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open sutra of the lotus: CHAPTER 1 Virtuous Practices: nichirenlibrary.org

12 June 2015

CHAPTER 1

Virtuous Practices

This is what I heard:
At one time the Buddha was in Rajagriha, staying on Mount Gridhrakuta. Accompanying him were a multitude of leading monks numbering twelve thousand persons. Also accompanying him were eighty thousand bodhisattvas mahasattva; heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, and mahoragas; and various monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen. Great wheel-turning kings, petty wheel-turning kings, kings of the gold wheel, silver wheel, and other kinds of wheels, kings of states, princes, ministers, subjects, gentlemen and ladies of the state, and rich men of the state, all with followers numbering in the hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, surrounding them, came to the place where the Buddha was, bowed in obeisance before his feet, and circled around him a hundred thousand times, burning incense, scattering flowers, and offering various kinds of alms. This done, they retired to one side and sat down.
The names of the bodhisattvas were Dharma Prince Manjushri, Dharma Prince Great Dignity and Virtue Storehouse, Dharma Prince Without Worry Storehouse, Dharma Prince Great Eloquence Storehouse, Bodhisattva Maitreya, Bodhisattva Guiding Head, Bodhisattva Medicine King, Bodhisattva Medicine Superior, Bodhisattva Flower Banner, Bodhisattva Flower Glow Banner, Bodhisattva Dharani Freedom King, Bodhisattva p.4Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, Bodhisattva Great Power, Bodhisattva Constant Exertion, Bodhisattva Jeweled Seal Head, Bodhisattva Jeweled Accumulation, Bodhisattva Jeweled Staff, Bodhisattva Transcending the Threefold World, Bodhisattva Vimabhara,1 Bodhisattva Scented Elephant, Bodhisattva Great Scented Elephant, Bodhisattva Lion Roar King, Bodhisattva Lion Frolic World, Bodhisattva Lion Swiftness, Bodhisattva Lion Exertion, Bodhisattva Brave Acute Strength, Bodhisattva Lion Fierce Subduer, Bodhisattva Adornment, and Bodhisattva Great Adornment. Eighty thousand bodhisattvas mahasattva such as these accompanied the Buddha.
There were none of these bodhisattvas who were not great men in their Dharma bodies. They were accomplished in matters pertaining to the precepts, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, and the insight of emancipation. Their minds, concentrated and stilled, were at all times in a state of samadhi. They were tranquil and unperturbed, without action, without desire, and no topsy-turvy or confused thoughts could ever reach them. Placid and still, clean and pure, their will was dark, empty, and vast. They maintained this state unmoving for a million hundred thousand kalpas. Immeasurable doctrines were all manifest before them. They had acquired great wisdom, had fully understood all phenomena, perceived and distinguished the truth regarding natures and characteristics, and displayed absolute clarity concerning being and nonbeing, long and short.
They were also skilled in understanding various capacities, natures, and desires, and employing dharanis and unimpeded eloquence, and following in the wake of buddhas who had turned the wheel of the Law, they too skillfully turned it. First they sprinkled tiny drops, wetting down the dust of desire. They opened the gates of nirvana and fanned the wind of emancipation, dispelling the heat of worldly cares and letting in the clear coolness of the Law.
Next they dispensed the profound teachings of the twelve-linked chain of causation, using them to douse the burning rays p.5of compounded suffering, the raging fires of ignorance, aging, sickness, and death. Then they poured forth in abundance the unsurpassed great vehicle to moisten and enrich the good roots possessed by living beings. They sowed the seeds of goodness, spreading them throughout the fields of merit, making it possible for all beings everywhere to put forth the sprouts of enlightenment. The sun and moon of their wisdom, the seasons of their expedient means, support and promote the undertaking of the great vehicle, causing the multitude quickly to attain supreme perfect enlightenment.
These bodhisattvas dwelled constantly in the ease and joy of a subtle and wonderful truth, and in their immeasurably great compassion rescued living beings from suffering. For living beings these were true good friends; for living beings these were great fields of good fortune; for living beings they were teachers who arrived unsummoned; for living beings they were places of tranquillity and joy, saviors, guardians, places of great refuge and repose.
In one place after another for the sake of living beings they acted as great and good guides and teachers, as great guides and teachers. Because living beings are blind, they knew how to act as eyes for them. For the deaf, the noseless, the dumb they acted as ears, nose, and tongue. Where capacities were lacking or defective, they knew how to supply and mend them; where there was disorder, chaos, and confusion, they brought the great remedy of correct thought.
They were helmsmen, great helmsmen, ferrying the many beings over the river of birth and death until they reached the shore of nirvana. They were master physicians, great master physicians, distinguishing the marks of illness, understanding the nature of medicines, applying the medicine that was appropriate to the disease, dispensing medication to the multitude. They were trainers, great trainers, curbing all wild and eccentric behavior. They were like trainers of elephants or horses, able to train them till none were untrained. They had the brave fierceness of the lion, which overawes all the other beasts and is scarcely to be challenged.
p.6They diverted themselves with the paramitas of the bodhisattvas, and stood firm and unmoving on the ground of the thus come one. They abided secure in the power of their vows, purified the buddha lands far and wide, and before long will succeed in gaining supreme perfect enlightenment. These bodhisattvas mahasattva all possessed inconceivable virtues such as these.
The names of the monks were Great Wisdom Shariputra, Transcendental Power Maudgalyayana, Life of Wisdom Subhuti, Mahakatyayana, Purna, son of Maitrayani, Ajnata Kaundinya, Heavenly Eye Aniruddha, Keeper of the Precepts Upali, Attendant Ananda, Rahula, son of the Buddha, Upananda, Revata, Kapphina, Bakkula, Chunda, Svagata, Dhuta Great Kashyapa, Uruvilva Kashyapa, Gaya Kashyapa, and Nadi Kashyapa, twelve thousand monks such as these. All were arhats who had exhausted all ties and outflows and had no further bonds or attachments, having attained true and correct emancipation.
At that time the bodhisattva mahasattva Great Adornment, gazing all around at the seated multitude and seeing that each member of the group had had time to compose his mind, accompanied by the others of the eighty thousand bodhisattvas mahasattva in the assembly, rose from his seat and proceeded to where the Buddha was. They bowed their heads to the ground in obeisance before the Buddha’s feet and circled around him a hundred thousand times, burning heavenly incense and scattering heavenly flowers, heavenly robes, heavenly necklaces, and priceless heavenly jewels and gems over him. These revolved in the midst of the sky and drifted down on four sides in cloudlike masses, an offering to the Buddha. Heavenly bowls and vessels from heavenly kitchens brimmed and overflowed with a hundred heavenly flavors; just observing their forms and smelling their aroma was enough to make one feel naturally satisfied. Heavenly banners, heavenly streamers, heavenly canopies, wonderful heavenly playthings were ranged here and there, and heavenly instruments played music for the amusement and pleasure of the Buddha.
Then the bodhisattvas, advancing, kneeling on one knee, and p.7pressing their palms together, single-mindedly joined their voices together in speaking these verses of praise:

Great indeed, great sage lord of great enlightenment,
without defilement, without stain, without attachment,
trainer of heavenly and human beings, elephants and horses,
scenting all with the wind of the way, the incense of virtue,
calm in wisdom, vast in feeling, still and concentrated in thought,
will extinguished, consciousness gone, mind tranquil,
eternally cut off from dreamlike deluded thoughts and ponderings,
no more elements, components, sense fields, or realms,
his body neither existing nor not existing,
neither caused nor conditioned, neither self nor other,
neither square nor round, neither short nor long,
neither appearing nor disappearing, neither born nor extinguished,
neither created nor arising, neither acted nor made,
neither sitting nor lying down, neither walking nor standing,
neither moving nor turning, neither idle nor still,
neither advancing nor retreating, neither in safety nor danger,
neither right nor wrong, neither gaining nor losing,
neither that nor this, neither departing nor coming,
neither blue nor yellow, neither red nor white,
neither crimson nor purple nor any other sort of color,
born in precepts, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, insight,
setting out from samadhis, six transcendental powers, aids to the way,
arising from pity, compassion, the ten powers, fearlessness,
emerging because of the good actions of living beings.
p.8He displays his sixteen-foot body, gleaming like purple gold,
trim and upright, shining with great penetrating brilliance;
characteristic tuft curled like a moon, sun rays behind his neck;
his coiled hair deep blue, a knob of flesh on his crown;
pure eyes, bright mirrors, gazing up and down;
eyebrows and lashes blue and lengthy, mouth and cheeks shapely;
lips and tongue red and comely as crimson flowers;
forty white teeth like snowy agate;
forehead broad, nose long, an open countenance;
breast displaying a fylfot pattern, lion-chested;
hands and feet soft and supple, marked with thousand-spoked wheels;
armpits and palms crossed with lines, inside and out well molded,
long upper and lower arms, fingers straight and slim;
skin delicate and soft, hair curling to the right;
anklebones and knees well exposed, male member hidden like a horse;
slim muscles, well-locked bones, deer-like legs;
front and back radiant, pure, without defilement,
unstained by turbid water, untouched by dust,
the thirty-two features all like this,
the eighty characteristics plain to see.
Yet in truth there is no form that is with or without features;
he is cut off from all eyes that look for features.
With features that are featureless he bears a featured body,
and the features of living beings with their featured bodies are likewise.
He can cause living beings to rejoice and do obeisance,
to give their hearts to him, show reverence, be diligent.
Because he has put aside pride and haughtiness,
he has achieved a wonderfully formed body such as this.
Now we, a multitude of eighty thousand,
p.9have all come together to bow our heads, dedicate our lives,
to one who has extinguished thought, mind, will, and consciousness,
trainer of elephants and horses, sage free of attachments.
We bow heads, give ourselves to his Dharma body and manifested body,
his aggregate of precepts, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, insight.
We bow heads, give ourselves to his wonderful characteristics,
we bow heads, give ourselves to one difficult to conceive.
His brahma sounds thunder and shake, echoing in eight varieties,
subtle, wonderful, pure, extremely profound and far-reaching.
The four noble truths, six paramitas, twelve-linked chain of causation,
are set forth, depending on the workings of the minds of living beings.
Of those who hear, there are none whose mind is not opened;
they cut off the immeasurable entanglements of birth and death.
Of those who hear, some reach the stage of stream-winner, of once-returner, non-returner, or arhat,
the state of the cause-awakened one, free of outflows, free of action,
the bodhisattva stage, free of birth, free of extinction.
Some gain immeasurable dharanis,
unimpeded delight in preaching, great eloquence,
expounding profoundly deep, subtle, and wonderful verses,
diverting themselves by bathing in clear channels of the Law,
some leap or fly up, display transcendental powers,
go in and out of water and fire, their bodies completely free.
p.10In such manner does the thus come one turn the wheel of the Law,
pure, unbounded, difficult to conceive.
We are moved, and all together bow our heads,
dedicating our lives to the timely turning of the wheel of the Law,
bow our heads, dedicate ourselves to the brahma sounds,
bow our heads, dedicate ourselves to the chain of causation, truths, paramitas.
The world-honored one immeasurable kalpas in the past
diligently carried out numerous virtuous practices
for our sake, human and heavenly beings, dragon kings,
for all living beings everywhere.
He was willing to discard all things difficult to discard,
wealth, riches, wife, child, country, and capital,
begrudging nothing inside or outside his dharma,
donating all to others, his head, eyes, marrow, and brains.
He honored and upheld the pure prohibitions of the buddhas,
never violating them even though it might cost him his life.
Though men came with swords and staves to do him harm,
with foul mouths cursed and insulted him, he never showed anger.
For successive kalpas he sacrificed his body, never slacking,
day and night disciplined in mind, in constant meditation.
He studied all the various ways and doctrines,
in his profound wisdom penetrated the capacities of living beings.
For this reason now he can exercise his powers freely,
free in command of the Law, the king of the Law.
We are moved, and all together bow our heads,
dedicating ourselves to one who has accomplished what is hard to accomplish.

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