Bloggers note: The Lotus Sutra is very long - each chapter requires a lot of reading. I decided to go ahead and post each chapter in full rather than break it up into sections, so I'll probably be adding a chapter every other day. This translation from japanese to english by Bunno Kato was the easiest for me to understand, but I think it remains true to the original in content and meaning.
Thus have I heard. Once1 the Buddha was staying at the City of Royal Palaces on Mount Gridhrakuta with a great assemblage of great bhikshus, in all twelve thousand. There were eighty thousand bodhisattva-mahasattvas. There were gods, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, and mahoragas, besides all the bhikshus, bhikshunis, upasakas, and upasikas.
There were great wheel-rolling kings, small wheel-rolling kings, and kings of the gold wheel, silver wheel, and other wheels; further, kings and princes, ministers and people, men and women, and great rich persons, each encompassed by a hundred thousand myriad followers. They went up to the Buddha, made obeisance at his feet, a hundred thousand times made procession around him, burned incense, and scattered flowers. After they variously worshipped, they retired and sat to one side.
Those bodhisattvas' names were the Son of the Law-king Manjushri, the Son of the Law-king Great Dignity Treasury, the Son of the Law-king Sorrowlessness Treasury, the Son of the Law-king Great Eloquence Treasury, the Bodhisattva Maitreya, the Bodhisattva Leader, the Bodhisattva Medicine King, the Bodhisattva Medicine Lord, the Bodhisattva Flower Banner, the Bodhisattva Flower Light Banner, the Bodhisattva King Commanding Dharanis at Will, the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World, the Bodhisattvas Great Power Obtained, the Bodhisattva Ever Zealous, the Bodhisattva Precious Seal, the Bodhisattva Precious Store, the Bodhisattva Precious Stick, the Bodhisattva Above the Triple World, the Bodhisattva Vimabhara 2, the Bodhisattva Scented Elephant, the Bodhisattva Great Scented Elephant, the Bodhisattva King of the Lion's Roar, the Bodhisattva Lion's Playing in the World, the Bodhisattva Lion's Force, the Bodhisattva Lion's Assiduity, the Bodhisattva Brave Power, the Bodhisattva Lion's Overbearing, the Bodhisattva Adornment, and the Bodhisattva Great Adornment: such bodhisattva-mahasattvas as these, eighty thousand in all.
Of these bodhisattvas there is none who is not a great saint of the Law-body. They have attained commands, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, and the knowledge of emancipation. With tranquil minds, and constantly in contemplation, they are peaceful, indifferent, nonactive, and free from desires. They are immune from any kind of delusion and distraction.
Their minds are calm and clear, profound and infinite. They remain in this state for hundreds of thousands of kotis of kalpas, and all the innumerable teachings have been revealed to them. Having obtained the great wisdom, they penetrate all things, completely understand the reality of their nature and form, and clearly discriminate existing and nonexisting, long and short.
Moreover, well knowing the capacities, natures, and inclinations of all, with dharanis and the unhindered power of discourse, they roll the Law-wheel just as buddhas do. First, dipping the dust of desire in a drop of the teachings, they remove the fever of the passions of life and realize the serenity of the Law by opening the gate of nirvana and fanning the wind of emancipation.
Next, raining the profound Law of the Twelve Causes, they pour it on the violent and intense rays of sufferings--ignorance, old age, illness, death, and so on; then pouring abundantly the supreme Mahayana, they dip all the good roots of living beings in it, scatter the seeds of goodness over the field of merits, and make all put forth the sprout of buddhahood. With their wisdom [brilliant] as the sun and the moon, and their timely tactfulness, they promote the work of Mahayana and make all accomplish Perfect Enlightenment speedily; and with eternal pleasure wonderful and true, and through infinite great compassion, they relieve all from suffering.
These are the true good friends for all living beings, these are the great field of blessings for all living beings, these are the unsummoned teachers 3 for all living beings, and these are the peaceful place of pleasure, relief, protection, and great support for all living beings. They become great good leaders or great leaders for living beings everywhere. They serve as eyes for blind beings, and as ears, nose, or tongue for those who are deaf, who have no nose, or who are dumb; make deficient organs complete; turn the deranged to the great right thought. As the master of a ship or the great master of a ship, they carry all living beings across the river of life and death to the shore of nirvana.
As the king of medicine or the great king of medicine, they discriminate the phases of a disease, know well the properties of medicines, dispense medicines according to the disease, and make people take them. As the controller or the great controller, they have no dissolute conduct; they are like a trainer of elephants and horses who never fails to train well, or like a majestic and brave lion that inevitably subdues and overpowers all beasts.
Bodhisattvas, playing in all paramitas, being firm and immovable at the stage of tathagata, purifying the Buddha-country with the stability of their vow power, will rapidly accomplish Perfect Enlightenment. All these bodhisattva-mahasattvas have such wonderful merits as seen above.
Those bhikshus' names were Great Wisdom Shariputra, Supernatural Power Maudgalyayana, Wisdom Life Subhuti, Maha-Katyayana, Maitrayani's son Purna, Ajnata-Kaundinya, Divine Eye Aniruddha, Precept-keeping Upali, Attendant Ananda, Buddha's son Rahula, Upananda, Revata, Kapphina, Vakkula, Acyuta,4 Svagata, Dhuta Maha-Kashyapa, Uruvilva-Kashyapa, Gaya-Kashyapa, and Nadi-Kashyapa. There are twelve thousand bhikshus such as these. All are arhats, unrestricted by all bonds of faults, free from attachment, and truly emancipated.
At that time the Bodhisattva-Mahasattava Great Adornment, seeing that all the groups sat in settled mind, rose up from his seat, went up to the Buddha with the eighty thousand bodhisattva-masattavas in the assembly, made obeisance at his feet, a hundred thousand times made procession round him, burned celestial incense, scattered celestial flowers, and presented the Buddha with celestial robes, garlands, and jewels of priceless value which came rolling down from the sky and gathered all over like clouds.
The celestial bins and bowls were filled with all sorts of celestial delicacies, which satisfied just by the sight of their color and the smell of their perfume. They placed celestial banners, flags, canopies, and playthings everywhere; pleased the Buddha with celestial music; then went forth to kneel with folded hands, and praised him in verse, saying with one voice and one mind:
Great! The Great Enlightened, the Great Holy Lord,
In him there is no defilement, no contamination, no attachment.
The trainer of gods and men, elephants and horses,
His moral breeze and virtuous fragrance
Deeply permeate all.
Serene is his wisdom, calm his emotion,
And stable his prudence.
His thought is settled, his consciousness is extinct,
And thus his mind is quiet.
Long since, he removed false thoughts
And conquered all the laws of existence.
His body is neither existing nor nonexisting;
Without cause or condition,
Without self or others;
Neither square nor round,
Neither short nor long;
Without appearance or disappearance,
Without birth or death;
Neither created nor emanating,
Neither made nor produced;
Neither sitting nor lying,
Neither walking nor stopping;
Neither moving nor rolling,
Neither calm nor quiet;
Without advance or retreat,
Without safety or danger;
Without right or wrong,
Without merit or demerit;
Neither that nor this,
Neither going nor coming;
Neither blue nor yellow,
Neither red nor white;
Neither crimson nor purple,
Without a variety of color.
Born of commandments, meditation,
Wisdom, emancipation, and knowledge;
Merit of contemplation, the six divine faculties,
And the practice of the way;
Sprung of benevolence and compassion,
The ten powers, and fearlessness;
He has come in response
To good karmas of living beings.
He reveals his body,
Ten feet six inches in height,
Glittering with purple gold,
Well proportioned, brilliant,
And highly bright.
The mark of hair curls as the moon,
In the nape of the neck there is a light as of the sun.
The curling hair is deep blue,
On the head there is a protuberance.
The pure eyes, like a stainless mirror,
Blink up and down.
The eyebrows trail in dark blue,
The mouth and cheeks are well formed.
The lips and tongue appear pleasantly red,
Like a scarlet flower.
The white teeth, forty in number,
Appear as snowy agate.
Broad the forehead, high-bridged the nose,
And majestic the face.
The chest, with a swastika mark,
Is like a lion's breast.
The hands and feet are flexible,
With the mark of a thousand spokes.
The sides and palms are well rounded,
And show in fine lines.
The arms are elongated,
And the fingers are straight and slender.
The skin is delicate and smooth,
And the hair curls to the right.
The ankles and knees are well defined,
And the male organ is hidden
Like that of a horse.
The fine muscles, the collarbone,
And the thigh bones are slim
Like those of a deer.
The chest and back are shining,
Pure and without blemish,
Untainted by any muddy water,
Unspotted by any speck of dust.
There are thirty-two such signs,
The eighty kinds of excellence are visible,
And truly, there is nothing
Of form or nonform.
All visible forms are transcended;
His body is formless and yet has form.
This is also true
Of the form of the body of all living beings.5
Living being adore him joyfully,
Devote their minds to him,
And pay their respects wholeheartedly.
By cutting off arrogance and egotism,
He has accomplished such a wonderful body.
Now we, the assemblage of eighty thousand,
Making obeisance all together,
Submit ourselves to the saint of nonattachment,
The trainer of elephants and horses,
Detached from the state of thinking,
Mind, thought, and perception.
We make obeisance,
And submit ourselves to the Law-body,
To all commands, meditation, wisdom,
Emancipation, and knowledge.
We make obeisance,
And submit ourselves to the wonderful character.
We make obeisance,
And submit ourselves to the unthinkable.
The sacred voice sounds eight ways,6
As the thunder sounds.
It is sweet, pure, and greatly profound.
He preaches the Four Noble Truths,
The Six Paramitas, and the Twelve Causes,
According to the working of the minds of living beings.
One never hears without opening one's mind
And breaking the bonds of the infinite chain of life and death.
One never hears without reaching srota-apanna,
Sakridagamin, anagamin, and arhat;
Reaching the state of pratyekabuddha,
Of nonfault and noncondition;
Reaching the state of bodhisattva,
Of nonlife and nondeath;
Of obtaining the infinite dharani
And the unhindered power of discourse,
With which one recites profound and wonderful verses,
Plays and bathes in the pure pond of the Law,
Or displays supernatural motion
By jumping and flying up,
Or freely goes in or out of water and fire.
The aspect of the Tathagata's Law-wheel is like this.
It is pure, boundless, and unthinkable.
Making obeisance all together,
We submit ourselves to him
When he rolls the Law-wheel.
We make obeisance,
And submit ourselves to the sacred voice.
We make obeisance,
And submit ourselves to the Causes, Truths, and Paramitas.
For infinite past kalpas,
The World-honored One has practiced
All manner of virtues with effort
To bring benefits to us human beings,
Heavenly beings, and dragon kings,
Universally to all living beings.
He abandoned all things hard to abandon,
His treasures, wife, and child,
His country and his palace.
Unsparing of his person as of his possessions,
He gave all, his head, eyes, and brain,
To people as alms.
Keeping the buddhas' precepts of purity,
He never did any harm,
Even at the cost of his life.
He never became angry,
Even though beaten with sword and staff,
Or though cursed and abused.
He never became tired,
In spite of long exertion.
He kept his mind at peace day and night,
And was always in meditation.
Learning all the law-ways,
With his deep wisdom
He has seen into the capacity of living beings.
As a result, obtaining free power,
He has become the Law-king,
Who is free in the Law.
Making obeisance again all together,
We submit ourselves to the one
Who has completed all hard things.