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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, Sāriputra, 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-samyaksambodhi. 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.



The Lotus Sutra
Translated by Burton Watson

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.



 

 

 


 

volker doormann