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LOTUS SUTRA ROLL 6 OF 8 CHAPTERS 16, 17, 18, AND 19. — NICHIRENLIBRARY.ORG

12 February 2015

ROLL SIX ( 16 – 19 )

CHAPTER 16

The Life Span of the Thus Come One

At that time the Buddha spoke to the bodhisattvas and all the great assembly: “Good men, you must believe and understand the truthful words of the thus come one.” And again he said to the great assembly: “You must believe and understand the truthful words of the thus come one.” And once more he said to the great assembly: “You must believe and understand the truthful words of the thus come one.”
At that time the bodhisattvas and the great assembly, with Maitreya as their leader, pressed their palms together and addressed the Buddha, saying: “World-Honored One, we beg you to explain. We will believe and accept the Buddha’s words.” They spoke in this manner three times, and then said once more: “We beg you to explain it. We will believe and accept the Buddha’s words.”
At that time the world-honored one, seeing that the bodhisattvas repeated their request three times and more, spoke to them, saying: “You must listen carefully and hear of the thus come one’s secret and his transcendental powers. In all the worlds the heavenly and human beings and asuras all believe that the present Shakyamuni Buddha, after leaving the palace of the Shakyas, seated himself in the place of enlightenment not far from the city of Gaya and there attained supreme perfect enlightenment. But good men, it has been immeasurable, boundless hundreds, p.266thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of kalpas since I in fact attained buddhahood.
“Suppose a person were to take five hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million nayuta asamkhya major world systems and grind them to dust. Then, moving eastward, each time he passes five hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million nayuta asamkhya worlds he drops a particle of dust. He continues eastward in this way until he has finished dropping all the particles. Good men, what is your opinion? Can the total number of all these worlds be imagined or calculated?”
The bodhisattva Maitreya and the others said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One, these worlds are immeasurable, boundless—one cannot calculate their number, nor does the mind have the power to encompass them. Even all the voice-hearers and pratyekabuddhas with their wisdom free of outflows could not imagine or understand how many there are. Although we abide in the stage of non-regression, we cannot comprehend such a matter. World-Honored One, these worlds are immeasurable and boundless.”
At that time the Buddha said to the multitude of great bodhisattvas: “Good men, now I will state this to you clearly. Suppose all these worlds, whether they received a particle of dust or not, are once more reduced to dust. Let one particle represent one kalpa. The time that has passed since I attained buddhahood surpasses this by a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million nayuta asamkhya kalpas.
“Ever since then I have been constantly in this saha world, preaching the Law, teaching, and converting. And elsewhere I have led and benefited living beings in hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas and asamkhyas of lands.
“Good men, during that time I have spoken about the buddha Burning Torch and others, and described how they entered nirvana. All this I employed as an expedient means to make distinctions.
“Good men, if there are living beings who come to me, I employ my buddha eye to observe whether their faith and other faculties are keen or dull, and then depending upon how p.267receptive they are to salvation, I appear in different places and preach to them under different names, and describe my life span as long or short. Sometimes when I make my appearance I say that I am about to enter nirvana, and also employ different expedient means to preach the subtle and wonderful Law, thus causing living beings to awaken joyful minds.
“Good men, the thus come one observes how among living beings there are those who delight in lesser teachings, meager in virtue and heavy with defilement. For such persons I describe how in my youth I left my household and attained supreme perfect enlightenment. But in truth the time since I attained buddhahood is extremely long, as I have told you. It is simply that I use this expedient means to teach and convert living beings and cause them to enter the buddha way. That is why I speak in this manner.
“Good men, the scriptures expounded by the thus come one are all for the purpose of saving and emancipating living beings. Sometimes I speak of myself, sometimes of others; sometimes I present myself, sometimes others; sometimes I show my own actions, sometimes those of others. All that I preach is true and not false.
“Why do I do this? The thus come one perceives the true aspect of the threefold world exactly as it is. There is no ebb or flow of birth and death, and there is no existing in this world and later entering extinction. It is neither substantial nor empty, neither consistent nor diverse. Nor is it what those who dwell in the threefold world perceive it to be. All such things the thus come one sees clearly and without error.
“Because living beings have different natures, different desires, different actions, and different ways of thinking and
making distinctions, and because I want to enable them to put down good roots, I employ a variety of causes and conditions, similes, parables, and phrases and preach different doctrines. This, a buddha’s work, I have never for a moment neglected.
“Thus, since I attained buddhahood, an extremely long period of time has passed. My life span is an immeasurable number of asamkhya kalpas, and during that time I have constantly abided p.268here without ever entering extinction. Good men, originally I practiced the bodhisattva way, and the life span that I acquired then has yet to come to an end but will last twice the number of years that have already passed. Now, however, although in fact I do not actually enter extinction, I announce that I am going to adopt the course of extinction. This is an expedient means that the thus come one uses to teach and convert living beings.
“Why do I do this? Because if the Buddha remains in the world for a long time, those persons with shallow virtue will fail to plant good roots but, living in poverty and lowliness, will become attached to the five desires and be caught in the net of deluded thoughts and imaginings. If they see that the thus come one is constantly in the world and never enters extinction, they will grow arrogant and selfish, or become discouraged and neglectful. They will fail to realize how difficult it is to encounter the Buddha and will not approach him with a respectful and reverent mind.
“Therefore as an expedient means the thus come one says: ‘Monks, you should know that it is a rare thing to live at a time when one of the buddhas appears in the world.’ Why does he do this? Because persons of shallow virtue may pass immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas with some of them chancing to see a buddha and others never seeing one at all. For this reason I say to them: ‘Monks, the thus come one is hard to get to see.’ When living beings hear these words, they are certain to realize how difficult it is to encounter a buddha. In their minds they will harbor a longing and will thirst to gaze upon the buddha, and then they will work to plant good roots. Therefore the thus come one, though in truth he does not enter extinction, speaks of passing into extinction.
“Good men, the buddhas, the thus come ones, all act in such a manner. They act in order to save living beings, so what they say is true and not false.
“Suppose, for example, that there is a skilled physician who is wise and understanding and knows how to compound medicines to effectively cure all kinds of diseases. He has many sons, p.269perhaps ten, twenty, or even a hundred. He goes off to some other land far away to see about a certain affair. After he has gone, the children drink some kind of poison that makes them distraught with pain and they fall writhing to the ground.
“At that time the father returns to his home and finds that his children have drunk poison. Some are completely out of their minds, while others are not. Seeing their father from far off, all are overjoyed and kneel down and entreat him, saying: ‘How fine that you have returned safely. We were foolish and by mistake drank some poison. We beg you to cure us and let us live out our lives!’
“The father, seeing his children suffering like this, follows various prescriptions. Gathering fine medicinal herbs that meet all the requirements of color, fragrance, and flavor, he grinds, sifts, and mixes them together. Giving a dose of these to his children, he tells them: ‘This is a highly effective medicine, meeting all the requirements of color, fragrance, and flavor. Take it and you will quickly be relieved of your sufferings and will be free of all illness.’
“Those children who have not lost their senses can see that this is good medicine, outstanding in both color and fragrance, so they take it immediately and are completely cured of their sickness. Those who are out of their minds are equally delighted to see their father return and beg him to cure their sickness, but when they are given the medicine, they refuse to take it. Why? Because the poison has penetrated deeply and their minds no longer function as before. So although the medicine is of excellent color and fragrance, they do not perceive it as good.
“The father thinks to himself: My poor children! Because of the poison in them, their minds are completely befuddled. Although they are happy to see me and ask me to cure them, they refuse to take this excellent medicine. I must now resort to some expedient means to induce them to take the medicine. So he says to them: ‘You should know that I am now old and worn out, and the time of my death has come. I will leave this good medicine here. You should take it and not worry that it will not p.270cure you.’ Having given these instructions, he then goes off to another land, where he sends a messenger home to announce, ‘Your father is dead.’
“At that time the children, hearing that their father has deserted them and died, are filled with great grief and consternation and think to themselves: If our father were alive he would have pity on us and see that we are protected. But now he has abandoned us and died in some other country far away. We are shelterless orphans with no one to rely on!
“Constantly harboring such feelings of grief, they at last come to their senses and realize that the medicine is in fact excellent in color and fragrance and flavor, and so they take it and are healed of all the effects of the poison. The father, hearing that his children are all cured, immediately returns home and appears to them all once more.
“Good men, what is your opinion? Can anyone say that this skilled physician is guilty of lying?”
“No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha said: “It is the same with me. It has been immeasurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayuta asamkhya kalpas since I attained buddhahood. But for the sake of living beings I employ the power of expedient means and say that I am about to pass into extinction. In view of the circumstances, however, no one can say that I have been guilty of lies or falsehoods.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Since I attained buddhahood
the number of kalpas that have passed
is an immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands,
millions, trillions, asamkhyas.
Constantly I have preached the Law, teaching, converting
countless millions of living beings,
causing them to enter the buddha way,
all this for immeasurable kalpas.
In order to save living beings,
p.271as an expedient means I appear to enter nirvana
but in truth I do not pass into extinction.
I am always here, preaching the Law.
I am always here,
but through my transcendental powers
I make it so that living beings in their befuddlement
do not see me even when close by.
When the multitude sees that I have passed into extinction,
far and wide they offer alms to my relics.
All harbor thoughts of yearning
and in their minds thirst to gaze at me.
When living beings have become truly faithful,
honest and upright, gentle in intent,
single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha,
not hesitating even if it costs them their lives,
then I and the assembly of monks
appear together on Holy Eagle Peak.
At that time I tell the living beings
that I am always here, never entering extinction,
but that because of the power of expedient means
at times I appear to be extinct, at other times not,
and that if there are living beings in other lands
who are reverent and sincere in their wish to believe,
then among them too
I will preach the unsurpassed Law.
But you have not heard of this,
so you suppose that I enter extinction.
When I look at living beings
I see them drowned in a sea of suffering;
therefore I do not show myself,
causing them to thirst for me.
Then when their minds are filled with yearning,
at last I appear and preach the Law for them.
Such are my transcendental powers.
For asamkhya kalpas
constantly I have dwelled on Holy Eagle Peak
and in various other places.
p.272When living beings witness the end of a kalpa
and all is consumed in a great fire,
this, my land, remains safe and tranquil,
constantly filled with heavenly and human beings.
The halls and pavilions in its gardens and groves
are adorned with various kinds of gems.
Jeweled trees abound in flowers and fruit
where living beings enjoy themselves at ease.
The gods strike heavenly drums,
constantly making many kinds of music.
Mandarava blossoms rain down,
scattering over the Buddha and the great assembly.
My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere.
These living beings with their various offenses,
through causes arising from their evil actions,
spend asamkhya kalpas
without hearing the name of the three treasures.
But those who practice meritorious ways,
who are gentle, peaceful, honest, and upright,
all of them will see me
here in person, preaching the Law.
At times for this multitude
I describe the Buddha’s life span as immeasurable,
and to those who see the Buddha only after a long time
I explain how difficult it is to meet a buddha.
Such is the power of my wisdom
that its sagacious beams shine without measure.
This life span of countless kalpas
I gained as the result of lengthy practice.
You who are possessed of wisdom,
entertain no doubts on this point!
Cast them off, end them forever,
for the Buddha’s words are true, not false.
He is like a skilled physician
p.273who uses an expedient means to cure his deranged sons.
Though in fact alive, he gives out word he is dead,
yet no one can say he speaks falsely.
I am the father of this world,
saving those who suffer and are afflicted.
Because of the befuddlement of ordinary people,
though I live, I give out word I have entered extinction.
For if they see me constantly,
arrogance and selfishness arise in their minds.
Abandoning restraint, they give themselves up to the five desires
and fall into the evil paths of existence.
Always I am aware of which living beings
practice the way, and which do not,
and in response to their need for salvation
I preach various doctrines for them.
At all times I think to myself:
How can I cause living beings
to gain entry into the unsurpassed way
and quickly acquire the body of a buddha?

CHAPTER 17

Distinctions in Benefits

At that time, when the great assembly heard the Buddha describe how his life span lasted such a very long number of kalpas, immeasurable, boundless asamkhyas of living beings gained a great many rich benefits.
At that time the world-honored one said to the bodhisattva mahasattva Maitreya: “Ajita, when I described how the life span of the thus come one lasts for such an exceedingly long time, living beings numerous as the sands of six hundred and eighty ten thousands, millions, nayutas of Ganges Rivers attained the truth of birthlessness. And bodhisattvas mahasattva a thousand times more in number gained the dharani teaching that allows them to retain all that they hear. And bodhisattvas mahasattva numerous as the dust particles of an entire world gained the eloquence that allows them to speak pleasingly and without hindrance. And bodhisattvas mahasattva numerous as the dust particles of an entire world gained dharanis that allow them to retain hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions, immeasurable repetitions of the teachings. And bodhisattvas mahasattva numerous as the dust particles of a major world system were able to turn the unregressing wheel of the Law. And bodhisattvas mahasattva numerous as the dust particles of an intermediate world system were able to turn the pure wheel of the Law. And bodhisattvas mahasattva numerous as the dust particles of a minor world system gained assurance that they would attain p.275supreme perfect enlightenment after eight rebirths. And bodhisattvas mahasattva numerous as the dust particles of four four-continent worlds gained assurance that they would attain supreme perfect enlightenment after four rebirths. And bodhisattvas mahasattva numerous as the dust particles of three four-continent worlds gained assurance that they would attain supreme perfect enlightenment after three rebirths. And bodhisattvas mahasattva numerous as the dust particles of two four-continent worlds gained assurance that they would attain supreme perfect enlightenment after two rebirths. And bodhisattvas mahasattva numerous as the dust particles of one four-continent world gained assurance that they would attain supreme perfect enlightenment after one rebirth. And living beings numerous as the dust particles of eight worlds were all moved to set their minds upon supreme perfect enlightenment.
When the Buddha announced that these bodhisattvas mahasattva had gained the great benefits of the Law, from the midst of the air mandarava flowers and great mandarava flowers rained down, scattering over the immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of buddhas who were seated on lion seats under jeweled trees, and also scattering over Shakyamuni Buddha, and over Many Treasures Thus Come One, who long ago entered extinction, both of whom were seated on lion seats in the tower of seven treasures. They also scattered over all the great bodhisattvas and the four kinds of believers. In addition, finely powdered sandalwood and aloes rained down, and in the midst of the air heavenly drums sounded of their own accord, wonderful notes deep and far-reaching. And a thousand varieties of heavenly robes rained down, draped with various necklaces, pearl necklaces, mani jewel necklaces, necklaces of wish-granting jewels, spreading everywhere in nine directions. In jewel-encrusted censers priceless incenses burned, their fragrance of its own accord permeating everywhere as an offering to the great assembly. Above each one of the buddhas there appeared bodhisattvas holding banners and canopies, in rows reaching up to the Brahma heaven. These bodhisattvas employed their wonderful voices in singing immeasurable hymns of praise to the buddhas.
p.276At that time the bodhisattva Maitreya rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder and, pressing his palms together and facing the Buddha, spoke in verse form, saying:

The Buddha preaches a rarely encountered Law,
one never heard from times past.
The world-honored one possesses great powers
and his life span cannot be measured.
The countless sons of the Buddha,
hearing the world-honored one make distinctions
and describe the benefits of the Law they will gain,
find their whole bodies filled with joy.
Some abide in the stage of no regression,
some have acquired dharanis,
some can speak pleasingly and without hindrance
or retain ten thousand, a million repetitions of the teachings.
Some bodhisattvas numerous as the dust particles
of a major world system
are all able to turn
the unregressing wheel of the Law.
Some bodhisattvas numerous as the dust particles
of an intermediate world system
are all able to turn
the pure wheel of the Law.
And some bodhisattvas numerous as the dust particles
of a minor world system
are assured that after eight more rebirths
they will be able to complete the buddha way.
Some bodhisattvas numerous as the dust particles
of four, three, two times
the four continents,
after a corresponding number of rebirths will become buddhas;
some bodhisattvas numerous as the dust particles
of one set of the four continents
after one more rebirth
p.277will attain comprehensive wisdom.
Thus when living beings
hear of the great length of the Buddha’s life,
they gain pure fruits and rewards
that are immeasurable and free of outflows.
Again living beings numerous as the dust particles
of eight worlds,
hearing the Buddha describe his life span,
all set their minds on the unsurpassed way.
The world-honored one preaches a Law
that is immeasurable and cannot be fathomed,
and those who benefit from it are many,
as boundless as the open air.
Heavenly mandarava flowers
and great mandarava flowers rain down;
Shakras and Brahmas like Ganges sands
arrive from countless buddha lands.
Sandalwood and aloes
in a jumble of fine powder rain down;
like birds flying down from the sky
they scatter as an offering over the buddhas.
In the midst of the air heavenly drums
of their own accord emit wonderful sounds;
heavenly robes by the thousand, ten thousand, million
come whirling and fluttering down;
wonderful jewel-encrusted censers
burn priceless incense
that of its own accord permeates everywhere,
an offering to all the world-honored ones.
The multitude of great bodhisattvas
hold banners and canopies adorned with the seven treasures,
ten thousand, a million in kind, lofty, wonderful,
in rows reaching up to the Brahma heaven.
Before each one of the buddhas
hang jeweled streamers and superlative banners,
while in thousands, ten thousands of verses
p.278the praises of the thus come ones are sung.
All these many things
have never been known in the past.
Hearing that the Buddha’s life is immeasurable,
all beings are filled with joy.
The Buddha’s name is heard in the ten directions,
widely benefiting living beings,
and all are endowed with good roots
to help them set their minds on the unsurpassed way.

At that time the Buddha said to the bodhisattva mahasattva Maitreya: “Ajita, if there are living beings who, on hearing that the life span of the Buddha is of such long duration, are able to believe and understand it even for a moment, the benefits they gain thereby will be without limit or measure. Suppose there are good men or good women who, for the sake of supreme perfect enlightenment, over a period of eight hundred thousand million nayutas of kalpas practice the five paramitas—the paramitas of almsgiving, keeping of the precepts, forbearance, assiduousness, and meditation, the paramita of obtaining wisdom being omitted—the benefits they obtain will not measure up to even a hundredth part, a thousandth part, a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, millionth part of the benefits mentioned previously. Indeed, it is beyond the power of calculation, simile, or parable to convey the comparison. For good men who have gained such benefits as those to fall back without reaching the goal of supreme perfect enlightenment is utterly unimaginable.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

If someone seeking the buddha wisdom
for a period of eight hundred thousand million
nayutas of kalpas
should practice the five paramitas,
during all those kalpas
distributing alms to the buddhas
p.279and to the cause-awakened ones and disciples
and the multitude of bodhisattvas,
rare delicacies of food and drink,
fine garments and articles of bedding,
or building religious retreats of sandalwood
adorned with gardens and groves;
if he should distribute alms
of many varieties, all refined and wonderful,
and do this for the entire number of kalpas
to express his devotion to the buddha way;
and if moreover he should keep the precepts,
in purity and without omission or outflow,
seeking the unsurpassed way,
praised by the buddhas;
and if he should practice forbearance,
remaining in a posture of submission and gentleness,
even when various evils are visited on him,
not allowing his mind to be roused or swayed;
when others, convinced they have gained the Law,
harbor thoughts of overbearing arrogance
and he is treated with contempt and vexed by them,
if he can still endure it with patience;
and if he is diligent and assiduous,
ever firm in intent and thought,
for immeasurable millions of kalpas
single-minded, never lax or neglectful,
for countless kalpas
dwelling in a deserted and quiet place;
and if he practices sitting and walking exercises,
banishing drowsiness, constantly regulating his mind,
and as a result of such actions
is able to produce states of meditation,
for eighty million ten thousand kalpas
remaining calm, his mind never deranged;
and if he holds to the blessing of this single-mindedness
and with it seeks the unsurpassed way,
p.280saying, “I will gain comprehensive wisdom
and exhaust all the states of meditation!”
If this person for a hundred, a thousand,
ten thousand, a million kalpas
should carry out these meritorious practices
as I have described above,
still those good men and women
who hear me describe my life span
and believe it for even a moment
win blessings that surpass those of such a person.
If a person is completely free
of all doubt and regret,
if in the depths of his mind he believes for one instant,
his blessings will be such as this.
These bodhisattvas
who have practiced the way for immeasurable kalpas
when they hear me describe my life span
are able to believe and accept what I say.
These people will
gratefully accept this sutra, saying,
“Our wish is that in future ages
we may use our long lives to save living beings.
Just as today the world-honored one,
king of the Shakyas,
roars like a lion in the place of enlightenment,
preaching the Law without fear,
so may we too in ages to come,
honored and revered by all,
when we sit in the place of enlightenment
describe our life spans in the same manner.”
If there are those profound in mind,
pure, honest, and upright,
who, hearing much, can retain it all,
who follow principle in understanding the Buddha’s words,
then people such as this
will have no doubts.

p.281“Furthermore, Ajita, if there is someone who, hearing of the long duration of the Buddha’s life span, can understand the import of such words, the benefits that such a person acquires will be without limit or measure, able to awaken in him the unsurpassed wisdom of the thus come one. How much more so, then, if far and wide a person listens to this sutra or causes others to listen to it, embraces it himself or causes others to embrace it, copies it himself or causes others to copy it, or presents flowers, incense, necklaces, streamers, banners, silken canopies, fragrant oil, or lamps of butter oil as offerings to the sutra rolls. The benefits of such a person will be immeasurable, boundless, able to inspire in him the wisdom that embraces all species.
“Ajita, if good men and good women, hearing me describe the great length of my life span, in the depths of their minds believe and understand, then they will see the Buddha constantly abiding on Mount Gridhrakuta, with the great bodhisattvas and multitude of voice-hearers surrounding him, preaching the Law. They will also see this saha world, its ground of lapis lazuli level and well ordered, the Jambunada gold bordering its eight highways, the rows of jeweled trees, the terraces, towers, and observatories all made of jewels, and all the multitude of bodhisattvas who live in their midst. If there are those who are able to see such things, you should know that it is a mark of their deep faith and understanding.
“Again, if after the thus come one has entered extinction there are those who hear this sutra and do not slander or speak ill of it but feel joy in their hearts, you should know that this is a sign that they have already shown deep faith and understanding. How much more in the case of persons who read, recite, and embrace this sutra! Such persons are in effect receiving the thus come one on the crown of their heads.
“Ajita, these good men and good women need not for my sake erect towers and temples or build monks’ quarters or make the four kinds of offerings to the community of monks. Why? Because these good men and good women, in receiving, embracing, reading, and reciting this sutra, have already erected towers, constructed monks’ quarters, and given alms to the community p.282of monks. It should be considered that they have erected towers adorned with the seven treasures for the relics of the Buddha, broad at the base and tapering at the top, reaching to the Brahma heaven, hung with banners, canopies, and a multitude of jeweled bells, with flowers, incense, necklaces, powdered incense, paste incense, incense for burning, many kinds of drums, musical instruments, pipes, harps, and various types of dances and diversions, and with wonderful voices that sing and intone hymns of praise. It is as though they have already offered alms for immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas.
“Ajita, if after I have entered extinction there are those who hear this sutra and can accept and uphold it, copy it themselves, or cause others to copy it, then it may be considered that they have already erected monks’ quarters, or used red sandalwood to construct thirty-two halls, as tall as eight tala trees, lofty, spacious, and beautifully adorned to accommodate hundreds and thousands of monks. Gardens, groves, pools, lakes, exercise grounds, caves for meditation, clothing, food, drink, beds, matting, medicines, and all kinds of utensils for comfort fill them, and these monks’ quarters and halls number in the hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions, and indeed are immeasurable in number. All these are presented before me as alms for me and the community of monks.
“So I say, if after the thus come one enters extinction there are those who accept, uphold, read, and recite this sutra or preach it to others, who copy it themselves or cause others to copy it, or who offer alms to the sutra rolls, then they need not erect towers or temples or build monks’ quarters or offer alms to the community of monks. And how much more is this true of those who are able to embrace this sutra and at the same time dispense alms, keep the precepts, practice forbearance, and display diligence, single-mindedness, and wisdom! Their virtue will be uppermost, immeasurable and boundless as the open sky, east, west, north, and south, in the four intermediate directions, and up and down, is immeasurable and boundless. The blessings of such persons will be as immeasurable and boundless as this, and p.283such persons will quickly attain the wisdom that embraces all species.
“If a person reads, recites, accepts, and upholds this sutra or preaches it to others; if he copies it himself or causes others to copy it; and if he can erect towers, build monks’ quarters, offer alms and praise to the community of voice-hearers; if he can employ hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of modes of praise to praise the merits of the bodhisattvas; and if for the sake of others he employs various causes and conditions and accords with principle in explaining and preaching this Lotus Sutra; and if he can observe the precepts with purity, keep company with those who are gentle and peaceful, be forbearing and without anger, firm in intent and thought, constantly prizing the practice of sitting in meditation, attaining various states of profound meditation, diligent and courageous, mastering all the good doctrines, keen in faculties and wisdom, good at answering difficult questions—Ajita, if after I have entered extinction there are good men and good women who accept, uphold, read, and recite this sutra and have good merits such as these, you should know that they have already proceeded to the place of enlightenment and are drawing near to supreme perfect enlightenment as they sit beneath the tree of the way. Ajita, wherever these good men and good women sit or stand or circle about in exercise, there one should erect a tower, and all heavenly and human beings should offer alms to it as they would to the tower of the Buddha.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

If after I have entered extinction
a person can honor and uphold this sutra,
his blessings will be immeasurable,
as I have described above.
It is as though he had supplied
all manner of alms,
erecting a tower for the Buddha’s relics
p.284adorned with the seven treasures
and with a central pole very tall and wide
that tapers gradually as it reaches the Brahma heaven.
Jeweled bells by the thousand, ten thousand, million,
move in the wind, emitting a wonderful sound.
And for immeasurable kalpas
he offers alms to this tower,
flowers, incense, various kinds of necklaces,
heavenly robes, and assorted musical instruments,
and burns fragrant oil and lamps of butter oil
that constantly light up the area around.
In the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law
if there is someone who can uphold this sutra,
it will be as though he supplied all the alms
described above.
If someone can uphold this sutra,
it will be as though in the presence of the Buddha
he should use ox-head sandalwood
to build monks’ quarters as an offering,
or thirty-two halls
as high as eight tala trees,
or supply all kinds
of superior foods and wonderful clothes and bedding,
residences for assemblies of hundreds, thousands,
gardens, groves, pools, and lakes,
exercise grounds and caves for meditation,
all with various kinds of fine adornments.
If someone with a believing and understanding mind
accepts, upholds, reads, recites, and copies this sutra
or causes others to copy it
or offers alms to the sutra rolls,
scattering flowers, incense, and powdered incense
or constantly burning fragrant oil
extracted from sumana, champaka,
or atimuktaka flowers,
if he offers alms such as these
he will gain immeasurable merits,
p.285boundless as the open air,
and his blessings will also be like this.
How much more so if one upholds this sutra
and at the same time dispenses alms, keeps the precepts,
is forbearing, delights in meditation,
and never gives way to anger or evil speaking.
If one displays reverence toward memorial towers,
humbles himself before monks,
gives a wide berth to an arrogant mind,
constantly ponders upon wisdom
and is never angry when asked difficult questions
but responds compliantly with an explanation—
if one can carry out such practices,
one’s merits will be beyond measure.
If you see a teacher of the Law
who has cultivated virtues such as these,
you should scatter heavenly flowers over him,
clothe his body in heavenly robes,
bow your head before his feet in salutation,
and in your mind imagine you see the Buddha.
You should also think to yourself:
Before long he will proceed to the place of enlightenment
and attain a state of no outflows and no action,
bringing wide benefit to heavenly and human beings!
In the place where such a person resides,
where he walks, sits, or lies down,
or recites even one verse of scripture,
there you should erect a tower
adorned in a fitting and wonderful manner
and offer alms of various kinds to it.
When a son of the Buddha dwells in such places
the Buddha will accept and utilize them,
and constantly in their midst
will walk, sit, or lie down.

CHAPTER 18

The Benefits of Responding with Joy

At that time the bodhisattva mahasattva Maitreya said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One, if there are good men or good women who, hearing this Lotus Sutra, respond with joy, what amount of blessings do they acquire?”
Then he spoke in verse, saying:

After the world-honored one has passed into extinction,
if those who hear this sutra
are able to respond with joy,
what amount of blessings will they acquire?

At that time the Buddha said to the bodhisattva mahasattva Maitreya: “Ajita, after the thus come one has entered extinction, suppose there are monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, or other persons of wisdom, whether old or young, who, hearing this sutra, respond with joy and, leaving the Dharma assembly, go to some other place, perhaps a monks’ quarters, a spot that is deserted and quiet, a city, a community, a settlement, or a village, and there in accordance with what they have heard they put forth effort in preaching and expounding for the sake of their parents and relatives, their good friends and acquaintances. These people, after hearing, respond with joy and they too set about spreading the teachings. One person, having heard, responds with joy and spreads the teachings, and the teachings in p.287this way continue to be handed along from one to another until they reach a fiftieth person.
“Ajita, the benefits received by this fiftieth good man or good woman who responds with joy I will now describe to you—you must listen carefully. Imagine all the beings in the six paths of existence of four hundred ten thousand million asamkhya worlds, all the four kinds of living beings, those born from the egg, those born from the womb, those born from dampness, and those born by transformation, those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those who are not with thought, those who are not without thought, those without legs, those with two legs, four legs, or many legs. And imagine that, among all this vast number of living beings, a person should come who is seeking blessings and, responding to their various desires, dispenses objects of amusement and playthings to all these living beings. Each one of these living beings is given gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, coral, amber, and other wonderful and precious gems, as well as elephants, horses, carriages, and palaces and towers made of the seven treasures, enough to fill a whole Jambudvipa. This great dispenser of charity, having handed out gifts in this manner for a full eighty years, then thinks to himself: I have already doled out objects of amusement and playthings to these living beings, responding to their various desires. But these living beings are now all old and decrepit, their years over eighty, their hair white, their faces wrinkled, and before long they will die. Now I should employ the Law of the Buddha to instruct and guide them.
“Immediately he gathers all the living beings together and propagates the Law among them, teaching, benefiting, and delighting them. In one moment all are able to attain the way of the stream-winner, the way of the once-returner, the way of the non-returner, and the way of the arhat, to exhaust all outflows and enter deeply into meditation. All attain freedom and become endowed with the eight emancipations. Now what is your opinion? Are the benefits gained by this great dispenser of charity many or not?”
Maitreya said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One, this p.288man’s benefits are very many indeed, immeasurable and boundless. Even if this dispenser of charity had merely given all those playthings to living beings, his benefits would still be immeasurable. And how much more so when he has enabled them to attain the fruits of arhatship!”
The Buddha said to Maitreya: “I will now state the matter clearly for you. This man gave all these objects of amusement to the living beings in the six paths of existence of four hundred ten thousand million asamkhya worlds and also made it possible for them to attain the fruits of arhatship. But the benefits that he gains do not match the benefits of the fiftieth person who hears just one verse of the Lotus Sutra and responds with joy. They are not equal to one hundredth, one thousandth, one part in a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, a million. Indeed it is beyond the power of calculation, simile, or parable to express the comparison.
“Ajita, the benefits gained by even the fiftieth person who hears the Lotus Sutra as it is handed along to him and responds with joy are immeasurable, boundless asamkhyas in number. How much greater then are those of the very first person in the assembly who, on hearing the sutra, responds with joy! His blessings are greater by an immeasurable, boundless asamkhya number, and are in fact incomparable.
“Moreover, Ajita, suppose a person for the sake of this sutra visits a monks’ quarters and, sitting or standing, even for a moment listens to it and accepts it. As a result of the benefits so obtained, when he is reborn in his next existence he will enjoy the finest, most superior and wonderful elephants, horses, and carriages, and palanquins decked with rare treasures, and will mount up to the heavenly palaces. Or suppose there is a person who is sitting in the place where the Law is expounded, and when another person appears, the first person urges him to sit down and listen, or offers to share his seat and so persuades him to sit down. The benefits gained by this person will be such that when he is reborn he will be in a place where the lord Shakra is seated, where the heavenly king Brahma is seated, or where a wheel-turning sage king is seated.
p.289“Ajita, suppose there is a person who speaks to another person, saying, ‘There is a sutra called the Lotus. Let us go together and listen to it.’ And suppose, having been urged, the other person goes and even for an instant listens to the sutra. The benefits of the first person will be such that when he is reborn he will be born in the same place as dharani bodhisattvas. He will have keen faculties and wisdom. For a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand ages he will never be struck dumb. His mouth will not emit a foul odor. His tongue will never be afflicted, nor will his mouth be afflicted. His teeth will not be stained or black, nor will they be yellow or widely spaced, nor will they be missing or fall out or be at an angle or crooked. His lips will not droop down or curl back or be rough or chapped or afflicted with sores or misshapen or twisted or too thick or too big or black or discolored or unsightly in any way. His nose will not be too broad or flat or crooked or too highly arched. His face will not be swarthy, nor will it be long and narrow, or sunken and distorted. He will not have a single unsightly feature. His lips, tongue, and teeth will all be handsomely proportioned. His nose will be long and high, his face round and full, his eyebrows long and set high, his forehead broad, smooth, and well shaped, and he will be endowed with all the features proper to a human being. In each existence he is born into, he will see the Buddha, hear his Law, and have faith in his teachings.
“Ajita, just observe! The benefits gained merely by encouraging one person to go and listen to the Law are such as this! How much more, then, if one single-mindedly hears, preaches, reads, and recites the sutra and before the great assembly makes distinctions for the sake of people and practices it as the sutra instructs!”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

If someone in the Dharma assembly
is able to hear this sutra,
even just one verse,
and responding with joy, preaches it to others,
p.290and in this way the teachings are handed along
till they reach the fiftieth person,
the blessings gained by this last person
are such as I will now define.
Suppose there is a great dispenser of charity
who bestows goods on immeasurable multitudes,
doing this for a full eighty years,
responding to each person’s desires.
Seeing the signs of decrepitude and old age,
the white hair and wrinkled faces,
the missing teeth, the withered forms,
he thinks, “Their death is not far off;
I must now teach them
so they can gain the fruits of the way!”
Immediately for their sake he employs an expedient means,
preaching the true doctrine of nirvana:
“Nothing in this world is lasting or firm
but all are like bubbles, foam, heat shimmer.
Therefore all of you must quickly
learn to hate it and be gone!”
When the people hear this doctrine,
all are able to become arhats
endowed with the six transcendental powers,
the three insights, and eight emancipations.
But the fiftieth person
who hears one verse [of the Lotus Sutra] and responds with joy
gains blessings that are far greater,
beyond description by simile or parable.
And if one who has had the teachings passed along to him
receives blessings that are immeasurable,
how much more so one who in the Dharma assembly
first hears the sutra and responds with joy.
Suppose someone encourages another person,
urging him to go and listen to the Lotus,
saying, “This sutra is profound and wonderful,
p.291hard to encounter in a thousand, ten thousand kalpas!”
And suppose, as urged, the person goes to listen,
even though he listens for just a moment.
The blessings that the first person gets in reward
I will now describe in detail:
Age after age, no afflictions of the mouth,
no teeth missing, yellow or blackened,
lips that are not thick, curled, or defective,
no hateful features,
a tongue not dry, black, or too short;
nose high, long, and straight,
forehead broad, smooth, and well shaped,
face and eyes all properly aligned and impressive,
the kind people delight to look at,
breath free of foul odor,
a fragrance of blue lotus flowers
constantly emitted by the mouth.
Suppose one goes to the monks’ quarters
expressly to listen to the Lotus Sutra
and listens with joy for just a moment—
I will now describe one’s blessings.
In existences to come among heavenly and human beings
one will acquire wonderful elephants, horses, carriages,
palanquins adorned with rare jewels,
and will mount to the palaces of heaven.
If in the place where the Law is expounded
one encourages someone to sit and hear the sutra,
the blessings one acquires will enable one
to gain the seat of Shakra, Brahma, and the wheel-turner.
How much more so if one listens single-mindedly,
explains and expounds the meaning,
and practices the sutra as the sutra instructs—
one’s blessings will know no bounds!
CHAPTER 19

Benefits of the Teacher of the Law

At that time the Buddha said to the bodhisattva mahasattva Constant Exertion: “If good men or good women accept and uphold this Lotus Sutra, if they read it, recite it, explain and preach it, or transcribe it, such people will obtain eight hundred eye benefits, twelve hundred ear benefits, eight hundred nose benefits, twelve hundred tongue benefits, eight hundred body benefits, and twelve hundred mind benefits. With these benefits they will be able to adorn their six sense organs, making all of them pure.
“These good men and good women, with the pure physical eyes they received from their parents at birth, will view all that exists in the inner and outer parts of the major world system, its mountains, forests, rivers, and seas, down as far as the Avichi hell and up to the Summit of Being. And in their midst they will see all the living beings, and will also see and understand all the causes and conditions created by their deeds and the births that await them as a result and recompense for those deeds.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

If in the midst of the great assembly
someone with a fearless mind
preaches this Lotus Sutra,
listen to the benefits he will receive!
p.293Such a person gains superior eyes
with eight hundred benefits.
As a result of these adornments
his eyes will become extremely pure.
With the eyes received at birth from his parents
he will be able to view the major world system,
its inner and outer parts, its Mount Meru,
its Sumeru, the Iron Encircling Mountains,
and all the other mountains and forests,
the waters of their great seas, rivers, and streams,
down as far as the Avichi hell,
up to the Summit of Being heaven.
And he will see all the living beings
in their midst.
Though he has not yet gained heavenly eyes,
the power of his physical eyes will be such as this.

“Moreover, Constant Exertion, if good men or good women accept and uphold this sutra, if they read it, recite it, explain and preach it, or transcribe it, they will gain twelve hundred ear benefits with which to purify their ears so they can hear all the different varieties of words and sounds in the major world system, down as far as the Avichi hell, up to the Summit of Being, and in its inner and outer parts. Elephant sounds, horse sounds, ox sounds, carriage sounds, weeping sounds, lamenting sounds, conch sounds, drum sounds, bell sounds, chime sounds, sounds of laughter, sounds of speaking, men’s voices, women’s voices, boys’ voices, girls’ voices, the voice of justice, the voice of injustice, bitter voices, merry voices, voices of ordinary people, voices of sages, happy voices, unhappy voices, voices of heavenly beings, dragon voices, yaksha voices, gandharva voices, asura voices, garuda voices, kimnara voices, mahoraga voices, the sound of fire, the sound of water, the sound of wind, voices of hell dwellers, voices of beasts, voices of hungry spirits, monks’ voices, nuns’ voices, voices of voice-hearers, voices of pratyekabuddhas, voices of bodhisattvas, and voices of buddhas. In a word, although the person has not yet gained heavenly ears, with the pure and p.294ordinary ears that he received at birth from his parents he will be able to hear and understand all the voices that exist in the inner and outer parts of the major world system. And though in this manner he can distinguish all the various different kinds of sounds and voices, this will not impair his hearing faculty.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

With the ears received at birth from one’s parents,
pure and without stain or defilement,
with these ordinary ears one can hear
the sounds of the major world system,
elephant, horse, carriage, ox sounds,
bell, chime, conch, drum sounds,
lute and harp sounds,
pipe and flute sounds;
the sound of pure and beautiful singing
one can hear without becoming attached to it.
The countless varieties of human voices—
one can hear and understand them all.
Again one can hear the voices of heavenly beings,
subtle and wonderful song sounds,
and one can hear men and women’s voices,
the voices of young boys and young girls.
In the midst of hills, rivers, and steep valleys
the voice of the kalavinka,
the jivakajivaka, and other birds—
all these sounds one will hear.
From the tormented multitudes of hell
the sounds of various kinds of suffering and distress,
sounds of hungry spirits driven by famine and thirst
as they search for food and drink,
of the asuras
who live on the shores of the great sea
when they talk among themselves
or emit loud cries—
one who preaches the Law
p.295can dwell safely among all these,
hearing these many voices from afar
without ever impairing one’s faculties of hearing.
In the worlds of the ten directions
when beasts and birds call to one another
this person who preaches the Law
hears them all from where he is.
In the Brahma heaven and above,
the Light Sound heaven, the All Pure heaven,
and up to the Summit of Being heaven,
the sounds of the voices talking there—
the teacher of the Law, dwelling here,
can hear them all.
All the multitude of monks
and all the nuns,
whether they are reading or reciting the scriptures
or preaching them for the sake of others—
the teacher of the Law dwelling here
can hear them all.
And when there are bodhisattvas
who read and recite the sutra teachings
or preach them for the sake of others
or select passages and explain their meaning,
the sounds of their voices—
he can hear them all.
When the buddhas, great sages and venerable ones,
teach and convert living beings,
in the midst of the great assemblies
expounding and preaching the subtle and wonderful Law,
one who upholds this Lotus
can hear them all.
All the sounds in the inner and outer parts
of the major world system,
down to the Avichi hell,
up to the Summit of Being heaven—
he can hear all these sounds
and never impair his faculties of hearing.
p.296Because the faculties of his ears are so keen
he can distinguish and understand all these sounds.
One who upholds this Lotus,
though one has not yet gained heavenly ears,
can do this simply through the ears one was born with—
such are the benefits one will gain.

“Moreover, Constant Exertion, if good men or good women accept and uphold this sutra, if they read it, recite it, explain and preach it, or transcribe it, they will succeed in gaining eight hundred nose benefits with which to purify their faculty of smell so that they can detect all different varieties of fragrances from top to bottom and in the inner and outer parts of the major world system, the fragrance of sumana flowers, jatika flowers, mallika flowers, champaka flowers, patala flowers, red lotus flowers, blue lotus flowers, white lotus flowers, the fragrance of flowering trees, fruit trees, sandalwood, aloes, tamala leaves, and tagara, as well as incense blended from a thousand, ten thousand ingredients, powdered incense, pellet incense, or paste incense. One who upholds this sutra, while dwelling here, will be able to distinguish all these.
“Moreover he will be able to distinguish and identify the odors of living beings, of elephants, horses, oxen, sheep, and so forth, the odor of a man, a woman, a boy child, a girl child, and the odors of plants, trees, thickets, and forests. Whether near or far off, all these odors he will be able to detect and distinguish one from the other without error.
“A person who upholds this sutra, though he dwells right here, will also be able to detect the odors of the various heavens in the sky above. The scent of parijataka and kovidara trees, of mandarava flowers, great mandarava flowers, manjushaka flowers, great manjushaka flowers, sandalwood, aloes, various kinds of powdered incense, and incense made of an assortment of flowers—of heavenly scents such as these, and the scents from which they are derived or blended, there are none that he cannot detect and identify.
“He will also be able to detect the scent of the bodies of p.297heavenly beings. The scent when the heavenly king Shakra is in his superb palace amusing himself and satisfying the five desires, or the scent when he is in the Hall of the Wonderful Law preaching the Law for the beings of the heaven of the thirty-three gods, or the scent when he is wandering at leisure in his gardens, as well as the scent of the bodies of the other male and female heavenly beings—all these he will be able to detect from afar.
“He will thus be able to extend his awareness up to the Brahma heaven and even higher to the Summit of Being heaven, detecting the scent of all the bodies of the heavenly beings, and he will also detect the incense burned by the heavenly beings. Moreover the scent of voice-hearers, of pratyekabuddhas, of bodhisattvas, and of the bodies of the buddhas—all these he will detect from afar and will know where these beings are. And although he can detect all these scents, his faculty of smell will not be impaired or disordered. If he should wish to distinguish one scent from another and describe it for someone else, he will be able to recall it without error.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

The purity of such a person’s nose will be such
that throughout this world
he will be able to detect and identify
all manner of odors, fragrant or foul,
sumana and jatika flowers,
tamala leaves and sandalwood,
the scent of aloes and cassia,
the scent of various flowers and fruits.
And he will know the scent of living beings,
the scent of men and women.
Though the preacher of the Law dwells far off,
he will detect these scents and know where the people are.
Wheel-turning kings of great authority,
lesser wheel-turners and their sons,
their ministers, and palace attendants—
he will detect their scents and know where they are.
p.298Precious treasures adorning the body,
treasure storehouses in the earth,
jeweled ladies of wheel-turning kings—
he will detect their scents and know where they are.
Ornaments that adorn the bodies of persons,
clothing and necklaces,
all kinds of paste incense—
by detecting these he will know who the wearers are.
When heavenly beings walk or sit,
amuse themselves or carry out magical transformations,
the upholder of this Lotus
by detecting their scents can know all this.
Blossoms and fruits of various trees,
and the aroma of butter oil—
the upholder of the sutra, dwelling here,
knows where all these are.
Deep in the mountains, in steep places
where blossoms of the sandalwood tree unfold,
living beings are in their midst—
by detecting the scent he can know all this.
Living beings in the Iron Encircling Mountains,
in the great seas, or in the ground—
the upholder of the sutra detects their scents
and knows where all of them are.
When male and female asuras
and their retinues of followers
fight with one another or amuse themselves,
he detects the scent and knows all this.
On the broad plains, in narrow places,
lions, elephants, tigers, wolves,
buffaloes, and water buffaloes—
by detecting their scents he knows where they are.
When a woman is pregnant
and no one can determine if the child is male or female,
if it will lack normal faculties or be inhuman,
by detecting the scent he can know all this.
And through this power to detect scents
p.299he knows when a woman has first become pregnant,
if the pregnancy will be successful or not,
if she will be delivered safely of a child rich in merit.
Through his power to detect scents
he knows the thoughts of men and women,
if their minds are stained by desire, foolishness, or anger,
and he knows if they are practicing good.
Hoards of goods that are stored in the earth,
gold, silver, and precious treasures,
things heaped in bronze vessels—
by detecting the scent he can tell where they all are.
Various kinds of necklaces
whose value cannot be appraised—
by the scent he knows if they are precious or worthless,
where they came from and where they are now.
Flowers in the heavens above,
mandaravas, manjushakas,
parijataka trees—
detecting their scents, he knows all these.
The palaces in the heavens above
in their separate grades of upper, intermediate, and lower,
adorned with numerous jeweled flowers—
detecting their scents, he knows them all.
The heavenly gardens and groves, the superb mansions,
the observatories, the Hall of the Wonderful Law,
and those taking pleasure in their midst—
detecting their scents, he knows them all.
When heavenly beings listen to the Law
or indulge the five desires,
coming and going, walking, sitting, lying down—
detecting their scents, he knows them all.
The robes worn by heavenly women
when, adorned with lovely flowers and perfumes,
they whirl and circle in enjoyment—
detecting their scents, he knows them all.
Thus extending his awareness
upward to the Brahma heaven,
p.300by detecting their scents, he knows all those
who enter meditation or emerge from meditation.
In the Light Sound and All Pure heavens
and up to the Summit of Being,
those born for the first time, those who have departed—
detecting their scents, he knows them all.
The multitude of monks
diligent at all times with regard to the Law,
whether sitting or walking around
or reading or reciting the sutra teachings,
sometimes under the forest trees
concentrating their energies, sitting in meditation—
the upholder of the sutra detects their scents
and knows where all of them are.
Bodhisattvas firm and unbending in will,
sitting in meditation or reading the sutras
or preaching the Law for others—
by detecting their scents he knows them all.
The world-honored ones, present in all quarters,
revered and respected by all,
pitying the multitude, preaching the Law—
by detecting their scents he knows them all.
Living beings who in the presence of the buddhas
hear the sutra and all rejoice,
who practice as the Law prescribes—
by detecting their scents he knows them all.
Though he has not yet acquired the nose possessed
by a bodhisattva of the Law of no outflows,
the upholder of the sutra before then
will acquire the marks of the nose described here.

“Moreover, Constant Exertion, if good men or good women accept and uphold this sutra, if they read it, recite it, explain and preach it, or transcribe it, they will gain twelve hundred tongue benefits. Whether something is good tasting or vile, whether it is flavorful or not, and even things that are bitter or astringent, when encountered by the faculties of this person’s tongue, they p.301will all be changed into superb flavors as fine as the sweet dew of heaven, and there will be none that are not pleasing.
“If with these faculties of the tongue he undertakes to expound and preach in the midst of the great assembly, he will produce a deep and wonderful voice capable of penetrating the mind and causing all who hear it to rejoice and delight. When the men and women of heaven, Shakra, Brahma, and the other heavenly beings, hear the sound of this deep and wonderful voice expounding and preaching, advancing the argument point by point, they will all gather to listen. Dragons and dragon daughters, yakshas and yaksha daughters, gandharvas and gandharva daughters, asuras and asura daughters, garudas and garuda daughters, kimnaras and kimnara daughters, mahoragas and mahoraga daughters will all gather close around its possessor in order to listen to the Law, and will revere him and offer alms. Monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, monarchs, princes, ministers and their retinues, petty wheel-turning kings and great wheel-turning kings with their seven treasures and thousand sons and inner and outer retinues will ride their palaces and all come to listen to the Law.
“Because this bodhisattva is so skilled at preaching the Law, the Brahmans, householders, and people throughout the country will for the remainder of their lives follow and wait on him and offer him alms. Voice-hearers, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, and buddhas will constantly delight to see him. Wherever this person is, the buddhas will all face in that direction when they preach the Law, and he will be able to accept and uphold all the doctrines of the buddhas. And in addition he will be able to emit the deep and wonderful sound of the Law.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

The faculties of this person’s tongue will be so pure
that he will never experience any bad tastes,
but all that he eats
will become like sweet dew.
With his deep, pure, and wonderful voice
he will preach the Law in the great assembly,
p.302employing causes, conditions, and similes
to lead and guide the minds of living beings.
All who hear him will rejoice
and offer him their finest alms.
Heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas,
as well as asuras and others
will all approach him with reverent minds
and together come to hear the Law.
If this preacher of the Law
wishes to use his wonderful voice
to fill the major world system
he can do so at will.
Wheel-turning kings great and small
and their thousand sons and retinues
will press their palms together with reverent minds
and constantly come to hear and accept the Law.
Heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas,
rakshasas, and pishachas
likewise with rejoicing minds
will constantly delight in coming to bring alms.
The heavenly king Brahma, the devil king,
the deities Freedom and Great Freedom,
all the multitude of heavenly beings
will constantly come to where he is.
The buddhas and their disciples,
hearing the sound of him preaching the Law,
will keep him constantly in their thoughts and guard him
and at times show themselves for his sake.

“Moreover, Constant Exertion, if good men or good women accept and uphold this sutra, if they read it, recite it, explain and preach it, or transcribe it, they will gain eight hundred body benefits. They will acquire pure bodies, like pure lapis lazuli, such as living beings delight to see. Because of the purity of those bodies, the living beings of the major world system, when they are born and when they die, whether superior or inferior, fair or p.303ugly, born in good places or bad, will all be reflected therein. The mountain kings of the Iron Encircling Mountains, the Great Iron Encircling Mountains, Mount Meru, and Mount Mahameru, as well as the living beings in their midst, will all be reflected therein. Down to the Avichi hell, upward to the Summit of Being, all the regions and their living beings will all be reflected therein. Voice-hearers, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, buddhas preaching the Law—the forms and shapes of all these will be reflected in their bodies.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

If one upholds the Lotus Sutra
one’s body will be very pure,
like pure lapis lazuli—
living beings will all delight to see it.
And it will be like a pure bright mirror
in which forms and shapes are all reflected.
The bodhisattva in his pure body
will see all that is in the world;
he alone will see brightly
what is not visible to others.
Within the major world system,
all the mass of burgeoning creatures,
heavenly and human beings, asuras,
hell dwellers, spirits, beasts—
their forms and shapes in this way
will all be reflected in his body.
The palaces of the various heavens
upward to the Summit of Being,
the Iron Encircling Mountains,
the mountains Meru and Mahameru,
the great seas and other waters—
all will be reflected in his body.
The buddhas and the voice-hearers,
buddha sons, bodhisattvas, and others,
p.304whether alone or in assemblies
preaching the Law—all will be reflected.
Though he has not yet acquired
the wonderful body of the true nature of phenomena, free of outflows,
because of the purity of his ordinary body
all things will be reflected in it.

“Moreover, Constant Exertion, if good men or good women accept and uphold this sutra after the thus come one has entered extinction, if they read it, recite it, explain and preach it, or transcribe it, they will acquire twelve hundred mind benefits. Because of the purity of their mental faculties, when they hear no more than one verse or one phrase [of the sutra], they will master immeasurable and boundless numbers of principles. And once having understood these principles, they will be able to expound and preach on a single phrase or a single verse for a month, for four months, or for a whole year, and the doctrines that they preach during that time will conform to the gist of the principles and will never be contrary to the true aspect.
“If they should expound some text of the secular world or speak on matters of government or occupations that sustain life, they will in all cases conform to the correct Law. With regard to the living beings in the six paths of existence of the major world system, they will understand how the minds of those living beings work, how they move, what idle theories they entertain.
“Thus although they have not yet acquired the wisdom of no outflows, the purity of their minds will be such that the thoughts of these people, their calculations and surmises and the words they speak, will in all cases represent the Law of the Buddha, never departing from the truth, and will also conform with what was preached in the sutras of former buddhas.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

The minds of these people will be pure,
bright, keen, without stain or defilement.
p.305And with these wonderful mental faculties
they will understand the superior, intermediate, and inferior doctrines.
Hearing no more than one verse,
they will master immeasurable meanings
and be able to preach them step by step in accordance with the Law
for a month, four months, or a year.
All the living beings
in the inner and outer parts of this world,
heavenly beings, dragons, humans,
yakshas, spirits,
those in the six paths of existence
and all the various thoughts they have—
upholders of the Lotus as their reward
will know all these in an instant!
The countless buddhas of the ten directions,
adorned with the marks of a hundred blessings,
for the sake of living beings preach the Law,
and such people, hearing it, will be able to accept and uphold it.
They will ponder immeasurable meanings,
preach the Law in an immeasurable number of ways,
yet from start to finish never forget or make a mistake,
because they are upholders of the Lotus.
They will understand the characteristics of all phenomena,
accord with principles, recognizing their proper order,
be masters of names and words,
and expound and preach things just as they understand them.
What these people preach
is in all cases the Law of former buddhas,
and because they expound this Law
they have no fear before the assemblies.
Such is the purity of the mental faculties
of the upholders of the Lotus Sutra.
Though they have not yet attained freedom from outflows,
p.306before that they will manifest the marks described here.
While these people uphold this sutra
they will dwell safely on rare ground,
by all living beings
delighted in, loved, and respected,
able to employ a thousand, ten thousand varieties
of apt and skillful words
to make distinctions, expound, and preach—
because they uphold the Lotus Sutra.

END OF THE SIXTH ROLL

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