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NS127911 – SPACESTATION PLAZA, SYNCHRONOTRON DAILY CALCULATIONS FROM LAWOFTIME.ORG – NICHIREN LIBRARY – ON ATTAIN BUDDHAHOOD IN THIS LIFETIME, ON THE TEN CHAPTERS, EXPEDIENT MEANS, EMERGING FROM THE EARTH, LIFESPAN, DISTINCTIONS IN BENEFITS.

17 March 2015

DAISAKU IKEDA FOREWORD – The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin
Volume I –

Foreword

THE publication in a single volume of the translations of 172 writings of Nichiren Daishonin, including his five major works, is indeed wonderful news, not only for members of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), but for all English-speaking people interested in Buddhism. This volume is the translation of works in the Nichiren Daishonin gosho zenshū (The Complete Works of Nichiren Daishonin). Now a good half of the contents of that volume has been translated and published in English.
Looking back, I recall that the Gosho zenshū was published in April 1952, about one year after my mentor, Jōsei Toda, became the second president of the Soka Gakkai. Since then, the members of the Soka Gakkai in Japan have been fond of reading the Gosho zenshū as they have persevered in spreading the Buddhist teachings widely, exactly as the Daishonin willed, for the peace and prosperity of humankind.
Particularly since my visit to the United States in 1960, my first trip outside Japan, the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin have transcended national boundaries and spread to numerous countries around the world. Now the number of countries I have visited has also grown to fifty-four.
Today the expansion of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism to 128 countries and territories worldwide attests to the realization of these golden words of the Daishonin: “The moon appears in the west and sheds its light eastward, but the sun rises in the east and casts its rays to the west. The same is true of Buddhism. It spread from west to east in the Former and Middle Days of the Law, but will travel from east to west in the Latter Day” (p. 401).
A world religion invariably has its sacred scriptures, or original texts. In Buddhism, for instance, there are sutras that record the teachings of Shakyamuni; in Christianity, there is the Bible; in Islam, the Koran.
The scriptures of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism are called the “Gosho.” (“Go” is an honorific prefix and “sho” means writings; thus, literally, honorable writings.) These writings have a distinguishing feature that sets them apart from the sacred texts of other religions. It is the fact that the founder, Nichiren Daishonin, wrote those works himself. Though the originals of many of those works have been lost, many important writings, including more than half of those known as the ten major works, have been handed down to the present in their original form. Naturally, with the worldwide spread of this Buddhism a demand has grown for the translation of those works, and efforts are now being made in many countries in that direction.
The Daishonin’s successor, Nikkō Shōnin (1246–1333), envisioned early on that, for the sake of worldwide propagation, the writings of his teacher were certain to be translated in the future. He declared: “Just as when the Buddhism of India spread eastward, the Sanskrit texts were translated and introduced in China and Japan, so when the time comes to widely declare the sacred teachings of this country, the Japanese texts are sure to be translated and spread in China and India. There is no reason to argue over translations that will benefit far-off lands. I alone worry about changes being made according to personal views” (Gosho zenshū).
Buddhism calls our present age the Latter Day of the Law. It is a period described in the sutras as an evil age defiled by the five impurities, in which people’s lives are muddied, and their confusion of thought is extreme. I am convinced that the Gosho is the one book that can dispel the darkness of this period and illuminate the third millennium. I believe it is the Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin that is indeed the scripture for the Latter Day of the Law, the scripture for all eternity.
The Gosho is a work of faith, of philosophy, of daily living, of eternal peace, and of boundless hope. It is set with myriad jewels of guidance. SGI members have read a single passage of the Gosho with their entire life, and not only changed their lives for the better but also achieved their human revolution.
What is the purpose of our studying the Gosho? The answer is expressed clearly in the following passage: “Believe in the Gohonzon, the supreme object of devotion in all of Jambudvīpa. Be sure to strengthen your faith, and receive the protection of Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions. Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach others. Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase” (p. 386).
The main elements of the practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism are summed up in this passage. What is important is, first, faith; second, practice; and third, study. Strong faith leads us directly to Buddhahood. And it is practice and study that deepen and strengthen that faith. For us, study must never be a mere accumulation of knowledge. It must be strictly a practical study to deepen one’s own faith and elevate one’s own state of life.
Moreover, the path of practice and study leads to the Gohonzon and to society. Because of practice and study, we face the Gohonzon, recite the sutra, and chant daimoku. With the wisdom and life force gained thereby, we carry out our practice and study in the midst of society. Herein lies what we call the bodhisattva way. That is the action of leading other people toward lasting happiness while striving to establish enduring peace for humanity. That practice begins with the inner reformation of the individual, and through that practice, the substance of our lives is deepened and enriched. The ultimate of those changes is the attainment of Buddhahood in this lifetime, or in modern terms, human revolution or self-actualization.
When the Daishonin talks about the Lotus Sutra, it is no longer a mere sacred scripture of the past. How overjoyed those who heard his teachings must have been on learning that the Lotus Sutra is alive in the realities of life, and that it teaches one’s own precious dignity. Our attitude when we read the Gosho should be the same.
The Gosho was written in thirteenth-century Japan. No matter what idea one expresses, one can never avoid what the sociologist Karl Mannheim described as the “existential determination of knowledge.” That is, it is perfectly natural that ideas be bound by various conditions of the society and age that are quite unrelated to the ideas themselves.
Thus, the Daishonin’s writings also reflect the cultural and social conditions of his time. Nevertheless, universal principles both timeless and unchanging are beautifully expressed therein. Our responsibility, I believe, is to read and extract those principles, and bring them to life in the present.
To give just one example, the Daishonin writes, “Even if it seems that, because I was born in the ruler’s domain, I follow him in my actions, I will never follow him in my heart” (p. 579). In modern terms, we might say that this well-known passage from The Selection of the Time expresses the ideals of freedom of spirit, freedom of religion, and freedom of thought.
Because of the pioneering nature of the Daishonin’s ideas, he was rejected by the feudalistic society of his time. At the Daishonin’s asserting that a debate on the teachings—in other words, discussion—is the only fair means of determining the superiority of a religion, the eminent priests of various schools, who were in collusion with government authorities, responded with violence unacceptable in a religious person.
In that sense, the Gosho is also the record of the Daishonin’s confrontation with the leaders of the political and religious worlds of his day. And the motivating power for that unyielding struggle was none other than his strength of spirit. The Daishonin writes: “Everyone in Japan, from the sovereign on down to the common people, without exception has tried to do me harm, but I have survived until this day. You should realize that this is because, although I am alone, I have firm faith” (p. 614).
The Daishonin clearly describes his circumstances during this period in this passage of Letter from Sado: “It is the nature of beasts to threaten the weak and fear the strong. Our contemporary scholars of the various schools are just like them. They despise a wise man without power, but fear evil rulers. They are no more than fawning retainers. Only by defeating a powerful enemy can one prove one’s real strength. When an evil ruler in consort with priests of erroneous teachings tries to destroy the correct teaching and do away with a man of wisdom, those with the heart of a lion king are sure to attain Buddhahood. Like Nichiren, for example. I say this not out of arrogance, but because I am deeply committed to the correct teaching. An arrogant person will always be overcome with fear when meeting a strong enemy” (p. 302).
In the midst of that battle with authority and power, in which he never begrudged even his life, the meticulousness of the Daishonin’s concern for his followers is absolutely astonishing. In response to the offerings he received from them, he wrote letters to each one, noting the items they had sent, and encouraging them in their faith. And to those believers grieving for the husband or child they had lost, he extended the utmost sincerity, giving them the courage and hope to live.
Religion exists to resonate vibrantly within each person. Even if one discusses the happiness of all human beings, if it is spoken of apart from the happiness of a single human being, that is mere theory.
The Daishonin writes: “The heart of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is found in the ‘Never Disparaging’ chapter. What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being” (p. 852).
It is when the fruits of studying the Gosho show in our own behavior that we can say we have truly read it.
Thus I am praying that, with great seeking spirit and deep faith, SGI friends throughout the world will tackle the serious study of the Gosho.
In conclusion, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the staff of the Gosho Translation Committee, who were in charge of the translation and editing of this volume. I also offer my deep gratitude to Dr. Burton Watson, the translator of The Lotus Sutra, who made so many invaluable contributions in translation.

Daisaku Ikeda
President
Soka Gakkai International
===

GOSHO NUMBER

215

On the Ten Chapters of “Great Concentration and Insight”
THE school known as the Flower Garland school holds that the perfect teaching of the Flower Garland Sutra and the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra are one in nature. But it considers that the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra is an offshoot of the Flower Garland perfect teaching.
The Dharma Characteristics school and the Three Treatises school take a similar view [with regard to the perfect teaching of the sutras that preceded the Lotus Sutra and that of the Lotus Sutra].
If the Tendai school follows the same sort of interpretation as these other schools, then what is the use of having a Tendai school separate from the other schools?
The Tendai school, for example, holds that the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra and that of the Nirvana Sutra are one in nature, but because the Lotus Sutra was preached before the Nirvana Sutra, the perfect teaching of the Nirvana Sutra is regarded as inferior to that of the Lotus Sutra. If the perfect teaching of the sutras that preceded the Lotus Sutra and the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra are regarded as one in nature, then, by the same token, does this mean that, because the other sutras were preached before the Lotus Sutra, the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra must be regarded as inferior?
In the end, erroneous interpretations such as these come about because of a mistaken understanding of passages found in the commentaries, passages such as “Concerning myō, or wonderful, the myō of this teaching and the myō of the other teachings [are not different in meaning],”1 “The truth of [the two kinds of] the perfect teaching does not differ,”2 “[The Buddha wisdom shown at the beginning and that at the latter time] are alike in representing the principle of perfect and immediate enlightenment,”3 and “The first three [of the four teachings] are designated as ‘rough.’”4
In Great Concentration and Insight, in the section dealing with the concentration and insight of perfect and immediate enlightenment, a passage from the Flower Garland Sutra5 is quoted. And in the section on the four forms of meditation in volume two, there are passages that would seem to refer to the Nembutsu practice.
But, as the saying goes, if the source is muddied, the stream will not run clear. Those persons who declare that the perfect teaching of the earlier sutras and the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra are one in nature may think that they are teaching others Great p.378Concentration and Insight, but all they are doing is making Nembutsu believers out of them.
From past times, there have been three opinions regarding the doctrines of Great Concentration and Insight, namely, that they derive from the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra; that they derive from the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra; and that they derive from both the theoretical teaching and the essential teaching. But I will not go into this matter here. [As Miao-lo says], “Therefore one should understand that Great Concentration and Insight sets forth the wonderful contemplation that is based on the opening up and merging of the provisional teachings with the perfect vehicle.”6 That is, the entire text of Great Concentration and Insight is founded on the opening up and merging of the provisional teachings with the Lotus Sutra.
Although Great Concentration and Insight quotes passages from various sutras preached prior to the Lotus Sutra and from the sacred texts of the non-Buddhist teachings, it is not espousing the ideas contained in these earlier sutras or non-Buddhist texts. It borrows passages from these texts but at the same time rejects the principles taught therein. [As Miao-lo says], “The setting is that of the earlier texts, but the wisdom is invariably that set forth in the perfect teaching.”7 That is, although there are quotations from various sutras such as the Questions of Manjushrī, the Great Correct and Equal Dhāranīs, or the Invocation of Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, and the four forms of meditation are discussed, the principles set forth therein are invariably those of the Lotus Sutra. [As Miao-lo says], “Various texts from here and there are quoted to make up a single composition, but the true meaning of the work in the end refers solely to the two sutras [the Lotus Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra].”8
Great Concentration and Insight consists of ten chapters entitled “Overall Meaning,” “Explaining Terminology,” “Characteristics of the Essence,” “Encompassing the Doctrines,” “Partial and Perfect,” “Preparatory Practices,” “Correct Meditation,” “Effect and Reward,” “Setting Forth Teachings,” and “Pointing Out the Goal.”
[As Great Concentration and Insight says] the first six chapters are based on the sutras. These six chapters, from “Overall Meaning” through “Preparatory Practices,” take up the first four volumes of the work. The wonderful understanding described therein sets forth the doctrine of the Lotus Sutra’s theoretical teaching.
The seventh chapter, “Correct Meditation,” establishes the correct practice based on the wonderful understanding, and deals with the ten objects and ten meditations, the practice of the essential teaching. The exposition of the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life begins with this chapter.
This doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life is not to be found in the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra, much less in any of the sutras preached prior to the Lotus. Although this doctrine derives from the ten factors, which represent the true aspect of all phenomena, as set forth in the concise replacement of the three vehicles with the one vehicle [in the “Expedient Means” chapter of the Lotus Sutra], its meaning is made clear only in the essential teaching.
In the case of the sutras preached before the Lotus, one uses the theoretical teaching to explain the meaning of the words. And in the case of the theoretical teaching, one uses the essential teaching to explain the meaning of the words. Only in the case of the essential teaching does one use the actual words themselves to explain the meaning.
There are many different kinds of p.379practices in the perfect teaching. Counting grains of sand and contemplating the great ocean are among them,9 as of course are the practice of reciting the sutras that preceded the Lotus and intoning the names of Amida Buddha and the other Buddhas.
These, however, are practices to be carried out on particular occasions or at particular times. The true perfect teaching practice is to keep the mouth constantly reciting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, whatever the occasion, and to keep the mind fixed on the meditation on the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. This is the practice and understanding of persons of wisdom. For the ordinary lay believers of Japan, however, it is sufficient if they concentrate solely on the recitation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The name will invariably invoke all the blessings of the thing itself. It has been said that there are seventeen names for the Lotus Sutra,10 but these are names that are common to other writings as well. The particular name of the sutra, that by which all the Buddhas of the three existences of past, present, and future invoke it, is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Amida, Shakyamuni, and all the other Buddhas, when they were creating the cause for the attainment of enlightenment, invariably fixed their minds on the practice of concentration and insight, and with their mouths they invariably recited Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The priests of the Tendai and True Word schools who practice the Nembutsu, unaware of these facts, constantly engage in the recitation of the words Namu Amida Butsu [Hail to Amida Buddha], and hence lay believers assume that the Tendai and True Word schools advocate the practice of the Nembutsu.
Moreover, the followers of Shan-tao and Hōnen believe that the followers of the Tendai and True Word teachings must be reciting the Nembutsu because they are dissatisfied with the practices of their own schools. This then leads them to proclaim that, rather than taking great pains to study the Tendai or True Word teachings or recite the Lotus Sutra, it is better to concentrate on the recitation of the Nembutsu and, after attaining rebirth in the Pure Land, to there come to a true understanding of the Lotus Sutra.
Because beliefs such as these have spread throughout this country of Japan, the leaders of the Tendai and True Word schools have been abandoned by their lay followers, and their temples in the sixty or more provinces have fallen into ruin.
The ninety-six non-Buddhist schools derived from the rules of conduct laid down by the monk Buddha Wisdom,11 and the slanders against the Lotus Sutra in Japan began when wide acceptance was given to the view that the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra and that of the pre-Lotus sutras are identical. What a sad day that was!
The non-Buddhists declared that this world is characterized by eternity, happiness, self, and purity, but the Buddha appeared in the world to proclaim that it is in fact characterized by suffering, non-substantiality, impermanence, and non-self. The persons of the two vehicles, voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones, then became unduly attached to the concept of non-substantiality and failed to advance to an understanding of the great vehicle, or Mahayana, teachings, and so the Buddha admonished them by declaring that the five cardinal sins too are the seeds of Buddhahood, that the countless dusts and troubles of earthly desires are also the seeds of the Thus Come One, warning them that the “good doctrine” of the two vehicles would never lead to the attainment of Buddhahood.
The concepts of eternity, happiness, p.380self, and purity as expounded by the non-Buddhists were erroneous, but there was nothing wrong with these terms themselves. However, the Buddha condemned these terms to show that their concepts were wrong. [In Mahayana] evil too can constitute the seed that leads to Buddhahood, and of course good can do so as well. However, when it came to the persons of the two vehicles, though the Buddha granted that they were capable of evil, he would not grant that they were capable of good.12
The Nembutsu that is practiced in the world today is a Nembutsu that will destroy the Lotus Sutra throughout this country. Though it may be a “good” practice, and one that is theoretically sound, one should condemn its name.
This is because the Buddhist teachings should conform to what is suitable for the particular country. In India, there were states wholly devoted to the Hinayana teachings, states wholly devoted to the Mahayana teachings, and states in which both Hinayana and Mahayana were pursued. The teachings differed according to the state. And China is the same in nature.
But Japan is a country suitable only for the Mahayana teachings, and among these, the teaching of the one vehicle [of the Lotus Sutra]. Even the teachings of the three Mahayana schools, the Flower Garland, the Dharma Characteristics, and the Three Treatises schools, are not suitable for this country, much less those of the three Hinayana schools.13
The Nembutsu and Zen schools that enjoy popularity in the country today derive from the Correct and Equal sutras, and their level of understanding in no way exceeds that of the Dharma Characteristics, Three Treatises, and Flower Garland schools.
The Nembutsu practice of reciting Namu Amida Butsu pertains only to the sutras preached prior to the Lotus. According to the Lotus Sutra, it can never lead to rebirth in the Pure Land. Only after the opening up and merging of the teachings that takes place in the Lotus Sutra can it become a cause for the attainment of Buddhahood.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, on the other hand, is not related to the forty and more years of the Buddha’s preaching life before he expounded the Lotus Sutra. It relates only to the eight years during which he preached the Lotus.
The doctrine of Namu Amida Butsu cannot effect the opening up and merging [of the doctrine of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]. It is the Lotus Sutra that is capable of carrying out such an opening up and merging, and the Nembutsu is that which is opened up and merged.
Practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, even if they do not once in their lifetime utter the words Namu Amida Butsu, will enjoy all the blessings bestowed by Amida Buddha and all the other Buddhas of the ten directions. Such practice is like the wonderful wish-granting jewel, which is capable of bestowing gold, silver, and all manner of wealth.
But though one may recite the Nembutsu for a whole lifetime, one will never gain the blessings of the Lotus Sutra, just as one could never buy a wish-granting jewel with mere gold and silver. Even though one were to offer all the gold and silver and other forms of wealth contained in the entire major world system, one could never exchange them for the wish-granting jewel.
Even if the teachings of Nembutsu should be opened up and merged [into the Lotus Sutra], they are the provisional teachings within the body [of the Lotus Sutra] and therefore inferior to the true teaching within the same body. And given our present age, how few must be the wise persons p.381who reach such an understanding of the opening up and merging of the teachings!
Even if such persons should exist, what of their disciples, their kinfolk, and their retainers? Ignorant persons such as these, seeing the wise person reciting the Nembutsu, will conclude that he is a full-fledged believer in the Nembutsu. They surely will not take him for a votary of the Lotus Sutra! But so long as one recites Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, even the most ignorant of persons could not fail to recognize one as a votary of the Lotus Sutra.
In our present age, more fearful than those who murder their father or mother or plot insurrection are those who, though leaders of the Tendai or True Word schools, yet go about reciting Shan-tao’s Praising Rebirth in the Pure Land or twittering away with Hōnen’s Nembutsu.
After you have concluded the reading of Great Concentration and Insight, you may pass this letter around among the persons who attended the reading. Once the reading of Great Concentration and Insight is concluded, come back here as soon as possible.
With regard to the lawsuit, if the cause of my action is reasonable enough, I think it will be difficult to reach a settlement [because the High Court at Kamakura harbors prejudice against me]. And, as people say, legal inquiries are not like matters of religious doctrine, and it was wise of us to have raised a suit. Therefore, there would seem to be even less hope for a quick settlement.
Word has come that the Lesser Aide of Judicial Affairs has turned the suit over to Hei no Saburō Saemon [to avoid a settlement].14 Under these circumstances, you should consider that the longer the case drags on, the better are the prospects. A settlement will probably be reached eventually, and if it is not, people will understand that there is a reasonable cause on my side, so you should not fret over the delay.
At the moment I have a number of Tendai and True Word persons visiting me and am very busy with them and other things, so I will end this here.
1 On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime
IF you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since time without beginning and to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime, you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings. This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore enable you to grasp the mystic truth innate in all life.
The Lotus Sutra is the king of sutras, true and correct in both word and principle. Its words are the ultimate reality, and this reality is the Mystic Law (myōhō). It is called the Mystic Law because it reveals the principle of the mutually inclusive relationship of a single moment of life and all phenomena. That is why this sutra is the wisdom of all Buddhas.
Life at each moment encompasses the body and mind and the self and environment of all sentient beings in the Ten Worlds as well as all insentient beings in the three thousand realms, including plants, sky, earth, and even the minutest particles of dust. Life at each moment permeates the entire realm of phenomena and is revealed in all phenomena. To be awakened to this principle is itself the mutually inclusive relationship of life at each moment and all phenomena. Nevertheless, even though you chant and believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but an inferior teaching. “Inferior teaching” means those other than this [Lotus] sutra, which are all expedient and provisional. No expedient or provisional teaching leads directly to enlightenment, and without the direct path to enlightenment you cannot attain Buddhahood, even if you practice lifetime after lifetime for countless kalpas. Attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime is then impossible. Therefore, when you chant myōhō and recite renge,1 you must summon up deep faith that Myoho-renge-kyo is your life itself.
You must never think that any of the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime or any of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences are outside yourself. Your practice of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless you perceive the true nature of your life. If you seek enlightenment outside yourself, then your performing even ten thousand practices and ten thousand good deeds will be in vain. It is like the case of a poor man who spends night and day counting his neighbor’s wealth but gains not even half a coin. That is why the T’ien-t’ai school’s commentary states, “Unless p.4one perceives the nature of one’s life, one cannot eradicate one’s grave offenses.”2 This passage implies that, unless one perceives the nature of one’s life, one’s practice will become an endless, painful austerity. Therefore, such students of Buddhism are condemned as non-Buddhist. Great Concentration and Insight states that, although they study Buddhism, their views are no different from those of non-Buddhists.
Whether you chant the Buddha’s name,3 recite the sutra, or merely offer flowers and incense, all your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life. With this conviction you should strive in faith. The Vimalakīrti Sutra states that, when one seeks the Buddhas’ emancipation in the minds of ordinary beings, one finds that ordinary beings are the entities of enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana. It also states that, if the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.
It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being. When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
What then does myō signify? It is simply the mysterious nature of our life from moment to moment, which the mind cannot comprehend or words express. When we look into our own mind at any moment, we perceive neither color nor form to verify that it exists. Yet we still cannot say it does not exist, for many differing thoughts continually occur. The mind cannot be considered either to exist or not to exist. Life is indeed an elusive reality that transcends both the words and concepts of existence and nonexistence. It is neither existence nor nonexistence, yet exhibits the qualities of both. It is the mystic entity of the Middle Way that is the ultimate reality. Myō is the name given to the mystic nature of life, and hō, to its manifestations. Renge, which means lotus flower, is used to symbolize the wonder of this Law. If we understand that our life at this moment is myō, then we will also understand that our life at other moments is the Mystic Law.4 This realization is the mystic kyō, or sutra. The Lotus Sutra is the king of sutras, the direct path to enlightenment, for it explains that the entity of our life, which manifests either good or evil at each moment, is in fact the entity of the Mystic Law.
If you chant Myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith in this principle, you are certain to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. That is why the sutra states, “After I have passed into extinction, [one] should accept and uphold this sutra. Such a person assuredly and without doubt will attain the Buddha way.”5 Never doubt in the slightest.
Respectfully.
Maintain your faith and attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Nichiren

=== FOREWORD TO LOTUS

Foreword
From early times the Lotus Sutra has been known as “the king of the sutras.” This is above all because it is “a scripture of great hope” that brings light to the hearts of all people.
The Lotus Sutra clearly and definitively reveals the buddha nature that is an integral part of the lives of all people. And it makes clear that the Buddha desires and acts so that all people, by opening up this buddha nature inherent within themselves, may attain the state of buddhahood for themselves. The sutra further stresses that the continued observance of such action is the true mission of the bodhisattva, and never ceases to praise the observance of this practice.
The buddha nature, which is inherent in all living beings, is a universal and fundamental source or fountain of hope. When it is fully brought to light, it allows all human beings to realize their highest level of personal development and to attain unparalleled happiness and good fortune. And the Lotus Sutra is the text that most forcefully asserts this truth.
The Lotus Sutra, which possesses the power to fulfill the hopes latent in the lives of human beings, spread from India to Central Asia, and from there to the countries of eastern Asia. In India and Central Asia various manuscripts of the sutra in Sanskrit and other languages of that area into which it was translated have been found. In the region of eastern Asia, it was translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva (344–413), and that is the version in which it has been read, recited, and best known by many people. In that form, we may say, it constituted one of the most important spiritual elements underlying the culture of China in the Six Dynasties, Sui, and Tang periods, and of Japan in the Heian period.
In particular, in China in the sixth century the Great Teacher Tiantai (538–597), on the basis of the Lotus Sutra, developed his system of interpretation known as “three thousand realms in a single moment of life,” which expounds the philosophy of hope embodied in the Lotus Sutra in a subtle and logically convincing manner. But although there had been, in the history of the transmission of the Lotus Sutra, efforts to transcend the barrier of cultural differences and bring out the universally valid nature of the sutra’s message, it would appear that the true worth of the Lotus Sutra had not, in this period before the appearance of Nichiren Daishonin (1222–1282), as yet been fully revealed.
Nichiren Daishonin in his writings states: “The heart of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is found in the ‘Never Disparaging’ chapter. What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 851–52).
By this the Daishonin means that the heart of the Lotus Sutra, the highest among all of Shakyamuni’s teachings, resides in the practice carried out by Bodhisattva Never Disparaging of respecting and paying reverence to all people. The life of each and every person is endowed with the buddha nature, the seed or potential for attaining buddhahood. So long as a person pursues the correct path, this seed will invariably sprout, blossom, and bear fruit. It was on the basis of this firm conviction that Bodhisattva Never Disparaging paid obeisance to every single person that he encountered.
To encourage and bring to fulfillment this practice of paying respect to others, we may say, constitutes the Buddha’s basic aim, the true message of the Lotus Sutra, and the true propagation of the Lotus Sutra. In order to achieve the ideals and spirit of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Daishonin made this most important practice the very core of his being. Moreover, he revealed Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws1 as the manifestation of his own life embodying the buddha nature, and for the sake of all people of the future, opened up the path that would lead to inner transformation, or human revolution, and the creation of a peaceful and ideal society.
In the seventy-nine years since its founding in 1930, the Soka Gakkai, obeying the final instructions of Nichiren Daishonin, has wholeheartedly carried out this most important practice of the Lotus Sutra. As individuals among the populace have succeeded in attaining their own personal victory and realized full satisfaction in life, a rich human culture has blossomed into being, and a path has been opened for the establishment of world peace. And this path is now being spread throughout the entire globe.
For humankind as a whole, the twenty-first century represents the crucial, the now-or-never moment for the establishment of peace. Therefore I firmly believe that now is the time to work more tirelessly than ever to propagate and establish this philosophy of hope set forth in the Lotus Sutra, a scripture that delves into the very fundamentals of human life, and that this opportunity must not be missed. For that reason it is with profound joy that, at the start of this, the twenty-first century, I greet the publication of this Soka Gakkai edition of The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras as it makes its way out into the world.
I would like in conclusion to express my thanks to Dr. Burton Watson for his painstaking English translation of the three sutras.

Daisaku Ikeda
President of Soka Gakkai International

===
LOTUS
Expedient Means

At that time the world-honored one calmly arose from his samadhi and addressed Shariputra, saying: “The wisdom of the buddhas is infinitely profound and immeasurable. The door to this wisdom is difficult to understand and difficult to enter. Not one of the voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas is able to comprehend it.
“What is the reason for this? The buddhas have personally attended a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million, a countless number of buddhas and have fully carried out an immeasurable number of buddhas’ ways and doctrines. They have exerted themselves bravely and vigorously, and their names are universally known. They have realized the Law that is profound and never known before, and preach it in accordance with what is appropriate, yet their intentions are difficult to understand.
“Shariputra, ever since I attained buddhahood I have through various causes and various similes widely expounded my teachings and have used countless expedient means to guide living beings and cause them to renounce their attachments. Why is this? Because the thus come ones are fully possessed of both expedient means and the paramita of wisdom.
“Shariputra, the wisdom of the thus come ones is expansive and profound. They have immeasurable [compassion], unlimited [eloquence], power, fearlessness, concentration, emancipation, p.57and samadhis, and have deeply entered the boundless and awakened to the Law never before attained.
“Shariputra, the thus come ones know how to make various distinctions and to expound the teachings skillfully. Their words are soft and gentle and can delight the hearts of the assembly.
“Shariputra, to sum it up: the buddhas have fully realized the Law that is limitless, boundless, never attained before.
“But stop, Shariputra, I will say no more. Why? Because what the buddhas have achieved is the rarest and most difficult-to-understand Law. The true aspect of all phenomena can only be understood and shared between buddhas. This reality consists of the appearance, nature, entity, power, influence, internal cause, relation, latent effect, manifest effect, and their consistency from beginning to end.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

The heroes of the world are unfathomable.
Among heavenly beings or the people of the world,
among all living beings,
none can understand the buddhas.
The buddhas’ power, fearlessness,
emancipation, and samadhis
and the buddhas’ other attributes
no one can reckon or fathom.
Earlier, under the guidance of countless buddhas
I fully acquired and practiced various ways,
profound, subtle, and wonderful doctrines
that are hard to see and hard to understand.
Having practiced these ways for immeasurable millions of kalpas,
in the place of enlightenment I achieved the goal.
I have already come to see and know completely
the meainig of this great effect,
the various natures and appearances.
I and the buddhas of the ten directions
can now understand these things.
p.58This Law cannot be described,
words fall silent before it.
Among the other kinds of living beings
there are none who can comprehend it,
except the many bodhisattvas
who are firm in the power of faith.
The many disciples of the buddhas
in the past have given offerings to the buddhas,
have already cut off all outflows
and now are dwelling in their last incarnations.
But even such persons as they
have not the power needed.
Even if the whole world
were filled with men like Shariputra,
though they exhausted their thoughts and pooled their capacities,
they could not fathom the buddha wisdom.
Even if the ten directions
were all filled with men like Shariputra
or like the other disciples,
though they filled the lands in the ten directions
and exhausted their thoughts and pooled their capacities,
still they could not understand it.
If pratyekabuddhas, acute in understanding,
without outflows, in their last incarnations,
should fill the worlds in the ten directions,
as numerous as bamboos in a grove,
though they should join together with one mind
for a million or for countless kalpas,
hoping to conceive of the Buddha’s true wisdom,
they could not understand the smallest part of it.
If bodhisattvas newly embarked on their course
should give offerings to numberless buddhas,
completely mastering the intent of the various doctrines
and also able to preach them effectively,
like so many rice and hemp plants, bamboos or reeds,
filling the lands in the ten directions,
p.59with a single mind, with their wonderful wisdom,
for kalpas numerous as Ganges sands
should all together pool their thoughts and capacities,
they could not understand the buddha wisdom.
If bodhisattvas who never regress,
their number like Ganges sands,
with a single mind should join in pondering and seeking,
they could not understand it either.
I also announce to you, Shariputra,
that this profound, subtle, and wonderful Law
without outflows, incomprehensible,
I have now attained in full.
Only I understand its characteristics,
and the buddhas of the ten directions do likewise.
Shariputra, you should know
that the words of the various buddhas never differ.
Toward the Law preached by the buddhas
you must cultivate a great power of faith.
The world-honored one has long expounded his doctrines
and now must reveal the truth.
I announce this to the assembly of voice-hearers
and to those who seek the vehicle of the cause-awakened one:
I have enabled people to escape the bonds of suffering
and to attain nirvana.
The Buddha, through the power of expedient means,
has shown them the teachings of the three vehicles,
prying living beings loose from this or that attachment
and allowing them to attain release.

At that time among the great assembly there were voice-hearers, arhats whose outflows had come to an end, Ajnata Kaundinya and others numbering twelve hundred persons. And there were monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen who had conceived a desire to become voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas. Each of these had this thought: Now for what reason does the world-honored one so earnestly praise expedient means and p.60state that the Law attained by the Buddha is profound and difficult to understand, that it is very difficult to comprehend the meaning of the words he preaches, that not one of the voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas can do so? If the Buddha preaches but one doctrine of emancipation, then we too should be able to attain this Law and reach the state of nirvana. We cannot follow the gist of what he is saying now.
At that time Shariputra understood the doubts that were in the minds of the four kinds of believers, and he himself did not yet fully comprehend. So he addressed the Buddha, saying, “World-Honored One, what causes and conditions lead you to earnestly praise the foremost expedient means of the buddhas, the profound, subtle, and wonderful Law that is difficult to understand? From times past I have never heard this kind of preaching from the Buddha. Now the four kinds of believers all have doubts. We beg that the world-honored one will expound this matter. For what reason does the world-honored one earnestly praise this Law that is profound, subtle and wonderful, difficult to understand?”
At that time Shariputra, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Sun of wisdom, great sage and venerable one,
at long last you preach this Law.
You yourself declare you have attained
power, fearlessness, samadhis,
concentration, emancipation, and other such attributes,
and the Law that is beyond comprehension.
This Law attained in the place of enlightenment
no one is capable of questioning you about.
“My intention is hard to fathom,
and no one can question me.”
No one questions, yet you yourself preach,
praising the path you walk on.
Your wisdom is very subtle and wonderful,
that which all the buddhas attain.
The arhats who are without outflows
p.61and those who seek nirvana
now have all fallen into the net of doubt,
wondering for what reason the Buddha preaches this.
Those who seek to become cause-awakened ones,
the monks and nuns,
heavenly beings, dragons, and spirits,
and gandharvas and others,
look at one another, filled with perplexity,
gazing upward at the most honored of two-legged beings.
What is the meaning of all this?
I beg the Buddha to explain it for us.
Among the assembly of voice-hearers
the Buddha has said I am foremost,
yet now I lack the wisdom
to solve these doubts and perplexities.
Have I in fact grasped the ultimate Law,
or am I still on the path of practice?
The sons born from the Buddha’s mouth
press palms together, gaze upward and wait.
We beg you to put forth subtle and wonderful sounds
and at this time explain to us how it really is.
The heavenly beings, dragons, and others,
their numbers like Ganges sands,
the bodhisattvas seeking to be buddhas
in a great force of eighty thousand,
as well as the wheel-turning sage kings
come from ten thousands of millions of lands,
all press their palms and with reverent minds
wish to hear the teaching of perfect endowment.

At that time the Buddha addressed Shariputra, saying, “Stop, stop! There is no need to speak further. If I speak of this matter, then the heavenly and human beings throughout the worlds will all be astonished and doubtful.”
Shariputra once more spoke to the Buddha, saying, “World-Honored One, we beg you to preach! We beg you to preach! What is the reason? Because this assembly of countless hundreds, p.62thousands, ten thousands, millions of asamkhyas of living beings in the past have seen the buddhas; their faculties are vigorous and acute and their wisdom is bright. If they hear the Buddha preach, they will be capable of reverent belief.”
At that time Shariputra, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Dharma King, none more highly honored,
speak, we beg you, without reserve!
In this assembly of numberless beings
are those capable of reverent belief.

The Buddha stopped Shariputra, saying, “If I speak of this matter, the heavenly and human beings and asuras throughout the worlds will all be astonished and doubtful. The monks who are overbearingly arrogant will fall into a great pit.”
At that time the world-honored one repeated what he had said in verse form:

Stop, stop, no need to speak!
My Law is wonderful and difficult to ponder.
Those who are overbearingly arrogant
when they hear it will never show reverent belief.

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

Supremely honored among two-legged beings,
we beg you to preach this foremost Law.
p.63I who am regarded as the Buddha’s eldest son
ask you to favor us by making distinctions and preaching.
The countless members of this assembly
are capable of according reverent belief to this Law.
The buddhas have already in age after age
taught and converted them in this manner.
All with a single mind and palms pressed together
desire to hear and receive the Buddha’s words.
I and the others of the twelve hundred of our group,
as well as the others who seek to become buddhas,
beg that for the sake of this assembly
you will favor us by making distinctions and preaching.
When we hear this Law
we will be filled with great joy.

At that time the world-honored one said to Shariputra, “Three times you have stated your earnest request. How can I do other than preach? Now you must listen attentively and carefully ponder. For your sake I will now analyze and explain the matter.”
When he had spoken these words, there were some five thousand monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen in the assembly who immediately rose from their seats, bowed to the Buddha, and withdrew. What was the reason for this? These persons had roots of guilt that were deep and manifold, and in addition they were overbearingly arrogant. What they had not attained they supposed they had attained, what they had not understood they supposed they had understood. And because they had this failing, they did not remain where they were.
The world-honored one was silent and did not try to detain them.
At this time the Buddha said to Shariputra, “Now this assembly of mine is free of branches and leaves, made up solely of the steadfast and truthful. Shariputra, it is well that these persons of overbearing arrogance have withdrawn. Now listen carefully and I will preach for you.”
Shariputra said, “So be it, World-Honored One. We are eager to listen!”
p.64The Buddha said to Shariputra, “A wonderful Law such as this is preached by the buddhas, the thus come ones, at certain times. But like the blooming of the udumbara, such times come very seldom. Shariputra, you and the others must believe me. The words that the buddhas preach are not empty or false.
“Shariputra, the buddhas preach the Law in accordance with what is appropriate, but the meaning is difficult to understand. Why is this? Because we employ countless expedient means, discussing causes and conditions and using words of simile and parable to expound the teachings. This Law is not something that can be understood through pondering or analysis. Only those who are buddhas can understand it. Why is this? Because the buddhas, the world-honored ones, appear in the world for one great reason alone. Shariputra, what does it mean to say that the buddhas, the world-honored ones, appear in the world for one great reason alone?
“The buddhas, the world-honored ones, wish to open the door of buddha wisdom to all living beings, to allow them to attain purity. That is why they appear in the world. They wish to show the buddha wisdom to living beings, and therefore they appear in the world. They wish to cause living beings to awaken to the buddha wisdom, and therefore they appear in the world. They wish to induce living beings to enter the path of buddha wisdom, and therefore they appear in the world. Shariputra, this is the one great reason for which the buddhas appear in the world.”
The Buddha said to Shariputra, “The buddhas, the thus come ones, simply teach and convert the bodhisattvas. All the things they do are at all times done for this one purpose. They simply wish to show the buddha wisdom to living beings and enlighten them to it.
“Shariputra, the thus come ones have only the single buddha vehicle that they employ in order to preach the Law to living beings. They do not have any other vehicle, a second one or a third one. Shariputra, the Law preached by all the buddhas of the ten directions is the same as this.
“Shariputra, the buddhas of the past used countless numbers p.65of expedient means, various causes and conditions, and words of simile and parable in order to expound the doctrines for the sake of living beings. These doctrines are all for the sake of the one buddha vehicle. These living beings, by listening to the doctrines of the buddhas, are all eventually able to attain wisdom embracing all species.
“Shariputra, when the buddhas of the future make their appearances in the world, they too will use countless numbers of expedient means, various causes and conditions, and words of simile and parable in order to expound the doctrines for the sake of living beings. These doctrines will all be for the sake of the one buddha vehicle. And these living beings, by listening to the doctrines of the buddhas, will all eventually be able to attain wisdom embracing all species.
“Shariputra, the buddhas, the world-honored ones, who exist at present in the countless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, and millions of buddha lands in the ten directions, benefit and bring peace and happiness to living beings in large measure. These buddhas too use countless numbers of expedient means, various causes and conditions, and words of simile and parable in order to expound the doctrines for the sake of living beings. These doctrines are all for the sake of the one buddha vehicle. And these living beings, by listening to the doctrines of the buddhas, are all eventually able to attain wisdom embracing all species.
“Shariputra, these buddhas simply teach and convert the bodhisattvas. They do it because they wish to show the buddha wisdom to living beings. They do it because they wish to awaken living beings to the buddha wisdom. They do it because they wish to cause living beings to enter the path of buddha wisdom.
“Shariputra, I too will now do the same. I know that living beings have various desires, attachments that are deeply implanted in their minds. Taking cognizance of this basic nature of theirs, I will therefore use various causes and conditions, words of simile and parable, and the power of expedient means and expound the doctrines for them. Shariputra, I do this so that all p.66of them may attain the one buddha vehicle and wisdom embracing all species.
“Shariputra, in the worlds of the ten directions, there are not two vehicles, much less three! Shariputra, the buddhas appear in evil worlds of five impurities. These are the so-called impurity of the age, impurity of desire, impurity of living beings, impurity of view, and impurity of life span.
“Shariputra, when the age is impure and the times are chaotic, then the defilements of living beings are grave, they are greedy and jealous and put down roots that are not good. Because of this, the buddhas, utilizing the power of expedient means, apply distinctions to the one buddha vehicle and preach as though it were three.
“Shariputra, if any of my disciples should claim to be an arhat or a pratyekabuddha and yet does not heed or understand that the buddhas, the thus come ones, simply teach and convert the bodhisattvas, then he is no disciple of mine, he is no arhat or pratyekabuddha.
“Again, Shariputra, if there should be monks or nuns who claim that they have already attained the status of arhat, that these are their last incarnations, that they have reached the final nirvana, and that therefore they have no further intention of seeking supreme perfect enlightenment, then you should understand that such as these are all persons of overbearing arrogance. Why do I say this? Because if there are monks who have truly attained the status of arhat, then it would be unthinkable that they should fail to believe this Law. The only exception would be in a time after the Buddha had passed away, when there was no buddha present in the world. Why is this? Because after the Buddha has passed away it will be difficult to find those who can embrace, read, recite, and understand the meaning of a sutra such as this. But if they encounter another buddha, then they will attain decisive understanding with regard to this Law.
“Shariputra, you and the others should with a single mind believe and accept the words of the Buddha. The words of the buddhas, the thus come ones, are not empty or false. There is no other vehicle, there is only the one buddha vehicle.”
p.67At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

There are monks and nuns
who behave with overbearing arrogance,
laymen full of self-esteem,
laywomen who are lacking in faith.
Among the four kinds of believers, the likes of these
number five thousand.
They fail to see their own errors,
are heedless and remiss with regard to the precepts,
clinging to their shortcomings, unwilling to change.
But these persons of small wisdom have already left;
the chaff among this assembly
has departed in the face of the Buddha’s authority.
These persons were of paltry merit and virtue,
incapable of receiving this Law.
This assembly is now free of branches and leaves,
made up only of those steadfast and truthful.
Shariputra, listen carefully,
for the Law that the buddhas have attained,
through the power of countless expedient means
they preach for the benefit of living beings.
The thoughts that are in the minds of living beings,
the different types of paths they follow,
their various desires and natures,
the good and bad deeds they have done in previous existences—
all these the Buddha takes cognizance of,
and then he employs causes, similes, and parables,
words that embody the power of expedient means,
in order to gladden and please them all.
Sometimes he preaches sutras,
verses, stories of the previous lives of disciples,
stories of the previous lives of the Buddha, of unheard-of things.
At other times he preaches regarding origins,
p.68uses similes, parables, passages of poetry
or discourses.
For those of dull capacities who delight in a lesser teaching,
who greedily cling to birth and death,
who, despite the innumerable buddhas,
fail to practice the profound and wonderful way
but are perplexed and confused by a host of troubles—
for these I preach nirvana.
I devise these expedient means
and so cause them to enter into the buddha wisdom.
Up to now I have never told you
that you were certain to attain the buddha way.
The reason I never preached in that manner
was that the time to preach so had not yet come.
But now is the very time
when I must decisively preach the great vehicle.
I use these nine devices,
adapting them to the living beings when I preach,
my basic aim being to lead them into the great vehicle,
and that is why I preach this sutra.
There are sons of the buddha whose minds are pure,
who are gentle and of acute capacities,
who under innumerable buddhas
have practiced the profound and wonderful way.
For these sons of the buddha
I preach this sutra of the great vehicle.
And I predict that these persons
in a future existence will attain the buddha way.
Because deep in their minds they think of the Buddha
and practice and uphold the pure precepts,
they are assured they will attain buddhahood,
and hearing this, their whole bodies are filled with great joy.
The Buddha knows their minds and their practices
and therefore preaches for them the great vehicle.
When the voice-hearers and bodhisattvas
p.69hear this Law that I preach,
as soon as they have heard one verse
they will all without doubt be certain of attaining buddhahood.
In the buddha lands of the ten directions
there is only the Law of the one vehicle,
there are not two, there are not three,
except when the Buddha preaches so as an expedient means,
merely employing provisional names and terms
in order to conduct and guide living beings
and preach to them the buddha wisdom.
The buddhas appear in the world
solely for this one reason, which is true;
the other two are not the truth.
Never do they use a lesser vehicle
to save living beings and ferry them across.
The Buddha himself dwells in the great vehicle,
and adorned with the power of meditation and wisdom
that go with that Law he has attained,
he uses it to save living beings.
I myself testify to the unsurpassed way,
the great vehicle, the Law in which all things are equal.
If I used a lesser vehicle
to convert even one person,
I would be guilty of stinginess and greed,
but such a thing would be impossible.
If a person will believe and take refuge in the Buddha,
the thus come one will never deceive him,
nor will he ever show greed or jealousy,
for he has rooted out evil from among the phenomena.
Therefore throughout the ten directions
the Buddha alone is without fear.
I adorn my body with the special characteristics
and shine my light upon the world.
I am honored by numberless multitudes
and for them I preach the emblem of the reality of things.
p.70Shariputra, you should know
that at the start I took a vow,
hoping to make all persons
equal to me, without any distinction between us,
and what I long ago hoped for
has now been fulfilled.
I have converted all living beings
and caused them all to enter the buddha way.
If when I encounter living beings
I were in all cases to teach them the buddha way,
those without wisdom would become confused
and in their bewilderment would fail to accept my teachings.
I know that such living beings
have never in the past cultivated good roots
but have stubbornly clung to the five desires,
and their folly and craving have given rise to affliction.
Their desires are the cause
whereby they fall into the three evil paths,
revolving wheel-like through the six paths of existence
and undergoing every sort of suffering and pain.
Having received a tiny form in the womb,
in existence after existence they constantly grow to maturity.
Persons of meager virtue and small merit,
they are troubled and beset by manifold sufferings.
They stray into the dense forest of mistaken views,
debating as to what exists and what does not,
and in the end cling to such views,
embracing all sixty-two of them.1
They are profoundly committed to false and empty doctrines,
holding firmly to them, unable to set them aside.
Arrogant and puffed up with self-importance,
p.71fawning and devious, insincere in mind,
for a thousand, ten thousand, a million kalpas
they will not hear a buddha’s name,
nor will they hear the correct teaching—
such people are difficult to save.
For these reasons, Shariputra,
I have for their sake established expedient means,
preaching the way that ends all suffering,
and showing them nirvana.
But although I preach nirvana,
this is not a true extinction.
All phenomena from the very first
have of themselves constantly borne the marks of tranquil extinction.
Once the sons of the Buddha have carried out the way,
then in future existences they will be able to become buddhas.
I have employed the power of expedient means
to unfold and demonstrate this doctrine of three vehicles,
but the world-honored ones, every one of them,
all preach the single vehicle way.
Now before this great assembly
I must clear away all doubts and perplexities.
There is no discrepancy in the words of the buddhas,
there is only the one vehicle, not two.
For numberless kalpas in the past
countless buddhas who have now entered extinction,
a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million types
in numbers incapable of calculation—
such world-honored ones,
using different types of causes, similes, and parables,
the power of countless expedient means,
have expounded the characteristics of all phenomena.
These world-honored ones
have all preached the doctrine of the single vehicle,
converting countless living beings
and causing them to enter the buddha way.
p.72And these great sage lords,
knowing what is desired deep in the minds
of the heavenly and human beings and the other living things
throughout all the worlds,
have employed still other expedient means
to help illuminate the highest truth.
If there are living beings
who have encountered these past buddhas,
and if they have listened to the Law, presented alms,
or kept the precepts, shown forbearance,
been assiduous, practiced meditation and wisdom, and so forth,
cultivating various kinds of merit and virtue,
then persons such as these
all have attained the buddha way.
After the buddhas have passed into extinction,
if persons are of good and gentle mind,
then living beings such as these
have all attained the buddha way.
After the buddhas have passed into extinction,
if persons make offerings to the relics,
raising ten thousand or a million kinds of towers,
using gold, silver, and crystal,
seashell and agate,
carnelian, lapis lazuli, pearls
to purify and adorn them extensively,
in this way erecting towers;
or if they raise up stone mortuary temples
or those of sandalwood or aloes,
hovenia or other kinds of timber,
or of brick, tile, clay, or earth;
if in the midst of the broad fields
they pile up earth to make a mortuary temple for the buddhas,
or even if little boys at play
should collect sand to make a buddha tower,
p.73then persons such as these
have all attained the buddha way.
If there are persons who for the sake of the buddhas
fashion and set up images,
carving them with many distinguishing characteristics,
then all have attained the buddha way.
Or if they make things out of the seven kinds of gems,
of copper, red or white copper,
pewter, lead, tin,
iron, wood, or clay,
or use cloth soaked in lacquer or resin
to adorn and fashion buddha images,
then persons such as these
have all attained the buddha way.
If they employ pigments to paint buddha images,
endowing them with the characteristics of hundredfold merit,
if they make them themselves or have others make them,
then all have attained the buddha way.
Even if little boys in play
should use a piece of grass or wood or a brush,
or perhaps a fingernail
to draw an image of the buddha,
such persons as these
bit by bit will pile up merit
and will become fully endowed with minds of great compassion;
they all have attained the buddha way.
Merely by converting the bodhisattvas
they bring salvation and release to numberless multitudes.
And if persons, in the presence of such memorial towers,
such jeweled images and painted images,
should with reverent minds make offerings
of flowers, incense, banners, or canopies,
or if they should employ persons to make music,
striking drums or blowing horns or conch shells,
playing pipes, flutes, zithers, harps,
p.74balloon guitars, cymbals, and gongs,
and if these many kinds of wonderful notes
are intended wholly as an offering;
or if one with a joyful mind
sings a song in praise of the buddha’s virtue,
even if it is just one small note,
then all who do these things have attained the buddha way.
If someone with a confused and distracted mind
should take even one flower
and offer it to a painted image,
in time he would come to see countless buddhas.
Or if a person should bow or perform obeisance,
or should merely press his palms together,
or even should raise a single hand,
or give no more than a slight nod of the head,
and if this were done in offering to an image,
then in time he would come to see countless buddhas.
And if he himself attains the unsurpassed way
and spreads salvation abroad to countless multitudes,
he will enter the nirvana of no remainder
as a fire dies out when the firewood is exhausted.
If persons with confused and distracted minds
should enter a memorial tower
and once exclaim, “Hail to the buddha!”
then all have attained the buddha way.
If from past buddhas
when they were in the world or after their extinctions,
there should be those who heard this Law,
then all have attained the buddha way.
The world-honored ones of the future,
whose numbers will be incalculable,
these thus come ones
will also employ expedient means to preach the Law,
and all these thus come ones
through countless expedient means
p.75will save and bring release to living beings
so that they enter the buddha wisdom free of outflows.
If there are those who hear the Law,
then not a one will fail to attain buddhahood.
The original vow of the buddhas
was that the buddha way, which they themselves practice,
should be shared universally among living beings
so that they too may likewise attain this way.
The buddhas of future ages,
although they preach hundreds, thousands, millions,
a countless number of doctrines,
in truth do so for the sake of the single vehicle.
The buddhas, most honored of two-legged beings,
know that phenomena have no constantly fixed nature,
that the seeds of buddhahood sprout through causation,
and for this reason they preach the single vehicle.
But that these phenomena are part of an abiding Law,
that the characteristics of the world are constantly abiding—
this they have come to know in the place of enlightenment,
and as leaders and teachers they preach expedient means.
The presently existing buddhas of the ten directions,
whom heavenly and human beings make offerings to,
who in number are like Ganges sands,
they have appeared in the world
in order to bring peace and comfort to living beings,
and they too preach the Law in this way.
They understand the foremost truth of tranquil extinction
and therefore employ the power of expedient means,
and though they point out various different ways,
in truth they do so for the sake of the buddha vehicle.
They understand the actions of living beings,
the thoughts that lie deep in their minds,
the deeds they have carried out in the past,
their desires, their natures, the power of their exertions,
and whether their capacities are acute or dull,
p.76and so they employ various causes and conditions,
similes, parables, and other words and phrases,
adapting what expedient means are suitable to their preaching.
Now I too am like this;
in order to bring peace and comfort to living beings
I employ various different doctrines
to disseminate the buddha way.
Through the power of my wisdom
I know the natures and desires of living beings
and through expedient means I preach these doctrines,
causing all living beings to attain joy and gladness.
Shariputra, you should understand
that I view things through the buddha eye,
I see the living beings in the six paths,
how poor and distressed they are, without merit or wisdom,
how they enter the perilous road of birth and death,
their sufferings continuing with never a break,
how deeply they are attached to the five desires,
like a yak enamored of its tail,
blinding themselves with greed and infatuation,
their vision so impaired they can see nothing.
They do not seek the Buddha, with his great might,
or the Law that can end their suffering,
but enter deeply into erroneous views,
hoping to shed suffering through greater suffering.
For the sake of these living beings
I summon up a mind of great compassion.
When I first sat in the place of enlightenment
and gazed at the tree and walked around it,
for the space of three times seven days
I pondered the matter in this way.
The wisdom I have attained, I thought,
is subtle, wonderful, the foremost.
But living beings, dull in capacity,
p.77are addicted to pleasure and blinded by foolishness.
With persons such as this,
what can I say, how can I save them?
At that time the Brahma kings,
along with the heavenly king Shakra,
the four heavenly kings who guard the world,
and the heavenly king Great Freedom,
in company with the other heavenly beings
and their hundreds and thousands and ten thousands of followers,
reverently pressed their palms together and bowed,
begging me to turn the wheel of the Law.
Immediately I thought to myself
that if I merely praised the buddha vehicle,
then the living beings, sunk in their suffering,
would be incapable of believing in this Law.
And because they rejected the Law and failed to believe in it,
they would fall into the three evil paths.
It would be better if I did not preach the Law
but quickly entered into nirvana.
Then my thoughts turned to the buddhas of the past
and the power of expedient means they had employed,
and I thought that the way I had now attained
should likewise be preached as three vehicles.
When I thought in this manner,
the buddhas of the ten directions all appeared
and with brahma sounds comforted and instructed me.
“Well done, Shakyamuni!” they said.
“Foremost leader and teacher,
you have attained the unsurpassed Law.
But following the example of all other buddhas,
you will employ the power of expedient means.
We too have all attained
the most wonderful, the foremost Law,
but for the sake of living beings
p.78we make distinctions and preach the three vehicles.
People of small wisdom delight in a small doctrine,
unable to believe that they themselves could become buddhas.
Therefore we employ expedient means,
making distinctions and preaching various goals.
But though we preach the three vehicles,
we do it merely in order to teach the bodhisattvas.”
Shariputra, you should understand this.
When I heard these saintly lions
and their deep, pure, subtle, wonderful sounds,
I rejoiced, crying, “Hail to the buddhas!”
Then I thought to myself,
I have come into this impure and evil world,
and as these buddhas have preached,
I too must follow that example in my actions.
After I had thought of the matter in this way,
I set out at once for Varanasi.
The marks of tranquil extinction borne by all phenomena
cannot be explained in words,
and therefore I used the power of expedient means
to preach to the five ascetics.
This I termed turning the wheel of the Law,
and also with regard to “the sound of nirvana,”
and “arhat,” “Dharma,” and “Samgha,”
I used these terms to indicate distinctions.
“From infinite kalpas in the past
I have extolled and taught the Law of nirvana,
ending the long sufferings of birth and death.”
This is how I customarily preached.
Shariputra, you should know this.
When I looked at the buddha sons,
I saw incalculable thousands, ten thousands, millions
who had determined to seek the buddha way,
every one with a respectful and reverent mind,
all coming to the place of the Buddha,
p.79people who in the past had listened to other buddhas
and heard the Law preached through expedient means.
Immediately the thought came to me
that the reason the thus come one has appeared
is so he may preach the buddha wisdom.
Now is precisely the time to do so.
Shariputra, you should understand
that persons of dull capacity and small wisdom,
who are attached to appearances, proud and overbearing,
are incapable of believing in this Law.
Now I, joyful and fearless,
in the midst of the bodhisattvas,
honestly discarding expedient means,
will preach only the unsurpassed way.
When the bodhisattvas hear this Law,
they will be released from all entanglements of doubt.
The twelve hundred arhats,
they too will all attain buddhahood.
Following the same fashion that the buddhas of the three existences
employ in preaching the Law,
I now will do likewise,
preaching the Law that is without distinctions.
The times when the buddhas appear in the world
are far apart and difficult to encounter.
And even when they appear in the world
it is difficult for them to preach this Law.
Throughout incalculable, innumerable kalpas
it is rare that one may hear this Law,
and a person capable of listening to this Law,
such a person is likewise rare.
It is like the udumbara flower,
which all the world loves and delights in,
which heavenly and human beings look on as something rare,
but which appears only once in many many ages.
p.80If a person hears this Law, delights in and praises it,
even if he utters just one word,
then he has made offerings
to all the buddhas of the three existences.
But a person like this is very rarely found,
rarer than the udumbara flower.
You should have no doubts.
I, being king of the doctrines,
make this announcement to the entire great assembly.
I employ only the single vehicle way
to teach and convert the bodhisattvas,
I have no voice-hearer disciples.
You, Shariputra,
and the voice-hearers and bodhisattvas,
you should understand that this wonderful Law
is the secret crux of the buddhas.
In an evil world of the five impurities
those who merely delight in and are attached to the desires,
living beings such as this
in the end will never seek the buddha way.
When evil persons in the world hereafter
hear about the single vehicle preached by the Buddha,
they will be confused, will not believe or accept it,
will reject the Law and fall into the evil paths.
But if there are those with a sense of shame, persons of purity
who have determined to seek the buddha way,
then for the sake of such as these
one should widely praise the way of the single vehicle.
Shariputra, you should understand this.
The Law of the buddhas is like this.
Employing ten thousand, a million expedient means,
they accord with what is appropriate in preaching the Law.
Those who are not versed in the matter
p.81cannot fully comprehend this.
But you and the others already know
how the buddhas, teachers of the world,
accord with what is appropriate in employing expedient means.
You will have no more doubts or perplexities
but, your minds filled with great joy,
will know that you yourselves will attain buddhahood.
CHAPTER 15

Emerging from the Earth

At that time the bodhisattvas mahasattva who had gathered from lands in other directions, greater in number than the sands of eight Ganges Rivers, stood up in the midst of the great assembly, pressed their palms together, bowed in obeisance, and said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One, if you will permit us in the age after the Buddha has entered extinction to diligently and earnestly protect, embrace, read, recite, copy, and offer alms to this sutra in the saha world, we will preach it widely throughout this land!”
At that time the Buddha said to the bodhisattvas mahasattva: “Leave off, good men! There is no need for you to protect and embrace this sutra. Why? Because in this saha world of mine there are bodhisattvas mahasattva who are as numerous as the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, and each of these bodhisattvas has a retinue equal to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers. After I have entered extinction these people will be able to protect, embrace, read, recite, and widely preach this sutra.”
When the Buddha spoke these words, the earth of all the billion lands of the saha world trembled and split open, and out of it emerged at the same instant immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of bodhisattvas mahasattva. The bodies of these bodhisattvas were all golden in hue, with the thirty-two features and an immeasurable brightness. Previously they had all been dwelling in the world of empty space underneath the saha p.253world. But when these bodhisattvas heard the voice of Shakyamuni Buddha speaking, they came up from below.
Each one of these bodhisattvas was the leader of his own great assembly, and each brought with him a retinue equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers. To say nothing of those who brought retinues equal to the sands of fifty thousand, forty thousand, thirty thousand, twenty thousand, or ten thousand Ganges Rivers. Or a retinue equal to as little as the sands of one Ganges River, half a Ganges River, one fourth of a Ganges River, or as little as one part in a thousand, ten thousand, a million nayutas of a Ganges River. Or those whose retinue was only one thousand ten thousand million nayutas. Or only a million ten thousand. Or only a thousand ten thousand, a hundred ten thousand, or just ten thousand. Or only one thousand, one hundred, or ten. Or who brought with them only five, four, three, two, or one disciple. Or those who came alone, preferring to carry out solitary practices. Such were they, then, immeasurable, boundless, beyond anything that can be known through calculation, simile, or parable.
After these bodhisattvas had emerged from the earth, they each one proceeded to the wonderful tower of seven treasures suspended in the sky where Many Treasures Thus Come One and Shakyamuni Buddha were. On reaching it, they turned to the two world-honored ones, bowed their heads, and made obeisance at their feet. They also all performed obeisance to the buddhas seated on lion seats underneath the jeweled trees. Then they circled around to the right three times, pressed their palms together in a gesture of respect, utilizing the bodhisattvas’ various methods of praising to deliver praises, and then took up a position to one side, gazing up in joy at the two world-honored ones. While these bodhisattvas mahasattva who had emerged from the earth were employing the bodhisattvas’ various methods of praising to praise the buddhas, an interval of fifty small kalpas passed by.
At that time Shakyamuni Buddha sat silent, and the four kinds of believers likewise all remained silent for fifty small kalpas, but because of the supernatural powers of the Buddha, it p.254was made to seem to the members of the great assembly like only half a day.
At that time the four kinds of believers, also because of the supernatural powers of the Buddha, saw these bodhisattvas filling the sky over immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, and millions of lands. Among these bodhisattvas were four leaders. The first was called Superior Practices, the second was called Boundless Practices, the third was called Pure Practices, and the fourth was called Firmly Established Practices. These four bodhisattvas were the foremost leaders and guiding teachers among all the group. In the presence of the great assembly, each one of these pressed his palms together, gazed at Shakyamuni Buddha, and inquired: “World-Honored One, are your illnesses few, are your worries few, are your practices proceeding comfortably? Do those whom you propose to save readily receive instruction? Does the effort not cause the world-honored one to become weary and spent?”
At that time the four great bodhisattvas spoke in verse form, saying:

Is the World-Honored One comfortable,
with few illnesses, few worries?
In teaching and converting living beings,
can you do so without fatigue and weariness?
And do living beings
receive instruction readily or not?
Does it not cause the World-Honored One
to become weary and spent?

At that time in the midst of the great assembly of bodhisattvas the world-honored one spoke these words: “Just so, just so, good men! The thus come one is well and happy, with few ills and few worries. The living beings are readily converted and saved and I am not weary or spent. Why? Because for age after age in the past the living beings have constantly received my instruction. And also they have offered alms and paid reverence to the buddhas of the past and have planted various good roots. p.255So when these living beings see me for the first time and listen to my preaching, they all immediately believe and accept it, entering into the wisdom of a thus come one, with the exception of those who earlier practiced and studied the lesser vehicle. And now I will make it possible for these persons to listen to this sutra and enter the wisdom of a buddha.”
At that time the [four] great bodhisattvas spoke in verse form, saying:

Excellent, excellent,
great hero, World-Honored One!
The living beings
are readily converted and saved.
They know how to inquire about
the most profound wisdom of the buddhas,
and having heard, they believe and understand it.
We are accordingly overjoyed.

At that time the world-honored one praised the great bodhisattvas who led the group, saying: “Excellent, excellent, good men! You know how to rejoice in your hearts for the thus come one.”
At that time the bodhisattva Maitreya and the multitude of bodhisattvas equal in number to the sands of eight thousand Ganges Rivers all thought to themselves: Never in the past have we seen or heard of such a great multitude of bodhisattvas mahasattva as these who have emerged from the earth and now stand before the world-honored one pressing their palms together, offering alms, and inquiring about the thus come one!
At that time the bodhisattva mahasattva Maitreya, knowing the thought that was in the minds of the bodhisattvas as numerous as the sands of eight thousand Ganges Rivers, and wishing also to resolve his own doubts, pressed his palms together, turned to the Buddha, and made this inquiry in verse form:

Immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions,
a great host of bodhisattvas
p.256such as was never seen in the past—
I beg the most honored of two-legged beings to explain
where they have come from,
what causes and conditions bring them together!
Huge in body, with great transcendental powers,
unfathomable in wisdom,
firm in their intent and thought,
with the power of great perseverance,
the kind living beings delight to see—
where have they come from?
Each one of these bodhisattvas
brings with him a retinue
immeasurable in number
like the sands of the Ganges River.
Some of these great bodhisattvas
bring numbers equal to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers.
And this great multitude
with a single mind seek the buddha way.
These great teachers
equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers
together come to offer alms to the Buddha
and to guard and uphold this sutra.
More numerous are those with followers
like the sands of fifty thousand Ganges Rivers,
those with followers like the sands of forty thousand, thirty thousand,
twenty thousand, ten thousand,
one thousand, one hundred,
or the sands of a single Ganges River,
half a Ganges River, one third, one fourth,
or only one part in a million ten thousand;
those with one thousand, ten thousand nayutas,
ten thousand, a million disciples,
or half a million—
they are more numerous still.
p.257Those with a hundred ten thousand or ten thousand followers,
a thousand or a hundred,
fifty or ten,
three, two, or one,
or those who come alone without followers,
delighting in solitude,
all coming to where the Buddha is—
they are even more numerous than those described above.
If one should try to use an abacus
to calculate the number of this great multitude,
though he spent as many kalpas as Ganges sands
he could never know the full sum.
This host of bodhisattvas
with their great dignity, virtue, and diligence—
who preached the Law for them,
who taught and converted them and brought them to this?
Under whom did they first set their minds on enlightenment,
what buddha’s Law do they praise and proclaim?
What sutra do they embrace and carry out,
what buddha way do they practice?
These bodhisattvas
possess transcendental powers and the power of great wisdom.
The earth in four directions trembles and splits
and they all emerge from out of it.
World-Honored One, from times past
I have seen nothing like this!
I beg you to tell me where they come from,
the name of the land.
I have constantly journeyed from land to land
but never have I seen such a thing!
In this whole multitude
there is not one person that I know.
p.258Suddenly they have come up from the earth—
I beg you to explain the cause.
The members of this great assembly now,
the immeasurable hundreds, thousands, millions
of bodhisattvas,
all want to know these things.
Regarding the causes that govern the beginning and end
of this multitude of bodhisattvas,
possessor of immeasurable virtue, World-Honored One,
we beg you to dispel the doubts of the assembly!

At that time the buddhas who were emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha and had arrived from immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of lands in other directions were seated cross-legged on lion seats under jeweled trees in eight directions. The attendants of these buddhas all saw the great multitude of bodhisattvas who had emerged from the earth in the four directions of the major world system and were suspended in the air, and each one said to his respective buddha: “World-Honored One, this great multitude of immeasurable, boundless asamkhyas of bodhisattvas—where did they come from?”
At that time the buddhas spoke to their attendants, saying: “Good men, wait a moment. There is a bodhisattva mahasattva named Maitreya who has received a prophecy from Shakyamuni Buddha that he will be the next hereafter to become a buddha. He has already inquired about this matter and the Buddha is now about to answer him. You should take this opportunity to listen to what he says.”
At that time Shakyamuni Buddha said to the bodhisattva Maitreya: “Excellent, excellent, Ajita, that you should question the Buddha about this great affair. All of you with a single mind should don the armor of diligence and determine to be firm in intent. The thus come one wishes now to summon forth and declare the wisdom of the buddhas, the freely exercised transcendental power of the buddhas, the power of the buddhas that has the lion’s ferocity, the fierce and greatly forceful power of the buddhas.”
p.259At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Be diligent and of a single mind,
for I wish to explain this affair.
Have no doubts or regrets—
the buddha wisdom is hard to fathom.
Now you must put forth the power of faith,
abiding in patience and goodness.
A Law that in the past was never heard
you will now all be able to hear.
Now I will bring you ease and consolation—
do not harbor doubts or fears.
The Buddha has nothing but truthful words,
his wisdom cannot be measured.
This foremost Law that he has gained
is very profound, incapable of analysis.
He will now expound it—
you must listen with a single mind.

At that time the world-honored one, having spoken these verses, said to the bodhisattva Maitreya: “With regard to this great multitude I now say this to you. Ajita, these bodhisattvas mahasattva who in immeasurable and countless asamkhyas have emerged from the earth and whom you have never seen before in the past—after I attained supreme perfect enlightenment in this saha world, I converted and guided these bodhisattvas, trained their minds, and caused them to develop a longing for the way. These bodhisattvas have all been dwelling in the world of empty space underneath the saha world. They read, recite, understand the various scriptures, ponder them, make distinctions, and keep them correctly in mind.
“Ajita, these good men take no delight in being in the crowd and indulging in much talk. Their delight is constantly to be in a quiet place, exerting themselves diligently and never resting. Nor do they linger among human or heavenly beings, but constantly delight in profound wisdom, being free from all p.260hindrances. And they constantly delight in the Law of the buddhas, diligently and with a single mind pursuing unsurpassed wisdom.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Ajita, you should understand this.
These great bodhisattvas
for countless kalpas
have practiced the buddha wisdom.
All have been converted by me;
I caused them to set their minds on the great way.
These are my sons,
they dwell in this world,
constantly carrying out dhuta practices,
preferring a quiet place,
rejecting the fret and confusion of the crowd,
taking no delight in much talk.
In this manner these sons
study and practice my teaching of the way.
And in order that day and night with constant diligence
they may seek the buddha way,
in this saha world
they have been dwelling in the empty space in its lower part.
Firm in the power of will and concentration,
with constant diligence seeking wisdom,
they expound various wonderful doctrines
and their minds are without fear.
When I was in the vicinity of the city of Gaya,
seated beneath the bodhi tree,
I attained the highest, the correct enlightenment,
and turned the wheel of the unsurpassed Law.
Thereafter I taught and converted them,
caused them for the first time to set their minds on the way.
Now all of them dwell in the stage of non-regression,
p.261and all in time will be able to become buddhas.
What I speak now are true words—
with a single mind you must believe them!
Ever since the long distant past
I have been teaching and converting this multitude.

At that time the bodhisattva mahasattva Maitreya, as well as the countless other bodhisattvas, found doubts and perplexities rising in their minds. They were puzzled at this thing that had never happened before and thought to themselves: How could the world-honored one in such a short space of time have taught and converted an immeasurable, boundless asamkhya number of great bodhisattvas of this sort and enabled them to dwell in supreme perfect enlightenment?
Thereupon Maitreya said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One, when the thus come one was crown prince, you left the palace of the Shakyas and sat in the place of enlightenment not far from the city of Gaya, and there attained supreme perfect enlightenment. Barely forty years or more have passed since then. World-Honored One, how in that short time could you have accomplished so much work as a buddha? Was it through the authoritative powers of a buddha, or through the blessings of a buddha, that you were able to teach and convert such an immeasurable number of great bodhisattvas and enable them to achieve supreme perfect enlightenment? World-Honored One, a multitude of great bodhisattvas such as this—a person might spend a thousand, ten thousand, a million kalpas counting them and never be able to reach the end or discover the limit! Since the far distant past, in the dwelling places of immeasurable, boundless numbers of buddhas, they must have planted good roots, carried out the bodhisattva way, and engaged constantly in brahma practices. World-Honored One, it is hard for the world to believe such a thing!
“Suppose, for example, that a young man of twenty-five, with ruddy complexion and hair still black, should point to someone who was a hundred years old and say, ‘This is my son!’ or that the hundred-year-old man should point to the youth and say, p.262‘This is my father, who sired and raised me!’ This would be hard to believe, and so too is what the Buddha says.
“It has in fact not been long since you attained the way. But this great multitude of bodhisattvas have already for immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas applied themselves diligently and earnestly for the sake of the buddha way. They have learned to enter into, emerge from, and dwell in immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of samadhis, have acquired great transcendental powers, have over a long period carried out brahma practices, and have been able step by step to practice various good doctrines, becoming skilled in questions and answers, a treasure among persons, something seldom known in all the worlds. And today, World-Honored One, you tell us that, in the time since you attained the buddha way, you have caused these people for the first time to aspire to enlightenment, have taught, converted, and led them, and directed them toward supreme perfect enlightenment!
“World-Honored One, it is not long since you attained buddhahood, and yet you have been able to carry out this great meritorious undertaking! We ourselves have faith in the Buddha, believing that he preaches in accordance with what is appropriate, that the words spoken by the Buddha are never false, and that the Buddha’s knowledge is in all cases penetrating and comprehensive. Nevertheless, in the period after the Buddha has entered extinction, if bodhisattvas who have just begun to aspire to enlightenment should hear these words, they will perhaps not believe or accept them but will be led to commit the crime of rejecting the Law. Therefore, World-Honored One, we beg you to explain so we may put aside our doubts, and so that, in future ages when good men hear of this matter, they will not entertain doubts!”
At that time the bodhisattva Maitreya, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

In the past the Buddha departed from the Shakya clan,
left his household, and near Gaya
sat under the bodhi tree.
p.263Little time has passed since then,
yet these sons of the Buddha
are immeasurable in number!
Already for a long time they have practiced the buddha way,
dwelling in transcendental powers and the power of wisdom,
skillfully learning the bodhisattva way,
unsoiled by worldly things
like the lotus flower in the water.
Emerging from the earth,
all display reverent and respectful minds,
standing in the presence of the world-honored one.
This is difficult to fathom—
how can one believe it?
The Buddha attained the way very recently,
yet those he has helped to gain success are so many!
We beg you to dispel the doubts of the assembly,
to make distinctions and explain the truth of the matter.
It is as though a young man
just turned twenty-five
were to point to a hundred-year-old man
with gray hair and wrinkled face
and say, ‘I sired him!’
and the old man were to say, ‘This is my father!’
The father youthful, the son old—
no one in the world could believe this!
World-Honored One, your case is similar.
Only very recently you attained the way.
These bodhisattvas
are firm in will, in no way timid or immature.
For immeasurable kalpas
they have been practicing the bodhisattva way.
They are clever at difficult questions and answers,
their minds know no fear.
They have firmly cultivated persevering minds,
upright in dignity and virtue.
p.264They are praised by the buddhas of the ten directions
as able and adept at preaching distinctions.
They have no wish to remain among the crowd
but constantly favor a state of meditation,
and in order to seek the buddha way
they have been dwelling in the space under the earth.
This we have heard from the Buddha
and have no doubts in the matter.
But for the sake of future ages we beg the Buddha
to explain and bring about understanding.
If with regard to this sutra
one should harbor doubt and fail to believe,
one will fall at once into the evil paths.
So we beg you now to explain.
These immeasurable bodhisattvas—
how in such a short time
did you teach them, cause them to have aspiring minds,
and to dwell in the stage of no regression?

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 11

The Emergence of the Treasure Tower

At that time in the Buddha’s presence there was a tower adorned with the seven treasures, five hundred yojanas in height and two hundred and fifty yojanas in width and depth, that rose up out of the earth and stood suspended in the air. Various kinds of precious objects adorned it. It had five thousand railings, a thousand, ten thousand rooms, and numberless streamers and banners decorated it. Festoons of jewels hung down and ten thousand million jeweled bells were suspended from it. All four sides emitted a fragrance of tamala leaves and sandalwood that pervaded the whole world. Its banners and canopies were made of the seven treasures, namely, gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl, and carnelian, and it was so high it reached to the heavenly palaces of the four heavenly kings. The beings of the heaven of the thirty-three gods rained down heavenly mandarava flowers as an offering to the treasure tower, and the other heavenly beings, the dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, and mahoragas, the human and nonhuman beings, an assembly of thousands, ten thousands, millions, offered all kinds of flowers, incense, necklaces, streamers, canopies, and music as alms to the treasure tower, paying it reverence, honor, and praise.
At that time a loud voice issued from the treasure tower, speaking words of praise: “Excellent, excellent! Shakyamuni, world-honored one, that you can take the great wisdom of p.210equality, a teaching to instruct the bodhisattvas, guarded and kept in mind by the buddhas, the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, and preach it for the sake of the great assembly! It is as you say, as you say. Shakyamuni, world-honored one, all that you have expounded is the truth!”
At that time the four kinds of believers saw the great treasure tower suspended in the air, and they heard the voice that issued from the tower. All experienced the joy of the Law, marveling at this thing they had never known before. They rose from their seats, pressed their palms together in reverence, and then retired to one side.
At that time there was a bodhisattva mahasattva named Great Joy of Preaching, who understood the doubts that were in the minds of the heavenly and human beings, asuras, and other beings of all the world. He said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One, for what reason has this treasure tower risen up out of the earth? And why does this voice issue from its midst?”
At that time the Buddha said to Bodhisattva Great Joy of Preaching: “In the treasure tower is the complete body of a thus come one. Long ago, an immeasurable thousand, ten thousand, million asamkhyas of worlds to the east, in a land called Treasure Purity, there was a buddha named Many Treasures. When this buddha was originally carrying out the bodhisattva way, he made a great vow, saying, ‘If, after I have become a buddha and entered extinction, in the lands in the ten directions there is any place where the Lotus Sutra is preached, then my funerary tower, in order that I may listen to the sutra, will come forth and appear in that spot to testify to the sutra and praise its excellence.’
“When that buddha had finished carrying out the buddha way and was on the point of passing into extinction, in the midst of a great assembly of heavenly and human beings he said to the monks, ‘After I have passed into extinction, if there are those who wish to offer alms to my complete body, then they should erect a great tower.’ That buddha, through his transcendental powers and the power of his vow, insures that, throughout the worlds in the ten directions, no matter in what place, if there are p.211those who preach the Lotus Sutra, this treasure tower will in all cases come forth and appear in their presence, and his complete body will be in the tower, speaking words of praise and saying, ‘Excellent, excellent!’
“Great Joy of Preaching, now this tower of the thus come one Many Treasures, because it heard the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, has come forth out of the ground and speaks words of praise, saying, ‘Excellent, excellent!’”
At this time Bodhisattva Great Joy of Preaching, knowing the supernatural powers of the thus come one, spoke to the Buddha, saying, “World-Honored One, we wish to see the body of this buddha.”
The Buddha said to the bodhisattva mahasattva Great Joy of Preaching, “This Many Treasures Buddha has taken a profound vow, saying, ‘When my treasure tower, in order to listen to the Lotus Sutra, comes forth into the presence of one of the buddhas, if there should be those who wish me to show my body to the four kinds of believers, then let the various buddhas who are emanations of that buddha and who are preaching the Law in the worlds in the ten directions all return and gather around that buddha in a single spot. Only when that has been done will my body become visible.’ Great Joy of Preaching, I will now gather together the various buddhas that are emanations of my body and that are preaching the Law in the worlds in the ten directions.”
Great Joy of Preaching said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, I and the others also wish to see these buddhas that are emanations of the world-honored one, and to make obeisance to them and offer alms.”
At that time the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the tuft of white hair [between his eyebrows], immediately making visible the buddhas in the eastern region in lands as numerous as five hundred ten thousand million nayutas of Ganges sands. The earth in all these lands was made of crystal, and the lands were adorned with jeweled trees and jeweled robes. Countless thousands, ten thousands, millions of bodhisattvas filled them, and everywhere were hung jeweled curtains, with jeweled nets p.212covering them over. The buddhas in these lands preached the various doctrines of the Law with great and wonderful voices, and one could see immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of bodhisattvas filling all these lands and preaching the Law for the assemblies. In the southern, western, and northern regions as well, and in the four intermediate quarters and up and down, wherever the beam from the tuft of white hair, a characteristic feature of the Buddha, shone, the same was true.
At that time the buddhas of the ten directions each spoke to his multitude of bodhisattvas, saying, “Good men, now I must go to the saha world, to the place where Shakyamuni Buddha is, and also offer alms to the treasure tower of Many Treasures Thus Come One.”
The saha world thereupon immediately changed into a place of cleanness and purity. The ground was made of lapis lazuli, jeweled trees adorned it, and ropes of gold marked off the eight highways. There were no villages, towns, or cities, great seas or rivers, mountains, streams, or forests; great jeweled incense was burning there and mandarava flowers covered the ground all over. Jeweled nets and curtains were spread above, hung with jeweled bells, and the members of this assembly alone were gathered there, all other heavenly and human beings having been moved to another region.
At that time the buddhas, each with a great bodhisattva to act as his attendant, arrived in the saha world and proceeded to a position beneath one of the jeweled trees. Each of these jeweled trees was five hundred yojanas high and adorned with branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit in due proportion. Under all the jeweled trees were lion seats five yojanas in height, and these too were decorated with large jewels. At that time each of the buddhas took one of these seats, seating himself in cross-legged position. In this way the seats were filled throughout the major world system, but still there was no end even to the emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha arriving from merely one direction.
At that time Shakyamuni Buddha, wishing to provide space for all the buddhas that were emanations of his body, in addition transformed two hundred ten thousand million nayutas of p.213lands in each of the eight directions, making them all clean and pure and without hells, hungry spirits, beasts, or asuras. He also moved all their heavenly and human beings to another region. The ground in these lands that he had transformed was also made of lapis lazuli. Jeweled trees adorned them, each tree five hundred yojanas high and adorned with branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit in due proportion. There were jeweled lion seats under all the trees, five yojanas in height and ornamented with various kinds of treasures. These lands too were without great seas or rivers, or any kingly ranges of mountains such as the Muchilinda Mountains, Mahamuchilinda Mountains, Iron Encircling Mountains, Great Iron Encircling Mountains, or Mount Sumeru. The whole area comprised a single buddha land, a jeweled region level and smooth. Curtains crisscrossed with festoons of jewels were spread everywhere, banners and canopies hung down, great jeweled incense burned, and heavenly jeweled flowers covered the ground all around.
Shakyamuni Buddha, in order to provide seats for all the buddhas that were arriving, once more transformed two hundred ten thousand million nayutas of lands in each of the eight directions, making them all clean and pure and without hells, hungry spirits, beasts, or asuras. He also moved all the heavenly and human beings to another region. The ground in these lands that he had transformed was likewise made of lapis lazuli. Jeweled trees adorned the lands, each tree five hundred yojanas in height and adorned with branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit in due proportion. There were jeweled lion seats under all the trees, five yojanas in height and ornamented with great jewels. These lands too were without great seas or rivers, or any kingly ranges such as the Muchilinda Mountains, Mahamuchilinda Mountains, Iron Encircling Mountains, Great Iron Encircling Mountains, or Mount Sumeru, the whole area comprising a single buddha land, a jeweled region level and smooth. Curtains crisscrossed with festoons of jewels were spread everywhere, banners and canopies hung down, great jeweled incense burned, and heavenly jeweled flowers covered the ground all around.
At that time the emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha from the p.214eastern region, buddhas in lands equal in number to hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of Ganges sands, each preaching the Law, had assembled there. And bit by bit the buddhas from the ten directions all came and assembled in this way and were seated in the eight directions. At this time each of the directions was filled with buddhas, thus come ones, in four hundred ten thousand million nayutas of lands.
At this time the buddhas, each seated on a lion seat under one of the jeweled trees, all dispatched their attendants to go and greet Shakyamuni Buddha. Each buddha presented his attendant with a handful of jeweled flowers and said, “Good man, you must go to Mount Gridhrakuta to the place where Shakyamuni Buddha is and speak to him as I instruct you. Say, ‘Are your illnesses few, are your worries few? In spirit and vigor are you well and happy? And are the bodhisattvas and voice-hearers all well and at peace?’ Then take these jeweled flowers and scatter them over the Buddha as an offering, and say, ‘The buddha So-and-so would like to participate in the opening of this treasure tower.’”
All the buddhas dispatched their attendants to speak in this manner. At that time Shakyamuni Buddha saw the buddhas that were his emanations all assembled, each sitting on a lion seat, and heard all these buddhas say that they wished to participate in the opening of the treasure tower. Immediately he rose from his seat and stationed himself in midair. All the four kinds of believers likewise stood up, pressed their palms together, and gazed at the Buddha with a single mind.
Shakyamuni Buddha with the fingers of his right hand then opened the door of the tower of seven treasures. A loud sound issued from it, like the sound of a lock and crossbar being removed from a great city gate, and at once all the members of the assembly caught sight of Many Treasures Thus Come One seated on a lion seat inside the treasure tower, his body whole and unimpaired, sitting as though engaged in meditation. And they heard him say, “Excellent, excellent, Shakyamuni Buddha! You have preached this Lotus Sutra in a spirited manner. I have come here in order that I may hear this sutra.”
p.215At that time the four kinds of believers, observing this buddha who had passed into extinction immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas in the past speaking in this way, marvelled at what they had never known before and took the masses of heavenly jeweled flowers and scattered them over Many Treasures Buddha and Shakyamuni Buddha.
At that time Many Treasures Buddha offered half of his seat in the treasure tower to Shakyamuni Buddha, saying, “Shakyamuni Buddha, sit here!” Shakyamuni Buddha at once entered the tower and took half of the seat, seating himself in cross-legged position.
At that time the members of the great assembly, seeing the two thus come ones seated cross-legged on the lion seat in the tower of seven treasures, all thought to themselves, These buddhas are seated high up and far away! If only the thus come ones would employ their transcendental powers to enable all of us to join them there in the air!
Immediately Shakyamuni Buddha used his transcendental powers to lift all the members of the great assembly up into the air. And in a loud voice he addressed all the four kinds of believers, saying, “Who is capable of broadly preaching the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law in this saha world? Now is the time to do so, for before long the thus come one will enter nirvana. The Buddha wishes to entrust this Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law to someone so that it may be preserved.”
At that time the world-honored one, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

This holy lord, this world-honored one,
though he passed into extinction long ago,
still seats himself in the treasure tower,
coming here for the sake of the Law.
You people, why then do you not also
strive for the sake of the Law?
This buddha passed into extinction
an endless number of kalpas ago,
but in many places he comes to listen to the Law
p.216because such opportunities are hard to encounter.
This buddha originally made a vow, saying,
“After I have passed into extinction,
wherever I may go, in whatever place,
my constant aim will be to hear the Law!”
In addition, these emanations of my body,
buddhas in immeasurable numbers
like Ganges sands,
have come, desiring to hear the Law,
and so they may see Many Treasures Thus Come One
who has passed into extinction.
Each has abandoned his wonderful land,
as well as his host of disciples,
the heavenly and human beings, dragons,
and all the offerings they give him,
and has come to this place on purpose
to make certain the Law will long endure.
In order to seat these buddhas
I have employed transcendental powers,
moving immeasurable multitudes,
causing lands to be clean and pure,
leading each of these buddhas
to the foot of a jeweled tree,
adorned as lotus blossoms
adorn a clear cool pond.
Beneath these jeweled trees
are lion seats,
and the buddhas seat themselves on them,
adorning them with their brilliance
like a huge torch burning
in the darkness of the night.
A wonderful incense exudes from their bodies,
pervading the lands in the ten directions.
Living beings are wrapped in the aroma,
unable to restrain their joy,
as though a great wind
were tossing the branches of small trees.
p.217Through this expedient means
they make certain that the Law will long endure.
So I say to the great assembly:
After I have passed into extinction,
who can guard and uphold,
read and recite this sutra?
Now in the presence of the Buddha
let him come forward and speak his vow!
This Many Treasures Buddha,
though he passed into extinction long ago,
because of his great vow
roars the lion’s roar.
Many Treasures Thus Come One, I myself,
and these emanation buddhas who have gathered here,
surely know this is our aim.
You sons of the Buddha,
who can guard the Law?
Let him make a great vow
to ensure that it will long endure!
One who is capable of guarding
the Law of this sutra
will thereby have offered alms
to me and to Many Treasures.
This Many Treasures Buddha
dwelling in his treasure tower
journeys constantly throughout the ten directions
for the sake of this sutra.
One who guards this sutra will also have offered alms
to the emanation buddhas who have come here
adorning and making brilliant
all the various worlds.
If one preaches this sutra,
one will be able to see me
and Many Treasures Thus Come One
and these emanation buddhas.
All you good men,
each of you must consider carefully!
p.218This is a difficult matter—
it is proper you should make a great vow.
The other sutras
number as many as Ganges sands,
but though you expound those sutras,
that is not worth regarding as difficult.
If you were to seize Mount Sumeru
and fling it far off
to the measureless buddha lands,
that too would not be difficult.
If you used the toe of your foot
to move the major world system,
booting it far away to other lands,
that too would not be difficult.
If you stood in the Summit of Being heaven
and for the sake of the assembly
preached countless other sutras,
that too would not be difficult.
But if after the Buddha has entered extinction,
in the time of evil,
you can preach this sutra,
that will be difficult indeed!
If there were a person
who took the empty sky in his hand
and walked all around with it,
that would not be difficult.
But if after I have passed into extinction
one can write out and embrace this sutra
and cause others to write it out,
that will be difficult indeed!
If one took the great earth,
placed it on one’s toenail,
and ascended with it to the Brahma heaven,
that would not be difficult.
But if after the Buddha has passed into extinction,
in the time of evil,
one can even for a little while read this sutra,
p.219that will be difficult indeed!
If, when the fires come at the end of the kalpa,
one can load dry grass on one’s back
and enter the fire without being burned,
that would not be difficult.
But after I have passed into extinction
if one can embrace this sutra
and expound it to even one person,
that will be difficult indeed!
If one were to embrace this storehouse
of eighty-four thousand doctrines,
the twelve divisions of the sutras,
and expound it to others,
causing listeners
to acquire the six transcendental powers—
though one could do that,
that would not be difficult.
But after I have entered extinction
if one can listen to and accept this sutra
and ask about its meaning,
that will be difficult indeed!
If one expounds the Law,
allowing thousands, ten thousands, millions,
immeasurable numbers of living beings
equal to Ganges sands
to become arhats
endowed with the six transcendental powers,
though one might confer such benefits,
that would not be difficult.
But after I have entered extinction
if one can honor and embrace
a sutra such as this one,
that will be difficult indeed!
For the sake of the buddha way
in immeasurable numbers of lands
from the beginning until now
I have widely preached many sutras,
p.220and among them
this sutra is foremost.
If one can uphold this,
one will be upholding the Buddha’s body.
All you good men,
after I have entered extinction
who can accept and uphold,
read and recite this sutra?
Now in the presence of the Buddha
let him come forward and speak his vow!
This sutra is hard to uphold;
if one can uphold it even for a short while
I will surely rejoice
and so will the other buddhas.
A person who can do this
wins the admiration of the buddhas.
This is what is meant by valor,
this is what is meant by diligence.
This is what is called observing the precepts
and practicing dhuta.
This way one will quickly attain
the unsurpassed buddha way.
And if in future existences
one can read and uphold this sutra,
one will be a true son of the Buddha,
dwelling in a land spotless and good.
If after the Buddha has passed into extinction
one can understand the meaning of this sutra,
one will be the eyes of the world
for heavenly and human beings.
If in that fearful age
one can preach this sutra for even a moment,
one will deserve to receive alms
from all heavenly and human beings.

===

ONGIKUDEN

===
===FOREWORD TO ONGI KUDEN

Foreword
I view with the greatest pleasure the publication of this English translation of the Ongi kuden, or The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, by Dr. Burton Watson, a translator of world renown. For it will introduce to the world at large the essence of East Asian Buddhism.
Dr. Watson is widely known for his deep understanding of Chinese literature and his translations of Ssu-ma Ch’ien’s Records of the Historian and of Chinese poetry. We first met in 1973. I had for some time thought of him as the most suitable person to undertake a translation of the Lotus Sutra, and I expressed the hope that he would one day gratify us with a translation done from Kumārajīva’s Chinese version of the text. I was of course aware that there were already a number of English translations of the sutra. My hope, however, was that he would produce a translation marked by stylistic beauty, one that would do justice to the literary qualities of the text and at the same time be easily understood by readers not already familiar with Buddhism. Dr. Watson, having agreed to my proposal, fulfilled his promise twenty years later with the publication of his translation of the Lotus Sutra. It has proved a major event in the history of world Buddhism, a powerful beacon to light the future of humankind.
In 1992, the year before Dr. Watson’s translation of the Lotus Sutra appeared, I met with him again. We talked about the Ongi kuden, which embodies Nichiren’s comments on the Lotus Sutra. Dr. Watson, who by this time had completed his translation of the sutra itself, expressed a deep interest in the manner in which Nichiren interpreted it. Aware of the many problems involved, he agreed nevertheless to undertake an English translation of the Ongi kuden as well. Now, a fitting adornment to his long career as a translator, his translation of that text is being published. I am confident that it will open up to the world the profound philosophical teachings of Buddhism and act as a joyous revelation to all humankind.
Numerous persons throughout the world who seek a deeper understanding of Buddhism have heard of the Ongi kuden, but only a few have had a glimpse of its contents. Many have expressed a strong desire to learn more about the text and have long wished for an English translation.
On the occasion of the publication of this translation, I would like here to say a brief word about my own understanding of the Ongi kuden.
As I recall, it was August of 1962 when I began a series of lectures on the Ongi kuden designed for college-level students who were members of the Soka Gakkai. I wanted to train future leaders of the movement and to make the profound philosophy of Nichiren accessible in contemporary terms. It was a time of nuclear armament, an age engulfed in hatred and mistrust, and I felt there was a deep need to replace these with a humanism based on mutual trust and harmony.
Generally speaking, Buddhism is viewed as an exploration of the inner world of the individual, focusing mainly upon meditation and the observance of religious precepts or rules. And in fact it has largely ignored the question of how these inner concerns of the individual can be applied to the outer world of society as a whole. Therefore few people perceive Buddhism as a philosophy for the attainment of world peace.
Nichiren, however, as he demonstrated in his famous work On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land, posited a fundamental truth or principle that a revolution beginning within the inner being of the individual can then bring about a similar revolution in the world at large.
Basing himself upon the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren did not look to some external being such as a Buddha or the gods as the source of this revolution in the individual and in society. Instead he perceived a Law or truth that permeates both the inner being of the individual and the life force of the universe as a whole, and sought to open up and disseminate an understanding of that truth. But this concept far transcended the ordinary thinking of the age in which he lived, and as a result, as the Lotus Sutra itself had predicted, he could not fail but encounter numerous grave difficulties. And indeed, the very fact that he endured such difficulties in the course of propagating the sutra was proof of the correctness of its teachings, and at the same time evidence that he was, as it were, “reading the Lotus Sutra” with his whole being, that he was a true “votary of the Lotus Sutra.”
In later years, when Nichiren retired to Mount Minobu, he delivered a series of lectures on the Lotus Sutra for the instruction of his disciples. He revealed the hidden meanings of the sutra passages that were so familiar to him, the meanings that earlier authorities on the sutra such as the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai and the Great Teacher Miao-lo had not fully brought to light. Nichiren, utilizing the work of these earlier commentators, in his own lectures on the sutra proceeded to make clear these hidden meanings.
His lectures were recorded and compiled by Nikkō, one of his closest disciples. Nichiren gave his approval to the work, whose completion is recorded as the first day of the first month of the first year of the Kōan era, which corresponds to the year 1278. It later came to be known as the Ongi kuden, or The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings.
The charge is often made that the Lotus Sutra, though abounding in highly vivid similes and parables, lacks philosophical content. If we look only at its surface meaning, we may perhaps agree with such an opinion. But Buddhism customarily applies three approaches in interpreting its writings, examining them first from the standpoint of the words of the text, then from that of the ideas or meaning implied by the words, and finally, from that of the underlying purport or purpose of the work.
Chinese authorities on the Lotus Sutra such as T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo, by pondering the words of the sutra, had derived from them certain subtle ideas or doctrines, which they described in terms such as “the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds,” “three thousand realms in a single moment of life,” “the attainment of Buddhahood in the remote past,” “opening the near and revealing the distant,” or “the replacement of the three vehicles with the one vehicle.” But their commentaries had as yet not brought to light the underlying purpose or import of the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren in his lectures on the sutra revealed that the purport or heart of the work is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and from that standpoint he proceeded to give his explication of the sutra as a whole. This may be termed an interpretation based on his observation of the mind, or the inner truth, implicit in the text, and it constitutes a philosophy of profound depth. Nichiren in effect infused new life into the Lotus Sutra.
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings begins with an explication of the term Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It then proceeds to cite key passages in each of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, in some cases first introducing quotations from the commentaries of T’ien-t’ai or Miao-lo on these passages, in other cases proceeding directly to Nichiren’s interpretation, which, as mentioned earlier, is based upon his “observation of the mind.” The work concludes with commentary on key passages from two short sutras, the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra and the Universal Worthy Sutra, that have traditionally been regarded as prologue and epilogue, respectively, to the Lotus Sutra. In all, Orally Transmitted Teachings contains commentary on a total of 231 passages. Furthermore, there are two additional sections.
What is the basic philosophical outlook of Orally Transmitted Teachings? Various interpretations are possible, but my view is that ultimately it resides in the concept of the dignity of the human being and the dignity of life. In specific terms, it is the belief that ordinary people are capable of attaining Buddhahood, that ordinary people are in fact Buddhas.
In most religions, human beings are relegated to a level quite inferior to that of the sacred being or beings of the faith. But in a religion like Buddhism, whose basic mission is to elevate men and women to the highest plane of spiritual attainment, human beings are referred to rather as “children of the gods” or “children of the Buddha,” terminology that reflects the religion’s very reason for existing.
This fact is most clearly indicated in the following passage from Orally Transmitted Teachings. In the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha reveals that he attained Buddhahood in the far distant past. “It has been immeasurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of kalpas,” he explains, “since I in fact attained Buddhahood” (Lotus Sutra, p. 225).
Ordinarily, one would of course take the “I” in this utterance to refer to Shakyamuni himself. But Nichiren declares that the “I” refers to “the living beings of the Dharma-realm,” to “each and every one in the Ten Worlds.” He is saying that all beings in the Ten Worlds of existence have from the beginning been Buddhas. One might suppose that this is a statement of mere abstract principle. But Nichiren goes on to say, “Now Nichiren and his followers, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are the original lords of teachings of the ‘Life Span’ chapter” (p. 126). That is, anyone who chants the daimoku, regardless of who the person may be, can perceive that he or she has “from the beginning been a Buddha.” In this way he demonstrates the concrete application of his earlier statement.
Thus, in a simple and straightforward pronouncement, he states the principle that ordinary people are identical with the Buddha. This view of human beings is one of the most outstanding characteristics of Orally Transmitted Teachings.
But then there is the problem of human suffering. It would not be too much to say that all human life is in a sense a battle, a trial of endurance. As Tolstoy has written, “All happy families are alike but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion.” In life we are buffeted by a veritable storm of troubles: the death of kin, pronouncements of incurable illness, bankruptcy, job loss, dissension in the family. This is the true nature of life, and for that reason, people turn to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra in hope of finding some safety in the midst of such realities, for the “peace and security in their present existence” that the Lotus Sutra promises (Lotus Sutra, p. 99). But if such ills condemn human beings to unhappiness, then we would have to conclude that the happy human being exists only in fantasy.
Nichiren himself lived a life marked by repeated troubles and hardship. Twice condemned to exile, faced with execution, attacked by warriors and ruffians, subjected to abuse and slander, again and again his very existence was in danger. His was a life far removed from the “peace and security” described in the Lotus Sutra. And for that very reason, many people doubted that Nichiren was in fact the kind of “votary of the Lotus Sutra” who faithfully carries out the sutra’s injunctions.
In his lectures on the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren, viewing the course of his own life and pondering the harsh realities of human existence, declared, “You should understand that, when one practices the Lotus Sutra under such circumstances, difficulties will arise, and these are to be looked on as ‘peaceful’ practices” (p. 115). Such a statement would at first glance seem to contradict the Lotus Sutra itself. But rather than being a conclusion that contradicts the Lotus Sutra, it is one that brings to light the true meaning of the sutra, a meaning that lies deeper than the mere surface words of the text.
From his words we learn that happiness means not the absence of troubles but rather the refusal to be defeated by them, which is the true definition of happiness.
Nichiren goes on to state, “The Nirvana Sutra says, ‘The varied sufferings that all living beings undergo—all these are the Thus Come One’s own sufferings.’ And Nichiren declares that the varied sufferings that all living beings undergo—all these are Nichiren’s own sufferings” (p. 138). He announces that he will carry out an act of great compassion, sharing the sufferings of all beings and rescuing them from these sufferings. Thinking not of himself alone, he expresses a fervent desire to bring happiness to all human beings, showing through his own being the true way for a Buddhist believer to proceed.
I would like also to call attention to Nichiren’s comments on “The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The example of patience and perseverance that this bodhisattva presents, the power of a Law that seeks to save both believers and maligners alike, his practice of paying honor to the Buddha nature present in all beings as he “simply went about bowing to people” (Lotus Sutra, p. 267)—all this is a concrete demonstration of the belief that all people are capable of attaining Buddhahood. And Nichiren adopts this same practice as his own, developing it into a compassionate struggle to save all humankind through kōsen-rufu, or the wide propagation of the teachings.
Nichiren believed that the heart of Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime teachings lay in the Lotus Sutra, and that the heart of the Lotus Sutra’s practice lay in the “Never Disparaging” chapter. In one of his letters, he writes, “What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being.”1 This letter, which resounds with praise for the humanism of the Buddhist doctrine, stresses that the truth of Buddhism is to be found not in the words of the sutra alone, but in the Buddha’s aims as they are revealed in his actions as a human being.
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging bowed to persons of all kinds in order to awaken them to the reality that all possess the Buddha nature within themselves. In doing so, he gave expression to boundless courage and a faith that could not be shaken.
Nichiren in his comments on the “Never Disparaging” chapter lists fourteen different ways in which one could look at the act of obeisance performed by the bodhisattva as he “went about bowing to people.” In one of these he says, “It is like the situation when one faces a mirror and makes a bow of obeisance: the image in the mirror likewise makes a bow of obeisance to oneself” (p. 165). Here he is pointing to a highly important moral principle that appears to be lacking in modern society, namely, a spirit of mutual trust and mutual esteem, one that understands that when you show respect for others, they will show respect for you.
The principal cause for the sense of alienation that besets human beings in our present-day society is egotism. This is the conclusion reached in the discussions I held some years ago with the historian, Dr. Arnold Toynbee. And how is one to overcome this attachment to egotism? From a Buddhist point of view, it is to be accomplished by ridding human beings of their self-centeredness, of what Buddhism terms the “fundamental darkness” that enshrouds their lives. This is ignorance, a lack of awareness of the true dignity of their existence, of the fact that their own lives are embodiments of the Wonderful Law and that they themselves have from the beginning been Buddhas. And what can wipe out this ignorance is a firm faith, a faith that never doubts the Buddha nature within all men and women, never doubts the dignity of their inner beings. The engendering of such faith is now humankind’s greatest need, is it not?
An organization of people who are spreading Nichiren’s philosophy of peace and life, and who share its doctrines and ideals, exists at present in 190 different countries and regions of the world. The solidarity of men and women who are wakened to the true dignity of life will continue to expand and make it possible that war and terrorism be wiped out, and that poverty, destruction of the environment, and other global problems that now threaten humankind be solved. I firmly believe that that day will come, and my one great desire is that it may come as quickly as possible.
In closing, I would like to express my own heartfelt wish that readers will find in this book a fountain of inexhaustible wisdom and that it will enable them to live lives filled with boundless courage and hope.

Daisaku Ikeda

Chapter Eleven: The Emergence of the Treasure Tower
Twenty important points

Point One, concerning “the treasure tower”

Words and Phrases, volume eight, says, “The former Buddha, Many Treasures, is already there in the tower. The present Buddha, Shakyamuni, seats himself beside him. Future Buddhas will also do likewise.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The word “treasure” stands for the five components of life, form, perception, conception, volition, and consciousness. The word “tower” stands for the harmony and combination of the five components. The five components functioning in harmony is designated a treasure tower. The harmony of the five components emerges or is seen in the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. This is the meaning of the word ken, to emerge or to be seen.
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, exemplify the emergence of the treasure tower.

Point Two, on the seven treasures in the passage “At that time in the Buddha’s presence there was a tower adorned with the seven treasures.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The seven treasures are hearing, as in hearing the Law; belief; keeping of the precepts; meditation; diligence; abandoning of attachment to earthly desires; and a sense of shame (or reflecting on oneself). Or again, we may say that they are the seven openings in the head, the eyes, the ears, the nostrils, and the mouth.
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are practitioners who are “adorned with the seven treasures.”

p.90Point Three, on the passage “All four sides emitted a fragrance of tamālapatra and sandalwood that pervaded the whole world.”

Words and Phrases, volume eight, says, “The words ‘All four sides emitted a fragrance’ mean that the wind of the way represented by the four noble truths wafts a fragrance of the four virtues or pāramitās, namely, happiness, true self, purity, and eternity.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The words “four sides” stand for birth, aging, sickness, and death. We use the aspects of birth, aging, sickness, and death to adorn the towers that are our bodies. And when, while in these four states of birth, aging, sickness, and death, we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we cause them to waft forth the fragrance of the four virtues.
Nam stands for the pāramitā of happiness, myōhō for the pāramitā of true self, renge for the pāramitā of purity, and kyō for the pāramitā of eternity.

Point Four, on the passage “At that time a loud voice issued from the treasure tower, speaking words of praise:”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: These are the words that we living beings utter each morning and evening. As to the fact that this is called a “loud” or a big voice, the provisional teachings are a small voice, while, in comparison, the Lotus Sutra is a big voice. In turn, the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra are a small voice, while the daimoku is a big voice.
Generally speaking, the big or loud of the “loud voice” stands for the Dharma-realm. When one views the words of all the living beings in the Dharma-realm as the voice of the Wonderful Law, this is what is called a big voice. Now the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo by Nichiren and his followers is such a big voice.
Again, we may say that the word “loud” represents the truth of non-substantiality, the “voice” represents the truth of temporary p.91existence, and that from which the voice “issues” represents the truth of the Middle Way.

Point Five, on the passage “At that time the four kinds of believers saw the great treasure tower suspended in the air.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The words “saw the great treasure tower” refer to our individual bodies. “Suspended in the air” refers to the fact that we living beings in the end will pass away and return [to our origin].
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and maintain their faith in it, they are “suspended in the air.” They are “suspended in” or participating in the Ceremony in the Air.

Point Six, on the passage “Long ago, an immeasurable thousand, ten thousand, million asamkhyas of worlds to the east, in a land called Treasure Purity, there was a Buddha named Many Treasures.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The Treasure Purity World is the wombs of our mothers. “There was a Buddha” refers to the Buddha of the true aspect of all phenomena. Here he is called Many Treasures Buddha.
The womb is the realm of earthly desires. The Buddha of the true aspect of reality resides in the midst of the mud and mire of earthly desires. This refers to us living beings.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they may be termed the Buddha of the Lotus that is the entity of the Law.

Point Seven, on the passage “If, after I have become a Buddha and entered extinction, in the lands in the ten directions there is any place where the Lotus Sutra is preached, then my funerary tower, in order that I may listen to the sutra, will come forth and appear in that spot to testify to the sutra and praise its excellence.”

p.92The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The words “ten directions” refer to the Ten Worlds. The Lotus Sutra explains the twelve-linked chain of causation that determines the unceasing changes that we living beings undergo. Therefore the words “Lotus Sutra” refer to the sound of our words.
The words “its excellence” tell us that excellence and non-excellence, good and bad, are not two different things, and that correct and incorrect are a single entity.
Now the place where Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo may be said to be where the Buddha Many Treasures comes forth and makes his appearance.

Point Eight, regarding the way in which the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows to illuminate the eastern region, and how it also illuminated “the southern, western, and northern regions as well, and in the four intermediate quarters and up and down.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The four quarters, north, south, east, and west; the four intermediate quarters, northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest; and up and down constitute the ten directions, which are equivalent to the Ten Worlds. The living beings of the Ten Worlds all share the light of the three poisons, greed, anger, and foolishness. This is here referred to as the light from the tuft of white hair between the Buddha’s eyebrows. It is the wisdom embodied in the single mind of the Middle Way.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are shining this light upon all the Ten Worlds simultaneously. This is because it is the bright light of the true aspect of all phenomena.

Point Nine, on the words “Each Buddha presented his attendant with a handful of jeweled flowers” in the passage “At this time the Buddhas, each seated on a lion seat under one p.93of the jeweled trees, all dispatched their attendants to go and greet Shakyamuni Buddha. Each Buddha presented his attendant with a handful of jeweled flowers.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The words “jeweled flowers” represent a greeting of palms pressed together, and symbolize the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. The word “each” indicates that all the Ten Worlds are included. You should understand that the element “-ful” in the word “handful” means the full or perfect principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are presenting jeweled flowers to the Buddha.
The jeweled flowers are wish-granting jewels, and wish-granting jewels stand for the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. This is what is meant by the passage “The heavenly beings, dragons, spirits, and the others, / . . . as well as the wheel-turning sage kings / come from ten thousands of millions of lands, / all press their palms and with reverent minds / wish to hear the teaching of perfect endowment” (chapter two, Expedient Means).

Point Ten, on the words “like the sound of a lock and crossbar being removed from a great city gate” in the passage “Shakyamuni Buddha with the fingers of his right hand then opened the door of the tower of seven treasures. A loud sound issued from it, like the sound of a lock and crossbar being removed from a great city gate.”

The Supplement to T’ien-t’ai’s Three Major Works, volume four, says: “This opening of the treasure tower and appearance of the Buddha Many Treasures is symbolizing something. If we ask what it is, we may say that the opening of the tower is the opening up or setting aside of the provisional teachings, and the appearance of the Buddha is the appearance or revelation of the true teaching. Again, it symbolizes the fact that the earlier, theoretical teaching has been affirmed, and that now the teaching that comes after, p.94the essential teaching, is about to be presented. In the phrase ‘like the sound of a lock and crossbar being removed,’ the word ‘removed’ means to clear away. The passage symbolizes the fact that the obstacles to enlightenment have been cleared away and the workings of enlightenment have been set in motion. The bodhisattva of the Dharma body is dispelling perplexities and revealing the principle, widening his understanding of the way and reducing his still remaining illusions.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The lock and crossbar represent slanders of the Law or ignorance. The opening of the great city gate represents the fact that we can attain Buddhahood. The great city gate is the two elements of body and mind that we possess. The great city is the element of the body and the gate is the mouth.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are clearing away the obstacles of illusions posed by ignorance to reveal the Shakyamuni Buddha and Many Treasures Buddha who reside in our own minds.
The lock and crossbar represent ignorance. The opening stands for the Dharma nature. The crossbar is the single word myō, or “wonderful.” T’ien-t’ai says [in his Profound Meaning,] “The secret inner storehouse is opened. This may be termed myō, or ‘wonderful.’” You should understand, therefore, that this one word myō is the crossbar. This passage of the sutra is showing us how the lock and crossbar of slander of the Law and lack of faith are removed to open up or reveal the Buddha in our own minds. As was said in an earlier passage, “The Buddhas . . . wish to open the door of Buddha wisdom to all living beings” (chapter two, Expedient Means). You should think about this.

Point Eleven, on the passage “Immediately Shakyamuni Buddha used his transcendental powers to lift all the members of the great assembly up into the air.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “The great assembly” is the throng of listeners. “All the members of the great p.95assembly up into the air” represents the state of our existence after death. Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are realizing that the sufferings of birth and death are none other than nirvana, a state that is described in the phrase “all up into the air.” We are thus subsumed under the heading of those for whom the sufferings of birth and death are none other than nirvana.
The earth represents the element of the body, while the air represents the element of the mind. But we should understand that body and mind are not two different entities. Hence the air represents the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light.
Again, we may say that [in terms of Myoho-renge-kyo] the air represents renge, earth represents kyō, and heaven represents myōhō. The air is what exists in the middle [between heaven and earth]. Among all the living beings there will be bodhisattvas who sit in the lotus seat. This is what is expressed in the words Myoho-renge-kyo. Hence [the “Devadatta” chapter of] the Lotus Sutra says, “[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 and harbor no doubts or perplexities, they will never fall into hell or the realm of hungry spirits or of animals, 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 a Buddha, they will be born by transformation from lotus flowers.”

Point Twelve, on the words “as though a great wind / were tossing the branches of small trees” in the passage “I have employed transcendental powers, / moving immeasurable multitudes, / causing lands to be clean and pure, / leading each of these Buddhas / to the foot of a jeweled tree, / adorned as lotus blossoms / adorn a clear cool pond. / Beneath these jeweled trees / are lion seats, / and the Buddhas seat themselves on them, / adorning them with their p.96brilliance / like a huge torch burning / in the darkness of the night. / A wonderful incense exudes from their bodies, / pervading the lands in the ten directions. / Living beings are wrapped in the aroma, / unable to restrain their joy, / as though a great wind / were tossing the branches of small trees.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: In this verse section, the three similes, “adorned as lotus blossoms / adorn a clear cool pond,” “as though a great wind / were tossing the branches of small trees,” and “like a huge torch burning / in the darkness of the night,” represent the three bodies of a Buddha.1
Among these three similes, that which speaks of “a great wind” stands for the five characters of the daimoku. The words “tossing the branches of small trees” refer to the refutation [of the lesser teachings].
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are like the blowing of a great wind.

Point Thirteen, on the passage “For the sake of the Buddha way / in immeasurable numbers of lands / from the beginning until now / I have widely preached many sutras, / and among them / this sutra is foremost. / If one can uphold this [sutra], / [then] he will be upholding the Buddha’s body.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: To uphold the Lotus Sutra is to uphold belief in the fact that our bodies are the Buddha’s body. The one word soku, or “then” [which also means “identical”], indicates that living beings and the Buddha are not two different things. The first “uphold” in the phrase “If one can uphold this [sutra]” stands for ordinary mortals. The entity to be upheld is the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. We speak of this as “upholding the Buddha’s body” because each and every word [of the Lotus Sutra] is the golden-colored body of the Buddha.
p.97To uphold the body of the Buddha means to uphold the belief that outside of our own bodies there is no Buddha. That is, the ordinary mortal at ri-soku, or the stage of being a Buddha in theory, is not different from the Buddha at kukyō-soku, or the stage of ultimate enlightenment. The word soku (identical) indicates the fact that the first soku, that of ri-soku, and the last soku, that of kukyō-soku, are no different from one another.

Point Fourteen, on the words “This sutra is hard to uphold” in the passage “This sutra is hard to uphold; / if one can uphold it even for a short while / I will surely rejoice / and so will the other Buddhas. / A person who can do this / wins the admiration of the Buddhas. / This is what is meant by valor, / this is what is meant by diligence. / This is what is called observing the precepts / and practicing dhūta. / This way one will quickly attain / the unsurpassed Buddha way. / And if in future existences / one can read and uphold this sutra, / he will be a true son of the Buddha, / dwelling in a land spotless and good.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: One who upholds this Lotus Sutra should uphold it with the understanding that one will encounter difficulties. And the attainment of Buddhahood referred to in the words “This way one will quickly attain / the unsurpassed Buddha way”—this is now what Nichiren and his followers attain when they chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Point Fifteen, on the words “I will surely rejoice / and so will the other Buddhas.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The word “I” refers to the mind king, the core of the mind. The words “the other Buddhas” refer to the various functions of the mind. When one upholds the Lotus Sutra, both the mind and its various functions rejoice simultaneously.
Again we may say that the word “I” refers to ordinary mortals, and the words “the other Buddhas” refer to the Buddhas of the p.98three existences. Now Nichiren and his followers rejoice as they chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and this is what the passage is referring to.

Point Sixteen, on the words “And if in future existences / one can read and uphold this sutra”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This refers to the practices of reading/reciting and accepting/upholding, which make up two of the five practices. Now Nichiren and his followers, in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are carrying out the practice of reading. And in upholding “this sutra” they are carrying out the practice of upholding. The words “this sutra” refer to the five characters of the daimoku.

Point Seventeen, on the words “he will be a true son of the Buddha”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The votaries of the Lotus Sutra are the true sons of Shakyamuni, the Dharma King. And for that reason they are able to succeed him and become kings themselves. You should carefully consider these words, “he will be a true son of the Buddha,” in conjunction with the passage that says, “But now this threefold world / is all my domain, / and the living beings in it / are all my children” (chapter three, Simile and Parable).
Now Nichiren and his followers, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are children of Shakyamuni, the Dharma King.

Point Eighteen, on the words “If after the Buddha has passed into extinction / one can understand the meaning of this sutra, / he will be the eyes of the world / for heavenly and human beings.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “The world” refers to the country of Japan. “The eyes” refers to the Buddha wisdom. The Lotus Sutra acts as the eyes of the world for p.99heavenly and human beings. “Eyes” here refers to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It is the eyes of the world for heavenly and human beings.
Again we may say that the eyes referred to here are the eyes of the various Buddhas. It is the Zen, Nembutsu, and True Word followers and their like who gouge out these eyes of the Buddhas, causing the eyes to be closed. But Nichiren and his followers, who now chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—are we not the eyes of the world for heavenly and human beings?

Point Nineteen, on the words “If in that fearful age / one can preach this sutra for even a moment, / he will deserve to receive alms / from all heavenly and human beings.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: You should think about this one word “can.” The word “preach” means to preach Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Now Nichiren and his followers are the votaries who “can preach this sutra for even a moment.”

Point Twenty, on the words “This sutra is hard to uphold.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: All three types of learning are encompassed in this passage of the sutra. [In his Questions and Answers on Regulations for Students of the Tendai Lotus School, Dengyō states], “The spacelike immovable precepts, the spacelike immovable meditation, and the spacelike immovable wisdom—these three all together are transmitted under the name the Wonderful Law.”
Precepts pertain to the element of the body. Meditation pertains to the element of the mind. Wisdom pertains to the actions of the two elements of the body and the mind. The words “all together” in the statement above refer to the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, which is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. “Transmitted” indicates that it is transmitted to the ten thousand years of the Latter Day of the Law.
Now Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, putting into practice the doctrine that the provisional teachings p.100do not lead to the attainment of the way but that the Lotus Sutra represents the real truth, and this corresponds to the precepts. The precepts are intended to prevent errors and put an end to evil.
The votary who upholds [the principle of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] is certainly “a person [who] assuredly and without doubt / will attain the Buddha way” (chapter twenty-one, Supernatural Powers), and this certainly corresponds to meditation.
The wisdom of the Buddhas of the three existences of past, present, and future is embraced and upheld in each single recitation of the daimoku, and this corresponds to wisdom.
These three types of learning correspond to skin, flesh, and bones, to the three bodies of a Buddha, to the three truths, to the three rules of preaching, and to the three kinds of wisdom.

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Kacchāyana[迦旃延] (Pali; Jpn Kasennen)
K’ai-yüan Era Catalog of the Buddhist Canon, The[開元釈教録] (Chin K’ai-yüan-shih-chiao-lu; Jpn Kaigen-shakkyō-roku)
K’ai-yüan-ssu[開元寺] (PY Kaiyuansi; Jpn Kaigen-ji)
Kakuban[覚鑁] (1095–1143)
Kakumyō[覚明]
Kakuun[覚運] (953–1007)
kālakula[迦羅求羅] (Skt; Jpn karakura or karagura)
Kalandaka[迦蘭陀] (Skt; Jpn Karanda)
kalavinka[迦陵頻伽] (Skt; Jpn karyōbinga)
Kālayashas[畺良耶舎] (383–442) (Skt; Jpn Kyōryōyasha)
Kāli[迦利王] (Skt; Jpn Kari-ō)
Kalmāshapāda[斑足王・鹿足王] (Skt; Jpn Hansoku-ō or Rokusoku-ō)
Kālodāyin[迦留陀夷] (Skt; Jpn Karudai)
kalpa[劫] (Skt; Jpn kō)
kalpa of continuance[住劫] (Jpn jū-kō)
kalpa of decline[壊劫] (Jpn e-kō)
kalpa of decrease[減劫] (Jpn gen-kō)
kalpa of disintegration[空劫] (Jpn kū-kō)
kalpa of formation[成劫] (Jpn jō-kō)
kalpa of increase[増劫] (Jpn zō-kō)
kāma-dhātu[欲界] (Skt, Pali; Jpn yokkai or yoku-kai)
Kanāda[カナーダ] (Skt; Jpn Kanāda)
Kānadeva[迦那提婆] (Skt; Jpn Kanadaiba)
Kanakamuni[倶那含仏] (Skt; Jpn Kunagon-butsu)
K’ang-seng-hui[康僧会] (d. 280) (PY Kangsenghui; Jpn Kōsōe)
Kanishka[迦弐色迦王] (n.d.) (Skt; Jpn Kanishika-ō)
Kannon[観音] (Jpn)
Kanroku[観勒] (n.d.) (Jpn; Kor Kwallŭk)
Kanzeon[観世音] (Jpn)
Kanzeon-ji[観世音寺]
Kao-ch’ang[高昌国] (PY Gaochang; Jpn Kōshō-koku)
Kapila[迦毘羅] (Skt; Jpn Kabira)
Kapilavastu[迦毘羅衛国] (Skt; Pali Kapilavatthu; Jpn Kabirae-koku)
Kapimala[迦毘摩羅・毘羅尊者] (n.d.) (Skt; Jpn Kabimara or Bira-sonja)
karma[業] (Skt; Pali kamma; Jpn gō)
karma mandala[羯磨曼荼羅] (Jpn katsuma-mandara)
karunā[悲・慈悲] (Skt, Pali; Jpn hi or jihi)
Kashgar[疏勒国] (Jpn Soroku-koku)
Kāshī[迦尸国] (Skt; Pali Kāsī; Jpn Kashi-koku)
Kashmir[迦湿弥羅国・諝賓国] (Skt Kashmīra or Kāshmīra; Jpn Kashumira-koku or Keihin-koku)
Kāshyapa(Skt) (1) [迦葉菩薩] (Jpn Kashō-bosatsu); (2) [迦葉仏] (Jpn Kashō-butsu)
Kāshyapa Mātanga[迦葉摩騰] (n.d.) (Skt; Jpn Kashō-matō)
Kāshyapīya school[飲光部・迦葉遺部] (Skt; Jpn Onkō-bu or Kashōi-bu)
Kataumi[片海]
Kātyāyana[迦旃延] (Skt; Pali Kacchāyana or Kacchāna; Jpn Kasennen)
Kātyāyanīputra[迦多衍尼子] (n.d.) (Skt; Jpn Kataennishi)
Kaundinya[憍陳如] (Skt; Jpn Kyōjinnyo)
Kaushāmbī[憍賞弥国] (Skt; Pali Kosambī; Jpn Kyōshōmi-koku)
Kaushika[憍尸迦] (Skt; Jpn Kyōshika)
Kawanobe, the lay priest of[河野辺の入道] (n.d.) (Jpn Kawanobe-no-nyūdō)
Kegon school[華厳宗] (Jpn Kegon-shū)
Kenchō-ji[建長寺]
Kennin-ji[建仁寺]
Kenshin[顕真] (1130–1192)
Kharadīya, Mount[伽羅陀山] (Skt; Jpn Karada-sen)
Khotan[于闐・和田] (Jpn Uten or Hōtan)
Khuddaka-nikāya[小部] (Pali; Jpn Shō-bu)
Kichijō-ten[吉祥天] (Jpn)
Kimbara[金原] (n.d.)
kimnara[緊那羅] (Skt; Jpn kinnara)
King Above Jeweled Dignity and Virtue[宝威徳上王仏] (Skt Ratnatejobhyudgatarāja; Jpn Hōitokujō’ō-butsu)
“King Wonderful Adornment” chapter[妙荘厳王品] (Jpn Myōshōgon-nō-hon)
Kinkara[吉迦夜] (n.d.) (Skt; Jpn Kikkaya)
Kishimojin[鬼子母神] (Jpn)
Kiyomizu-dera[清水寺]
Kizil caves[キジル石窟] (Jpn Kijiru-sekkutsu)
klesha[煩悩] (Skt; Jpn bonnō)
knot of flesh on the head[肉髻相] (Skt ushnīsha-shiraskatā; Jpn nikkei-sō)
Kō, the lay nun of[国府尼] (n.d.) (Jpn Kō-ama or Kō-no-ama)
Kō, the lay priest of[国府入道] (Jpn Kō-nyūdō)
kōan[公案] (Jpn; Chin kung-an)
Kōben[高弁]
Kōbō[弘法] (774–835)
Kōchi[広智] (n.d.)
Kōfuku-ji[興福寺]
Kōjō[光定] (779–858)
Kokālika[瞿伽利] (Skt, Pali; Jpn Kugyari or Kukari)
Kokan Shiren[虎関師錬] (1278–1346)
Kokūzō[虚空蔵] (Jpn)
Komatsubara Persecution[小松原の法難] (Jpn Komatsubara-no-hōnan)
Kōmoku-ten[広目天] (Jpn)
Kongōbu-ji[金剛峯寺]
Kōnichi, the lay nun[光日尼] (Jpn Kōnichi-ama)
Kōnichi-bō[光日房] (n.d.)
Kōsai[幸西] (1163–1247)
Kosala[憍薩羅国] (Skt, Pali; Jpn Kyōsara-koku)
Kosambī[憍賞弥国] (Pali; Jpn Kyōshōmi-koku)
kōsen-rufu[広宣流布] (Jpn)
koti[倶胝] (Skt, Pali; Jpn kutei)
Kōya, Mount[高野山] (Jpn Kōya-san)
Krakucchanda[拘留孫仏] (Skt; Jpn Kuruson-butsu)
Kriki[訖哩枳王] (Skt; Jpn Kiriki-ō)
Krita[訖利多王] (n.d.) (Skt; Jpn Kirita-ō)
krosha[倶盧舎] (Skt; Jpn kurosha)
kshānti[忍・忍辱] (Skt; Jpn nin or ninniku)
Kshatriya[刹帝利] (Skt; Jpn setsuteiri)
kshetra[国土・刹土] (Skt; Jpn kokudo or setsudo)
Kshitigarbha[地蔵菩薩] (Skt; Jpn Jizō-bosatsu)
kū[空] (Jpn)
Kuang-che-ssu[光宅寺] (PY Guangzhesi; Jpn Kōtaku-ji)
Kuang-hsiu[広脩・広修] (771–843) (PY Guangxiu; Jpn Kōshū or Kōshu)
Kuan-ting[灌頂] (PY Guanding; Jpn Kanjō)
Kuan-yin[観音菩薩] (PY Guanyin; Jpn Kannon-bosatsu)
Kubo, the lay nun of[窪尼] (n.d.) (Jpn Kubo-no-ama)
Kucha[亀茲・庫車] (Jpn Kiji or Kosha)
Kudō Yoshitaka[工藤吉隆] (d. 1264)
K’uei-chi[窺基] (PY Kuiji; Jpn Kiki)
Kūkai[空海]
Kukkutapāda, Mount[鶏足山] (Skt; Jpn Keisoku-sen)
Kukkutārāma Monastery[鶏頭摩寺] (Skt, Pali; Jpn Keizuma-ji)
Kumārajīva[鳩摩羅什] (344–413) (Skt; Jpn Kumarajū)
Kumāralāta[鳩摩羅駄] (Skt; Jpn Kumarada)
Kumārata[鳩摩羅駄] (n.d.) (Skt; Jpn Kumarada)
Kumārayāna[鳩摩羅炎] (n.d.) (Skt; Jpn Kumaraen)
kumbhānda[鳩槃荼] (Skt; Jpn kuhanda)
Kundalī[軍荼利明王] (Skt; Jpn Gundari-myō’ō)
Kuntī[皐諦・皐諦女] (Skt; Jpn Kōdai or Kōdai-nyo)
Kuo-ch’ing-ssu[国清寺] (PY Guoqingsi; Jpn Kokusei-ji)
kuon-ganjo[久遠元初] (Jpn)
Kuon-ji[久遠寺]
Kurkutārāma Monastery[鶏頭摩寺] (Skt; Jpn Keizuma-ji)
Kuru[倶盧洲] (Skt, Pali; Jpn Kuru-shū)
kusha grass[吉祥草] (Skt; Jpn kichijō-sō)
Kushan[クシャーナ朝・貴霜朝] (Jpn Kushāna-chō or Kisō-chō)
Kusha school[倶舎宗] (Jpn Kusha-shū)
Kushinagara[拘尸那掲羅・倶尸那城] (Skt; Pali Kusinārā; Jpn Kushinagara or Kushina-jō)
Kusinārā[拘尸那掲羅・倶尸那城] (Pali; Jpn Kushinagara or Kushina-jō)
Kūya[空也] (903–972)
Kyōnin-bō[鏡忍房] (d. 1264)
Kyō’ō[経王] (b. 1272)
Kyō’ō Gokoku-ji[教王護国寺]

Kāli [迦利王] (Skt; Jpn Kari-ō): A violent king who appears in a story about one of Shakyamuni Buddha’s previous lives. According to the Sutra on the Wise and the Foolish, in the remote past there lived an ascetic named Forbearance, who was engaged in the practice of forbearance, one of the six pāramitās. One day, Kāli, king of Vārānasī in Jambudvīpa, went into the mountains to pass the time with his wife, ministers, and maids-in-waiting. Feeling tired at one point, he lay down and fell asleep. The maids wandered about freely looking at flowers and happened upon the ascetic Forbearance, who was absorbed in meditation. They paid him their respects and listened to the ascetic preach. Awakening from his sleep, King Kāli and his ministers searched for the maids and found them sitting before the ascetic. He asked the ascetic about the types of meditation he had attained, but the ascetic said that he had attained none.
Angered, Kāli said to the ascetic that he was nothing but an ordinary mortal, and that he had suspicions about the ascetic’s intentions with the maids. Asked what kind of practice he was engaged in, the ascetic said that he was carrying out the practice of forbearance. The suspicious king then decided to test his forbearance by cutting off his hands, feet, ears, and nose, but the ascetic remained unperturbed. The blood that poured from his wounds changed into milk and his body was restored. Kāli deeply repented his actions and to make amends he frequently invited the ascetic to his palace and gave him offerings. According to the sutra, having related this story, Shakyamuni reveals that the ascetic was himself in a past existence, and the king was Ājnāta Kaundinya, one of Shakyamuni’s first converts.

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