bodhisattvas who never regress,

their number like Ganges sands,

with a single mind should join in pondering and seeking,

they could not understand it either.

I also announce to you, Shariputra,

that this profound subtle and wonderful Law

without outflows, incomprehensible,

I have now attained in full.

Only I understand its characteristics,

and the Buddhas of the ten directions do likewise.

Shariputra, you should know

that the words of the various Buddhas never differ.

Toward the Law preached by the Buddhas

you must cultivate a great power of faith.

The world-honored One has long expounded his doctrines

and now must reveal the truth.

I announce this to the assembly of voice-hearers

and to those who seek the vehicle of the pratyekabuddha;

I have enabled people to escape the bonds of suffering

and to attain nirvana.

The Buddha, through the power of expedient means,

has shown them the teachings of the three vehicles

prying living beings loose from this or that attachment

and allowing them to attain release.

At that time among the great assembly there were voice-hearers, Arhats whose outflows had come to an end, Ajnata Kaundinya and the others, twelve hundred persons. And there were monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen who had conceived a desire to become voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas. Each of these had this thought: Now for what reason does the World-Honored One so earnestly praise expedient means and state that the Law attained by the Buddha is profound and difficult to understand, that it is very difficult to comprehend the meaning of the words he preaches, that not one of the voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas can do so? If the Buddha preaches but one doctrine of emancipation, then we too should be able to attain this Law and reach the state of Nirvana. We cannot follow the gist of what he is saying now.

At that time Shariputra understood the doubts that were in the minds of the four kinds of believers, and he himself had not fully comprehended. So he addressed the Buddha, saying, "World-Honored One, what causes and conditions lead you to earnestly praise expedient means, the foremost device of the Buddhas, the profound, subtle and wonderful Law that is difficult to understand? From times past I have never heard this kind of preaching from the Buddha. Now the four kinds of believers all have doubts. We beg that the World-Honored One earnestly praise this Law that is profound, subtle and wonderful, difficult to understand?"

At that time Shariputra, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse from, saying:

Sun of wisdom, great sage and venerable one,

at long last you preach this Law.

You yourself declare you have attained

power, fearlessness, samadhis,

concentration, emancipation, and these other attributes,

and the Law that is beyond comprehension.

This Law attained in the place of practice

no one is capable of questioning you about.

'My intention is hard to fathom,

and no one can question me."

No one questions, yet you yourself preach,

praising the path you walk on.

Your wisdom is very subtle and wonderful,

that which all the Buddhas attain.

The arhats who are without outflows

and those who seek nirvana

now have all fallen into the net of doubt,

wondering for what reason the Buddha preaches this.

Those who seek to become pratyekabuddhas,

monks and nuns,

heavenly beings, dragons and spirits,

along with the gandharvas and others,

look at one another, filled with perplexity,

gazing upward at the most honored of two-legged beings.

What is the meaning of all this?

I beg the Buddha to explain it for us.

Among the assembly of voice-hearers

the Buddha has said I am foremost,

yet now I lack the wisdom

to solve these doubts and perplexities.

Have I in fact grasped the ultimate Law,

or am I still on the path of practice?

The sons born from the Buddha's mouth

press palms together, gaze upward and wait.

We beg you to put forth subtle and wonderful sounds

and at this time explain to us how it really is.

The heavenly beings, dragons, spirits, and the others,

their numbers like Ganges sands,

the bodhisattvas seeking to be Buddhas

in a great force of eighty thousand,

as well as the wheel-turning sage kings

come from ten thousands of millions of lands,

all press their palms and with reverent minds

wish to hear the teaching of perfect endowment.

At that time the Buddha addressed Shariputra, saying, "Stop, stop! There is no need to speak further. If I speak of this matter, then the heavenly and human beings throughout the worlds will all be astonished and doubtful."

Shariputra once more spoke to the Buddha, saying, "World-Honored One, we beg you to preach! We beg you to preach! What is the reason? Because this assembly of countless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of asamkhayas of living beings in the past have seen the Buddhas; their faculties are vigorous and acute and their wisdom is bright. If they hear the Buddha preach, they will be capable of reverent belief."

At that time Shariputra, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Dharma King, none more highly honored,

speak, we beg you, without reserve!

In this assembly of numberless beings

are those capable of reverent belief.

The Buddha repeated, "Stop, Shariputra! If I speak of this matter, the heavenly and human beings and asuras throughout the worlds will all be astonished and doubtful. The monks who are overbearingly arrogant will fall into a great pit."

At that time the World-Honored One repeated what he had said in verse form:

Stop, stop, no need to speak!

My Law is wonderful and difficult to ponder.

Those who are overbearingly arrogant

when they hear it will never show reverent belief.

At that time Shariputra once more spoke to the Buddha, saying, "World-Honored One, we beg you to preach! We beg you to preach! In this assembly at present the persons like myself number in the hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions. In age after age we have already attended the Buddhas and received instruction. People of this kind are certain to be capable of reverent belief. Throughout the long night they will gain peace and rest and will enjoy many benefits."

At that time Shariputra, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Supremely honored among two-legged beings,

we beg you to preach this foremost Law.

I who am regarded as the Buddha's eldest son

ask you to favor us by preaching distinctions.

The countless members of this assembly

are capable of according reverent belief to this Law

The Buddhas have already in age after age

taught and converted them in this manner.

All with a single mind and palms pressed together

desire to hear and receive the Buddha's words.

I and the other twelve hundred of our group,

as well as the others who seek to become Buddhas,

beg that for the sake of this assembly

you will favor us by preaching distinctions.

When we hear this Law

we will be filled with great joy.

At that time the World-Honored One said to Shariputra, "Three times you have stated your earnest request. How can I do other than preach? Now you must listen attentively and carefully ponder. For your sake I will now analyze and explain the matter."

When he had spoken these words, there were some five thousand monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen in the assembly who immediately rose from their seats, bowed to the Buddha, and withdrew. What was the reason for this? These persons had roots of guilt that were deep and manifold, and in addition they were overbearingly arrogant. What they had not attained they supposed they had attained, what they had not understood they supposed they had understood. And because they had this failing, they did not remain where they were.

The World-Honored One was silent and did not try to detain them.

At this time the Buddha said to Shariputra, "Now this assembly of mine is free of branches and leaves, made up solely of the steadfast and truthful. Shariputra, it is well that these persons of overbearing arrogance have withdrawn. Now listen carefully and I will preach for you."

Shariputra said, "So be it, World-Honored One. We are eager to listen!"

The Buddha said to Shariputra, "A wonderful Law such as this is preached by the Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, at certain times. But like the blooming of the udumbara, such times come very seldom. Shariputra, you and the others must believe me. The words that the Buddhas preach are not empty or false.

"Shariputra, the Buddhas preach the Law in accordance with what is appropriate, but the meaning is difficult to understand. Why is this? Because we employ countless expedient means, discussing causes and conditions and using words of simile and parable to expound the teachings. This Law is not something that can be understood through pondering or analysis. Only those who are Buddhas can understand it. Why is this? Because the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, appear in the world for one great reason alone. Shariputra, what does it mean to say that the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, appear in the world for one great reason alone?

"The Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones , wish to open the door of Buddha wisdom to all living beings, to allow them to attain purity. That is why they appear in the world. They wish to show the Buddha wisdom to living beings, and therefore they appear in the world. They wish to cause living beings to awaken to the Buddha wisdom, and therefore they appear in the world. They wish to induce living beings to enter the path of Buddha wisdom, and therefore they appear in the world. Shariputra, this is the one great reason for which the Buddhas appear in the world."

The Buddha said to Shariputra, "The Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, simply teach and convert the Bodhisattvas. All the things they do are at all times done for this one purpose. They simply wish to show the Buddha wisdom to living beings and enlighten them to it.

"Shariputra, the Thus Come Ones have only a single Buddha vehicle which they employ in order to preach the Law to living beings. They do not have any other vehicle a second one or a third one 1. Shariputra, the Law preached by all the Buddhas of the ten directions is the same as this.

"Shariputra, the Buddhas of the past used countless numbers of expedient means, various causes and conditions, and words of simile and parable in order to expound the doctrines for the sake of living beings. These doctrines are all for the sake of the one Buddha vehicle. These living beings, by listening to the doctrines of the Buddhas, are all eventually able to attain wisdom embracing all species.

Shariputra, when the Buddhas of the future make their appearance in the world, they too will use countless numbers of expedient means, various causes and conditions, and words of simile and parable in order to expound the doctrines for the sake of living beings. These doctrines will all be for the sake of the one Buddha vehicle. And these living beings, by listening to the doctrines of the Buddhas, will all eventually be able to attain wisdom embracing all species.

"Shariputra, the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, who exist at present in the countless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, and millions of Buddha lands in the ten directions, benefit and bring peace and happiness to living beings in large measure, these Buddhas too use countless numbers of expedient means, various causes and conditions, and words of simile and parable in order to expound the doctrines for the sake of living beings. These doctrines are all for the sake of the one Buddha vehicle. And these living beings, by listening to the doctrines of the Buddhas, are all eventually able to attain wisdom embracing all species.

"Shariputra, these Buddhas simply teach and convert the Bodhisattvas. They do it because they wish to show the Buddha wisdom to living beings. They do it because they wish to use the Buddha wisdom to enlighten living beings. They do it because they wish to cause living beings to enter the path of Buddha wisdom.

"Shariputra, I too will now do the same, I know that living beings have various desires. Attachments that are deeply implanted in their minds. Taking cognizance of this basic nature of theirs, I will therefore use various causes and conditions, words of simile and parable, and the power of expedient means and expound the Law for them. Shariputra, I do this so that all of them may attain the one Buddha vehicle and wisdom embracing all species.

"Shariputra, when the age is impure and the times are chaotic, then the defilements of living beings are grave, they are greedy and jealous and put down roots that are not good. Because of this, the Buddhas, utilizing the power of expedient means, apply distinctions to the one Buddha vehicle and preach as though it were three.

"Shariputra, if any of my disciples should claim to be an arhat or a pratyekabuddha and yet does not heed or understand that the Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, simply teach and convert the bodhisattvas, then he is no disciple of mine, he is no arhat or pratyekabuddha.

"Again, Shariputra, if there should be monks or nuns who claim that they already have attained the status of arhat, that this is their last incarnation, that they have reached the final nirvana, and that therefore they have no further intention of seeking anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, then you should understand that such as these are all persons of overbearing arrogance. Why do I say this? Because if they are monks who have truly attained the status of arhat, then it would be unthinkable that they should fail to believe this Law. The only exception would be in a time after the Buddha had passed away, when there was no Buddha present in the world. Why is this? Because after the Buddha has passed away it will be difficult to find anyone who can embrace, recite, and understand the meaning of sutras such as this. But if persons at that time encounter another Buddha, then they will attain decisive understanding with regard to this Law.

"Shariputra, you and the others should with a single mind believe and accept the words of the Buddha. The words of the Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, are not empty or false. There is no other vehicle, there is only the one Buddha vehicle.

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

There are monks and nuns

who behave with overbearing arrogance,

laymen full of self-esteem,

laywomen who are lacking in faith.

Among the four kinds of believers, the likes of these

number five thousand.

They fail to see their own errors,

are heedless and remiss with regard to the precepts,

clinging to their shortcomings, unwilling to change.

But these persons of small wisdom have already left;

the chaff among this assembly

has departed in the face of the Buddha's authority.

These persons were of paltry merit and virtue,

incapable of receiving this Law.

This assembly is now free of branches and leaves,

made up only of those steadfast and truthful.

Shariputra, listen carefully,

for the Law which the Buddhas have attained,

through the power of countless expedient means

they preach for the benefit of living beings.

The thoughts that are in the minds of living beings,

the different types of paths they follow,

their various desires and natures,

the good and bad deeds they have done in previous existences--

all these the Buddha takes cognizance of,

and then he employs causes, similes and parables,

words that embody the power of expedient means,

in order to gladden and please them all.

Sometimes he preaches sutras,

verses, stories of the previous lives of disciples,

stories of the previous lives of the Buddha, of unheard-of things.

At other times he preaches regarding causes and conditions,

uses similes, parables, passages of poetry

or discourses.

For those of dull capacities who delight in a little Law,

who greedily cling to birth and death,

who, despite the innumerable Buddhas,

fail to practice the profound and wonderful way

but are perplexed and confused by a host of troubles--

for these I preach nirvana.

I devise these expedient means

and so cause them to enter into the Buddha wisdom.

Up to now I have never told you

that you were certain to attain the Buddha way.

The reason I never preached in that manner

was that the time to preach so had not yet come.

But now is the very time

when I must decisively preach the Great Vehicle.

I use these nine devices,

adapting them to the living beings when I preach

my basic aim being to lead them into the Great Vehicle,

and that is why I preach this sutra.

There are sons of the Buddha who minds are pure,

who are gentle and of acute capacities,

who under innumerable Buddhas

have practiced the profound and wonderful way.

For these sons of the Buddha

I preach this sutra of the Great Vehicle.

And I predict that these persons

in a future existence will attain the Buddha way.

Because deep in their minds they think of the Buddha

and practice and uphold the pure percepts,

they are assured they will attain Buddhahood,

and hearing this, their whole bodies are filled with great joy.

The Buddha knows their minds and their practices

and therefore preaches for them the Great Vehicle.

When the voice-hearers and bodhisattvas

hear this Law that I preach,

as soon as they have heard one verse

they will all without doubt be certain of attaining Buddhahood.

In the Buddha lands of the ten directions

there is only the Law of the one vehicle,

there are not two, there are not three,

except when the Buddha preaches so as an expedient means,

merely employing provisional names and terms

in order to conduct and guide living beings

and preach to them the Buddha wisdom.

The Buddhas appear in the world

solely for this one reason, which is true;

the other two are not the truth.

Never do they use a lesser vehicle

to save living beings and ferry them across.

The Buddha himself dwells in this Great Vehicle,

and adorned with the power of meditation and wisdom

that go with the Law he has attained,

he uses it to save living beings.

He himself testifies to the unsurpassed way,

the Great Vehicle, the Law in which all things are equal.

If I used a lesser vehicle

to convert even one person,

I would be guilty of stinginess and greed,

but such a thing would be impossible.

If a person will believe and take refuge in the Buddha,

the Thus Come One will never deceive him,

nor will he ever show geed or jealousy,

for he has rooted out evil from among the phenomena.

Therefore throughout the ten directions

the Buddha alone is without fear.

I adorn my body with the special characteristics

and shine my light upon the world.

I am honored by numberless multitudes

and for them I preach the emblem of the reality of things.

Shariputra, you should know

that at the start I took a vow,

hoping to make all persons

equal to me, without any distinction between us,

and what I long ago hoped for

has now been fulfilled.

I have converted all living beings

and caused them all to enter the Buddha way.

If when I encounter living beings

I were in all cases to teach them the Buddha way,

those without wisdom would become confused

and in their bewilderment would fail to accept my teachings.

I know that such living beings have never in the past cultivated good roots

but have stubbornly clung to the five desires,

and their folly and craving have given rise to affliction.

Their desires are the cause

whereby they fall into the three evil paths,

revolving wheel-like through the six realms of existence

and undergoing every sort of suffering and pain.

Having received a tiny form in the womb,

in existence after existence they constantly grow to maturity.

Persons of meager virtue and small merit,

they are troubled and beset by manifold sufferings.

They stray into the dense forest of mistaken views,

debating as to what exists and what does not,

and in the end cling to such views,

embracing all sixty-two of them 2.

They are profoundly committed to false and empty doctrines,

holding firmly to them, unable to set them aside.

Arrogant and puffed up with self-importance,

fawning and envious, insincere in mind,

for a thousand, ten thousand, a million kalpas

they will not hear the Buddha's name,

nor will they hear the correct Law--

such people are difficult to save.

For these reasons, Shariputra,

I have for their sake established expedient means,

preaching the way that ends all suffering.

And showing them nirvana.

But although I preach nirvana,

this is not a true extinction.

All phenomena from the very first

have of themselves constantly borne the marks of

tranquil extinction.

Once the sons of the Buddha have carried out this path,

then in a future existence they will be able to become Buddhas.

I have employed the power of expedient means

to unfold and demonstrate this doctrine of three vehicles,

but the World-Honored Ones, every one of them,

all preach the single vehicle way.

Now before this great assembly

I must clear away all doubts and perplexities.

There is no discrepancy in the words of the Buddhas,

there is only the one vehicle, not two.

For numberless kalpas in the past

countless Buddhas who have now entered extinction,

a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million types

in numbers incapable of calculation-

such World-Honored Ones,

using different types of causes, similes, and parables,

the power of countless expedient means,

have expounded the characteristics of teachings.

These World-Honored Ones

have all preached the doctrine of the single vehicle,

converting countless living beings

and causing them to enter the Buddha way.

And these great sage lords,

knowing what is desired deep in the minds

of the heavenly and human beings and the other living things

throughout all the worlds,

have employed still other expedient means

to help illuminate the highest truth.

If there are living beings

who have encountered these past Buddhas,

and if they have listened to their Law, presented alms,

or kept the precepts, shown forbearance,

been assiduous, practiced meditation and wisdom, and so forth,

cultivating various kinds of merit and virtue,

then persons such as these

all have attained the Buddha way.

After the Buddhas have passed into extinction,

if persons are of good and gentle mind,

then living beings such as these

have all attained the Buddha way.

After the Buddhas have passed into extinction,

if persons make offerings to the relics,

raising ten thousand or a million kinds of towers,

using gold, silver and crystal,

seashell and agate,

carnelian, lapis lazuli, pearls

to purify and adorn them extensively,

in this way erecting towers;

or if they raise up stone mortuary temples

or those of sandalwood or aloes,

hovenia or other kinds of timber,

or of brick, tile clay or earth;

if in the midst of the broad fields

they pile up earth to make a mortuary temple for the Buddhas,

or even if little boys at play

should collect sand to make a Buddha tower,

then persons such as these

have all attained the Buddha way.

If there are persons who for the sake of the Buddha

fashion and set up images,

carving them with many distinguishing characteristics,

then all have attained the Buddha way.

Or if they make things out of the seven kinds of gems,

of copper, red or white copper,

pewter, lead, tin

iron wood, or clay,

or use cloth soaked in lacquer or resin

to adorn and fashion Buddha images,

then persons such as these have all attained the Buddha way.

If they employ pigments to paint Buddha images,

endowing them with the characteristics of hundredfold merit,

if they make them themselves or have other make them,

then all have attained the Buddha way.

Even if little boys in play

should use a piece of grass or wood or a brush,

or perhaps a fingernail

to draw an image of the Buddha,

such persons as these

bit by bit will pile up merit

and will become fully endowed with a mind of

great compassion;

they all have attained the Buddha way.

Merely by converting the bodhisattvas

they bring salvation and release to numberless multitudes.

And if persons, in the presence of such memorial towers,

such jeweled images and painted images,

should with reverent minds make offerings

of flowers, incense, banners or canopies,

or if they should employ persons to make music,

striking drums or blowing horns or conch shells,

playing pipes, flutes, zithers, harps,

balloon guitars, cymbals and gongs,

and if these many kinds of wonderful notes

are intended wholly as an offering;

or if one with a joyful mind

sings a song in praise of the Buddha's virtue,

even if it is just one small note,

then all who do these things have attained the Buddha way.

If someone with a confused and distracted mind

should take even one flower

and offer it to a painted image,

in time he would come to see countless Buddhas.

Or if a person should bow or perform obeisance,

or should merely press his palms together,

or even should raise a single hand,

or give no more than a slight nod of the head,

and if this were done in offering to an image,

then in time he would come to see countless Buddhas.

And if he himself attains the unsurpassed way

and spreads salvation abroad to countless multitudes,

he will enter the nirvana of no remainder

as a fire dies out when the firewood is exhausted.

If persons with confused and distracted minds

should enter a memorial tower

and once exclaim, "Hail to the Buddha!"

Then all have attained the Buddha way.

If from past Buddhas

when they were in the world or after their extinction,

they should be those who heard this Law,

then all have attained the Buddha way.

The World-Honored Ones of the future,

whose numbers will be incalculable,

these Thus Come Ones

will also employ expedient means to preach the Law,

and all these Thus Come Ones

through countless expedient means

will save and bring release to living beings

so that they enter the Buddha's wisdom which is free

of outflows.

If there are those who hear the Law,

then not one will fail to attain Buddhahood.

The original vow of the Buddhas

was that the Buddha way, which they themselves practice,

should be shared universally among living beings

so that they too may attain this same way.

The Buddhas of future ages,

although they preach hundreds, thousands, millions

a countless number of doctrines,

in truth do so for the sake of the single vehicle.

The Buddhas, most honored of two-legged beings,

know that phenomena have no constantly fixed nature,

that the seed of Buddhahood sprout through causation,

and for this reason they preach the single vehicle.

But that these phenomena are part of an abiding Law,

that the characteristics of the world are constantly abiding--

this they have come to know in the place of practice

and as leaders and teachers they preach expedient means.

The presently existing Buddhas of the ten directions,

whom heavenly and human beings make offerings to,

who in number are like Ganges sands,

they have appeared in the world

in order to bring peace and comfort to living beings,

and they too preach the Law in this way.

They understand the foremost truth of tranquil extinction

and therefore employ the power of expedient means,

and though they point out various different paths,

in truth they do so for the sake of the Buddha vehicle.

They understand the actions of living beings,

the thoughts that lie deep in their minds,

the deeds they have carried out in the past,

their desires, their nature, the power of their exertions,

and whether their capacities are acute or dull,

and so they employ various causes and conditions,

similes, parables, and other words and phrases,

adapting what expedient means are suitable to their preaching.

Now I too am like this;

in order to bring peace and comfort to living beings

I employ various different doctrines

to disseminate the Buddha way.

Through the power of my wisdom

I know the nature and desires of living beings

and through expedient means I preach these doctrines,

causing all living beings to attain joy and gladness.

Shariputra, you should understand

that I view things through the Buddha eye,

I see the living beings in the six paths,

how poor and distressed they are, without merit or wisdom,

how they enter the perilous road of birth and death,

their sufferings continuing with never a break,

how deeply they are attached to the five desires,

like a yak enamored of it's tail,

blinding themselves with greed and infatuation,

their vision so impaired they can see nothing.

They do not seek the Buddha, with his great might,

or the Law that can end their sufferings,

but enter deeply into erroneous views,

hoping to shed suffering through great suffering.

For the sake of these living beings

I summon up a mind of great compassion.

When I first sat in the place of practice

and gazed at the tree and walked around it,

for the space of three times seven days

I pondered the matter in this way.

The wisdom I have attained, I thought,

is subtle, wonderful, the foremost.

But living beings, dull incapacity,

are addicted to pleasure and blinded by stupidity.

With persons such as this,

what can I say, how can I save them?

At that time the Brahma kings,

along with the heavenly king Shakra,

the Four Heavenly Kings who guard the world,

and the heavenly king Great Freedom,

in company with other heavenly beings

and their hundreds and thousands

of followers,

reverently pressing their palms together and bowed,

begging me to turn the wheel of the Law.

Immediately I thought to myself

that if I merely praised the Buddha vehicle,

then the living beings, sunk in their suffering,

would be incapable of believing in this Law.

And because they rejected the Law and failed to believe it,

they would fall into the three evil paths.

It would be better if I did not preach the Law

but quickly entered into nirvana.

Then my thoughts turned to the Buddhas of the past

and the power of expedient means they had employed,

and I thought that the way I had now attained

should likewise be preached as three vehicles.

When I thought in this manner,

the Buddhas of the ten directions all appeared

and with Brahma sounds comforted and instructed me.

"Well done, Shakyamuni!" they said.

"Foremost leader and teacher,

you have attained the unsurpassed Law.

But following the example of all other Buddhas,

you will employ the power of expedient means.

We too have all attained

the most wonderful, the foremost Law,

but for the sake of living beings

we make distinctions and preach the three vehicles.

People of small wisdom delight in a small Law,

unable to believe that they themselves could becomes Buddhas.

Therefore we employ expedient means,

making distinctions and preaching various goals.

But though we preach the three vehicles,

we do it merely in order to teach the bodhisattvas."

Shariputra, you should understand this.

When I heard these saintly lions

and their deep, pure subtle, wonderful sounds,

I rejoiced, crying "Hail to the Buddhas!"

Then I thought to myself,

I have come into this impure and evil world,

and as these Buddhas have preached,

I too must follow that example in my actions.

After I had thought of the matter in this way,

I set out at once for Varanasi.

The marks of tranquil extinction borne by all phenomena

cannot be explained in words,

and therefore I used the power of expedient means

to preach to the five ascetics.

This I termed turning the wheel of the Law,

and also with regard to "the sound of nirvana,"

and "arhat," "Dharma" and Samgha,"

I used these terms to indicate distinctions.

"From infinite kalpas in the past

I have extolled and taught the Law of nirvana,

ending the long sufferings of birth and death."

This is how I customarily preached.

Shariputra, you should know this.

When I looked at the Buddha sons,

I saw incalculable thousands, ten thousands, millions

who had determined to seek the way of the Buddha,

everyone with a respectful and reverent mind,

all coming to the place of the Buddha,

persons who in the past had listened to other Buddhas

and heard the Law preached through expedient means.

Immediately the thought came to me

that the reason the Thus Come One has appeared

is so he may preach the Buddha wisdom.

Now is precisely the time to do so.

Shariputra, you should understand

that persons of dull capacity and small wisdom,

who are attached to appearances, proud and overbearing,

are incapable of believing in this Law.

Now I, joyful and fearless,

in the midst of the bodhisattvas,

honestly discarding expedient means,

will preach only the unsurpassed Way.

When the bodhisattvas hear this Law,

they will be released from all entanglements of doubt.

The twelve hundred Arhats,

they too will all attain Buddhahood.

Following in the same fashion that the Buddhas of the

three existences

employ in preaching the Law,

I now will do likewise,

preaching a Law that is without distinctions.

The times when the Buddhas appear in the world are far apart and difficult to encounter.

And even when they appear in the world

it is difficult for them to preach this Law.

Throughout incalculable, innumerable kalpas

it is rare that one may hear this Law,

and a person capable of listening to this Law,

such a person is likewise rare.

It is like the udumbara flower

which all the world loves and delights in,

which heavenly and human beings look on as something rare,

but which appears only once in many ages.

If a person hears this Law, delights and praises it,

even if he utters just one word,

then he has made offerings

to all the Buddhas of the three existences.

But a person like this is very rarely found,

rarer than the udumbara flower.

You should have no doubts.

I being king of the doctrines,

make this announcement to the entire great assembly.

I employ only the single vehicle way

to teach and convert the bodhisattvas,

I have no voice-hearer disciples.

You, Shariputra,

and the voice-hearers and bodhisattvas,

you should understand that this wonderful Law

is the secret crux of the Buddhas.

In this evil world of the five impurities

those who merely delight in and are attached to the desires,

living beings such as this

in the end will never seek the Buddha way.

When evil persons in ages to come

hear the Buddha preach the single vehicle,

they will be confused, will not believe or accept it,

will reject the Law and fall into the evil paths.

But when there are those with sense of shame, persons of purity

who have determined to seek the Buddha way,

then for the sake of such as these

one should widely praise the way of the single vehicle.

Shariputra, you should understand this.

The Law of the Buddhas is like this.

Employing ten thousand, a million expedient means,

they accord with what is appropriate in preaching the Law.

Those who are not versed in this matter

cannot fully comprehend this.

But you and the others already know

how the Buddhas, the teachers of the world,

accord with what is appropriate in employing expedient means.

You will have no more doubts or perplexities

but, your minds filled with great joy,

will know that you yourselves will attain Buddhahood.

Chapter Three: Simile and Parable

At that time Shariputra's mind danced with joy. Then he immediately stood up, pressed his palms together, gazed up in reverence at the face of the Honored-One, and said to the Buddha, "Just now, when I heard from the World-Honored One, this voice of the Law, my mind seemed to dance and I gained what I had never had before. Why do I say this? Because in the past when I heard a Law of this kind from the Buddha and saw how the bodhisattvas received prophecies that in time they would attain Buddhahood, I and the others felt that we had no part in the affair. We were deeply grieved to think we would never gain the immeasurable insight of the Thus Come One.

"World-Honored One, I have constantly lived in the mountain forest or alone under the trees, sometimes sitting, sometimes walking around, and always I have thought to myself, since I and the others all alike have entered into the nature of the Law, why does the Thus Come One use the Law of the Lesser Vehicle to bring us salvation?

"But the fault is ours, not that of the World-Honored One. Why do I say this? If he had been willing to wait until the true means for attaining anuttara-samyak-sambodhi was preached, then we would surely have obtained release through the Great Vehicle. But we failed to understand that the Buddha was employing expedient means and preaching what was appropriate to the circumstances. So when we first heard the Law of the Buddha, we immediately believed and accepted it, supposing that we had gained understanding.

"World-Honored One, for a long time now, all day and throughout the night, I have repeatedly taxed myself with this thought. But now I have heard from the Buddha what I had never heard before, a Law never known in the past, and it has ended all my doubts and regrets. My body and mind are at ease and I have gained a wonderful feeling of peace and security. Today at last I understand that truly I am the Buddha's son, born from the Buddha's mouth, born through conversion to the Law, gaining my share of the Buddha's Law!"

At that time Shariputra, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

When I heard the sound of this Law,

I gained what I had never had before.

My mind was filled with great joy,

I was released from all bonds of the net of doubt.

From past times I have received the Buddha's teachings

and have not been denied the Great Vehicle.

The Buddha's sound is very rarely heard,

but it can free living beings from distress.

Already I have put an end to outflows,

and hearing this, am freed from care and distress.

I lived in the mountain valleys

or under the forest trees,

sometimes sitting, sometimes walking around,

and constantly I thought of this matter--

how severely I taxed myself!

"Why have I been deceived?" I said.

"I and the others are sons of the Buddha too,

all alike have entered the Law that is without outflows,

yet in times to come we will never be able

to expound the unsurpassed way.

The golden body, the thirty-two features,

the ten powers, the various emancipations--

though all alike share a single Law,

these we will never attain!

The eighty types of wonderful characteristics,

the eighteen unshared properties--

merits such as these

are all lost to us!"

When I was walking around alone,

I saw the Buddha among the great assembly,

his fame filling the ten directions,

bringing benefit far and wide to living beings,

and I thought to myself, I am deprived of such benefits!

How greatly have I been deceived!

Constantly, day and night,

whenever I pondered over this,

I wanted to ask the World-Honored One

whether I had indeed been deprived or not.

Constantly, when I saw the World-Honored One

praising the bodhisattvas,

then day and night

I would mull this matter over.

But now as I listen to the voice of the Buddha,

I see he preaches the Law in accordance with what

is appropriate,

using this hard-to-conceive doctrine of no outflows

to lead people to the place of practice.

Formerly I was attached to erroneous views,

acting as teacher to the Brahmans.

But the World-Honored One, knowing what was in my mind,

rooted out my errors and preached nirvana.

I was freed of all my errors

and gained understanding of the Law of emptiness.

At that time my mind told me

I had reached the stage of extinction,

but now I realize

that was not true extinction. If the time should come when I can become a Buddha,

then I will possess all the thirty-two features

and heavenly and human beings, the many yakshas,

dragons, spirits and others will hold me in reverence.

When that time comes, then I can say

that at last all has been wiped out without residue.

In the midst of the great assembly, the Buddha

declared that I will become a Buddha.

When I heard the sound of the this Law

my doubts and regrets were all wiped away.

At first, when I heard the Buddha's preaching,

there was great astonishment and doubt in my mind.

Is this not a devil pretending to be the Buddha,

trying to vex and confuse my mind? I thought.

But the Buddha employed various causes,

similes, and parables, expounding eloquently.

His mind was peaceful as the sea,

and as I listened, I was freed from the net of doubt.

The Buddha said that in past ages

the countless Buddhas who have passed into extinction

rested and abided in the midst of expedient means,

and all likewise preached this Law.

The Buddhas of the present and future,

whose numbers are beyond calculation,

they too will use expedient means

in expounding this same Law.

Thus the present World-Honored One,

being born and later leaving his family,

attaining the way and turning the wheel of the Law,

likewise employs expedient means in preaching.

The World-Honored One preaches the true way.

Papiyas would not do that.

Therefore I know for certain

this is not a devil pretending to be the Buddha.

But because I fell into the net of doubt

I supposed this to be the devil's work.

Now I hear the Buddha's soft and gentle sound,

profound, far-reaching, very subtle and wonderful,

expounding and discoursing on the pure Law,

and my mind is filled with great joy.

My doubts and regrets are forever ended,

I will rest and abide in true wisdom.

I am certain I will become a Buddha,

to be revered by heavenly and human beings,

turning the wheel of the unsurpassed Law

and teaching and converting the bodhisattvas.

At that time the Buddha said to Shariputra, "Now, in the midst of this great assembly of heavenly and human beings, shramanas, Brahmans and so forth, I say this. In the past, under twenty thousand million Buddhas, for the sake of the unsurpassed way I have constantly taught and converted you. And you throughout the long night followed me and accepted my instruction.. Now , because I want to make you recall to mind the way that you originally vowed to follow, for the sake of the voice-hearers I am preaching this 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.

"Shariputra, in ages to come, after a countless, boundless inconceivable number of kalpas have passed, you will make offerings to some thousands, ten thousands millions of Buddhas, and will honor and uphold the correct Law. You will fulfill every aspect of the way of the bodhisattva and will be able to become a Buddha with the name Flower Glow 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.

"Your realm will be called Free from Stain, the land will be level and smooth, pure and beautifully adorned, peaceful, bountiful and happy. Heavenly and human beings will flourish there. The ground will be of lapis lazuli, roads will crisscross it in eight directions, and ropes of gold will mark their boundaries. Beside each road will grow rows of seven-jeweled trees which will constantly flower and bear fruit. And this Flower Glow Thus Come One will employ the three vehicles to teach and convert living beings.

"Shariputra, when this Buddha appears, although it will not be an evil age, because of his original vow he will preach the Law through the three vehicles. His kalpa will be called Great Treasure Adornment. Why will it be called Great Treasure Adornment? Because in that land bodhisattvas will be looked on as a great treasure. Those bodhisattvas will be countless, boundless, inconceivable in number, beyond the reach of reckoning or of simile and parable. Without the power of Buddha wisdom, one cannot understand how many.. Whenever these bodhisattvas wish to walk anywhere, jeweled flowers will uphold their feet.

'These bodhisattvas will not have just conceived the desire for enlightenment, but all will have spent a long time planting the roots of virtue. Under countless hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, millions of Buddhas they will have carried out Brahma practices in a flawless manner, and will have been perpetually praised by the Buddhas. Constantly they will have cultivated Buddha wisdom, acquiring great transcendental powers and thoroughly understanding the gateways to all the doctrines. They will be upright in character, without duplicity, firm in intent and thought. Bodhisattvas such as this will abound in that land.

"Shariputra, the life span of the Buddha Flower Glow will be twelve small kalpas, not counting the times when he is still a prince and before he becomes a Buddha. The people of his land will have a life span of eight small kalpas. When Flower Glow Thus Come One has lived for twelve small kalpas, he will prophesy that the bodhisattva Firm Full will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. He will announce to the monks, 'This bodhisattva Firm Full will be the next to become a Buddha. He will be named Flower feet Safely Walking, tathagata, arhat, samyak-sambuddha. His Buddha land will be like mine.'

"Shariputra, after the Buddha Flower Glow has passed into extinction, the era of the Correct Law will last for thirty-two small kalpas, and the era of the Counterfeit Law will last for another thirty-two small kalpas."

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

Shariputra, in ages to come

you will become a Buddha, of universal wisdom, venerable,

bearing the name Flower Glow,

and you will save countless multitudes.

You will make offerings to numberless Buddhas,

be endowed with all the Bodhisattva practices,

the ten powers and other blessings,

and will realize the unsurpassed way.

After countless kalpas have passed,

your kalpa will be named Great Treasure Adornment.

Your world will be called Free from Stain,

pure, without flaw or defilement.

Its land will be made of lapis lazuli,

its roads bounded by ropes of gold,

and seven-jeweled trees in a jumble of colors

will constantly bear blossoms and fruit.

The bodhisattvas of that realm

will always be firm in intent and thought.

Transcendental powers and paramitas--

each will be endowed with all of these,

and under numberless Buddhas

they will diligently study the bodhisattva way.

Thus these great men

will be converted by the Buddha Flower Glow.

When that Buddha was still a prince,

he gave up his country, abandoned worldly glory,

and in his final incarnation

left his family and attained the Buddha way.

Flower Glow Buddha will continue in the world

for a life span of twelve small kalpas.

The numerous people of his land

will have a life span of eight small kalpas.

After that Buddha has passed into extinction,

the Correct Law will endure in the world

for thirty-two small kalpas,

saving living beings far and wide.

When the correct law has passed away,

the Counterfeit Law will endure for thirty-two kalpas.

The Buddha's relics will circulate widely;

heavenly and human beings everywhere will make offerings to them.

The actions of Flower Glow Buddha

will all be as I have said.

This most saintly and venerable of two-legged beings

will be foremost and without peer.

And he will be none other than you--

you should rejoice and count yourself fortunate!

At that time, when the four kinds of believers, namely, monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, and the heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, and others in the great assembly saw how Shariputra received from the Buddha this prophecy that he would attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, their hearts were filled with great joy and danced without end. Each one removed the upper robe that he or she was wearing and presented it a an offering to the Buddha. Shakra Devanam Indra, King Brahma, and the countless sons of gods likewise took their wonderful heavenly robes, heavenly mandarava flowers and great mandarava flowers and offered them to the Buddha. The heavenly robes they had scattered remained suspended in the air and turned round and round of themselves. Heavenly beings made music, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand varieties, all at the same time in the midst of the air, raining down quantities of heavenly flowers and speaking these words: "In the past at Varanasi the Buddha first turned the wheel of the Law. Now he turns the wheel again, the wheel of the unsurpassed, the greatest Law of all!"

At that time the sons of gods, wishing to state their meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

In the past at Varanasi

you turned the wheel of the Law of the four noble truths,

making distinctions, preaching that all things

are born and become extinct, being made up of the

five components.

Now you turn the wheel of the most wonderful,

the unsurpassed great Law.

This Law is very profound and abstruse;

there are few who can believe it.

Since times past often we have heard

the World-Honored One's preaching,

but we have never heard this kind of profound, wonderful and superior Law.

Since the World-Honored One preaches this Law,

we all welcome it with joy.

Shariputra with his great wisdom

has now received this venerable prophecy.

We too in the same way

will surely be able to attain Buddhahood,

throughout all the many worlds

the most venerable, the unsurpassed goal.

The Buddha way is difficult to fathom,

but you will preach with expedient means,

according to what is appropriate.

The meritorious deeds we have done

in this existence or past existences,

and the blessings gained from seeing the Buddha--

all these we will apply to the Buddha way.

At that time Shariputra said to the Buddha: "World-Honored One, now I have no mere doubts or regrets. In person I have received from the Buddha this prophecy that I will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. These twelve hundred persons here whose minds are free -- in the past they remained at the level of learning, and the Buddha constantly taught and converted them, saying, 'My Law can free you from birth, old age, sickness and death and enable you at last to achieve nirvana.' These persons, some of whom were still learning and some who had completed their learning, each believed that, because he had shed his views of 'self,' and also his views of 'existing' and 'not existing,' he had attained nirvana. But now from the World-Honored One they hear what they had never heard before, and all have fallen into doubt and perplexity.

"Very well, World-Honored One. I beg that for the sake of the four kinds of believers you will explain the causes and conditions and make it possible for them to shed their doubts and regrets."

At that time the Buddha said so Shariputra, "Did I not tell you earlier that when the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, cite various causes and conditions and use similes, parables, and other expressions, employing expedient means to preach the Law, it is all for the sake of anuttara-samyak-sambodhi? Whatever is preached is all for the sake of converting the bodhisattvas.

"Moreover, Shariputra, I too will now make use of similes and parables to further clarify this doctrine. For through similes and parables those who are wise can obtain understanding.

"Shariputra, suppose that in a certain town in a certain country there was a very rich man. He was far along in years and his wealth was beyond measure. He had many fields, houses and menservants. His own house was big and rambling, but it had only one gate. A great many people--a hundred, two hundred, perhaps as many as five hundred--lived in the house. The halls and rooms were old and decaying, the walls crumbling, the pillars rotten at their base, and the beams and rafters crooked and aslant.

"At that time a fire suddenly broke out on all sides, spreading through the rooms of the house. The sons of the rich man, ten, twenty perhaps thirty, were inside the house. When the rich man saw the huge flames leaping up on every side, he was greatly alarmed and fearful and thought to himself, I can escape to safety through the flaming gate, but my sons are inside the burning house enjoying themselves and playing games, unaware, unknowing, without alarm or fear. The fire is closing in on them, suffering and pain threaten them, yet their minds have no sense of loathing or peril and they do not think of trying to escape!

"Shariputra, this rich man thought to himself, I have strength in my body and arms. I can wrap them in a robe or place them on a bench and carry them out of the house. And then again he thought, this house has only one gate, and moreover it is narrow and small.

My sons are very young, they have no understanding, and they love their games, being so engrossed in them that they are likely to be burned in the fire. I must explain to them why I am fearful and alarmed. The house is already in flames and I must get them out quickly and not let them be burned up in the fire!

"Having thought in this way, he followed his plan and called to all his sons, saying, 'You must come out at once!" But though the father was moved by pity and gave good words of instruction, the sons were absorbed in their games and unwilling to heed them. They had no alarm, no fright, and in the end no mind to leave the house. Moreover, they did not understand what the fire was, what the house was, what the danger was. They merely raced about this way and that in play and looked at their father without heeding him.

"At that time the rich man had this thought: the house is already in flames from this huge fire. If I and my sons do not get out at once, we are certain to be burned. I must now invent some expedient means that will make it possible for the children to escape harm.

"The father understood his sons and knew what various toys and curious objects each child customarily liked and what would delight them. And so he said to them, 'The kind of playthings you like are rare and hard to find. If you do not take them when you can, you will surely regret it later. For example, things like these goat-carts, deer-carts and ox-carts. They are outside the gate now where you can play with them. So you must come out of this burning house at once. Then whatever ones you want, I will give them all to you!'

"At that time, when the sons heard their father telling them about these rare playthings, because such things were just what they had wanted, each felt emboldened in heart and, pushing and shoving one another, they all came wildly dashing out of the burning house.

"At that time the rich man, seeing that his sons had gotten out safely and all were seated on the open ground at the crossroads and were no longer in danger, was greatly relieved and his mind danced for joy. At that time each of the sons said to his father, "the playthings you promised us earlier, the goat-carts and deer-carts and ox-carts--please give them to us now!'

"Shariputra, at that time the rich man gave to each of his sons a large carriage of uniform size and quality. The carriages were tall and spacious and adorned with numerous jewels. A railing ran all around them and bells hung from all four sides. A canopy was stretched over the top, which was also decorated with an assortment of precious jewels. Ropes of jewels twined around, a fringe of flowers hung down, and layers of cushions were spread inside, on which were placed vermilion pillows. Each carriage was drawn by a white ox, pure and clean in hide, handsome in form and of great strength, capable of pulling the carriage smoothly and properly at a pace fast as the wind. In addition, there were many grooms and servants to attend and guard the carriage.

"What was the reason for this? This rich man's wealth was limitless and he had many kinds of storehouses that were all filled and overflowing. And he thought to himself, 'There is no end to my possessions. It would not be right if I were to give my sons small carriages of inferior make. These little boys are all my sons and I love them without partiality. I have countless numbers of large carriages adorned with seven kinds of gems. I should be fair-minded and give one to each of my sons. I should not show any discrimination. Why? Because even if I distributed these possessions of mine to every person in the whole country I would still not exhaust them, much less could I do so by giving them to my sons!

"At that time each of the sons mounted his large carriage, gaining something he had never had before, something he had originally never expected. Shariputra, what do you think of this? When this rich man impartially handed out to his sons these big carriages adorned with rare jewels, was he guilty of falsehood or not?"

Shariputra said, "No, World-Honored One. This rich man simply made it possible for his sons to escape the peril of fire and preserve their lives. He did not commit a falsehood. Why do I say this? Because if they were able to preserve their lives, then they had already obtained a plaything of sorts. And how much more so when, through an expedient means, they are rescued from that burning house! World-Honored One, even if the rich man had not given them the tiniest carriage, he would still not be guilty of falsehood. Why? Because this rich man had earlier made up his mind that he would employ an expedient means to cause his sons to escape. Using a device of this kind was no act of falsehood. How much less so, then, when the rich man knew that his wealth was limitless and he intended to enrich and benefit his sons by giving each of them a large carriage."

The Buddha said to Shariputra, "Very good, very good. In is just as you have said. And Shariputra, the Thus Come One is like this. That is, he is a father to all the world. His fears, cares and anxieties, ignorance and misunderstanding, have long come to an end, leaving no residue. He has fully succeeded in acquiring measureless insight, power and freedom from fear and gaining great supernatural powers and the power of wisdom. He is endowed with expedient means and the paramita of wisdom, his great pity and great compassion are constant and unflagging; at all times he seeks what is good and will bring benefit to all.

'He is born into the threefold world, a burning house, rotten and old. In order to save living beings from the fires of birth, old age, sickness and death, care suffering, stupidity, misunderstanding, and the three poisons; to teach and convert them and enable them to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

"He sees living beings seared and consumed by birth, old age, sickness and death, care and suffering, sees them undergo many kinds of pain because of their greed and attachment and striving they undergo numerous pains in their present existence, and later they undergo the pain of being reborn in hell or as beasts or hungry spirits. Even if they are reborn in the heavenly realm or the realm of human beings, they undergo the pain of poverty and want, the pain of parting from loved ones, the pain of encountering those they detest--all these many different kinds of pain.

"Yet living beings drowned in the midst of all this, delight and amuse themselves, unaware, unknowing, without alarm or fear. They feel no sense of loathing and make no attempt to escape. In this burning house which is the threefold world, they race about to east and west, and though they encounter great pain, they are not distressed by it.

Shariputra, when the Buddha sees this, then he thinks to himself, I am the father of living beings and I should rescue them from their sufferings and give them the joy of the measureless and boundless Buddha wisdom so that they may find their enjoyment in that.

"Shariputra, the Thus Come One also has this thought: if I should merely employ supernatural powers and the power of wisdom; if I should set aside expedient means and for the sake of living beings should praise the Thus Come One's insight, power and freedom from fear, then living beings would not be able to gain salvation. Why? Because these living beings have not yet escaped from birth, old age, sickness, death, care and suffering, but are consumed by flames in the burning house that is the threefold world. How could they be able to understand the Buddha's wisdom?

"Shariputra, that rich man, though he had strength in his body and arms, did not use it. He merely employed a carefully contrived expedient means and thus was able to rescue his sons from the peril of the burning house, and afterward gave each of them a large carriage adorned with rare jewels. And the Thus Come One does the same. Though he possesses power and freedom from fear, he does not use these. He merely employs wisdom and expedient means to rescue living beings from the burning house of the threefold world, expounding to them the three vehicles, the vehicle of the voice-hearer, that of pratyekabuddha, and that of the Buddha.

"He says to them, 'You must not be content to stay in this burning house of the threefold world! Do not be greedy for its coarse and shoddy forms, sounds, scents, tastes and sensations! If you become attached to them and learn to love them, you will be burned up! You must come out of this threefold world at once so that you can acquire the three vehicles, the vehicles of the voice-hearer, the pratyekabuddha and the Buddha. I promise you now that you will get them, and that promise will never prove false. You have only to apply yourselves with diligent effort!'

"The Thus Come One employs this expedient means to lure living beings into action. And then he says to them, 'You should understand that these doctrines of the three vehicles are all praised by the sages. They are free, without entanglements, leaving nothing further to depend upon or seek. Mount these three vehicles, gain roots that are without outflows, gain powers, awareness, the way, meditation, emancipation, samadhis, and then enjoy yourselves. You will gain the delight of immeasurable peace and safety.'

"Shariputra, if there are living beings who are inwardly wise in nature, and who attend the Buddha, the World-Honored One, hear the Law, believe and accept it, and put forth diligent effort, desiring to escape quickly from the threefold world and seeking to attain nirvana, they shall be called [those who ride] the vehicle of the voice hearer.

They are like those sons who left the burning house in the hope of acquiring goat-carts.

"If there are living beings who attend the Buddha, the World-Honored One, hear the Law, believe and accept it, and put forth diligent effort, seeking wisdom that comes of itself, taking solitary delight in goodness and tranquility, and profoundly understanding the causes and conditions of all phenomena, they shall be called [those who ride] the vehicle of the pratyekabuddha. They are like the sons who left the burning house in the hope of acquiring deer-carts.

"If there are living beings who attend the Buddha, the World-Honored One, hear the Law, believe and accept it, and put forth diligent effort, seeking comprehensive wisdom, the insight of the Thus Come One, powers and freedom from fear, who pity and comfort countless living beings, bring benefit to heavenly and human beings, and save them all, they shall be called [those who ride] the Great Vehicle. Because the bodhisattvas seek this vehicle, they are called mahasattvas. They are like the sons who left the burning house in the hope of acquiring ox-carts.

"Shariputra, that rich man, seeing that his sons had all gotten out of the burning house safely and were no longer threatened, recalled that his wealth was immeasurable and presented each of his sons with a large carriage. And the Thus Come One does likewise. He is the father of all living beings. When he sees that countless thousands of millions of living beings, through the gateway of the Buddha's teaching, can escape the pains of the threefold world, the fearful and perilous road, and gain the delights of nirvana, the Thus Come One at that time has this thought: I possess measureless, boundless wisdom, power, fearlessness, the storehouse of the Law of the Buddhas. These living beings are all my sons. I will give the Great Vehicle to all of them equally so that there will not be those who gain extinction by themselves, but that all may do so through the extinction of the Thus Come One.

"To all the living beings who have escaped from the threefold world he then gives the delightful gifts of the meditation, emancipation, and so forth, of the Buddhas. All these are uniform in characteristics, uniform in type, praised by the sages, capable of producing pure, wonderful, supreme delight.

"Shariputra, that rich man first used three types of carriages to entice his sons, but later he gave them just the large carriage adorned with jewels, the safest, most comfortable kind of all. Despite this, that rich man was not guilty of falsehood. The Thus Come One does the same, and he is without falsehood. First he preaches the three vehicles to attract and guide living beings, but later he employs just the Great Vehicle to save them. Why? The Thus Come One possesses measureless wisdom, power, freedom from fear, the storehouse of the Law. He is capable of giving to all living beings the Law of the Great Vehicle. But not all of them are capable of receiving it.

"Shariputra, for this reason you should understand that the Buddhas employ the power of expedient means. And because they do so, they make distinctions in the one Buddha vehicle and preach it as three."

The Buddha, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Suppose there was a rich man

who had a large house.

This house was very old,

and decayed and dilapidated as well.

The halls, though lofty, were in dangerous condition

beams and rafters were slating and askew,

foundations and steps were crumbling.

Walls were cracked and gaping

and the plaster had fallen off of them.

The roof thatch was in disrepair or missing,

the tips of the eaves had dropped off.

The fences surrounding it were crooked or collapsed

and heaped rubbish was piled all around.

Some five hundred persons

lived in the house.

Kites, owls, hawks, eagles,

crows, magpies, doves, pigeons,

lizards, snakes, vipers, scorpions,

centipedes and millipedes,

newts and ground beetles,

weasels, raccoon dogs, mice, rats,

hordes of evil creatures

scurried this way and that.

Places that stank of excrement

overflowed in streams of filth

where dung beetles and other creatures gathered.

Foxes, wolves and jackals

gnawed and trampled in the filth

or tore apart dead bodies,

scattering bones and flesh about.

Because of this, packs of dogs

came racing to the spot to snatch and tear,

driven by hunger and fear,

searching everywhere for food,

fighting, struggling and seizing,

baring their teeth, snarling and howling.

That house was fearful, frightening,

so altered was its aspect.

In every part of it

there were goblins and trolls,

yakshas and evil spirits

who feed on human flesh

or on poisonous creatures.

The various evil birds and beasts

bore offspring, hatched and nursed them,

each hiding and protecting its young,

but the yakshas outdid one another

in their haste to seize and eat them.

And when they had eaten their fill,

their evil hearts became fiercer than ever;

the sound of their wrangling and contention

was terrifying indeed.

Kumbhanda demons

crouched on clumps of earth

or leaped one or two feet

off the ground,

idling, wandering here and there,

amusing themselves according to their whims.

Sometimes they seized a dog by two of its legs

and beat it till it had lost its voice,

or planted their feet on the dog's neck,

terrifying it for their own delight.

Again there were demons

with large tall bodies,

naked in form, black and emaciated

constantly living there,

who would cry out in loud ugly voices,

shouting and demanding food.

There were other demons

whose throats were like needles,

or still other demons

with heads like the head of an ox,

some feeding on human flesh,

others devouring dogs.

Their hair like tangled weeds,

cruel, baleful, ferocious,

driven by hunger and thirst,

they dashed about shrieking and howling.

The yakshas and starving spirits

and the various evil birds and beasts

hungrily pressed forward in all directions,

peering out at the windows.

Such were the perils of this house,

threats and terrors beyond measure.

This house, old and rotting,

belonged to a certain man

and that man had gone nearby

and he had not been out for long

when a fire

suddenly broke out in the house.

In one moment from all four sides

the flames rose up in a mass.

Ridgepoles, beams, rafters, pillars

exploded with a roar, quivering, splitting,

broke in two and came rumbling down

as walls and partitions collapsed.

The various demons and spirits

lifted their voices in a great wail,

the hawks, eagles and other birds,

the kumbhanda demons,

were filled with panic and terror,

not knowing how to escape.

The evil beasts and poisonous creatures

hid in their holes and dens,

and the pishacha demons,

who were also living there,

because they had done so little that was good,

were oppressed by the flames

and attacked one another,

drinking blood and gobbling flesh.

The jackals and their like

were already dead by this time

and the larger of the evil beasts

vied in devouring them.

Foul smoke swirled and billowed up,

filling the house on every side.

The centipedes and millipedes,

the poisonous snakes and their kind,

scorched by the flames,

came scurrying out of their lairs,

whereupon the kumbhanda demons

pounced on them and ate them.

In addition, the starving spirits,

the fire raging about their heads,

hungry, thirsty, tormented by the heat,

raced this way and that in terror and confusion.

Such was the state of that house,

truly frightening and fearful;

malicious injury, the havoc of fire-

many ills, not just one, afflicted it.

At this time the owner of the house

was standing outside the gate

when he heard someone say,

"A while ago your various sons,

in order to play their games,

went inside the house.

They are very young and lack understanding

and will be wrapped up in their amusements."

When the rich man heard this,

he rushed in alarm into the burning house,

determined to rescue his sons

and keep them from being burned by the flames.

He urged his sons to heed him,

explaining the many dangers and perils,

the evil spirits and poisonous creatures,

the flames spreading all around,

the multitude of sufferings

that would follow one another without end,

the poisonous snakes, lizards and vipers,

as well as the many yakshas

and kumbhanda demons,

the jackals, foxes and dogs,

hawks, eagles, kites, owls,

ground beetles and similar creatures

driven and tormented by hunger and thirst,

truly things to be feared.

His sons could not stay in such a perilous place,

much less when it was all on fire!

But the sons had no understanding

and although they heard their father's warnings,

they continued engrossed in their amusements,

never ceasing their games.

At that time the rich man

thought to himself:

My sons may behave in this manner,

adding to my grief and anguish.

In this house at present

there is not a single joy,

and yet my sons,

wrapped up in their games,

refuse to heed my instructions

and will be destroyed by the fire!

Then it occurred to him

to devise some expedient means,

and he said to his sons,

"I have many kinds

of rare and marvelous toys,

wonderful jeweled carriages,

goat-carts, deer-carts,

carts drawn by big oxen.

They are outside the gate right now

you must come out and see them!

I have fashioned these carts

explicitly for you.

You may enjoy whichever you choose,

play with them as you like!

When the sons heard

this description of the carts,

at once they vied with one another

in dashing out of the house,

till they reached the open ground,

away from all peril and danger.

When the rich man saw that his sons

had escaped from the burning house

and were standing in the crossroads,

he seated himself on a lion seat,

congratulating himself in these words:

"Now I am content and happy.

These sons of mine

have been very difficult to raise.

Ignorant, youthful, without understanding,

they entered that perilous house

with its many poisonous creatures

and its goblins to be feared.

The roaring flames of the great fire

rose up on all four sides,

yet those sons of mine

still clung to their games.

But now I have saved them,

caused them to escape from danger.

That is the reason, good people,

I am content and happy."

At that time the sons,

seeing their father comfortably seated,

all went to where he was

and said to him:

"Please give us

the three kinds of jeweled carriages

you promised us earlier.

You said if we came out of the house

you'd give us three kinds of carts

and we could choose whichever we wished.

Now is the time

to give them to us!"

The rich man was very wealthy

and had many storehouses.

With gold, silver, lapis lazuli,

seashells, agate,

and other such precious things

he fashioned large carriages

beautifully adorned and decorated,

with railings running around them

and bells hanging from all sides.

Ropes of gold twisted and twined,

nets of pearls

stretched over the top,

and fringes of golden flowers

hung down everywhere.

Multicolored decorations

wound around and encircled the carriages,

soft silks and gauzes

served for cushions,

with fine felts of most wonderful make

valued at thousands or millions,

gleaming white and pure,

to spread over them.

There were large white oxen,

sleek, stalwart, of great strength,

handsome in form,

to draw the jeweled carriages,

and numerous grooms and attendants

to accompany and guard them.

These wonderful carriages

the man presented to each of his sons alike.

The sons at that time

danced for joy,

mounting the jeweled carriages,

driving off in all directions,

delighting and amusing themselves

freely and without hindrance.

I say this to you, Shariputra-

I am like this rich man.

I, most venerable of the sages,

am the father of this world

and all living beings

are my children.

But they are deeply attached to worldly pleasures

and lacking in minds of wisdom.

There is no safety in the threefold world;

it is like a burning house,

replete with a multitude of sufferings,

truly to be feared,

constantly beset with the griefs and pains

of birth, old age, sickness and death,

which are like fires

raging fiercely and without cease.

The Thus Come One has already left

the burning house of the threefold world

and dwells in tranquil quietude

in the safety of forest and plain.

But now this threefold world

is all my domain,

and the living beings in it

are all my children.

Now this place

is beset by many pains and trials.

I am the only person

who can rescue and protect others,

but though I teach and instruct them,

they do not believe or accept my teachings,

because, tainted by desires,

they are deeply immersed in greed and attachment.

So, I employ an expedient means,

describing to them the three vehicles,

causing all living beings

to understand the pains of the threefold world,

and then I set forth and expound

a way whereby they can escape from the world.

If these children of mine

will only determine in their minds to do so,

they can acquire all the three understandings

and the six transcendental powers,

can become pratyekabuddhas

or bodhisattvas who never regress.

I say to you, Shariputra,

for the sake of living beings

I employ these similes and parables

to preach the single Buddha vehicle.

If you and the others are capable

of believing and accepting my words,

then all of you are certain

to attain the Buddha way.

This vehicle is subtle, wonderful,

foremost in purity;

throughout all worlds

it stands unsurpassed.

The Buddha delights in and approves it,

and all living beings

should praise it,

offer it alms and obeisance.

There are immeasurable thousands of millions

of powers, emancipations,

meditations, wisdoms,

and other attributes of the Buddha.

But if the children can obtain this vehicle,

it will allow them

day and night for unnumbered kalpas

to find constant enjoyment,

to join the bodhisattvas

and the multitude of voice-hearers

in mounting this jeweled vehicle

and proceeding directly to the place of practice.

For these reasons,

though one should seek diligently in the ten directions,

he will find no other vehicles

except when the Buddha preaches them as an expedient means.

I tell you, Shariputra,

you and the others

are all my children,

and I am a father to you.

For repeated kalpas

you have burned in the flames of manifold sufferings,

but I will save you all

and cause you to escape from the threefold world.

Although earlier I told you

that you had attained extinction,

that was only the end of birth and death,

it was not true extinction.

Now what is needed

is simply that you acquire Buddha wisdom.

If there are bodhisattvas

here in this assembly,

let them with a single mind

listen to the true Law of the Buddhas.

Though the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones,

employ expedient means,

the living beings converted by them

are all bodhisattvas.

If there are persons of little wisdom

who are deeply attached to love and desire,

because they are that way,

the Buddha preaches for them the rule of suffering.

Then the living beings will be glad in mind,

having gained what they never had before.

The rule of suffering which the Buddha preaches

is true and never varies.

If there are living beings

who do not understand the root of suffering,

who are deeply attached to the causes of suffering

and cannot for a moment put them aside,

because they are that way,

the Buddha uses expedient means to preach the way.

As to the cause of all suffering,

it has its root in greed and desire.

If greed and desire are wiped out,

it will have no place to dwell.

To wipe out all suffering-

this is called the third rule.

For the sake of this rule, the rule of extinction,

one practices the way.

And when one escapes from the bonds of suffering

this is called attaining emancipation.

By what means

can a person attain emancipation?

Separating oneself from falsehood and delusion-

this alone may be called emancipation.

But if a person has not truly

been able to emancipate himself from everything,

then the Buddha will say

he has not achieved true extinction,

because such a person

has not yet gained the unsurpassed way.

My purpose is not to try

to cause them to reach extinction.

I am the Dharma King,

free to do as I will with the Law.

To bring peace and safety to living beings-

that is the reason I appear in the world.

I say to you, Shariputra,

this Dharma seal of mine

I preach because I wish

to bring benefit to the world.

You must not recklessly transmit it

wherever you happen to wander.

If there is someone who hears it,

responds with joy and gratefully accepts it,

you should know that person

is an avivartika.

If there is someone who believes and accepts

the Law of this sutra,

that person has already seen

the Buddhas of the past,

has respectfully offered alms to them

and listened to this Law.

If there is someone who can

believe what you preach

then that person has seen me,

and has also seen you

and the other monks

and the bodhisattvas.

This Lotus Sutra

is preached for those with profound wisdom.

If persons of shallow understanding hear it,

they will be perplexed and fail to comprehend.

As for all the voice-hearers

and pratyekabuddhas,

in this sutra there are things

that are beyond their powers.

Even you, Shariputra,

in the case of this sutra

were able to gain entrance through faith alone.

How much more so, then, the other voice-hearers.

Those other voice-hearers

it is because they have faith in the Buddha's words

that they can comply with this sutra,

not because of any wisdom of their own.

Also, Shariputra,

to persons who are arrogant or lazy

or taken up with views of the self,

do not preach this sutra.

Those with the shallow understandings of ordinary persons,

who are deeply attached to the five desires,

cannot comprehend it when they hear it.

Do not preach it to them.

If a person fails to have faith

but instead slanders this sutra,

immediately he will destroy all the seeds

for becoming a Buddha in this world.

Or perhaps he will scowl with knitted brows

and harbor doubt or perplexity.

Listen and I will tell you

the penalty this person must pay.

Whether the Buddha is in the world

or has already entered extinction,

if this person should slander

a sutra such as this,

or on seeing those who read, recite,

copy and uphold this sutra,

should despise, hate, envy,

or bear grudges against them,

the penalty this person must pay

listen, I will tell you now:

When his life comes to an end

he will enter the Avichi hell,

be confined there for a whole kalpa,

and when the kalpa ends, be born there again.

He will keep repeating this cycle

for a countless number of kalpas.

Though he may emerge from hell,

he will fall into the realm of beasts,

becoming a dog or jackal,

his form lean and scruffy,

dark, discolored, with scabs and sores,

something for men to make sport of.

Or again he will

be hated and despised by men,

constantly plagued by hunger and thirst,

his bones and flesh dried up,

in life undergoing torment and hardship,

in death buried beneath the tiles and stones.

Because he cut off the seeds of Buddhahood

he will suffer this penalty.

If he should become a camel

or be born in the shape of a donkey,

his body will constantly bear heavy burdens

and have the stick or whip laid on it.

He will think only of water and grass

and understand nothing else.

Because he slandered this sutra,

this is the punishment he will incur.

Or he will be born as a jackal

who comes to the village,

body all scabs and sores,

having only one eye,

by the boys

beaten and cuffed,

suffering grief and pain,

sometimes to the point of death.

And after he has died

he will be born again in the body of a serpent,

long and huge in size,

measuring five hundred yojanas,

deaf, witless, without feet,

slithering along on his belly,

with little creatures

biting and feeding on him,

day and night undergoing hardship,

never knowing rest.

Because he slandered this sutra,

this is the punishment he will incur.

If he should become a human being,

his faculties will be blighted and dull,

he will be puny, vile, bent, crippled,

blind, deaf, hunchbacked.

The things he says

people will not believe,

the breath from his mouth will be constantly foul,

he will be possessed by devils,

poor and lowly,

ordered around by others,

plagued by many ailments, thin and gaunt,

having no one to turn to.

Though he attached himself to others,

they would never think of him;

though he might gain something,

he would at once lose or forget it.

Though he might practice the art of medicine

and by its methods cure someone's disease,

the person would grow sicker from some other malady

and perhaps in the end would die.

If he himself had an illness,

no one would aid or nurse him,

and though he took good medicine,

it would only make his condition worse.

If others should turn against him,

he would find himself plundered and robbed.

His sins would be such

that they would bring unexpected disaster on him.

A sinful person of this sort

will never see the Buddha,

the king of the many sages,

preaching the Law, teaching and converting.

A sinful person of this sort

will constantly be born amid difficulties,

crazed, deaf, confused in mind,

and never will hear the Law.

For countless kalpas

numerous as Ganges sands

he will at birth become deaf and dumb,

his faculties impaired,

will constantly dwell in hell,

strolling in it as though it were a garden,

and the other evil paths of existence

he will look on as his own home.

Camel, donkey, pig, dog-

these will be the forms he will take on.

Because he slandered this sutra,

this is the punishment he will incur.

If he should become a human being,

he will be deaf, blind, dumb.

Poverty, want, all kinds of decay

will be his adornment;

water blisters, diabetes,

scabs, sores, ulcers,

maladies such as these

will be his garments.

His body will always smell bad,

filthy and impure.

Deeply attached to views of self,

he will grow in anger and hatred;

aflame with licentious desires,

he will not spurn even birds or beasts.

Because he slandered this sutra,

this is the punishment he will incur.

I tell you, Shariputra,

if I were to describe the punishments that fall

on persons who slander this sutra,

I could exhaust a kalpa and never come to the end.

For this reason

I expressly say to you,

do not preach this sutra

to persons who are without wisdom.

But if there are those of keen capacities,

wise and understanding,

of much learning and strong memory,

who seek the Buddha way,

then to persons such as this

it is permissible to preach it.

If there are persons who have seen

hundreds and thousands and millions of Buddhas,

have planted many good roots

and are firm and deeply committed in mind,

then to persons such as this

it is permissible to preach it.

If there are persons who are diligent,

constantly cultivating a compassionate mind,

not begrudging life or limb,

then it is permissible to preach it.

If there are persons who are respectful, reverent

with minds set on nothing else,

who separate themselves from common folly

to live alone among mountains and waters,

then to persons such as this

it is permissible to preach it.

Again, Shariputra,

if you see a person

who thrusts aside evil friends

and associates with good companions,

then to a person such as this

it is permissible to preach it.

If you see a son of the Buddha

observing the precepts, clean and spotless

as a pure bright gem,

seeking the Great Vehicle Sutra,

then to a person such as this

it is permissible to preach it.

If a person is without anger,

upright and gentle in nature,

constantly pitying all beings,

respectful and reverent to the Buddhas,

then to a person such as this

it is permissible to preach it.

Again, if a son of the Buddha

in the midst of the great assembly

should with a pure mind

employ various causes and conditions,

similes, parables, and other expressions

to preach the Law in unhindered fashion,

to a person such as this

it is permissible to preach it.

If there are monks who,

for the sake of comprehensive wisdom,

seek the Law in every direction,

pressing palms together, gratefully accepting,

desiring only to accept and embrace

the sutra of the Great Vehicle

and not accepting a single verse

of the other sutras,

to persons such as this

it is permissible to preach it.

If a person, earnest in mind,

seeks this sutra

as though he were seeking the Buddha's relics,

and having gained and gratefully accepted it,

that person shows no intention

of seeking other sutras

and has never once given thought

to the writings of the non-Buddhist doctrines,

to a person such as this

it is permissible to preach it.

I tell you Shariputra,

if I described all the characteristics

of those who seek the Buddha way,

I could exhaust a kalpa and never be done.

Persons of this type

are capable of believing and understanding.

Therefore for them you should preach

the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law.

Chapter Four: Belief and Understanding

At that time, when the men of lifelong wisdom Subhuti, Mahakatyayana, Mahakashyapa, and Mahamaudgalyayana heard from the Buddha a Law that they had never known before, and heard the World-Honored One prophesy that Shariputra would attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, their minds were moved as seldom before and danced for joy. At once they rose from their seats, arranged their robes, bared their right shoulders and bowed their right knees to the ground. Pressing their palms together with a single mind, they bent their bodies in a gesture of respect and, gazing up in reverence at the face of the Honored One, said to the Buddha: "We stand at the head of the monks and are all of us old and decrepit. We believed that we had already attained nirvana and that we were incapable of doing more, and so we never sought to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

"It has been a long time since the World-Honored One first began to expound the Law. During that time we have sat in our seats, our bodies weary and inert, meditating solely on the concepts of emptiness, non-form, and non-action. But as to the pleasures and transcendental power of the Law of the bodhisattva or the purifying of Buddha lands and the salvation of living beings-these our minds took no joy in. Why is this? Because the World-Honored One had made it possible for us to transcend the threefold world and to attain the enlightenment of nirvana.

"Moreover, we are old and decrepit. When we heard of this anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, which the Buddha uses to teach and convert the bodhisattvas, our minds were not fill ed with any thought of joy or approval. But now in the presence of the Buddha we have heard this voice-hearer receive a prophecy that he will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi and our minds are greatly delighted. We have gained what we have never before. Suddenly we have been able to hear a Law that is rarely encountered, something we never expected up to now, and we look upon ourselves as profoundly fortunate. We have gained great goodness and benefit, an immeasurably rare jewel, something unsought that came of itself.

"World-Honored One, we would be pleased now to employ a parable to make clear our meaning. Suppose there was a man, still young in years, who abandoned his father, ran away, and lived for a long time in another land, for perhaps ten, twenty, or even fifty years. As he drew older, he found himself increasingly poor and in want. He hurried about in every direction, seeking clothing and food, wandering farther and farther a field until by chance he turned his steps in the direction of his homeland.

"The father meanwhile had been searching for his son without success and had taken up residence in a certain city. The father's household was very wealthy, with immeasurable riches and treasures. Gold, silver, lapis Lazuli, coral, amber, and crystal beads all filled and overflowed from his storehouses. He had many grooms and menservants, clerks and attendants, and elephants, horses, carriages, oxen, and goats beyond number. He engaged in profitable ventures at home and in all the lands around, and also had dealings with many merchants and traveling vendors.

"At this time the impoverished son wandered from village to village, passing through various lands and towns, till at last he came to the city where his father was residing. The father thought constantly of his son, but though he had been parted from him for over fifty years, he had never told anyone else about the matter. He merely pondered to himself, his heart filed with regret and longing. He thought to himself that he was old and decrepit. He had great wealth and possessions, gold silver and rare treasures that filled and overflowed from his storehouses, but he had no son, so that if one day he should die, the wealth and possessions would be scattered and lost, for there was no one to entrust them to.

"This was the reason he constantly thought so earnestly of his son. And he also had this thought: If I could find my son and entrust my wealth and possessions to him, then I could feel contented and easy in mind and would have no more worries.

"World-Honored One, at that time the impoverished son drifted from one kind of employment to another until he came by chance to his father's house. He stood by the side of the gate, gazing far off at his father, who was seated on a lion throne, his legs supported by a jeweled footrest, while Brahmans, noblemen, and householders, uniformly deferential, surrounded him. Festoons of pearls worth thousands or tens of thousands adorned his body, and clerks, grooms and menservants holding white fly whisks stood in attendance to left and right. A jeweled canopy covered him, with flowered banners hanging from it, perfumed water had been sprinkled over the ground, heaps of rare flowers were scatted about, and precious objects were ranged here and there, brought out, put away, handed over and received. Such were the many different types of adornments, the emblems of prerogative and marks of distinction.

"When the impoverished son saw how great was his father's power and authority, he was filled with fear and awe and regretted he had ever come to such a place. Secretly he thought to himself; This must be some king, or one who is equal to a king. This is not the sort of place where I can hire out my labor and gain a living. It would be better to go to some poor village where, if I work hard, I will find a place and can easily earn food and clothing. If I stay here for long, I may be seized and pressed into service! Having thought in this way, he raced from the spot.

At that time the rich old man, seated on his lion throne, spied his son and recognized him immediately. His heart was filled with great joy and at once he thought: Now I have someone to entrust my storehouses of wealth and possessions to! My thoughts have constantly been with this son of mine but I had no way of seeing him. Now suddenly he had appeared of himself, which is exactly what I would have wished. Though I am old and decrepit, I still care what becomes of my belongings.

"Thereupon he dispatched a bystander to go after the son as quickly as possible and bring him back. At that time the messenger raced swiftly after the son and laid hold of him. The impoverished son, alarmed and fearful, cried out in an angry voice, 'I have done nothing wrong! Why am I being seized?' But the messenger held on to him more tightly than ever and forcibly dragged him back.

"At that time the son thought to himself, I have committed no crime and yet I am taken prisoner. Surely I am going to be put to death! He was more terrified than ever and sank to the ground, fainting with despair.

"The father, observing this from a distance, spoke to the messenger, saying, 'I have no need of this man. Don't force him to come here, but sprinkle cold water on his face so he will regain his senses. Then say nothing more to him!'

"Why did he do that? Because the father knew that his son was of humble outlook an ambition, and that his own rich and eminent position would be difficult for the son to accept. He knew very well that this was his son, but as a form of expedient means he refrained from saying to anyone, 'this is my son.'

"The messenger said to the son, "I am releasing you now. You may go anywhere you wish.' The impoverished son was delighted, having gained what he had not had before, and picked himself up from the ground and went off to the poor village in order to look for food and clothing.

"At that time the rich man, hoping to entice his son back again, decided to employ an expedient means and send two men as secret messengers, men who were lean and haggard and had no imposing appearance. 'Go seek out that poor man and approach him casually. Tell him you know a place where he can earn twice the regular wage. If he agrees to the arrangement, then bring him here and put him to work. If he asks what sort of work he will be put to, say that he will be employed to clear away excrement, and that the two of you will be working with him.'

"The two messengers then set out at once to find the poor man, and when they had done so, spoke to him as they had been instructed. At that time the impoverished son asked for an advance on his wages and then went with the men to help clear away excrement.

When the father saw his son, he pitied and wondered at him. Another day, when he was gazing out the window, he saw his son in the distance, his body thin and haggard, filthy with excrement, dirt, sweat and defilement. The father immediately took off his necklaces, his soft fine garments and his other adornments and put on clothes that were ragged and soiled. He smeared dirt on his body, took in his right hand a utensil for removing excrement, and assuming a gruff manner, spoke to the laborers, saying, 'Keep at your work! You mustn't be lazy!' By employing this expedient means, he was able to approach his son.

"Later he spoke to his son again, saying, 'Now then, young man! You must keep on at this work and not leave me anymore. I will increase your wages, and whatever you need in the way of utensils, rice, flour, salt, vinegar, and the like you should be in no worry about. I have an old servant I can lend you when you need him. You may set your mind at ease. I will be like a father to you, so have no more worries. Why do I say this? Because I am well along in years, but you are still young and sturdy. When you are at work, you are never deceitful or lazy or speak angry or resentful words. You don't seem to have any faults of that kind the way my other workers do. From now on, you will be like my own son.' And the rich man proceeded to select a name and assign it to the man as though he were his child.

"At this time the impoverished son, though he was delighted at such treatment, still thought of himself as a person of humble station who was in the employ of another. Therefore the rich man kept him clearing away excrement for the next twenty years. By the end of this time, the son felt that he was understood and trusted, and he could come and go at ease, but he continued to live in the same place as before.

"World-Honored One, at that time the rich man fell ill and knew he would die before long. He spoke to his impoverished son, saying, "I now have great quantities of gold, silver, and rare treasures that fill and overflow from my storehouses. You are to take complete charge of the amounts I have and of what is to be handed out and gathered in. This is what I have in mind, and I want you to carry out my wishes. Why is this? Because from now on, you and I will not behave as two different persons. So you must keep your wits about you and see that there are no mistakes or losses.'

"At that time the impoverished son, having received these instructions, took over the surveillance of all the goods, and gold, silver and rare treasures, and the various storehouses, but never thought of appropriated for himself so much as the cost of a single meal. He continued to live where he had before, unable to cease thinking of himself as mean and lowly.

"After some time had passed, the farther perceived that his son was bit by bit becoming more self-assured and magnanimous in outlook, that he was determined to accomplish great things and despised his former low opinion of himself. Realizing that his own end was approaching, he ordered his son to arrange a meeting with his relatives and the king of the country, the high ministers, and the noblemen and householders. When they were all gathered together, he proceeded to make this announcement: "Gentlemen, you should know that this is my son, who was born to me. In such-and-such a city he abandoned me and ran away, and for over fifty years he wandered about suffering hardship. His original name is such-and-such, and my name is such-and-such. In the past, when I was still living in my native city, I worried about him and so I set out in search of him. Sometime after, I suddenly chanced to meet up with him. This is the truth my son, and I will in truth am his father. Now everything that belongs to me, all my wealth and possessions, shall belong entirely to this son of mine. Matters of outlay and income that have occurred in the past this son of mine is familiar with."

"World-Honored One, when the impoverished son heard these words of his father, he was filled with great joy, having gained what he never had before, and he thought to himself, I originally had no mind to covet or seek such things. Yet now these stores of treasures have come of their own accord!

"World-Honored One, this old man with his great riches is none other than the Thus Come One, and we are all like the Buddha's sons. The Thus Come One constantly tells us that we are his sons. But because of the three sufferings, World-Honored One, in the midst of birth and death we undergo burning anxieties, delusions, and ignorance, delighting in and clinging to lesser doctrines. But today the World-Honored One causes us to ponder carefully, to cast aside such doctrines, the filth of frivolous debate.

"We were diligent and exerted ourselves in this matter until we had attained nirvana, which is like one day's wages. And once we had attained it, our hearts were filled with great joy and we considered that this was enough. At once we said to ourselves, "Because we have been diligent and exerted ourselves with regard to the Buddhist Law, we have gained this breadth and wealth of understanding."

"But the World-Honored One, knowing from past times how our minds cling to unworthy desires and delight in lesser doctrines, pardoned us and let us be, not trying to explain to us by saying, You will come to possess the insight of the Thus Come One, your portion of the store of treasures!' Instead the World-Honored One employed the power of expedient means, preaching to us the wisdom of the Thus Come One in such a way that we might heed the Buddha and attain nirvana, which is only day's wages. And because we considered this to be a great gain, we had no wish to pursue the Great Vehicle.

"In addition, though we expounded and set forth the Buddha wisdom for the sake of the Bodhisattvas, we ourselves did not aspire to attain it. Why do I say this? Because the Buddha, knowing that our minds delight in lesser doctrines, employed the power of expedient means to preach in a way that was appropriate for us. So we did not know that we were in truth the sons of the Buddha. But now at least we know it.

"With regard to the Buddha wisdom, the World-Honored One is never begrudging. Why do I say this? From times past we have in truth been the sons of the Buddha, but we delighted in nothing but lesser doctrines. If we had the kind of mind that delighted in great ones, than the Buddha would have preached the Law of the Great Vehicle for us.

"Now in this sutra the Buddha expounds only the one vehicle. And in the past, when in the presence of the bodhisattvas he disparaged the voice-hearers as those who delight in a lesser doctrine, the Buddha was in fact employing the Great Vehicle to teach and convert us. Therefore we say that, though originally we had no mind to covet or seek such a thing, now the great treasure of the Dharma King has come to us of its own accord. It is something that the sons of the Buddha have a right to acquire, and now they have acquired all of it."

At that time, Mahakashyapa, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

We today have heard

the Buddha's voice teaching

and we dance for joy,

having gained what we never had before.

The Buddha declares that the voice-hearers

will be able to attain Buddhahood.

This cluster of unsurpassed jewels

has come to us unsought.

It is like the case of a boy who.

When still young without understanding,

abandoned his father and ran away,

going far off to another land,

drifting from one country to another

for over fifty years,

his father, distressed in thought,

searched for him in every direction

till, worn out with searching,

he halted in a certain city.

There he built a dwelling

where he could indulge the five desires.

His house was large and costly,

with quantities of gold, silver,

seashell, agate,

pearls, lapis lazuli,

elephants, horses, oxen goats,

palanquins, and carriages,

fields for farming, menservants, grooms,

and other people in great number.

He engaged in profitable ventures

at home and in all the lands around,

and had merchants and traveling vendors

stationed everywhere.

Thousands, ten thousands, millions

surrounded him and paid reverence;

he enjoyed the constant favor

and consideration of the ruler.

The officials and power clans

all joined in paying him honor,

and those who for one reason or another

flocked about him were many.

Such was his vast wealth,

the great power and influence he possessed.

But as he grew old an decrepit

he recalled his son with greater distress than ever,

day and night thinking of nothing else:

"Now the time of my death draws hear.

Over fifty years have passed

since that foolish boy abandoned me.

My storehouses full of goods-

what will become of them?"

At this time the impoverished son

was searching for food and clothing,

going from village to village,

from country to country,

sometimes finding something,

other times finding nothing,

starving and emaciated,

his body broken out in sores and ring worm.

As he moved from place to place

he arrived in time at the city where his father lived,

shifting from one job to another

until he came to his father's house.

At that time the rich man

had spread a large jeweled canopy

inside his gate

and was seated on a lion throne,

surrounded by his dependents

and various attendants and guards.

Some were counting out

gold, silver, and precious objects,

or recording in ledgers

the outlay and income of wealth.

The impoverished son, observing

how eminent and distinguished His father was,

supposed he must be the king of a country

or the equal of a king.

Alarmed and full of wonder,

he asked himself why he had come here.

Secretly he thought to himself,

if I linger here for long

I will perhaps be seized

and pressed into service!

Once this thought had occurred to him,

he raced from the spot,

and inquiring where there was a poor village,

went there in hopes of gaining employment.

The rich man at the time,

seated on his lion throne,

was his son in the distance

and silently recognized who he was.

Immediately he instructed a messenger

to hurry after him and bring him back.

The impoverished son, crying out in terror,

sank to the ground in distress.

"This man has seized me

and is surely going to put me to death!

To think that my search for food and clothing

should bring me to this!"

The rich man knew that his son

was ignorant and self-abasing.

"He will never believe my words,

will never believe I am his father."

So he employed an expedient means,

sending some other men to the son,

a one-eyed man, another puny and uncouth,

completely lacking in imposing appearance,

saying, "Speak to him

and tell him I will employ him

to remove excrement and filth,

and will pay him twice the regular wage."

When the impoverished son heard this

he was delighted and came with the messengers

and worked to clear away excrement and filth

and clean the rooms of the house.

From the window the rich man

would constantly observe his son,

thinking how his son was ignorant and self-abasing

and delighted in such menial labor.

At such times the rich man

would put on dirty ragged clothing,

take in hand a utensil for removing excrement

and go to where his son was,

using this expedient means to approach him,

encouraging him to work diligently.

"I have increased your wages

and given you oil to rub on your feet.

I will see that you have plenty to eat and drink,

mats and bedding that are thick and warm."

At times he would speak severely:

"You must work hard!"

Or again he will say in a gentle voice,

"You are like a son to me."

The rich man, being wise,

gradually permitted his son to come and go in the house.

After twenty years had passed,

he put him in charge of household affairs,

showing him his gold, silver,

pearls, crystal,

and the other things that were handed out or gathered in,

so that he would understand all about them,

though the son continued to live outside the gate,

sleeping in a hut of grass,

for he looked upon himself as poor,

thinking, "None of these things are mine."

The father knew that his son's outlook

was gradually becoming broader and more magnanimous,

and wishing to hand over his wealth and goods,

he called together his relatives,

the king of the country and the high ministers,

the noblemen and householders.

In the presence of this great assembly

he declared, "This is my son

who abandoned me and wandered abroad

for a period of fifty years.

Since I found him again,

twenty years have gone by.

Long ago, in such-and-such a city,

when I lost my son,

I traveled all around searching for him

until eventually I came here.

All that I possess,

my house and people,

I hand over entirely to him

so he may do with them as he wishes."

The son thought now in the past he had been poor,

humble and self-abasing in outlook,

but now he had received from his father

this huge bequest of rare treasures,

along with the father's house

and all his wealth and goods.

He was filled with great joy,

having gained what he never had before.

The Buddha too is like this.

He knows our fondness for the petty,

and so he never told us,

"You can attain Buddhahood."

Instead he explained to us

how we could become free of outflows,

carry out the Lesser Vehicle

and be voice-hearer disciples.

Then the Buddha commanded us

to preach the supreme way

and explain that those who practice this

will be able to attain Buddhahood.

We received the Buddha's teaching

and for the sake of the great bodhisattvas

made use of causes and conditions,

various similes and parables,

a variety of words and phrases,

to preach the unsurpassed way.

When the sons of the Buddha

heard the Law through us,

day and night they pondered,

diligently and with effort practicing it.

At that time the Buddha

bestowed prophecies on them, saying,

"In a future existence

you will be able to attain Buddhahood."

The various Buddhas

in their Law of the secret storehouse

set forth the true facts

for the sake of Bodhisattvas alone;

it is not for our sake

that they expound the true essentials.

The case is like that of the impoverished son

who was able to approach his father.

Though he knew of his father's possessions,

at heart he had no longing to appropriate them.

Thus, although we preached

the treasure storehouse of the Law of the Buddha,

we did not seek to attain it ourselves,

and in this way our case is similar.

We sought to wipe out what was within ourselves,

believing that was sufficient.

We understood only this one concern

and knew nothing of other matters.

Though we might hear

or purifying the Buddha lands,

of teaching and converting living beings,

we took no delight in such things.

Why is this?

Because all phenomena

are uniformly empty, tranquil,

without birth, without extinction,

without bigness, without smallness,

without outflows, without action.

And when one ponders in this way,

one can feel no delight or joy.

Through the long night,

with regard to the Buddha wisdom

we were without greed, without attachment,

without any desire to possess it.

We believed that with regard to the Law

we possessed the ultimate.

Through the long night

we practiced the Law of emptiness,

gaining release from the threefold world

and its burden of suffering and care.

We dwelt in our final existence,

in the nirvana of remainder.

Through the teaching and conversion of the Buddha

we gained a way that was not vain,

and in doing so we repaid

the debt we owed to the Buddha's kindness.

Although for the sake

of the Buddha's sons

we preached the Law of the Bodhisattva,

urging them to seek the Buddha way,

yet we ourselves

never aspired to that Law.

We were thus abandoned by our guide and teacher

because he had observed what was in our minds.

From the first he never encouraged us

or spoke to us of true benefit.

He was like the rich man

who knew that his son's ambitions were lowly

and who used the power of expedient means

to soften and mold his son's mind

so that later he could entrust to him

all his wealth and treasure.

The Buddha is like this,

resorting to a rare course of action.

Knowing that some have a fondness for the petty,

he uses the power of expedient means

to mold and temper their minds,

and only then teaches them the great wisdom.

Today we have gained

what we never had before;

what we previously never hoped for

has now come to us of itself.

We are like the impoverished son

who gained immeasurable treasure.

World-Honored One, now

we have gained the way, gained its fruit;

through the Law of no outflows

we have gained the undefiled eye.

Through the long night

we observed the pure precepts of the Buddha

and today for the first time

we have gained the fruit, the recompense.

In the Law of the Dharma King

we have long carried out Brahma practices;

now we obtain the state of no outflows,

the great unsurpassed fruit.

Now we have become

voice-hearers in truth,

for we will take the voice of the Buddha way

and cause it to be heard by all.

Now we have become

true arhats,

for everywhere among

the heavenly and human beings, devils and Brahmas

of the various worlds

we deserve to receive offerings.

The World-Honored One in his great mercy

makes use of a rare thing,

in pity and compassion teaching and converting,

bringing benefit to us.

In numberless millions of kalpas

who could ever repay him?

Though we offer him our hands and feet,

bow our heads in respectful obeisance,

and present all manners of offerings,

none of us could we pay him.

Though we lift him on the crown of our heads,

bear him on our two shoulders

for kalpas numerous as Ganges sands

reverence him with all our hearts;

though we come with delicate foods,

with countless jeweled robes,

with articles of bedding,

various kinds of potions and medicines;

with ox-head sandalwood

and all kinds of rare gems,

construct memorial towers

and spread the ground with jeweled robes;

though we were to do all this

by way of offering

for kalpas numerous as Ganges sands,

still we could not repay him.

The Buddhas possess rarely known,

immeasurable, boundless,

unimaginable great

transcendental powers.

Free of outflows, free of action,

these kings of the doctrines

for the sake of the humble and lowly

exercise patience in these matters;

to common mortals attached to appearances

they preach in accordance with what is appropriate.

With regard to the Law, the Buddhas

are able to exercise complete freedom.

They understand the various desires and joys

of living beings,

as well as their aims and abilities,

and can adjust to what they are capable of,

employing innumerable similes

to expound the Law for them.

Utilizing the good roots

laid down by living beings in previous existences,

distinguishing between those whose roots are mature

and those whose roots are not yet mature,

they exercise various calculation,

discriminations and perceptions,

and then take the one vehicle way and

in accordance with what is appropriate, preach it as three.

Chapter Five: The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dharma King, destroyer of being,

when he appears in the world

accords with the desires of living beings,

preaching the Law in a variety of ways.

The Thus Come One, worthy of honor and reverence,

is profound and far-reaching in wisdom.

For long he remained silent regarding the essential,

in no hurry to speak at once.

If those who are wise hear of it

they can believe and understand it,

but those without wisdom will have doubts and regrets

and for all time will remain in error.

For this reason, Kashyapa,

he adjusts to the person to gain a correct view.

Kashyapa, you should understand

that it is like a great cloud

that rises up in the world

and covers it all over.

This beneficent cloud is laden with moisture,

the lightening gleams and flashes,

and the sound of thunder reverberates afar,

causing the multitude to rejoice.

The sun's rays are veiled and hidden,

a clear coolness comes over the land;

masses of darkness descend and spread-

you can almost touch them.

The rain falls everywhere,

coming down on all four sides,

its flow and saturation are measureless,

reaching to every area of the earth,

to the ravines and valleys of the mountains and streams,

to the remote and secluded places where grow

plants, bushes, medicinal herbs,

trees large and small,

a hundred grains, rice seedlings,

sugar cane, grape vines.

The rain moistens them all,

none ails to receive its full share,

the parched ground is everywhere watered,

herbs and trees alike grow lush.

What falls from the cloud

is water of a single flavor,

but the plants and trees, thickets and groves,

each accept the moisture that is appropriate to its portion.

All the various trees,

whether superior, middling or inferior,

take that is fitting for large or small

and each is enabled to sprout and grow.

Root, stem, limb, leaf,

the glow and hue of flower and fruit-

one rain extends to them

and all are able to become fresh and glossy,

whether their allotment

of substance, form and nature is large or small,

the moistening they receive is one,

but each grows and flourishes in its own way.

The Buddha is like this

when he appears in the world,

comparable to a great cloud

that covers all things everywhere,

Having appeared in the world,

for the sake of living beings

he makes distinctions in expounding

the truth regarding phenomena.

The great sage, the World-Honored One,

to heavenly and human beings,

in the midst of all beings,

pronounces these words:

I am the Thus Come One,

most honored of two-legged beings.

I appear in the world

like a great cloud

that showers moisture upon

all the dry and withered living beings,

so that all are able to escape suffering,

gain the joy of peace and security,

the joys of this world

and the joy of nirvana.

All you heavenly and human beings of this assembly,

listen carefully and with one mind!

All of you should gather around

and observe the one of unexcelled honor.

A am the World-Honored One,

none can rival me.

In order to bring peace and security to living beings

I have appeared it the world

and for the sake of this great assembly

I preach the sweet dew of the pure Law.

This Law is of a single flavor,

that of emancipation, nirvana.

With a single wonderful sound

I expound and unfold its meaning;

constantly for the sake of the Great Vehicle

I create causes and conditions.

I look upon all things

as being universally equal,

I have no mind to favor this or that,

to love one or hate another.

I am without greed or attachment

and without limitation or hindrance.

At all times, for all things

I preach the Law equally;

as I would for a single person,

that same way I do for numerous persons,

constantly I expound and preach the Law,

never have I done anything else,

coming, going, sitting, standing,

never to the end growing weary or disheartened.

I bring fullness and satisfaction to the world,

like rain that spreads its moisture everywhere,

Eminent and lowly, superior and inferior,

observers of precepts, violators of precepts,

those fully endowed with proper demeanor,

those not fully endowed,

those of correct views, of erroneous views,

of keen capacity, of dull capacity-

I cause the Dharma rain on all equally,

never lax or neglectful.

When all the various living beings

hear my Law,

they receive it according to their power,

dwelling in their different environments.

Some inhabit the realm of human and heavenly beings,

of wheel-turning sage kings,

Shakra, Brahma and the other kings-

these are the inferior medicinal herbs.

Some understand the Law of no outflows,

are able to attain nirvana,

to acquire the six transcendental powers

and gain in particular the three understandings,

or live alone in mountain forests,

constantly practicing meditation

and gaining the enlightenment of pratyekabuddhas-

these are the middling medicinal herbs.

Still others seek the place of the World-Honored One,

convinced that they can become Buddhas,

putting forth diligent effort and practicing meditation-

these are the superior medicinal herbs.

Again there are sons of the Buddha

who devote their minds solely to the Buddha way,

constantly practicing mercy and compassion,

knowing that they themselves will attain Buddhahood,

certain of it and never doubting-

these I call small trees.

Those who abide in peace in their transcendental powers,

turning the wheel of non-regression,

saving innumerable millions

of hundreds of thousands of living beings-

bodhisattvas such as these

I call large trees.

The equality of the Buddha's preaching

is like a rain of a single flavor,

but depending upon the nature of the living being,

the way in which it is received is not uniform,

just as the various plants and trees

each receive the moisture in a different manner.

The Buddha employs this parable

as an excellent means to open up and reveal the matter,

using various kinds of words and phrases

and expounding the single Law,

but in terms of the Buddha wisdom

this is no more than one drop of the ocean.

I rain down the Dharma rain,

filling the whole world,

and this single-flavored Dharma

is practiced by each according to the individual's power.

It is like those thickets and groves,

medicinal herbs and trees

which, according to whether they are large or small,

bit by bit grow lush and beautiful.

The Law of the Buddhas

is constantly of a single flavor,

causing the many worlds

to attain full satisfaction everywhere;

by practicing gradually and stage by stage,

all beings can gain the fruits of the way.

The voice-hearers and pratyekabuddhas

inhabit the mountain forests,

dwelling in their final existence,

hearing the Law and gaining its fruits-

we may call them medicinal herbs

that grow and mature each in its own way,

if there are Bodhisattvas

who are steadfast and firm in wisdom,

who fully comprehend the threefold world

and seek the supreme vehicle,

these we call the small trees

that achieve growth and maturity.

Again there are those who dwell in meditation,

who have gained the strength of transcendental powers,

have heard of the emptiness of all phenomena,

greatly rejoice in it in their minds

and emit countless rays of light

to save living beings-

these we call large trees

that have gained growth and maturity

In this way, Kashyapa,

the Law preached by the Buddha

is comparable to a great cloud

which, with a single-flavored rain,

moistens human flowers

so that each is able to bear fruit.

Kashyapa, you should understand

that through various causes and conditions,

various kinds of simile and parable,

I open up and reveal the Buddha way.

This is an expedient means I employ

and the same is true of the other Budd has.

Now for you and the others

I preach the utmost truth:

none in the Multitude of voice-hearers

has entered the stage of extinction.

What you are practicing

is the bodhisattva way,

and as you gradually advance in practice and learning

you are all certain to attain Buddhahood.

Chapter Six: Bestowal of Prophecy

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

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

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

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

I announce this to the monks:

when I employ the Buddha eye

to observe Kashyapa here,

I see that in a future existence,

after innumerable kalpas have passed,

he will be able to attain Buddhahood.

In future existences

he will offer alms and enter the presence

of three thousand billion

Buddhas, World-Honored Ones.

For the sake of the Buddha wisdom

he will carry out Brahma practices meticulously

and will offer alms to the unexcelled ones,

the most honored of two-legged beings.

After he has done so. And has practiced

all the unsurpassed types of wisdom,

in his final incarnation

he will be able to become a Buddha.

His land will be pure and clean,

the ground of lapis lazuli.

Many jeweled trees

will line the roadsides,

with golden ropes to mark the roads,

and those who see it will rejoice.

It will constantly emit a pleasing fragrance,

with heaps of rare flowers scattered around

and many kinds of strange and wonderful things

for its adornment.

The land will be level and smooth,

without hills or depressions.

The multitude of bodhisattvas

will be beyond calculation,

their minds subdued and gentle,

having attained great transcendental powers,

and they will uphold and embrace

the Great Vehicle scriptures of the Buddhas.

The multitude of voice-hearers

will be free of outflows, in their last incarnation,

sons of the Dharma King,

and their number too will be beyond calculation-

even when one looks with the heavenly eye

one cannot determine their number.

This Buddha will have a life span

of twelve small kalpas,

and his Counterfeit Law

for twenty small kalpas.

Light Bright World-Honored One

will be of this description.

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

Great hero and stalwart, World-Honored One,

Dharma King of the Shakyas,

because you have pity on us,

favor us with the Buddha voice!

If, because you understand our innermost minds,

it would be like sweet dew bathing us,

washing away fever and imparting coolness.

Suppose that someone coming from a land of famine

should suddenly encounter a great king's feast.

His heart still filled with doubt and fear,

he would not dare to eat the food at once,

but if he were instructed by the king to do so,

then he would venture to eat.

We now are like such a person,

for whenever we recall the errors of the Lesser Vehicle,

we do not know what we should do

to gain the Buddha's unsurpassed wisdom.

Though we hear the Buddha's voice

telling us that we will attain Buddhahood,

in our hearts we still harbor anxiety and fear,

like that person who did not dare to eat.

But now if the Buddha's prophecy is bestowed upon us,

then joy and peace of mind will quickly be ours.

Great hero and stalwart, World-Honored One,

your constant desire to set the world at ease.

We beg you to bestow such a prophecy on us,

as you would instruct a starving person to eat.

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

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

You multitude of monks,

I now announce this to you.

All of you with a single mind

should hear what I say,

My major disciple

Subhuti

is destined to become a Buddha

with the title Rare Form.

He will offer alms to countless

tens of thousands and millions of Buddhas.

By following the practices of the Buddhas

he will gradually fulfill the great way,

and in his final incarnation

will acquire the thirty-two features.

He will be imposing, exceptional, wonderful,

like a jeweled mountain.

His Buddha land

will be foremost in adornment and purity;

no living beings who sees it

will fail to love and delight in it.

There in the midst, that Buddha

will save unreckonable multitudes.

In that Buddha's Law

will be many bodhisattvas,

all of them with keen capacities,

turning the wheel of non-regression.

That land will constantly

be adorned with bodhisattvas.

The multitude of voice-hearers

will be beyond calculation,

all gaining the three understandings

and exercising the six transcendental powers.

They will dwell in the eight emancipations

and possess great authority and virtue.

The Law preached by that Buddha

will manifest immeasurable

transcendental powers and transformations

of a wondrous nature.

Heavenly and human beings

in numbers like the Ganges sands

will all press their palms together,

listen to and receive the Buddha's words.

That Buddha will have a life span

of twelve small kalpas,

his Correct Law will endure in the world

for twenty small kalpas

and his counterfeit Law

for twenty small kalpas.

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

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

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

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

You multitude of monks,

listen all of you with a single mind,

for in what I speak

there is nothing that departs from the truth.

Katyayana here

will give various kinds

of fine and wonderful articles

as offerings to the Buddhas,

and after the Buddhas have entered extinction

he will raise seven-jeweled towers

and present flowers and incense

as offerings to their relics.

And in his final incarnation

he will gain Buddha wisdom

and achieve impartial and correct enlightenment.

His land will be pure and clean

and he will save innumerable

ten thousands of millions of living beings,

and will receive offerings

from all the ten directions,

This Buddha's brilliance

no one will be able to equal.

His Buddha title will be

Jambu Gold Light.

Bodhisattvas and voice-hearers,

cutting off all forms of existence,

countless and immeasurable in number,

will adorn his land.

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

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

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

This disciple of mine,

the great Maudgalyayana,

when he has cast off his present body,

will be able to see eight thousand,

two hundred ten thousand million

Buddhas, World-Honored Ones,

and for the sake of the Buddha way

will offer alms, honor and reverence them.

Where these Buddhas are

he will constantly carry out Brahma practices

and for immeasurable kalpas

will uphold and embrace the Buddha law,

When these Buddhas have passed into extinction

be will raise seven-jeweled towers,

with golden implements to mark the spot for all time

and flowers, incense and music

presented as offerings

in the memorial towers of the Buddhas.

Step by step he will fulfill

all the duties of the bodhisattva way

and in the land called Mind Delight

will be able to become a Buddha

named Tamalapatra

Sandalwood Fragrance.

This Buddha's life span

will be twenty-four kalpas.

Constantly for the sake of heavenly and human beings

he will expound the Buddha way.

Voice-hearers innumerable

as Ganges sands,

with the three understandings and six transcendental powers,

will display great authority and virtue.

Countless bodhisattvas

will be of firm will, diligent in effort,

and with regard to the Buddha wisdom

non will ever retrogress.

After this Buddha has passed into extinction,

his Correct Law will endure

for forty small kalpas,

and his Counterfeit law will be likewise.

My various disciples,

fully endowed with dignity and virtue,

number five hundred,

and every one will receive such a prophecy.

In a future existence

all will be able to attain Buddhahood.

Concerning the causes and conditions of past existences

as they pertain to me and you

I will now preach.

You must listen carefully.

Chapter Seven: The Parable of the Phantom City

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

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

"That would be impossible, World-Honored One."

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

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

When I think of it, in the past,

immeasurable, boundless kalpas ago,

there was a Buddha, most honored of two-legged beings,

named Great Universal Wisdom Excellence.

If a person should use his strength to smash

the ground of the thousand-million-fold world,

should completely crush its earth particles

and reduce them all to powdered ink,

and if when he passed through a thousand lands

he should drop one speck of ink,

and if he continued in this manner

until he had exhausted all the specks of ink,

and if one then took the soil of the lands he had passed

through,

both those he dropped a speck in and those he did not,

and once more ground their earth into dust,

and then took one grain of dust to represent one kalpa-

the number of tiny grains of dust would be less

than the number of kalpas in the past when that Buddha lived.

Since that Buddha passed into extinction,

an immeasurable number of kalpas such as this have passed.

The Thus Come One, through his unhindered wisdom,

knows the time when that Buddha passed into extinction

and his voice-hearers and bodhisattvas

as though he were witnessing that extinction right now.

You monks should understand

that the Buddha wisdom is pure, subtle, wonderful,

without outflows, without hindrance,

reaching to and penetrating immeasurable kalpas.

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

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

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

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

The World-Honored One, of great authority and virtue,

in order to save living beings

spent immeasurable millions of years

and at last succeeded in becoming a Buddha,

all your vows have now been fulfilled-

it is well--no fortune could be greater!

The World-Honored One is vary rarely met with;

having taken his seat, ten small kalpas pass,

his body and his hands and feet

rest in stillness, never moving,

his mind constantly calm and placid,

never in turmoil or disorder.

In the end he attains eternal tranquility and extinction,

resting in the Law of no outflows.

Now as we observe the World-Honored One

in tranquility, having completed the Buddha way,

we gain excellent benefits

and praise and congratulate him with great joy.

Living beings undergo constant suffering and anguish,

benighted, without teacher or guide,

not realizing there is a way to end suffering,

not knowing how to seek emancipation.

Through the long night increasingly they follow evil paths,

reducing the multitude of heavenly beings;

from darkness they enter into darkness,

to the end never hearing the Buddha's name.

But now the Buddha has attained the unexcelled,

the tranquility of the Law of no outflows.

We and the heavenly and human beings

hereby obtain the greatest benefit.

For this reason all of us bow our heads,

dedicate our lives to the one of unexcelled honor.

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

World hero without peer,

you who adorn yourself with a hundred blessings,

you have attained unsurpassed wisdom--

we beg you to preach for the sake of the world.

Save and free us

and other kinds of living beings.

Draw distinctions, enlighten us

and allow us to attain wisdom.

If we can gain Buddhahood,

then all living beings can do likewise.

World-Honored One, you know the thoughts

that living beings hold deep in their minds.

You know the paths they tread

and you know the strength of their wisdom,

their pleasures, the blessings they have cultivated,

the actions they have carried out in past existences,

World-Honored One, all this you know already-

now you must turn the unsurpassed wheel!

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

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

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

Our palaces have a brilliance

never known in the past.

What is the cause of this?

Each of us seeks an answer.

Is it because of the birth of some heavenly being of great virtue,

or because the Buddha has appeared in this world

that this great light

shines everywhere in the ten directions?

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

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

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

World-Honored One, vary rarely met with,

one whom it is difficult to encounter,

endowed with immeasurable blessings,

capable of saving everyone,

great teacher of heavenly and human beings,

you bestow pity and comfort on the world.

Living beings in the ten directions

all receive benefit everywhere.

In the five hundred ten thousand million lands

from which we come,

we have put aside the joy of deep meditation

in order to offer alms to the Buddha,

Because of our good fortune in previous existences

our palaces are very richly adorned.

Now we present them to the World-Honored One,

begging that he be kind enough to accept them.

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

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

World hero, most honored of two-legged beings,

we beg you to expound the Law,

Through the power of your great mercy and compassion,

save living beings in their suffering and anguish!

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

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

What cause is in operation

that such a sign should be manifest?

Our palaces display a brilliance

never known before.

Is it because of the birth of some heavenly being of great virtue,

or because the Buddha has appeared in the world?

We have never seen such a sign

and with a single mind we seek the reason.

Though we must travel a thousand, ten thousand a million lands,

together we will search out the cause of this light.

Likely it is because a Buddha has appeared in the world

to save living beings in their suffering.

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

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

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

Sage lord, heavenly being among heavenly beings,

voiced like the kalavinka bird,

you who pity and comfort living beings,

we now pay honor and reverence.

The World-Honored One is vary rarely met with,

appearing only once in many long ages.

One hundred and eighty kalpas

have passed in vain without a Buddha,

when the three evil paths were everywhere

and the multitude of heavenly beings was reduced in number.

Now the Buddha has appeared in the world

to be an eye for living beings.

The world will hurry to him

and he will save and guard one and all.

He will be a father to living beings,

comforting and benefiting them.

We through the good fortune of past existences,

now we are able to encounter the World-Honored One!

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

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

Great sage, turn the wheel of the Law,

reveal the characteristics of teachings,

save living beings in their suffering and anguish,

allow them to attain great joy.

When living beings hear this Law

they will gain the way or be reborn in heaven;

those in the evil paths will be reduced in number

and those patient in goodness will increase.

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

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

Our palaces

shine with exceeding brilliance.

This cannot be without reason-

it is well we should inquire.

In the past hundred thousand kalpas

such a sign has never been seen.

It is because some heavenly being of great virtue has been born,

or because the Buddha has appeared in the world.

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

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

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

World-Honored One, most difficult to encounter,

destroyer of all earthly desires,

one hundred and thirty kalpas have pass

and now at last we can see you.

Living beings in their hunger and thirst

are made full with the rain of the Dharma.

One such as was never seen in the past,

one of immeasurable wisdom,

like the udumbara flower

today at last appears directly before us.

Our palaces because they receive your light

are wonderfully adorned.

World-Honored One, of great mercy and compassion,

we beg you to accept them.

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

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

We beg the most honored of heavenly and human beings

to turn the wheel of the unsurpassed Law.

Strike the great Dharma drum,

blow the great Dharma conch,

rain down the great Dharma rain all around

to save immeasurable living beings!

We direct all our faith and entreaties to you-

let your profound and far-reaching voice sound out!

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

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

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

Now what is the reason

that our places

glow and shine with such authority and virtue,

adorned as never before?

A wonderful sign of this kind

has never been seen or heard of in the past.

It is because some heavenly being of great virtue has been born,

or because the Buddha has appeared in the world.

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

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

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

How fine, that we may see the Buddhas,

sage and venerable ones who save the world,

capable of rescuing and releasing living beings

from the hell of the threefold world!

Venerable among heavenly and human beings, of universal wisdom,

you pity and have mercy on the mass of burgeoning creatures,

you are capable of opening the gates of sweet dew

and broadly saving one and all.

Formerly, immeasurable kalpas

passed in vain when no Buddha was present.

The time had not yet come for the World-Honored One

to appear,

and all in the ten directions were in constant darkness.

Those in the three evil paths increased in number

and the realm of the asuras flourished;

the multitude of heavenly beings was reduced,

and many when they died fell into the evil paths.

Since no one could attend the Buddha and hear the Law,

constantly people followed ways that were not good

and their physical strength and wisdom

all diminished and declined.

Because of the sinful deeds they had done,

they lost all delight or the thought of delight.

They rested in heretical doctrines

and had no knowledge of good customs or rules.

Unable to be converted by the Buddha,

constantly they fell into the evil paths.

But now you, the Buddha, who will be the eye of the world,

after this long time have at last come forth.

In order to bring pity and comfort to living beings

you have appeared it the world.

You have transcended the world to gain correct enlightenment;

we are filled with delight and admiration.

We and all others in the assembly

rejoice, delighting in what we have never known before.

Our palaces because they receive your light

are wonderfully adorned.

Now we present them to the World-Honored One,

hoping he will have pity and accept them.

We beg that the merit gained through these gifts

may be spread far and wide to everyone,

so that we and other living beings

all together may attain the Buddha way.

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

World-Honored One, turn the wheel of the Law,

strike the Dharma drum of sweet dew,

save living beings in their suffering and anguish,

open up and show us the way to nirvana!

We beg you to accept our entreaties

and with a great, subtle and wonderful sound

to bring pity and comfort by expounding

the Law you have practiced for immeasurable kalpas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Let us suppose there is a stretch of bad road five hundred yojanas long, steep and difficult, wild and deserted, with no inhabitants around, a truly fearful place. And suppose there are a number of people who want to pass over this road so they can reach a place where there are rare treasures. They have a leader, of comprehensive wisdom and keen understanding, who is thoroughly acquainted with this steep road, knows the layout of its passes and defiles, and is prepared to guide the group of people and go with them over this difficult terrain. The group he is leading, after going part way on the road, become disheartened and say to the leader, "We are utterly exhausted and fearful as well. We cannot go any farther. Since there is still such a long distance ahead, we would like now to turn around and go back.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Buddha

sat in the place of practice for ten kalpas,

but the Law of the Buddha did not appear before him

and he could not attain the Buddha way.

The assembly of heavenly gods, dragon kings,

asuras and others

constantly rained down heavenly flowers

as alms offered to that Buddha.

The heavenly beings beat on heavenly drums

and made many kinds of music.

A fragrant wind blew away the withered flowers,

whereupon fresh and beautiful ones rained down.

When ten small kalpas had passed,

then at last he was able to attain the Buddha way.

The heavenly beings and people of the world

in their hearts all felt like dancing.

That Buddha's sixteen sons

all, in company with their followers,

a thousand ten thousand million of them gathered around,

all came to the place of the Buddha,

touching heads to the ground, bowing at the Buddha's feet

and entreating him to turn the wheel of the Law, saying,

"Saintly Lion, let the Dharma rain

fall in full upon us and all others!"

The World-Honored One is very difficult to encounter;

only once in a long time does he appear.

In order to bring enlightenment to the many beings

he shakes and moves the regions all around.

In the worlds in the eastern direction

in five hundred ten thousand million lands

the palaces of the Brahma kings glowed with a light

they had never known in the past.

When the Brahma kings saw this sign

they came in search of the Buddha's place

scattering flowers as a form of offering,

at the same time presenting their palaces,

entreating the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Law

and praising him in verses.

The Buddha knew that the time had not yet come,

and though they entreated, he sat in silence.

In the other three directions and the four directions in between

and in the upper and lower regions, the same occurred,

the Brahma kings scattering flowers, presenting their palaces,

entreating the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Law, saying,

"The World-Honored One is very difficult to encounter.

We beg you in your great mercy and compassion

to open wide the gates of sweet dew

and turn the wheel of the unsurpassed Law."

The World-Honored One, immeasurable in wisdom,

accepted the entreaties of the assembly

and for their sake proclaimed various doctrines,

the four noble truths, the twelve-linked chain of causation,

describing how, from ignorance to old age and death,

all are produced through the cause of birth, saying,

"With regard to these many faults and vexations,

you should understand this about them."

When he expounded this Law,

six hundred ten thousand million trillion beings

were able to exhaust the limits of sufferings,

all attaining the status of arhat.

The second time he preached the Law

a multitude like a thousand Ganges sands

ceased to accept the things of the phenomenal world

and they too were able to become arhats.

Thereafter those who attained the way

were immeasurable in number-

one might calculate for ten thousand million kalpas

and never be able to reckon their extent.

At that time the sixteen princes

left their families and became shramaneras.

All together they entreated that Buddha

to expound the Law of the Great Vehicle, saying,

"We and our attendants

are all certain to attain the Buddha way.

We desire the wisdom eye of foremost purity

such as the World-Honored One possesses."

The Buddha understood their boyish minds

and the actions they had carried out in past existences,

and employing immeasurable causes and conditions

and various similes and parables,

he preached the six paramitas

and matters concerning transcendental powers,

distinguishing the true Law,

the way practiced by bodhisattvas,

preaching this Lotus Sutra

in verses as numerous as the Ganges sands.

When the Buddha had finished preaching the sutra

he entered into meditation in a quiet room,

with a single mind sitting in a single place

for eighty-four thousand kalpas.

The shramaneras knew

the Buddha would not yet emerge from meditation

and so for the assembly of immeasurable millions

they preached the unsurpassed wisdom of the Buddha,

each one sitting in a Dharma seat,

preaching this Great Vehicle sutra.

And after the Buddha had entered peaceful tranquility,

they continued to proclaim, helping to convert others to

the Law.

The living beings saved

by each one of those shramaneras

were equal in number

to six hundred ten thousand million Ganges sands.

After that Buddha had passed into extinction,

those persons who had heard the Law

dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands,

constantly reborn in company with their teachers.

And these sixteen shramaneras,

having fully carried out the Buddha way,

at present are dwelling in the ten directions,

where each has attained correct enlightenment.

The persons who heard the Law at that time

are each in a place where there is one of these Buddhas,

and those who remain at the stage of voice-hearer

are gradually being instructed in the Buddha way.

I myself was numbered among the sixteen

and in the past preached for you.

For this reason I will employ an expedient means

to lead you in the pursuit of Buddha wisdom;

because of these earlier causes and conditions

I now preach the Lotus Sutra.

I will cause you to enter the Buddha way-

be atte√ive and harbor no fear!

Suppose there was a stretch of steep bad road,

in a remote wasteland with many harmful beasts,

a place moreover without water or grass,

one dreaded by people.

A group of countless thousands and ten thousands

wanted to pass over this steep road,

but the road was very long and far-stretching,

extended five hundred yojanas.

At this time there was a leader,

well informed, possessing wisdom,

of clear understanding and determined mind,

capable of saving endangered persons from manifold difficulties.

The members of the group were all weary and disheartened

and said to their leader,

"We are now exhausted with fatigue

and wish at this point to turn around and go back."

The leader thought to himself,

These people are truly pitiful!

Why do the wish to turn back

and miss the many rare treasures ahead?

At that time he thought of an expedient means,

deciding to exercise his transcendental powers.

He conjured up a great walled city

and adorned its mansions,

surrounding them with gardens and groves,

channels of flowing water, ponds and lakes,

with double gates and tall towers and pavilions,

all filled with men and women.

As soon as he had created this illusion,

he comforted the group, saying, "Have no fear-

you can enter this city

and each amuse himself as he pleases."

When the people had entered the city,

they were all overjoyed in heart.

All had a feeling of ease and tranquility,

telling themselves that they had been saved.

When the leader knew they were rested,

he called them together and announced,

"Now you must push forward--

this is nothing more than a phantom city.

I saw that you were weary and exhausted

and wanted to turn back in mid-journey.

Therefore I used the power of expedient means

to conjure up this city for the moment.

Now you must press forward diligently

so that together you may reach the place where the treasure is."

I too do likewise,

acting as a leader to all beings.

I see the seekers of the way

growing disheartened in mid-journey,

unable to pass over the steep road

of birth and death and earthly desires,

and therefore I see the power of expedient means

and preach nirvana to provide them with rest,

saying, "Your sufferings are extinguished,

you have carried out all there is to be done."

When I know they have reached nirvana

and all have attained the stage of arhat,

thin I can call the great assembly together

and preach the true Law for them.

The Buddhas through the power of expedient means

make distinctions and preach three vehicles,

but there is only the single Buddha vehicle--

the other two nirvanas are preached to provide a resting place.

Now I expound the truth for you-

what you have attained is not extinction.

For the sake of the comprehensive wisdom of the Buddha

you must expend great effort and diligence.

If you gain enlightenment in the Law of the Buddha

with its comprehensive wisdom and ten powers

and are endowed with the thirty-two features,

then this will be true extinction.

The Buddhas in their capacity as leaders

preach nirvana to provide a rest.

But when they know you have become rested,

they lead you onward to the Buddha wisdom.

Chapter Eight: Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You monks, listen carefully!

The way followed by the sons of the Buddha,

because they are well learned in expedient means,

is wonderful beyond conception.

They know how most beings delight in a little Law

and are fearful of great wisdom.

Therefore the bodhisattvas

pose as voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas,

employing countless expedient means

to convert the different kinds of living beings.

They proclaim themselves to be voice-hearers

and say they are far removed from the Buddha way,

and so bring emancipation to immeasurable multitudes,

allowing them all to achieve success.

Limited in aspiration, lazy and indolent though the

multitudes are,

bit by bit they are led to the attainment of Buddhahood.

Inwardly, in secret, the sons act as bodhisattvas,

but outwardly the show themselves as voice-hearers.

They seem to be lessening desires out of hatred for birth

and death,

but in truth they are purifying the Buddha lands.

Before the multitude they seem possessed of the three poisons

or manifest the signs of heretical views.

My disciples in this manner

use expedient means to save living beings.

If I were to describe all the different ways,

the many manifestations they display in converting others,

the living beings who heard me

would be doubtful and perplexed in mind.

Now this Purna in the past

diligently practiced the way

under a thousand million Buddhas,

proclaiming and guarding the Law of those Buddhas.

In order to seek out unsurpassed wisdom

he went to where the Buddhas were,

became a leader among their disciples,

one of wide knowledge and wisdom.

He showed no fear in what he expounded

and was able to delight the assembly.

Never was he weary or disheartened

in assisting the work of the Buddhas.

Already he had passed over into great transcendental powers

and possessed the four unlimited kinds of knowledge.

He knew whether the capacities of the multitude were keen

or dull

and constantly preached the pure Law.

He expounded such principles as these,

teaching a multitude of thousands of millions,

causing them to reside in the Great Vehicle Law

and himself purifying the Buddha lands.

And in the future to will offer alms

to immeasurable, countless Buddhas,

protecting, aiding and proclaiming their correct Law

and himself purifying the Buddha lands,

constantly employing various expedient means,

preaching the Law without fear,

saving multitudes beyond calculation,

causing them to realize comprehensive wisdom.

He will offer alms to the Thus Come Ones,

guarding and upholding the treasure storehouse of the Law.

And later he will become a Buddha

known by the name Law Bright.

His land will be called Good and Pure

and will be composed of the seven treasures.

The kalpa will be named Treasure Bright.

The Multitude of bodhisattvas will be very numerous,

numbering immeasurable millions,

all having passed over into great transcendental powers,

endowed with dignity, virtue, strength,

filling the entire land.

Voice-hearers too will be numberless,

with the three understandings and eight emancipations,

having attained the four unlimited kinds of knowledge--

such as these will be monks of the Order. The living beings of that land

will all be divorced from lewd desires.

They will be born in a pure manner by the process

of transformation,

with all the features adorning their bodies.

With Dharma joy and meditation delight to feed upon,

they will have no thought of other food.

There will be no women there

and non of the evil paths of existence.

The monk Purna

has won all these blessings to the fullest

and will acquire a pure land such as this,

with its great multitude of worthies and sages.

Of the countless matters pertaining to it

I have now spoken only in brief.

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

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

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

The monk Kaundinya

will see immeasurable Buddhas

and after asamkhya kalpas have passed

will at last achieve impartial and correct enlightenment.

Constantly he will emit a great bright light,

will be endowed with transcendental powers,

and his name will be known in all ten quarters,

respected by one and all.

Constantly he will preach the unsurpassed way;

therefore he will be named Universal Brightness.

His realm will be pure and clean,

his bodhisattvas brave and spirited.

All will ascend the wonderful towers,

travel to the lands in the ten directions,

in order to offer unsurpassed articles

as gifts to the various Buddhas.

After they have offered these alms

their minds will be filled with great joy

and they will speedily return to their native lands--

such will be their supernatural powers.

The life span of this Buddha will be sixty thousand kalpas,

his Correct Law will endure twice that time,

his Counterfeit Law twice that time again,

and when his Law is extinguished, heavenly and human beings

will grieve.

The five hundred monks

will one by one become Buddhas,

all with the same name, Universal Brightness.

Each will bestow a prophecy on his successor, saying,

"After I have entered extinction,

you, so-and-so, will become a Buddha.

The world in which you carry out conversions

will be like mine today."

The adornment and purity of their lands,

their various transcendental powers,

their bodhisattvas and voice-hearers,

their Correct Law and Counterfeit Law,

the number of kalpas in their life span--

all will be as I have described above.

Kashyapa, now you know the future

of these five hundred who are free in mind.

The remainder of the multitude of voice-hearers

will also be like this.

As for those not in this gathering,

you must expound and preach to them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have heard the sound of this prophecy

assuring us of unsurpassed ease and tranquility;

we rejoice in gaining what we never had before

and make obeisance to the Buddha of measureless wisdom.

Now in the presence of the World-Honored One

we bewail our faults and errors.

Of the Buddha's immeasurable treasure

we have gained only a small portion of nirvana,

and like ignorant and foolish persons

have taken that to be sufficient.

We are like the poor and impoverished man

who went to the house of a close friend.

The house was a very prosperous one

and he served many trays of delicacies.

The friend took a priceless jewel,

sewed it in the lining of the poor man's robe,

gave it without a word and then went away,

and the man, being asleep, knew nothing of it.

After the man had gotten up,

he journeyed here and there to other countries,

seeking food and clothing to keep himself alive,

finding it very difficult to provide for his livelihood

He made do with what little he could get

and never hoped for anything finer,

unaware that in the lining of his robe

he had a priceless jewel.

Later the close friend who had given him the jewel

happened to meet the poor man

and after sharply rebuking him,

showed him the jewel sewed in the robe.

When the poor man saw the jewel

his heart was filled with great joy,

for he was rich, possessed of wealth and goods

sufficient to satisfy the five desires.

We are like that man.

Through the long night the World-Honored One

constantly in his pity teaches and converts us,

causing us to plant the seeds of an unsurpassed aspiration.

But because we are without wisdom,

we are unaware of this, unknowing.

Having gained a small portion of nirvana,

we are satisfied and seek nothing more.

But now the Buddha awakens us,

saying 'This is not really extinction,

when you have gained the Buddha's unsurpassed wisdom,

then that will be true extinction!'

Now we have heard from the Buddha

these prophecies and descriptions of adornment,

and how each in turn will bestow a prophecy on his successor,

and in body and mind we are filled with joy.

Chapter Nine: Prophecies Conferred on Learners and Adepts

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

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

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

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

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

I now say to the monks that

Ananda, upholder of the Law,

will give alms to the Buddhas

and after will achieve correct enlightenment.

His name will be Mountain Sea Wisdom

Unrestricted Power King Buddha,

His land will be clean and pure,

named ever Standing Victory Banner.

He will teach and convert bodhisattvas

in numbers like Ganges sands.

This Buddha will possess great dignity and virtue,

his renown will fill the ten directions.

His life span will be immeasurable

because he takes pity on living beings.

His Correct Law, twice that again.

His Counterfeit Law, twice again.

As numerous as Ganges sands

will be the countless living beings

who in the midst of the Buddha's Law

will plant causes and conditions leading to the Buddha way.

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

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

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

At that time Ananda spoke in verse form, saying:

The World-Honored One, very rarely met with,

has caused me to recall the past,

the Law of immeasurable Buddhas,

as though I had heard it today.

Now I have no more doubts

but dwell securely in the Buddha way.

As an expedient means I act as attendant,

guarding and upholding the Law of the Buddhas.

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

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

When I was crown prince

Rahula was my eldest son.

Now that I have gained the Buddha way

he receives the Dharma and is my Dharma son.

In existences to come

he will see immeasurable millions of Buddhas.

As eldest son to all of them,

with a single mind he will seek the Buddha way.

The covert actions of Rahula

I alone am capable of knowing.

He manifests himself as my eldest son,

showing himself to living beings.

With immeasurable millions, thousands, ten thousands

of blessings beyond count,

he dwells securely in the Buddha's Law

and thereby seeks the unsurpassed way.

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

"Yes, I see them."

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

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

These two thousand voice-hearers

who now stand in my presence-

on all of them I bestow a prophecy

that in a future existence they will become Buddhas.

The Buddhas to whom they offer alms

will be numerous as the dust particles described above.

They will guard and uphold the Dharma storehouses

and after that will gain correct enlightenment.

Each will have a land in one of the ten directions

and all will share the same name and designation.

All at the same time will sit in the place of practice

and thereby will gain proof of unsurpassed wisdom.

All will be named Jewel Sign

and their lands and disciples,

their Correct Law and Counterfeit Law

will all be identical and without difference.

All will employ transcendental powers

to save living beings in the ten directions.

Their renown will spread everywhere around

and in due time they will enter nirvana.

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

World-Honored One, bright lamp of wisdom,

we hear your voice bestowing this prophecy

and our hearts are filled with joy

as though we were bathed in sweet dew!

Chapter Ten: The Teacher of the Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you wish to abide in the Buddha way

and successfully gain the wisdom that comes of itself,

you should be constantly diligent in offering alms

to those who embrace the Lotus Sutra.

If you have a wish to quickly obtain

wisdom regarding all species of things,

you should embrace this sutra

and at the same time give alms to those who do so.

If one is capable of embracing

the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law,

know that such a person is an envoy of the Buddha

who thinks wit pity of living beings.

Those who are capable of embracing

the Lotus of the Wonderful Law

relinquish their claim to the pure land

and out of pity for living beings are born here.

Know that persons such as these

freely choose where they will be born,

and choose to be born in this evil world

so they may broadly expound the unsurpassed Law.

You should offer heavenly flowers and incense,

robes decked with heavenly treasures,

the wonderful treasure hoards of heaven

as alms to those who preach the Law.

In the evil world following my extinction

if there are those who can embrace this sutra,

you should press your palms together in reverence

and offer alms to them as you would to the

World-Honored One.

The choicest delicacies, all that is sweet and tasty,

along with various types of clothing

you should offer as alms to these Buddha sons

in hopes you may hear a moment of their preaching.

If there are those in a later age

who can accept and embrace this sutra,

they are my envoys sent out among the people

to perform the Thus Come One's work.

If for the space of a kalpa

one should constantly harbor a mind destitute of good

and with angry looks should revile the Buddha,

he will be committing an offense of immeasurable gravity.

But if toward those who read, recite and embrace

this Lotus Sutra

one should even for a moment direct evil words,

his offense will be even greater.

If there is someone who seeks the Buddha way

and during a certain kalpa

presses palms together in my presence

and recites numberless verses of praise,

because of these praises of the Buddha

he will gain immeasurable blessings.

And if one lauds and extols those who uphold this sutra,

his good fortune will be even greater.

For the space of eighty million kalpas,

with the most wonderful shapes and sounds,

with that which is pleasing to smell, taste and touch,

offer alms to the upholders of this sutra!

If you have offered alms in this manner

and have heard the teachings for even a moment,

then you will experience joy and good fortune,

saying, "I have gained great benefit!"

Medicine King, now I say to you,

I have preached various sutras,

and among those sutras

the Lotus is foremost!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you wish to put aside all sloth and remissness,

you must listen to this sutra,

It is hard to get a chance to hear this sutra,

and believing and accepting it too is hard.

If a person is thirsty and wants water

he may dig a hole in the high plateau,

but as long as he sees the soil dry

he knows the water is still far away.

But bit by bit he sees the soil grow damp and muddy

and then he knows for certain he is nearing water.

Medicine King, you should understand

that people are like this-

if they do not hear the Lotus Sutra,

they will be far removed from the Buddha's wisdom,

But if they hear this profound sutra

which defines the Law of the voice-hearer,

if they hear this king of the sutras

and afterward carefully ponder it,

then you should know such persons

are close to the wisdom of the Buddha.

If a person expounds this sutra,

he should enter the Thus Come One's room,

put on the Thus Come One's robe,

sit in the Thus Come One's seat,

confront the assembly without fear

and broadly expand it for them, making distinctions.

Great pity and compassion are the room.

Gentleness and patience are the robe.

The emptiness of all phenomena is the seat,

and from that the position one should expound the Law for them.

If when a person expounds this sutra

there is someone who speaks ill and reviles him

or attacks him with swords and staves, tiles and stones,

he should think of the Buddha and for that reason be patient.

In a thousand, ten thousand, million lands

I will manifest my pure and durable body

and for immeasurable millions of kalpas

will expound the Law for living beings,

If after I have entered extinction

there are those who can expound this sutra,

I will send the four kinds of believers, magically conjured,

monks and nuns

and men and women of pure faith,

to offer alms and cause them to listen to the Law;

they will lead and guide living beings,

assemble them and cause them to listen to the Law.

If someone thinks to do evil to the preachers

with swords and staves or with tiles and stones,

I will dispatch persons magically conjured

who will act to guard and protect them.

If those who expound the Law

are alone in an empty and silent place,

and in that stillness where no human voice sounds

they read and recite this sutra

at that time I will manifest

my pure and radiant body for them.

If they forget a passage or a phrase

I will prompt them so they will be thorough and effective,

If persons endowed with these virtues

should expound to the four kinds of believers

and read and recite the sutra in an empty place,

I will enable all of them to see my body.

And if the expounders are in an empty and silent place

I will send heavenly beings, dragon kings,

yakshas, spirits and others

to be an assembly and listen to the Law.

Persons such as this will delight in expounding the Law,

making distinctions and encountering no hindrance.

Because the Buddhas guard and keep them in mind.

They will be able to bring joy to the great assembly.

If one stays close to the teachers of the Law

he will speedily gain the bodhisattva way.

By following and learning from these teachers

he will see Buddhas as numerous as the Ganges sands.

Chapter Eleven: The Emergence of the Treasure Tower

At that time in the Buddha's presence there was a tower adorned with the seven treasures, five hundred yojanas in height and two hundred and fifty yojanas in width and depth, that rose up out of the earth and stood suspended in the air. Various kinds of precious objects adorned it. It had five thousand railings, a thousand, ten thousand rooms, and numberless streamers and banners decorated it. Festoons of jewels hung down and ten thousand million jeweled bells were suspended from it. All four sides emitted a fragrance of tamalapatra and sandalwood that pervaded the whole world. Its banners and canopies were made of the seven treasures, namely, gold, silver, lapis Lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl, and carnelian, and it as so high it reached to the heavenly places of the Four Heavenly Kings. The gods of the Trayastrimsha heaven rained down heavenly mandarava flowers as an offering to the treasure tower, and the other heavenly beings and the dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings, an assembly of thousands, ten thousands, millions, offered all kinds of flowers, incense, necklaces, streamers, canopies and music as alms to the treasure tower, paying it reverence, honor and praise.

At that time a loud voice issued from the treasure tower, speaking words of praise: "Excellent, excellent! Shakyamuni, World-Honored One, that you can take a great wisdom of equality, a Law to instruct the bodhisattvas, guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas, the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful law, and preach it for the sake of the great assembly! It is as you say, as you say. Shakyamuni, World-Honored One, all that you have expounded is the truth!"

At that time the four kinds of believers saw the great treasure tower suspended in the air, and they heard the voice that issued from the tower. All experienced the joy of the Law, marveling at this thing they had never known before. They rose from their seats, pressed their palms together in reverence, and then retired to one side.

At that time there was a bodhisattva and mahasattva named Great Joy of Preaching, who understood the doubts that were in the minds of the heavenly and human beings, asuras and other beings of all the world. He said to the Buddha: "World-Honored One, for what reason has this treasure tower risen up out of the earth? And why does this voice issue from its midst?"

At that time the Buddha said: "Bodhisattva Great Joy of Preaching, in the treasure tower is the complete body of a Thus Come One. Long ago, an immeasurable thousand, ten thousand million of asamkhayas of worlds to the east, in a land called Treasure Purity, there was a Buddha named Many Treasures. When this Buddha was originally carrying out the bodhisattva way, he made a great vow, saying, "If after I have become a Buddha and entered extinction, in the lands in the ten directions there is any place where the Lotus Sutra is preached, then my funerary tower, in order that I may listen to the sutra, will come forth and appear in that spot to testify to the sutra and praise its excellence.'

"When that Buddha had finished carrying out the Buddha way and was on the point of passing into extinction, in the midst of the great assembly of heavenly and human beings he said to the monks, 'After I have passed into extinction, if there are those who wish to offer alms to my complete body, then they should erect a great tower.' That Buddha, through his transcendental powers and the power of his vow, insures that, throughout the worlds in the ten directions, no matter in what place, if there are those who preach the Lotus Sutra, this treasure tower will in all cases come forth and appear in their presence, and his complete body will be in the tower, speaking words of praise and saying, Excellent, excellent!

"Great Joy of Preaching, now this tower of the Thus Come One Many Treasures, because it heard the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, has come forth out of the ground and speaks words of praise, saying, Excellent, Excellent!"

At this time Bodhisattva Great Joy of Preaching, knowing the supernatural powers of the Thus Come One, spoke to the Buddha, saying, "World-Honored One, we wish to see the body of this Buddha."

The Buddha said to the bodhisattva and mahasattva Great Joy of Preaching, "This Many Treasures Buddha has taken a profound vow, saying, 'When my treasure tower, in order to listen to the Lotus Sutra comes forth into the presence of one of the Buddhas, if there should be those who wish me to show my body to the four kinds of believers, then let the various Buddhas who are emanations of that Buddha and who are preaching the Law in the worlds in the ten directions all return and gather around that Buddha in a single spot. Only when that has been done will my body become visible.' Great Joy Preaching, I will now gather together the various Buddhas that are emanations of my body and that are preaching the Law in the worlds in the ten directions."

Great Joy of Preaching said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, I and the others also wish to see these Buddhas that are emanations of the World-Honored One, and to make obeisance to them and offer alms."

At that time the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the tuft of white hair [between his eyebrows], immediately making visible the Buddhas in the eastern region in lands as numerous as five hundred ten thousand million nayutas of Ganges sands. The earth in all these lands was made of crystal, and the lands were adorned with jeweled trees and jeweled robes. Countless thousands, ten thousands, millions of bodhisattvas filled them, and everywhere were hung jeweled curtains, with jeweled nets covering them over. The Buddhas in these lands preached the various doctrines of the Law with great and wonderful voices, and one could see immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of bodhisattvas filling all these lands and preaching the Law for the assembly. In the southern, western and northern regions as well, and in the four intermediate quarters and up and down, wherever the beam from the tuft of white hair, a characteristic feature of the Buddha, shone, the same was true.

At that time the Buddhas of the ten directions each spoke to his multitude of bodhisattvas, saying, "Good men, now I must go to the saha world, to the place where Shakyamuni Buddha is, and also offer alms to the treasure tower of Many Treasures Thus Come One."

The saha world thereupon immediately changed into a place of cleanness and purity. The ground was made of lapis lazuli, jeweled trees adorned it, and ropes of gold marked off the eight highways. There were no villages, towns or cities, great seas of rivers, mountains, streams or forests; great jeweled incense was burning there and mandarava flowers covered the ground all over. Jeweled nets and curtains were spread above, hung with jeweled bells, and the members of this assembly alone were gathered there, all other heavenly and human beings having been moved to another region.

At that time the Buddhas, each with a great bodhisattva to act as his attendant, arrived in the saha world and proceeded to a position beneath one of the jeweled trees. Each of these jeweled trees was five hundred yojanas high and adorned with branches, leaves, flowers and fruit in due proportion. Under all the jeweled trees were lion seats five yojanas in height, and these too were decorated with large jewels. At that time each of the Buddhas took one of these seats, seating himself in cross-legged position. In this way the seats were filled throughout the thousand-million-fold world, but still there was no end even to the emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha arriving from merely one direction.

At that time Shakyamuni Buddha, wishing to provide space for all the Buddhas that were emanations of his body, in addition transformed two hundred ten thousand million nayutas of lands in each of the eight directions, making them all clean and pure and without hells, hungry spirits, beasts or asuras. He also moved all their heavenly and human beings to another region. The ground in these lands that he had transformed was also made of lapis lazuli, Jeweled trees adorned them, each tree five hundred yojanas high and adorned with branches, leaves, flowers and flowers and fruit in due proportion. There were jeweled lion seats under all the trees, five yojanas in height and ornamented with various kinds of treasures, these lands too were without great seas or rivers, or any kingly ranges of mountains such as the Muchilinda Mountains, Mahamuchilinda Mountains, Iron Encircling Mountains, Great Iron Encircling mountains, or Mount Sumeru. The whole area comprised a single Buddha land, a jeweled region level and smooth. Curtains crisscrossed with festoons of jewels were spread everywhere, banners and canopies hung down, great jeweled incense burned, and heavenly jeweled flowers covered the ground all around.

Shakyamuni Buddha, in order to provide seats for all the Buddhas that were arriving, once more transformed two hundred ten thousand million nayutas of lands in each of the eight directions, making them all clean and pure and without hells, hungry spirits, beasts or asuras. He also moved all the heavenly and human beings to another region. The ground in these lands that he had transformed was likewise made of lapis lazuli. Jeweled trees adorned the lands, each tree five hundred yojanas in height and adorned with branches, leaves, flowers and fruit in due proportion. There were jeweled lion seats under all the trees, five yojanas in height and ornamented with great jewels, these lands too were without great seas or rivers, or any kingly ranges such as the Muchilinda Mountains, Great Mahamuchilinda Mountains, iron Encircling Mountains, Great Iron Encircling Mountains, or Mount Sumeru, the whole area comprising a single Buddha land, a jeweled region level and smooth. Curtains crisscrossed with festoons of jewels were spread everywhere, banners and canopies hung down, great jeweled incense burned, and heavenly jeweled flowers covered the ground all around.

At that time the emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha from the eastern region, Buddhas in lands equal in number to hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of Ganges sands, each preaching the Law, had assembled there. And bit by bit the Buddhas from the ten directions all came and assembled in this way and were seated in the eight directions. At this time each of the directions was filled with Buddhas, Thus Come Ones, in four hundred ten thousand million nayutas of lands.

At that time the Buddhas, each seated on a lion seat under one of the jeweled trees, all dispatched their attendants to go and greet Shakyamuni Buddha. Each Buddha presented his attendant with a handful of jeweled flowers and said, "Good man, you must go to Mount Gridhrakuta to the place where Shakyamuni Buddha is and speak to him as I instruct you. Say, 'Are your illnesses few, and your worries few? In spirit and vigor are you well and happy? And are the bodhisattvas and voice-hearers all well and at peace?' Then take these jeweled flowers and scatter them over the Buddha as an offering, and say, 'The Buddha So-and-so would like to participate in the opening of this treasure tower.'

All the Buddhas dispatched their attendants to speak in this manner. At that time Shakyamuni Buddha saw the Buddhas that were his emanations all assembled, each sitting on a lion seat, and heard all these Buddhas say that they wished to participate in the opening of the treasure tower. Immediately he rose from his seat and stationed himself in midair. All the four kinds of believers likewise stood up, pressed their palms together and gazed at the Buddha with a single mind.

Shakyamuni Buddha with the fingers of his right hand then opened the door of the tower of seven treasures. A loud sound issued from it, like the sound of a lock and crossbar being removed from a great city gate, and at once all the members of the assembly caught sight of Many Treasures Thus Come One seated on a lion seat inside the treasure tower, his body whole and unimpaired, sitting as thought engaged in meditation. And they heard him say, "excellent, excellent, Shakyamuni Buddha! You have preached this Lotus Sutra in a spirited manner. I have come here in order that I may hear this sutra."

At that time the four kinds of believers, observing this Buddha who had passed into extinction immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas in the past speaking in this way, marveled at what they had never known before and took the masses of heavenly jeweled flowers and scattered them over Many Treasures Buddha and Shakyamuni Buddha.

At that time Many Treasures Buddha offered half of his seat in the treasure tower to Shakyamuni Buddha, saying, "Shakyamuni Buddha, sit here!" Shakyamuni Buddha at once entered the tower and took half of the seat, seating himself in cross-legged position.

At that time the members of the great assembly, seeing the two Thus Come Ones seated cross-legged on the lion seat in the tower of seven treasures, all thought to themselves, These Buddhas are seated high up and far away! If only the Thus Come Ones would employ their transcendental powers to enable all of us to join them there in the air!

Immediately Shakyamuni Buddha used his transcendental powers to lift the members of the great assembly up into the air. And in a loud voice he addressed all the four kinds of believers, saying, "Who is capable of broadly preaching the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law in this saha world? Now is the time to do so, for before long the Thus Come One will enter nirvana. the Buddha wishes to entrust this Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law to someone so that it may be preserved."

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

This holy lord, this World-Honored One,

though he passed into extinction long ago,

still seats himself in the treasure tower,

coming here for the sake of the Law.

You people, why then do you not also

strive for the sake of the Law?

This Buddha passed into extinction

an endless number of kalpas ago,

but in many places he comes to listen to the Law

because such opportunities are hard to encounter.

This Buddha originally made a vow, saying,

"After I have passed into extinction,

wherever I may go, in whatever place,

my constant aim will be to hear the Law!"

In addition, these emanations of my body,

Buddhas in immeasurable numbers

like Ganges sands,

have come, desiring to hear the Law,

and so they may see Many Treasures Thus Come One

who has passed into extinction.

Each has abandoned his wonderful land,

as well as his host disciples,

the heavenly and human beings, dragons and spirits,

and all the offerings they give him,

and has come to this place on purpose

to make certain the Law will long endure.

In order to seat these Buddhas

I have employed transcendental powers,

moving immeasurable multitudes,

causing lands to be clean and pure,

leading each of these Buddhas

to the foot of a jeweled tree,

adorned as lotus blossoms

adorn a clear cool pond.

Beneath these jeweled trees

are lion seats,

and the Buddhas seat themselves on them,

adorning them with their brilliance

like a huge torch burning

in the darkness of the night.

A wonderful incense exudes from their bodies,

pervading the lands in the ten directions.

Living beings are wrapped in the aroma,

unable to restrain their joy,

as though a great wind

were tossing the branches of small trees.

Through this expedient means

they make certain that the Law will long endure.

So I say to the great assembly:

After I have passed into extinction,

who can guard and uphold,

read and recite this sutra?

Now in the presence of the Buddha

let him come forward and speak his vow!

This Many Treasures Buddha,

though he passed into extinction long ago,

because of his great vow

roars the lion's roar.

Many Treasures Thus Come One, I myself,

and these emanation Buddhas who have gathered there,

surely know this is our aim.

You sons of the Buddha,

who can guard the Law?

Let him make a great vow

to ensure that it will long endure!

He who is capable of guarding

the Law of this sutra

will thereby have offered alms

to me and to Many Treasures.

This Many Treasures Buddha

dwelling in his treasure tower

journeys constantly throughout the ten directions

for the sake of this sutra.

One who guards this sutra will also have offered alms

to the emanation Buddhas who have come here

adorning and making brilliant

all the various worlds.

If one preaches this sutra,

he will be able to see me

and Many treasures Thus Come One

and these emanation Buddhas.

All you good men,

each of you must consider carefully!

This is a difficult matter-

it is proper you should make a great vow.

The other sutras

number as many as Ganges sands,

but though you expound those sutras,

that is not worth regarding as difficult.

If you were to seize Mount Sumeru

and fling it far off

to the measureless Buddha lands,

that too would not be difficult.

If you used the toe of your foot

to move a thousand-million-fold world,

booting it far away to other lands,

that too would not be difficult.

If you stood in the Summit of Being heaven

and for the sake of the assembly

preached countless other sutras,

that too would not be difficult.

But if after the Buddha has entered extinction ,

in the time of evil,

you can preach this sutra,

that will be difficult indeed!

If there were a person

who took the empty sky in his hand

and walked all around with it,

that would not be difficult.

But if after I have passed into extinction

one can write out and embrace this sutra

and cause others to write it out,

that will be difficult indeed!

If one took the great earth,

placed it on his toenail,

and ascended with it to the Brahma heaven,

that would not be difficult.

But if after the Buddha has passed into extinction,

in the time of evil,

one can even for a little while read this sutra,

that will be difficult indeed!

If , when the fires come at the end of the kalpa,

one can load dry grass on his back

and enter the fire without being burned,

that would not be difficult.

But after I have passed into extinction

if one can embrace this sutra

and expound it to even one person,

that will be difficult indeed!

If one were to embrace this storehouse

of eighty-four thousand doctrines,

the twelve divisions of the sutras,

and expound it to others,

causing listeners

to acquire the six transcendental powers-

though one could do that,

that would not be difficult.

But after I have entered extinction

if one can listen to and accept this sutra

and ask about its meaning,

that will be difficult indeed!

If a person expounds the Law,

allowing thousands, ten thousands, millions,

immeasurable number of living beings

equal to Ganges sands

to become arhats

endowed with the six transcendental powers,

though one might confer such benefits

that would not be difficult.

But after I have entered extinction

if one can honor and embrace

a sutra such as this one,

that will be difficult indeed!

For the sake of the Buddha way

in immeasurable numbers of lands

from the beginning until now

I have widely preached many sutras,

and among them

this sutra is foremost.

If one can uphold this,

he will be upholding the Buddha's body.

All you good men,

after I have entered extinction

who can accept and uphold,

read and recite this sutra?

Now in the presence of the Buddha

let him come forward and speak his vow!

This sutra is hard to uphold;

if one can uphold it even for a short while

I will surely rejoice

and so will the other Buddhas.

A person who can do this

wins the admiration of the Buddhas.

This is what is meant by valor,

this is what is meant by diligence.

This is what is called observing the precepts

and practicing dhuta.

This way one will quickly attain

the unsurpassed Buddha way.

And if in future existences

one can read and uphold this sutra,

he will be a true son of the Buddha,

dwelling in a land spotless and good.

If after the Buddha has passed into extinction

one can understand the meaning of this sutra,

he will be the eyes of the world

for heavenly and human beings.

If in that fearful age

one can preach this sutra for even a moment,

he will deserve to receive alms

from all heavenly and human beings.

Chapter Twelve: Devadatta

At that time the Buddha addressed the bodhisattvas, the heavenly and human beings, and the four kinds of believers saying: "Immeasurable kalpas in the past, I sought the Lotus Sutra without ever flagging. During those many kalpas, I constantly appeared as the ruler of a kingdom who made a vow to seek the unsurpassed bodhi. His mind never wavered or turned aside, and in his desire to fulfill the six paramitas he diligently distributed alms, never stinting in heart, whether the gift was elephants or horses, the seven rare articles, countries, cities, wife, children, maidservants, or his own head, eyes, marrow and brain, his own flesh and limbs. He did not begrudge even his own being and life. At that period the human life span was immeasurably long. But for the sake of the Law this king abandoned his kingdom and throne, delegated the government to the crown prince, sounded drums and sent out proclamations, seeking the Law in four directions and saying, 'Who can expound the Great Vehicle for me? To the end of my life I will be his provider and servant!'

"At that time there was a seer who came to the king and said, "I have a Great Vehicle text called the Sutra of the Wonderful Law. If you will never disobey me, I will expound it for you.'

"When the king heard these words of the seer, he danced for joy. At once he accompanied the seer, providing him with whatever he needed, picking fruit, drawing water, gathering firewood, setting out meals, even offering his own body as a couch and seat, never stinting in body or mind. He served the seer in this manner for a thousand years, all for the sake of the Law, working diligently acting as a provider and seeing to it that the seer lacked for nothing."

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

I recall those departed kalpas of the past

when in order to seek the great Law,

though I was the ruler of a worldly kingdom,

I was not greedy to satisfy the five desires

but instead struck the bell, crying in four quarters,

"Who possesses the great Law?

If he will explain and preach it for me

I will be his slave and servant!"

At that time there was a seer named Asita

who came and announced to this great King,

"I have a subtle and wonderful Law,

rarely known in this world.

If you will undertake religious practice

I will expound it for you."

When the king heard the seer's words

his heart was filled with great joy.

Immediately he accompanied the seer,

providing him with whatever he needed,

gathering firewood, fruit and wild rice,

presenting them at appropriate times with respect and

reverence.

Because the wonderful Law was then his thoughts

he never flagged in body or mind.

For the sake of living beings everywhere

he diligently sought the great Law,

taking no heed for himself

or for the gratification of the five desires.

Therefore the ruler of a great kingdom

through diligent seeking was able to acquire this Law

and eventually to attain Buddhahood,

as I will now explain to you.

The Buddha said to his monks: "The king at that time was I myself, and this seer was the man who is now Devadatta. All because Devadatta was a good friend to me, I was able to become fully endowed with this six paramitas, pity, compassion, joy, and indifference, with the thirty-two features, the eighty characteristics, the purple-tinged golden color, the ten powers, the four kinds of fearlessness, the four methods of winning people, the eighteen unshared properties, and the transcendental powers and the power of the way. The fact that I have attained impartial and correct enlightenment and can save living beings on a broad scale is all due to Devadatta who was a good friend."

Then the Buddha said to the four kinds of believers: "Devadatta, after immeasurable kalpas have past, will attain Buddhahood. He will be called Heavenly King Thus Come One, worthy of offerings of right and universal knowledge, perfect parity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, on itself worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One. This world will be called Heavenly Way, and at the same time Heavenly King Buddha will abide in the world for twenty medium kalpas, broadly preaching the Wonderful Law for the sake of living beings. Living beings numerous as Ganges sands will attain the fruit of arhatship. Immeasurable numbers of living beings will conceive that desire to become pratyekabuddhas, living beings numerous as Ganges sands will conceive a desire for the unsurpassed way, will gain that truth of birthless-ness, and will never regress. After Heavenly King Buddha enters parinirvana, his Correct Law will endure in the world for twenty medium kalpas. The relics from his whole body will be housed in a tower built of the seven treasures, sixty yojanas in height and forty yojanas in width and depth. All the heavenly and human beings will take assorted flowers, powdered incense, incense for burning, paste incense, clothing, necklaces, steamers and banners, jeweled canopies, music and songs of praise that offer them with obeisance to the wonderful seven- jeweled tower. Immeasurable numbers of living beings will attain the fruits of arhatship, numerous living beings will become enlightened as pratyekabuddhas, and unimaginable numbers of living beings will conceive a desire for bodhi and will in reach the level of no regression."

The Buddha said to the monks: "In future ages if there are good men or good women who, on hearing the Devadatta Chapter of the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, believe and revere it with pure hearts harbor no doubts are perplexities, they will never fall into hell or the realm of hungry spirits or of beasts, but will be born in the presence of the Buddhas of the ten directions, and in the place where they are born they will constantly hear this sutra. If they are born among human or heavenly beings, they will enjoy exceedingly wonderful delights, and if they are born in the presence of the Buddha, they will be born by transformation from lotus flowers."

At that time there was a bodhisattva who was among the followers of Many Treasures World-Honored One from the lower region and whose name was Wisdom Accumulated. He said to Many Treasures Buddha, "Shall return to our homeland?"

Shakyamuni Buddha said to Wisdom Accumulated, 'good man, wait a little while. There is a bodhisattva named Manjushri here whom you should see. Debate and discuss the wonderful Law with him, and then you may return to your homeland."

At that time Manjushri was seated on a thousand-pedaled lotus blossom big as a carriage wheel, and the bodhisattvas who had come with them were also seated on jeweled lotus blossoms. Manjushri had emerged in a natural manner from the palace of the dragon king Sagara in the great ocean and was suspended in the air. Proceeding to Holy Eagle Peak, he descended from the lotus blossom and, having entered the presence of the Buddhas, bowed his head and paid obeisance to the feet of the two World-Honored Ones. When he had concluded these gestures of respect, he went to where Wisdom Accumulated was and exchanged greetings with him, and retired then retired and sat at one side.

Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulated questioned Manjushri, saying, "When you went to the palace of the dragon king, how many living beings did you convert?"

Manjushri replied, "The number is immeasurable, incapable of calculation. The mouth cannot express it, the mind cannot have fathom it. Wait a moment and there will be proof."

Before he had finished speaking, countless bodhisattvas seated on jeweled lotus blossoms emerged from the Ocean proceeded to Holy Eagle Peak, where they remained suspended in the air. These bodhisattvas all had been converted and saved by Manjushri. They had carried out all the bodhisattva practices and discussed and expounded the six paramitas with one another. Those who had originally been voice-hearers expounded the practices of the voice-hearer when they were in the air, but now all were practicing the Great Vehicle principle of emptiness.

Manjushri said to Wisdom Accumulated, "The work of teaching and converting carried out that in the ocean was as you can see."

At that time Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulated recited these verses of praise:

Of great wisdom and virtue, brave and stalwart, you have converted and saved immeasurable beings.

Now those in this great assembly,

as well as I myself, have all seen them.

You expound the principle of the true entity,

open up the Law of the single vehicle,

broadly guiding the many beings,

causing them quickly to attain bodhi.

Manjushri said, "When I was in the ocean I constantly expounded the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law alone."

Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulated questioned Manjushri, saying, "This sutra is a profound, subtle and wonderful, a treasure among sutras, a rarity in the world. Are there perhaps any living beings who, by earnestly and diligently practicing this sutra, have been able to attain Buddhahood quickly?"

Manjushri replied, "There is the daughter of the dragon king Sagara, who was just turned eight. Her wisdom has keen roots and she is good at the understanding the root activities and of living beings. She has mastered the dharanis, has been able to accept and embrace all the store house of profound secrets preached by the Buddhas, has entered deep into meditation, thoroughly grasping the doctrines, and in the space of an instant conceived the desire for bodhi and reached the level of no regression. Her eloquence knows no hindrance, and she thinks of living beings with compassion as though they were her own children. She is fully endowed with blessings, and when it comes to conceiving in mind and expounding by mouth, she is subtle, wonderful, comprehensive and great. Kind, compassionate, benevolent, yielding, she is gentle and refined in will, capable of attaining bodhi."

Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulated said, "When I observe Shakyamuni Thus Come One, I see that for immeasurable kalpas he carried out harsh and difficult practices, accumulated merit, piling up virtue, seeking the way to the bodhisattva without ever resting. I observe that throughout the thousand-million fold world there is not a single spot tiny as a mustard seed where this bodhisattva failed to sacrifice body and life the sake of living beings. Only after he had done that was he able to complete the bodhi way. I cannot believe that this girl in the space of the instant could actually achieve correct enlightenment."

Before his words had come to an end, the dragon king's daughter suddenly appeared before the Buddha, bowed her head in obeisance, and then retired to one side, reciting these verses of praise:

He profoundly understands the signs of guilt and good fortune

and illuminates the ten directions everywhere.

His subtle, wonderful pure Dharma body

is endowed with the thirty-two features;

the eighty characteristics

adorn his Dharma body.

Heavenly and human beings gaze up in awe,

dragons and spirits all pay honor and respect;

among all living beings,

none who do not hold him in reverence.

And having heard his teachings, I have attained bodhi -

the Buddha alone can bear witness to this.

I unfold the doctrines of the Great Vehicle

to rescue living beings from suffering.

At that time Shariputra said to the dragon girl, "You suppose that in this short time you have been able to attain the unsurpassed way. But this is difficult to believe. Why? Because a woman's body is soiled and defiled, not a vessel for the Law. How could you attain the unsurpassed bodhi? The road to Buddhahood is long and far-reaching. Only after one has spent immeasurable kalpas pursuing austerities, accumulating deeds, practicing all kinds of paramitas, can one finally achieve success. Moreover, a woman is subject to the five obstacles. First, she cannot become a Brahma heavenly king. Second, she cannot become the king Shakra. Third, she cannot become a devil king. Fourth, she cannot become a wheel-turning sage king. Fifth, she cannot become a Buddha. How then could a woman like you be able to attain Buddhahood so quickly?"

At that time the dragon girl had a precious jewel worth as much as the thousand-million-fold world which she presented to the Buddha. The Buddha immediately excepted it. The dragon girl said to Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulated to the venerable one, Shariputra, "I presented the precious jewel and the World-Honored One accepted it - was that not quickly done?"

They replied, "Very quickly!"

The girls said, "employ your supernatural powers and watch me attain Buddhahood. It shall be even quicker than that!"

At that time the members of the assembly all saw the dragon girl in the space of an instant change into a man and carry out all the practices of a bodhisattva, immediately proceeding to the Spotless World of the south, taking a seat on a jeweled lotus, and attaining impartial and correct enlightenment. With the thirty-two features and the eighty characteristics, he expounded the wonderful Law for all living beings everywhere in the ten directions.

At that time in the saha world to a the bodhisattvas, voice-hearers, gods, dragons and others of the eight kinds of guardians, human and non-human beings all from a distance saw the dragon girl become a Buddha and preach the law to all the human and heavenly beings in the assembly at that time. Their hearts were filled with great joy and all from a distance paid reverent obeisance. Immeasurable living beings, hearing the Law, understood it and were able to reach the level of no regression. Immeasurable living beings received prophecies that they would gain the away. The Spotless World quaked and trembled in six different ways. Three thousand living beings of the saha world remained on the level of no regression. Three thousand living beings conceived a desire for bodhi and received prophecies of enlightenment. Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulated, Shariputra and all the other members of the assembly silently believed an accepted these things.

Chapter Thirteen: Admonition to Embrace the Sutra

At that time the Bodhisattva and mahasattva Medicine King, along with the bodhisattva and mahasattva Great Joy of Preaching and twenty thousand bodhisattva followers who were accompanying them, all in the presence of the Buddha took this vow, saying: "We beg the World-Honored One to have no further worry. After the Buddha has entered extinction we will honor, embrace, read, recite and preach this sutra. Living beings in the evil age to come will have fewer and fewer good roots. Many will be overbearingly arrogant and greedy for offerings and other forms of gain, increasing the roots that are not good and moving farther away than ever from emancipation. But although it will be difficult to teach and convert them, we will summon up the power of great patience and will read and recite this sutra, embrace, preach, and copy it, offering it many kinds of alms and never begrudging our bodies or lives.

At that time in the assembly there were five hundred arhats who received a prophecy of enlightenment. They said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, we too make a vow. In lands other than this one we will broadly preach this sutra."

Also there were eight thousand persons, some still learning, others with nothing more to learn, who received a prophecy of enlightenment. They rose from their seats, pressed their palms together and, turning toward the Buddha, made this vow: "World-Honored One, we too in other lands will broadly preach this sutra. Why? Because in this saha world the people are given to corruption and evil, beset by overbearing arrogance, shallow in blessings, irascible, muddled, fawning and devious, and their hearts are not sincere."

At that time the Buddha maternal aunt, the nun Mahaprajapati, and the six thousand nuns who accompanied her, some still learning, others with nothing more to learn, rose from their seats, pressed their palms together with a single mind and gazed up at the face of the honored one, their eyes never leaving him for instance.

At that time the World-Honored One said to Gautami , "Why do you look at the Thus Come One in that perplexed manner? In your heart are you perhaps worrying that I have failed to mention your name among those of received a prophecy of the attainment of anuttara-samyak-sambodhi? But Gautami, I earlier made a general statement saying that all the voice-hearers had received such a prophecy. Now if you would like to know the prophecy for you, I will say that in ages to come, amid the Law of sixty-eight thousands of millions of Buddhas, you will be a great teacher of Law, and the six thousand nuns, some still learning, some already sufficiently learned, will accompany you as teachers of the Law. In this manner you will bit by bit fulfill the way of the bodhisattva until you are able to become a Buddha with the name Gladly Seen by All Living Beings 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. Gautami, this Gladly Seen by All Living Beings Buddha will confer a prophecy upon the six thousand bodhisattvas, to be passed from one to another, that they will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi."

At that time the mother of Rahula, the nun Yashodhara, thought to herself, the World-Honored One in his bestowal of prophecies has failed to mention my name alone!

The Buddha said to Yashodhara, "In future ages, amid the Law of hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of Buddhas, you will practice the deeds of a bodhisattva, will be a great teacher of the Law, and will gradually fulfill the Buddha way. Then in a good land you will become a Buddha named Endowed with a Thousand Ten Thousand Glowing Marks 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. The life span of this Buddha will be immeasurable asamkhya kalpas."

At that time the nun Mahaprajapati, the nun Yashodhara, and their followers were all filled with great joy, having gained what they had never had before. Immediately in the presence of the Buddha they spoke in verse form, saying:

World-Honored One, leader and teacher,

you bring tranquility to heavenly and human beings.

We have heard these prophecies

and our minds are peaceful and satisfied.

The nuns, having recited these verses, said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, we too will be able to go to lands in other regions and broadly propagate this sutra.

At that time the World-Honored One looked at the eight hundred thousand million nayutas of bodhisattvas and mahasattvas. These bodhisattvas had all reached the level of avivartika, turned the unregressing wheel of the Law, and had gained dharanis. They rose from their seats, advanced before the Buddha and, pressing their palms together with a single mind, thought to themselves, if the World-Honored One should order us to embrace and preach this sutra, we would do as the Buddha instructed and broadly propagate this Law. And then they thought to themselves, But the Buddha now is silent and gives us no such order. What shall we do?

At that time the bodhisattvas, respectfully complying with the Buddha's will and at the same time wishing to fulfill their own original vows, proceeded in the presence of the Buddha to roar the Lion's roar and to make a vow, saying: "World-Honored One, after the Thus Come One has entered extinction we will travel here and there, back and forth through the worlds in the ten directions so as to enable living beings to copy this sutra, receive, embrace, read and recite it, understand and preach its principles, practice it in accordance with the Law, and properly keep it in their thoughts. All this will be done through the Buddha's power and authority. We beg that the World-Honored One, though in another region, will look on from afar and guard and protect us.

At that time the bodhisattvas joined their voices together and spoke in verse form, saying:

We beg you not to worry.

After the Buddha has passed into extinction,

in an age of fear and evil

we will preach far and wide.

There will be many ignorant people

who will curse and speak ill of us

and will attack us with swords and staves,

but we will endure all these things.

In that evil age there will be monks

with perverse wisdom and hearts that are fawning and crooked

who will suppose they have attained what they have not attained,

being proud and boastful in heart.

Or there will be forest-dwelling monks

wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement,

who will claim they are practicing the true way,

despising and looking down on all humankind.

Greedy for profit and support,

they will preach the law to white-robed laymen

and will be respected and revered by the world

as though they were arhats who possess the six

transcendental powers.

These men with evil in their hearts,

constantly thinking of worldly affairs,

will borrow the name of forest-dwelling monks

and take delight in proclaiming our faults,

saying things like this:

"These monks are greedy

for profit and support

and therefore they preach non-Buddhist doctrines

and fabricate their own scriptures

to delude the people of the world.

Because they hope to gain fame and renown thereby

they make distinctions when preaching this sutra."

Because in the midst of the great assembly

they constantly try to defame us,

they will address the rulers, high ministers,

Brahmans and householders,

as well as other monks,

slandering and speaking evil of us,

saying, "These are men of perverted views

who preach non-Buddhist doctrines!"

But because we revere the Buddha

we will bear all these evils.

Though they treat us with contempt, saying,

"You are all no doubt Buddhas!"

All such words of arrogance and contempt

we will endure and accept.

In a muddied kalpa, in an evil age

there will be many things to fear.

Evil demons will take possession of others

and through them curse, revile and heap shame on us.

But we, reverently trusting in the Buddha,

will put on the armor of perseverance.

In order to preach this sutra

we will bear these difficult things.

We care nothing for our bodies or lives

but are anxious only for the unsurpassed way.

In ages to come we will protect and uphold

what the Buddha has entrusted to us.

This the World-Honored One must know.

The evil monks of that muddied age,

failing to understand the Buddha's expedient means,

how he preaches the Law in accordance with what is appropriate,

will confront us with foul language and angry frowns;

again and again we will be banished

to a place far removed from towers and temples.

All these various evils,

because they keep in mind the Buddha's orders,

we will endure.

If in the settlements and towns

of those who seek the Law,

we will go to wherever they are

and preach the Law entrusted by the Buddha.

We will be envoys of the World-Honored One,