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  Posted on Aug.11.2009 @ 08:05PM EDT by chontri
Different winds come from all directions. Some are clear, some carry dust,
some are cold or hot, fierce gales or gentle breezes. In the same way
sensations arise in the body... continue...

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  PRINCIPLES
» zen & buddhism   » the four noble truths   » the eightfold path   » karma & reincarnation   » sutras   » FAQ's   » glossary of terms
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LOTUS SUTRA - Chapter 07. Ancient Devotion

Of yore, monks, in the past, incalculable, more than incalculable, inconceivable, immense, measureless Æons since, nay, at a period, an epoch far beyond, there appeared in the world a Tathâgata, &c., named Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, endowed with science and conduct, a Sugata, &c. &c., in the sphere Sambhava (i. e. origin, genesis), in the period Mahârûpa. (You ask), monks, how long ago is it that the Tathâgata was born? Well, suppose some man was to reduce to powder the whole mass of the earth element as much as is to be found in this whole universe; that after taking one atom of dust from this world he is to walk a thousand worlds farther in easterly direction to deposit that single atom; that after taking a second atom of dust and walking a thousand worlds farther he deposits that second atom, and proceeding in this way at last gets the whole of the earth element deposited in eastern direction. Now, monks, what do you think of it, is it possible by calculation to find the end or limit of these worlds? They answered: Certainly not, Lord; certainly not, Sugata. The Lord said: On the contrary, monks, some arithmetician or master of arithmetic might, indeed, be able by calculation to find the end or limit of the worlds, both those where the atoms have been deposited and where they have not, but it is impossible by applying the rules of arithmetic to find the limit of those hundred thousands of myriads of Æons, so long, so inconceivable, so immense is the number of Æons which have elapsed since the expiration of that Lord, the Tathâgata Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû. Yet, monks, I perfectly remember that Tathâgata who has been extinct for so long a time, as if he had reached extinction to-day or yesterday, because of my possessing the mighty knowledge and sight of the Tathâgata.

And on that occasion the Lord pronounced the following stanzas:

1. I remember the great Seer Abhigñâgñânâbhibhû, the most high of men, who existed many kotis of Æons ago as the superior Gina of the period.

2. If, for example, some men after reducing this universe to atoms of dust took one atom to deposit it a thousand regions farther on;

3. If he deposited a second, a third atom, and so proceeded until he had done with the whole mass of dust, so that this world were empty and the mass of dust exhausted;

4. To that immense mass of the dust of these worlds, entirely reduced to atoms, I liken the number of Æons past.

5. So immense is the number of kotis of Æons past since that extinct Sugata; the whole of (existing) atoms is no (adequate) expression of it; so many are the Æons which have expired since.

6. That Leader who has expired so long ago, those disciples and Bodhisattvas, I remember all of them as if it were to-day or yesterday. Such is the knowledge of the Tathâgatas.

7. So endless, monks, is the knowledge of the Tathâgata; I know what has taken place many hundreds of Æons ago, by my precise and faultless memory.

To proceed, monks, the measure of the lifetime of the Tathâgata Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Arhat, &c. was fifty-four hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Æons.

In the beginning when the Lord had not yet reached supreme, perfect enlightenment and had just occupied the summit of the terrace of enlightenment, he discomfited and defeated the whole host of Mâra, after which he thought: I am to reach perfect enlightenment. But those laws (of perfect enlightenment) had not yet dawned upon him. He stayed on the terrace of enlightenment at the foot of the tree of enlightenment during one intermediate kalpa. He stayed there a second, a third intermediate kalpa, but did not yet attain supreme, perfect enlightenment. He remained a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, an eighth, a ninth, a tenth intermediate kalpa on the terrace of enlightenment at the foot of the tree of enlightenment, continuing sitting cross-legged without in the meanwhile rising. He stayed, the mind motionless, the body unstirring and untrembling, but those laws had not yet dawned upon him.

Now, monks, while the Lord was just on the summit of the terrace of enlightenment, the gods of Paradise (Trâyastrimsas) prepared him a magnificent royal throne, a hundred yoganas high, on occupying which the Lord attained supreme, perfect enlightenment; and no sooner had the Lord occupied the seat of enlightenment than the Brahmakâyika gods scattered a rain of flowers all around the seat of enlightenment over a distance of a hundred yoganas; in the sky they let loose storms by which the flowers, withered, were swept away. From the beginning of the rain of flowers, while the Lord was sitting on the seat of enlightenment, it poured without interruption during fully ten intermediate kalpas, covering the Lord. That rain of flowers having once begun falling continued to the moment of the Lord's complete Nirvâna. The angels belonging to the division of the four guardians of the cardinal points made the celestial drums of the gods resound; they made them resound without interruption in honour of the Lord who had attained the summit of the terrace of enlightenment. Thereafter, during fully ten intermediate kalpas, they made uninterruptedly resound those celestial musical instruments up to the moment of the complete extinction of the Lord.

Again, monks, after the lapse of ten intermediate kalpas the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., reached supreme, perfect enlightenment. Immediately on knowing his having become enlightened the sixteen sons born to that Lord when a prince royal, the eldest of whom was named Gñânâkara-which sixteen young princes, monks, had severally toys to play with, variegated and pretty-those sixteen princes, I repeat, monks, left their toys, their amusements, and since they knew that the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., had attained supreme, perfect knowledge, went, surrounded and attended by their weeping mothers and nurses, along with the noble, rich king Kakravartin, many ministers, and hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of living beings, to the place where the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., was seated on the summit of the terrace of enlightenment. They went up to the Lord in order to honour, respect, worship, revere, and venerate him, saluted his feet with their heads, made three turns round him keeping him to the right, lifted up their joined hands, and praised the Lord, face to face, with the following stanzas:

8. Thou art the great physician, having no superior, rendered perfect in endless Æons. Thy benign wish of saving all mortals (from darkness) has to-day been fulfilled.

9. Most difficult things hast thou achieved during the ten intermediate kalpas now past; thou hast been sitting all that time without once moving thy body, hand, foot, or any other part.

10. Thy mind also was tranquil and steady, motionless, never to be shaken; thou knewest no distraction;thou art completely quiet and faultless.

11. Joy with thee! that thou so happily and safely, without any hurt, hast reached supreme enlightenment. How great a fortune is ours! we congratulate ourselves, O Lion amongst kings!

12. These unhappy creatures, vexed in all ways, deprived of eyes, as it were, and joyless, do not find the road leading to the end of toils, nor develop energy for the sake of deliverance.

13. Dangers are for a long time on the increase and the laws (or phenomena, things) are deprived of the (possession of a) celestial body; the word of the Gina is not being heard; the whole world is plunged in thick darkness.

14. But to-day (or now) hast thou, Majesty of the world, reached this hallowed, high, and faultless spot; we as well as the world are obliged to thee, and approach to seek our refuge with thee, O Protector!

When, O monks, those sixteen princes in the condition of boys, childlike and young, had with such stanzas celebrated the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., they urged the Lord to move on the wheel of the law: Preach the law, O Lord; preach the law, O Sugata, for the weal of the public, the happiness of the public, out of compassion for the world; for the benefit, weal, and happiness of the people generally, both of gods and men. And on that occasion they uttered the following stanzas:

15. Preach the law, O thou who art marked with a hundred auspicious signs, O Leader, O incomparable great Seer! thou hast attained exalted, sublime knowledge; let it shine in the world, including the gods.

16. Release us as well as these creatures; display the knowledge of the Tathâgatas, that we also and, further, these beings may obtain this supreme enlightenment.

17. Thou knowest every course (of duty) and knowledge; thou knowest the (mental and moral) disposition and the good works done in a former state; the (natural) bent of all living beings. Move on the most exalted, sublime wheel!

Then, monks, as the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., reached supreme, perfect enlightenment, fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of spheres in each of the ten directions of space were shaken in six different ways and became illumined with a great lustre. And in the intervals between all those spheres, in the dreary places of dark gloom, where even the sun and moon, so powerful, mighty, and splendid, have no advantage of the shining power they are endowed with, have no advantage of the colour and brightness they possess, even in those places a great lustre arose instantly. And the beings who appeared in those intervals behold each other, acknowledge each other, (and exclaim): Lo, there are other beings also here appearing! lo, there are other beings also here appearing! The palaces and aerial cars of the gods in all those spheres up to the Brahma-world shook in six different ways and became illumined with a great lustre, surpassing the divine majesty of the gods. So then, monks, a great earthquake and a great, sublime lustre arose simultaneously. And the aerial cars of the Brahma-angels to the east, in these fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of spheres, began excessively to glitter, glow, and sparkle in splendo,ur and glory. And those Brahma-angels made this reflection: What may be foreboded by these aerial cars so excessively glittering, glowing, and sparkling in splendour and glory? Thereupon, monks, the Brahma-angels in the fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of spheres went all to each other's abodes and communicated the matter to one another. After that, monks, the great Brahma-angel, named Sarvasattvatrâtri (i.e. Saviour of all beings), addressed the numerous host of Brahma-angels in the following stanzas:

18. Our aerial cars to-day (or now) are all bristling with rays in an extraordinary degree, and blazing in beautiful splendour and brilliancy. What may be the cause of it?

19. Come, let us investigate the matter, what divine being has to-day sprung into existence, whose power, such as was never seen before, here now appears?

20. Or should it be the Buddha, the king of kings, who to-day has been born somewhere in the world, and whose birth is announced by such a token that all the points of the horizon are now blazing in splendour?

Thereupon, monks, the great Brahma-angels in the fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of spheres mounted all together their own divine aerial cars, took with them divine bags, as large as Mount Sumeru, with celestial flowers, and went through the four quarters successively until they arrived at the western quarter, where those great Brahma-angels, O monks, stationed in the western quarter, saw the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., on the summit of the exalted terrace of enlightenment, seated on the royal throne at the foot of the tree of enlightenment, surrounded and attended by gods, Nagas, goblins, Gandharvas, demons, Garudas, Kinnaras, great serpents, men, and beings not human, while his sons, the sixteen young princes, were urging him to move forward the wheel of the law. On seeing which the Brahma-angels came up to the Lord, saluted his feet with their heads, walked many hundred thousand times round him from left to right, strewing (flowers) and overwhclming both him and the tree of enlightenment, over a distance of ten yoganas, with those flower-bags as large as Mount Sumeru. After that they presented to the Lord their aerial cars (with the words): Accept, O Lord, these aerial cars out of compassion to us; use, O Sugata, those cars out of compassion to us.

On that occasion, monks, after presenting their own cars to the Lord, the Brahma-angels celebrated the Lord, face to face, with the following seasonable stanzas:

21. A (or the) wonderful, matchless Gina, so beneficial and merciful, has arisen in the world. Thou art born a protector, a ruler (and teacher), a master; to-day all quarters are blessed.

22. We have come as far as fully fifty thousand kotis of worlds from here to humbly salute the Gina by surrendering our lofty acriel cars all together.

23. We possess these variegated and bright cars, owing to previous works; accept them to oblige us, and make use of them to thine heart's content, O Knower of the world!

After the great Brahma-angels, monks, had celebrated the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., face to face, with these seasonable stanzas, they besought him, saying: May the Lord move forward the wheel of the law! May the Lord preach final rest! May the Lord release all beings! Be favourable, O Lord, to this world! Preach the law, O Lord, to this world, including gods, Mâras, and Brahma-angels; to all people, including ascetics and Brahmans, gods, men, and demons! It will tend to the weal of the public, to the happiness of the public; out of mercy to the world, for the benefit and happiness of the people at large, both gods and men.

Thereupon, monks, those fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Brahma-angels addressed the Lord, with one voice, in common chorus, with the following stanza:

24. Show the law, O Lord; show it, O most high of men! Show the power of thy kindness; save the tormented beings.

25. Rare is the light of the world like the blossom of the glomerated fig-tree. Thou hast arisen, O great Hero; we pray to thee, the Tathâgata.

And the Lord, O monks, silently intimated his assent to the Brahma-angels.

Somewhat later, monks, the aerial cars of the Brahma-angels in the south-eastern quarter in the fifty hundred thousand myriads of spheres began excessively to glitter, glow, and sparkle in splendour and glory. And those Brahma-angels made this reflection: What may be foreboded by these aerial cars so excessively glittering, glowing, and sparkling in splendour and glory? Thereupon, monks, the Brahma-angels in the fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of spheres went all to each other's abodes and communicated the matter to one another. After that, monks, the great Brahma-angel, named Adhimâtrakârunika (i.e. exceedingly compassionate), addressed the numerous host of Brahma-angels with the following stanzas:

26. What foretoken is it we see to-day (or now), friends? Who or what is foreboded by the celestial cars shining with such uncommon glory?

27. May, perhaps, some blessed divine being have come hither, by whose power all these aerial cars are illumined?

28. Or may the Buddha, the most high of men, have appeared in this world, that by his power these celestial cars are in such a condition as we see them?

29. Let us all together go and search; no trifle can be the cause of it; such a foretoken, indeed, was never seen before.

30. Come, let us go and visit kotis of fields, along the four quarters; a Buddha will certainly now have made his appearance in this world.

Thereupon, monks, the great Brahma-angels in the fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of spheres mounted all together their own divine aerial cars, took with them divine bags, as large as Mount Sumeru, with celestial flowers, and went through the four quarters successively until they arrived at the north-western quarteir, where those great Brahma-angels, stationed in the north-western quarter, saw the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû [&c., as above till compassion to us].

On that occasion, monks, after presenting their own cars to the Lord the Brahma-angels celebrated the Lord, face to face, with the following seasonable stanzas:

31. Homage to thee, matchless great Seer, chief god of gods, whose -voice is sweet as the lark's'. Leader in the world, including the gods, I salute thee, who art so benign and bounteous to the world.

32. How wonderful, O Lord, is it that after so long a time thou appearest in the world. Eighty hundred complete Æons this world of the living was without Buddha'.

33. It was deprived of the most high of men; hell was prevailing and the celestial bodies constantly went on waning during eighty hundred complete Æons.

34. But now he has appeared, owing to our good works, who is (our) eye, refuge, resting-place, protection, father, and kinsman; he, the benign and bounteous one, the King of the law.

After the great Brahma-angels, monks, had celebrated the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., face to face, with these seasonable stanzas: they besought him: May the Lord move forward the wheel of the law! [as above till both gods and men.]

Thereupon, monks, those fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Brahma-angels addressed the Lord, with one voice, in common chorus, with the following stanzas:

35. Move forward the exalted wheel, O great ascetic! reveal the law in all directions; deliver all beings oppressed with suffering; produce amongst mortals gladness and joy!

36. Let them by hearing the law partake of enlightenment and reach divine places. Let all shake off their demon body and be peaceful, meek, and at ease.

And the Lord, O monks, silently intimated his assent to these Brahma-angels also.

Somewhat later, monks, the aerial cars of the Brahma-angels in the southern quarter [&c., as above till to one another]. After that, monks, the great Brahma-angel, named Sudharma, addressed the numerous host of Brahma-angels in stanzas:

37. It cannot be without cause or reason, friends, that to-day (or now) all these celestial cars are so brilliant; this bespeaks some portent somewhere in the world. Come, let us go and investigate the matter.

38. No such portent has appeared in hundreds of Æons past. Either some god has been born or a Buddha has arisen in this world.

Thereupon, monks, the great Brahma-angels in the fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of spheres mounted [&c., as above till compassion to us].

On that occasion, monks, after presenting their own cars to the Lord, the Brahma-angels celebrated the Lord, face to face, with the following seasonable stanzas:

39. Most rare (and precious) is the sight of the Leaders. Be welcome, thou dispeller of worldly defilement. It is after a long time that thou now appearest in the world; after hundreds of complete Æons one (now) beholds thee.

40. Refresh the thirsty creatures, O Lord of the world! Now first thou art seen; it is not easy to behold thee. As rare (or precious) as the flowers of the glomerated fig-tree is thine appearance, O Lord.

41. By thy power these aerial cars of ours are so uncommonly illumined now, O Leader. To show us thy favour accept them, O thou whose look pierces everywhere!

After the great Brahma-angels, monks, had celebrated the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., face to face, with these seasonable stanzas, they besought him: May the Lord move forward the wheel of the law! [as above till gods and men.]

Thereupon, monks, those fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Brahma-angels addressed the Lord, with one voice, in common chorus, with the following stanzas:

42. Preach the law, O Lord and Leader! move forward the wheel of the law, make the drum of the law resound, and blow the conch-trumpet of the law.

43. Shed the rain of the true law over this world and proclaim the sweet-sounding, good word; manifest the law required, save myriads of kotis of beings.

And the Lord, monks, silently intimated his assent to the Brahma-angels.

Repetition; the same occurred in the south-west, in the west, in the north-west, in the north, in the north-east, in the nadir.

Then, monks, the aerial cars of the Brahma-angels in the nadir, in those fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of spheres [&c., as above till to one another]. After that, monks, the great Brahma-angel, named Sikhin, addressed the numerous host of Brahma-angels with the following stanzas:

44. What may be the cause, O friends, that our cars are so bright with splendour, colour, and light? What may be the reason of their being so exceedingly glorious?

45. We have seen nothing like this before nor heard of it from others. These (cars) are now bright with splendour and exceedingly glorious; what may be the cause of it?

46. Should it be some god who has been bestowed upon the world in recompense of good works, and whose grandeur thus comes to light? Or is perhaps a Buddha born in the world?

Thereupon, monks, the great Brahma-angels in the fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of spheres mounted all together their own divine aerial cars, took with them divine bags, as large as Mount Sumeru, with celestial flowers, and went through the four quarters successively until they arrived at the zenith, where those great Brahma-angels, stationed at the zenith, saw the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû [&c., as above till compassion to us].

On that occasion, monks, after presenting their own cars to the Lord, the Brahma-angels celebrated the Lord, face to face, with the following seasonable stanzas:

47. How goodly is the sight of the Buddhas, the mighty Lords of the world; those Buddhas who are to deliver all beings in this triple world.

48. The all-seeing Masters of the world send their looks in all directions of the horizon, and by opening the gate of immortality they make people reach the (safe) shore.

49. An inconceivable number of Æons now past were void, and all quarters wrapt in darkness, as the chief Ginas did not appear.

50. The dreary hells, the brute creation and demons were on the increase; thousands of kotis of living beings fell into the state of ghosts.

51. The heavenly bodies were on the wane; after their disappearance they entered upon evil ways; their course became wrong because they did not hear the law of the Buddhas.

52. All creatures lacked dutiful behaviour, purity, good state, and understanding; their happiness was lost, and the consciousness of happiness was gone.

53. They did not observe the rules of morality; were firmly rooted in the false law; not being led by the Lord of the world, they were precipitated into a false course.

54. Hail! thou art come at last, O Light of the world! thou, born to be bounteous towards all beings.

55. Hail! thou hast safely arrived at supreme Buddha-knowledge; we feel thankful before thee, and so does the world, including the gods.

56. By thy power, O mighty Lord, our aerial cars are glittering; to thee we present them, great Hero; deign to accept them, great Solitary.

57.Out of grace to us, O Leader, make use of them-, so that we, as well as all (other) beings, may attain supreme enlightenment.

After the great Brahma-angels, O monks, had celebrated the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., face to face, with seasonable stanzas, they besought him: May the Lord move forward the wheel of the law! [&c., as above till both gods and men.]

Thereupon, monks, those fifty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Brahma-angels addressed the Lord, with one voice, in common chorus, with the following two stanzas:

58. Move forward the exalted, unsurpassed wheel! beat the drum of immortality! release all beings from hundreds of evils, and show the path of Nirvâna.

59. Expound the law we pray for; show thy favour to us and this world. Let us hear thy sweet and lovely voice which thou hast exercised during thousands of kotis of Æons.

Now, monks, the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû the Tathâgata, &c., being acquainted with the prayer of the hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Brahma-angels and of the sixteen princes, his sons, commenced at that juncture to turn the wheel that has three turns and twelve parts, the wheel never moved by any ascetic, Brahman, god, demon, nor by any one else. (His preaching) consisted in this: This is pain; this is the origin of pain; this is the suppression of pain; this is the treatment leading to suppression of pain. He moreover extensively set forth how the series of causes and effects is evolved, (and said): It is thus, monks. From ignorance proceed conceptions (or fancies); from conceptions (or fancies) proceeds understanding; from understanding name and form; from name and form the six senses; from the six senses proceeds contact; from contact sensation; from sensation proceeds longing; from longing proceeds striving; from striving as cause issues existence; from existence birth; from birth old age, death, mourning, lamentation, sorrow, dismay, and despondency. So originates this whole mass of misery. From the suppression of ignorance results the suppression of conceptions; from the suppression of conceptions results that of understanding; from the suppression of understanding results that of name and form; from the suppression of name and form results that of the six senses; from the suppression of the six senses results that of contact; from the suppression of contact results that of sensation; from the suppression of sensation results that of longing; from the suppression of longing results that of striving; from the suppression of striving results that of existence; from the suppression of existence results that of birth; from the suppression of birth results that of old age, death, mourning, lamentation, sorrow, dismay, and despondency. In this manner the whole mass of misery is suppressed.

And while this wheel of the law, monks, was being moved onward by the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., in presence of the world, including the gods, demons, and Brahma-angels; of the assemblage, including ascetics and Brahmans; then, at that time, on that occasion, the minds of sixty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of living beings were without effort freed from imperfections and became all possessed of the triple science, of the sixfold transcendent wisdom, of the emancipations and meditations. In due course, monks, the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., again gave a second exposition of the law; likewise a third and a fourth exposition. And at each exposition, monks, the minds of hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of beings, like the sands of the river Ganges, were without effort freed from imperfections. Afterwards, monks, the congregation of disciples of that Lord was so numerous as to surpass all calculation.

Meanwhile, monks, the sixteen princes, the youths, had, full of faith, left home to lead the vagrant life of mendicants, and had all of them become novices, clever, bright, intelligent, pious, followers of the course (of duty) under many hundred thousand Buddhas, and striving after supreme, perfect enlightenment. These sixteen novices, monks, said to the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., the following: O Lord, these many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of disciples of the Tathâgata have become very mighty, very powerful, very potent, owing to the Lord's teaching of the law. Deign, O Lord, to teach us also, for mercy's sake, the law with a view to supreme, perfect enlightenment, so that we also may follow the teaching of the Tathâgata. We want, O Lord, to see the knowledge of the Tathâgata; the Lord can himself testify to this, for thou, O Lord, who knowest the disposition of all beings, also knowest ours.

Then, monks, on seeing that those princes, the youths, had chosen the vagrant life of mendicants and become novices, the half of the whole retinue of the king Kakravartin, to the number of eighty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of living beings, chose the vagrant life of mendicants.

Subsequently, monks, the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., viewing the prayer of those novices at the lapse of twenty thousand Æons, amply and completely revealed the Dharmaparyâya called 'the Lotus of the True Law, a text of great extent, serving to instruct Bodhisattvas and proper for all Buddhas, in presence of all the four classes of auditors.

In course of time, monks, those sixteen novices grasped, kept, and fully penetrated the Lord's teaching.

Subsequently, monks, the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., foretold those sixteen novices their future djestiny to supreme, perfect enlightenment. And while the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., was propounding the Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law, the disciples as well as the sixteen novices were full of faith, and many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of beings acquired perfect certainty.

Thereupon, monks, after propounding the Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law during eight thousand Æons without interruption, the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., entered the monastery to retire for the purpose of meditation, and in that retirement, monks, the Tathâgata continued in the monastery during eighty-four thousand kotis of Æons.

Now, monks, when the sixteen novices perceived that the Lord was absorbed, they sat down on the seats, the royal thrones which had been prepared for each of them, and amply expounded, during eighty-four hundred thousand myriads of kotis, the Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law to the four classes. By doing this, monks, each of those novices, as Bodhisattvas fully developed, instructed, excited, stimulated, edified, confirmed in respect to supreme, perfect enlightenment 60 x 60 hundred thousand myriads of kotis of living beings, equal to the sands of the river Ganges.

Now, monks, at the lapse of eighty-four thousand Æons the Lord Mahâbhigñâgñanâbhibhû, the Tathâgata, &c., rose from his meditation, in possession of memory and consciousness, whereafter he went up to the seat of the law, designed for him, in order to occupy it.

As soon as the Lord had occupied the seat of the law, monks, he cast his looks over the whole circle of the audience and addressed the congregation of monks: They are wonderfully gifted, monks, they are prodigiously gifted, these sixteen novices, wise, servitors to many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Buddhas, observers of the course (of duty), who have received Buddha-knowledge, transmitted Buddha-knowledge, expounded Buddha-knowledge. Honour these sixteen novices, monks, again and again; and all, be they devoted to the vehicle of the disciples, the vehicle of the Pratyekabuddhas, or the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas, who shall not reject nor repudiate the preaching of these young men of good family, O monks, shall quickly gain supreme, perfect enlightenment, and obtain Tathâgata-knowledge.

In the sequel also, monks, have these young men of good family repeatedly revealed this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus,of the True Law under the mastership of that Lord. And the 60 x 60 hundred thousand myriads of kotis of living beings, equal to the sands of the river Ganges, who by each of the sixteen novices, the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, in the quality of Bodhisattva, had been roused to enlightenment, all those beings followed the example of the sixteen novices in choosing along with them the vagrant life of mendicants, in their several existences; they enjoyed their sight and heard the law from their mouth. They propitiated forty kotis of Buddhas, and some are doing so up to this day.

I announce to you, monks, I declare to you: Those sixteen princes, the youths, who as novices under the mastership of the Lord were interpreters of the law, have all reached supreme, perfect enlightenment, and all of them are staying, existing, living even now, in the several directions of space, in different Buddha-fields, preaching the law to many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of disciples and Bodhisattvas, to wit: In the east, monks, in the world Abhirati the Tathâgata named Akshobhya, the Arhat, &c., and the Tathâgata Merukûta, the Arhat, &c. In the south-east, monks, is the Tathâgata Simhaghosha, &c., and the Tathâgata Simhadhvaga, &c. In the south, monks, is the Tathâgata named Akâsapratishthita, &c., and the Tathâgata named Nityaparinirvrita, &c. In the southwest, monks, is the Tathâgata named Indradhvaga, &c., and the Tathâgata named Brahmadhvaga, &c. In the west, monks, is the Tathâgata named Amitâyus, &c., and the Tathâgata named Sarvalokadhâtûpadravodvegapratyuttîrna, &c. In the north-west, monks, is the Tathâgata named Tamâlapatrakandanagandhâbhigña, &c., and the Tathâgata Merukalpa, &c. In the north, monks, is the Tathâgata named Meghasvarapradipa, &c., and the Tathâgata named Meghasvararâga, &c. In the north-east, monks, is the Tathâgata named Sarvalokabhayâgitakkhambhitatvavidhvamsanakara, the Arhat, &c., and, the sixteenth, myself, Sâkyamuni, the Tathâgata, the Arhat, &c., who have attained supreme, perfect enlightenment in the centre of this Saha-world.

Further, monks, those beings who have heard the law from us when we were novices, those many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of beings, numerous as the sands of the river Ganges, whom we have severally initiated in supreme, perfect enlightenment, they are up to this day standing on the stage of disciples and matured for supreme, perfect enlightenment. In regular turn they are to attain supreme, perfect enlightenment, for it is difficult, monks, to penetrate the knowledge of the Tathâgatas. And which are those beings, monks, who, innumerable, incalculable like the sands of the Ganges, those hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of living beings, whom I, when I was a Bodhisattva under the mastership of that Lord, have taught the law of omniscience? Yourselves, monks, were at that time those beings.

And those who shall be my disciples in future, when I shall have attained complete Nirvâna, shall learn the course (of duty) of Bodhisattvas, without conceiving the idea of their being Bodhisattvas. And, monks, all who shall have the idea of complete Nirvâna, shall reach it. It should be added, monks, as I stay under different names in other worlds, they shall there be born again seeking after the knowledge of the Tathâgatas, and there they shall anew hear this dogma: The complete Nirvâna of the Tathâgatas is but one; there is no other, no second Nirvâna of the Tathâgatas. Herein, monks, one has to see a device of the Tathâgatas and a direction for the preaching of the law. When the Tathâgata, monks, knows that the moment of his complete extinction has arrived, and sees that the assemblage is pure, strong in faith, penetrated with the law of voidness, devoted to meditation, devoted to great meditation, then, monks, the Tathâgata, because the time has arrived, calls together all Bodhisattvas and all disciples to teach them thus: There is, O monks, in this world no second vehicle at all, no second Nirvâna, far less a third. It is an able device of the Tathâgata, monks, that on seeing creatures far advanced on the path of perdition, delighting in the low and plunged in the mud of sensual desires, the Tathâgata teaches them that Nirvâna to which they are attached.

By way of example, monks, suppose there is some dense forest five hundred yoganas in extent which has been reached by a great company of men. They have a guide to lead them on their journey to the Isle of Jewels, which guide, being able, clever, sagacious, well acquainted with the difficult passages of the forest, is to bring the whole company out of the forest. Meanwhile that great troop of men, tired, weary, afraid, and anxious, say: 'Verily, Master, guide, and leader, know that we are tired, weary, afraid, and anxious; let us return; this dense forest stretches so far.' The guide, who is a man of able devices, on seeing those people desirous of returning, thinks within himself: It ought not to be that these poor creatures should not reach that great Isle of Jewels. Therefore out of pity for them he makes use of an artifice. In the middle of that forest he produces a magic city more than a hundred or two hundred yoganas in extent. Thereafter he says to those men: 'Be not afraid, sirs, do not return; there you see a populous place where you may take repose and perform all you have to do; there stay in the enjoyment of happy rest. Let him who after reposing there wants to do so, proceed to the great Isle of Jewels.'

Then, monks, the men who are in the forest are struck with astonishment, and think: We are out of the forest; we have reached the place of happy rest; let us stay here. They enter that magic city, in the meaning that they have arrived at the place of their destination, that they are saved and in the enjoyment of rest. They think: We are at rest, we are refreshed'. After a while, when the guide perceives that their fatigue is gone, he causes the magic city to disappear, and says to them: 'Come, sirs, there you see the great Isle of Jewels quite near; as to this great city, it has been produced by me for no other purpose but to give you some repose.'

In the same manner, monks, is the Tathâgata, the Arhat,&c., your guide, and the guide of all other beings. Indeed, monks, the Tathâgata, &c., reflects thus: Great is this forest of evils which must be crossed, left, shunned. It ought not to be that these beings, after hearing the Buddha-knowledge, should suddenly turn back and not proceed to the end because they think: This Buddha-knowledge is attended with too many difficulties to be gone through to the end. Under those circumstances the Tathâgata, knowing the creatures to be feeble of character, (does) as the guide (who) produces the magic city in order that those people may have repose, and after their having taken repose, he tells them that the city is one produced by magic. In the same manner, monks, the Tathâgata, &c., to give a repose to the creatures, very skilfully teaches and proclaims two stages of

Nirvâna, viz. the stage of the disciples and that of the Pratyekabuddhas. And, monks, when the creatures are there halting, then the Tathâgata, &c., himself, pronounces these words: 'You have not accomplished your task, monks; you have not finished what you had to do. But behold, monks! the Buddha-knowledge is near; behold and be convinced: what to you (seems) Nirvâna, that is not Nirvâna. Nay, monks, it is an able device of the Tathâgatas, &c., that they expound three vehicles.'

And in order to explain this same subject more in detail, the Lord on that occasion uttered the following stanzas:

60. The Leader of the world, Abhigñâgñânâbhibhû, having occupied the terrace of enlightenment, continued ten complete intermediate kalpas without gaining enlightenment, though he saw the things in their very essence.

61. Then the gods, Nâgas, demons, and goblins, zealous to honour the Gina, sent down a rain of flowers on the spot where the Leader awakened to enlightenment.

62. And high in the sky they beat the cymbals to worship and honour the Gina, and they were vexed that the Gina delayed so long in coming to the highest place.

63. After the lapse of ten intermediate kalpas the Lord Anâbhibhû attained enlightenment; then all gods, men, serpents, and demons were glad and overjoyed.

64. The sixteen sons of the Leader of men, those heroes, being at the time young princes, rich in virtues, came along with thousands of kotis of living beings to honour the eminent chiefs of men.

65. And after saluting the feet of the Leader they prayed: Reveal the law and refresh us as well as this world with thy good word, O Lion amongst kings.

66. After a long time thou art seen (again) in the ten points of this world; thou appearest, great Leader, while the aerial cars of the Brahma-angels are stirring to reveal a token to living beings.

67. In the eastern quarter fifty thousand kotis of fields have been shaken, and the lofty angelic cars in them have become excessively brilliant.

68. The Brahma-angels on perceiving this foretoken went and approached the Chief of the Leaders of the world, and, covering him with flowers, presented all of them their cars to him.

69. They prayed him to move forward the wheel of the law, and celebrated him with stanzas and songs. But the king of kings was silent, (for he thought): The time has not yet arrived for me to proclaim the law.

70. Likewise in the south, west, north, the nadir, zenith, and in the intermediate points of the compass there were thousands of kotis of Brahma-angels.

71. Unremittingly covering the Lord (with flowers) they saluted the feet of the Leader, presented all their aerial cars, celebrated him, and again prayed:

72. Move forward the wheel, O thou whose sight is infinite! Rarely art thou met in (the course of) many kotis ofÆons. Display the benevolence thou hast observed in so many former generations; open the gate of immortality.

73. On hearing their prayer, he whose sight is infinite exposed the multifarious law and the four Truths, extensively. All existences (said he) spring successively from their antecedents.

74. Starting from Ignorance, the Seer proceeded to speak of death, endless woe; all those evils spring from birth. Know likewise that death is the lot of mankind.

75. No sooner had he expounded the multifarious, different, endless laws, than eighty myriads of kotis of creatures who had heard them quickly attained the stage of disciples.

76. On a second occasion the Gina expounded many laws, and beings like the sands of the Ganges became instantly purified and disciples.

77. From that moment the assembly of that Leader of the world was innumerable; no man would be able to reach the term (of its number), even were he to go on counting for myriads of kotis of Æons.

78. Those sixteen princes also, his own dear sons, who had become mendicants and novices, said to the Gina: 'Expound, O Chief, the superior law;

79. 'That we may become sages, knowers of the world, such as thyself art, O supreme of all Ginas, and that all these beings may become such as thyself art, O hero, O clear-sighted one.'

80. And the Gina, considering the wish of his sons, the young princes, explained the highest superior enlightenment by means of many myriads of kotis of illustrations.

81. Demonstrating with thousands of arguments and elucidating the knowledge of transcendent wisdom, the Lord of the world indicated the veritable course (of duty) such as was followed by the wise Bodhisattvas.

82. This very Sûtra of orreat extension, this good Lotus of the True Law, was by the Lord delivered in many thousands of stanzas, so numerous as to equal the sands of the Ganges.

83. After delivering this Sûtra, the Gina entered the monastery for the purpose of becoming absorbed in meditation; during eighty-four complete Æons the Lord of the world continued meditating, sitting on the same seat.

84. Those novices, perceiving that the Chief remained in the monastery without coming out of it, imparted to many kotis of creatures that Buddha-knowledge, which is free from imperfections and blissful.

85. On the seats which they had made to be prepared, one for each, they expounded this very Sûtra under the mastership of the Sugata of that period. A service of the same kind they render to me.

86. Innumerable as the sands of sixty thousand (rivers like the) Ganges were the beings then taught; each of the sons of the Sugata converted (or trained) endless beings.

87. After the Gina's complete Nirvâna they commenced a wandering life and saw kotis of Buddhas; along with those pupils they rendered homage to the most exalted amongst men.

88. Having observed the extensive and sublime course of duty and reached enlightenment in the ten points of space, those sixteen sons of the Gina became themselves Ginas, two by two, in each point of the horizon.

89. And all those who had been their pupils became disciples of those Ginas, and gradually obtained possession of enlightenment by various means.

90. I myself was one of their number, and you have all been taught by me. Therefore you are my disciples now also, and I lead you all to enlightenment by (my) devices.

91. This is the cause dating from old, this is the motive of my expounding the law, that I lead you to superior enlightenment. This being the case, monks, you need not be afraid.

92. It is as if there were a forest dreadful, terrific, barren, without a place of refuge or shelter, replete with wild beasts, deprived of water, frightful for persons of no experience.

93. (Suppose further that) many thousand men have come to the forest, that waste track of wilderness which is fully five hundred yoganas in extent.

94. And he who is to act as their guide through that rough and horrible forest is a rich man, thoughtful, intelligent, wise, well instructed, and undaunted.

95. And those beings, numbering many kotis, feel tired, and say to the guide: 'We are tired, Master; we are not able to go on; we should like now to return.'

96. But he, the dexterous and clever guide, is searching in his mind for some apt device. Alas! he thinks, by going back these foolish men will be deprived of the possession of the jewels.

97. Therefore let me by dint of magic power now produce a great city adorned with thousands of kotis of buildings and embellished by monasteries and parks.

98. Let me produce ponds and canals; (a city) adorned with gardens and flowers, provided with walls and gates, and inhabited by an infinite number of men and women.

99. After creating that city he speaks to them in this manner: 'Do not fear, and be cheerful; you have reached a most excellent city; enter it and do your business, speedily.

100. 'Be joyful and at ease; you have reached the limit of the whole forest.' It is to give them a time for repose that he speaks these words, and, in fact, they recover from their weariness.

101. As he perceives that they have sufficiently reposed, he collects them and addresses them again: 'Come, hear what I have to tell you: this city have I produced by magic'.

102. 'On seeing you fatigued, I have, lest you should go back, made use of this device; now strain your energy to reach the Isle.'

103. In the same manner, monks, I am the guide, the conductor of thousands of kotis of living beings; in the same manner I see creatures toiling and unable to break the shell of the egg of evils'.

104. Then I reflect on this matter: These beings have enjoyed repose, have been tranquillised; now I will remind them of the misery of all things (and I say): 'At the stage of Arhat you shall reach your aim.'

105. At that time, when you shall have attained that state, and when I see all of you have become Arhats, then will I call you all together and explain to you how the law really is.

106. It is an artifice of the Leaders, when they, the great Seers, show three vehicles, for there is but one vehicle, no second; it is only to help (creatures) that two vehicles are spoken of.

107. Therefore I now tell you, monks: Rouse to the utmost your lofty energy for the sake of the knowledge of the all-knowing; as yet, you have not come so far as to possess complete Nirvâna.

108. But when you shall have attained the knowledge of the all-knowing and the ten powers proper to Ginas, you shall become Buddhas marked by the thirty-two characteristic signs and have rest for ever.

109. Such is the teaching of the Leaders: in order to give quiet they speak of repose, (but) when they see that (the creatures) have had a repose, they, knowing this to be no final resting-place, initiate them in the knowledge of the all-knowing.

End of LOTUS SUTRA - Chapter 07. Ancient Devotion horizotal line T.o.C . Previous Chapter « | . 01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08. 09. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. | » Next Chapter



 



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