Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 8 - The Five Hundred Disciples Receive The Prediction of Their Destiny

At that time Purna, son of Maitrayani,1 having heard the Buddha preach in such wise, tactful, and opportune fashion, and having heard the prediction of the great disciples' Perfect Enlightenment; having, moreover, heard the stories of their former destinies, and also having heard of the sovereign, transcendent powers of the buddhas; having [thus] received such unexampled [teaching], his heart was purified and in ecstasy. Immediately he rose from his seat, went before the Buddha, prostrated himself at his feet, then withdrew to one side, gazing upon his honored countenance without for a moment turning away his eyes, and reflected thus:

"Wonderful is the World-honored One. Rare are his doings according to the many kinds of earthly dispositions. By tactful wisdom, he preaches the Law to and lifts all beings out of every condition to let them get rid of selfish attachment. No words of ours can declare the Buddha's merits. Only the Buddha, the World-honored One is able to know the natural inclinations of our inmost hearts."2

Thereupon the Buddha addressed the bhikshus, [saying]: "Do you see this Purna, son of Maitrayani? I have always styled him the very first among all the preachers of the Law and constantly praised his varied merits. He has been zealous in guarding and helping to proclaim my Law. Among the four groups he has been able to display and teach it with profit and delight [to them].

Perfectly interpreting the Righteous Law of the Buddha, he has greatly benefited his fellow followers of brahma-conduct. Aside from the Tathagata, no one is able to equal the lucidity of his discourse. Do not think that it is only my Law which Purna is able to guard and help to proclaim. He also under ninety kotis of buddhas in the past guarded and helped to proclaim the Righteous Law of the buddhas. Among those preachers of the Law he was also the foremost.

And in regard to the Law of the Void preached by the buddhas, he was clear-minded and penetrating; he attained the four degrees of unhindered wisdom; he has ever been able to preach the Law with judgment and in purity, without doubt and perplexity. Perfect in transcendent bodhisattva-powers, he maintained brahma-conduct to the end of his life. All the people of those buddha-periods spoke of him as 'the true disciple' [shravaka]. Thus Purna, by such tactfulness, has benefited innumerable hundreds and thousands of living beings and converted innumerable asamkhyeyas of people to achieve Perfect Enlightenment.

For the sake of purifying [his] buddha-land, he has constantly done a buddha's work and instructed the living. Bhikshus! Purna also was the foremost among the preachers of the Law under the Seven Buddhas3 and now is again the foremost among the preachers of the Law under me.

"Among the preachers of the Law under future buddhas4 in this Virtuous kalpa,5 he will also be the foremost and will guard and help to proclaim the Buddha-law. Also in the future he will guard and help to proclaim the Law of incalculable, infinite buddhas, instructing and benefiting innumerable living beings to cause them to achieve Perfect Enlightenment. For the sake of purifying [his] buddha-land he will ever diligently and zealously instruct the living.

Gradually fulfilling the bodhisattva-course, after infinite asamkhyeya kalpas, in that land he will attain Perfect Enlightenment and his title will be Radiance of the Law Tathagata, Worshipful, All Wise, Perfectly Enlightened in Conduct, Well Departed, Understander of the World, Peerless Leader, Controller, Teacher of Gods and Men, Buddha, World-honored One.

"That buddha will make [his] buddha-land of a three-thousand-great-thousandfold universe [of worlds as many] as the sands of the Ganges, with the precious seven for its earth, its ground level as the palm of the hand, free from hills and valleys, runnels and ditches, and its midst filled with terraces of the precious seven. The palaces of its gods will be situated nearby in the sky, where men and gods will meet and behold each other. There will be no evil ways and no womankind, [for] all living beings will be born transformed and have no carnal passion.

They will attain to the great transcendent [powers]: their bodies will emit rays of light; they will fly anywhere at will; their will and memory will be firm; they will be zealous and wise, all golden-hued, and adorned with the thirty-two signs. All the beings in his domain will always have two [articles of] food--one the food of joy in the Law, the other the food of gladness in meditation. There will be a host of infinite asamkhyeyas and thousands of myriads of kotis of nayutas of bodhisattvas who have attained the great transcendent [faculties] and the four [degrees] of unhindered wisdom, and who have excellent ability in instructing all kinds of beings.

His shravakas cannot be told by counting and calculation, and all will attain perfection in the six transcendent [faculties], the three clear [views], and the eight emancipations. The domain of that buddha will be adorned and perfected with such boundless excellencies as these. His kalpa will be named Jewel Radiance and his domain named Excellent Purity. The lifetime of that buddha will be infinite asamkhyeya kalpas, and the Law will remain for long. After the extinction of that buddha, stupas of the precious seven will be [erected] throughout all that domain."

At that time the World-honored One, desiring to proclaim this teaching over again, spoke thus in verse:

"Bhikshus! Listen to me attentively!
The Way [my] Buddha-son has walked,
Through well studying tactfulness,
Is beyond conception.
Knowing how all enjoy mere trifles
And are afraid of the greater wisdom,
The bodhisattvas therefore become
Shravakas or pratyekabuddhas.
By numberless tactful methods
They convert the various kinds of beings,
Saying: 'We are but shravakas,
Far removed from the Buddha-way.'
They release innumerable beings,
All completing [their course];
Even the lowly disposed and the neglectful
Gradually become buddhas.
Inwardly hiding their bodhisattva-deeds,
Outwardly they appear as shravakas.
With few desires and disliking mortal life,
They truly purify their buddha-land.
They show themselves possessed of human passions6
And seem to hold heretical views.
Thus do my disciples
Tactfully save all beings.
If I fully explained
The varied [future] transformations,
Beings who heard of them
Would be perplexed and puzzled.
Now this Purna
Under thousands of kotis of former buddhas
Has diligently maintained his course,
And proclaimed and protected the Buddha-law.
He has sought supreme wisdom
And under the buddhas
Has shown himself the superior disciple
In learning and wisdom.
In preaching he has been fearless,
Able to cause all beings to rejoice;
He has ever been tireless
In aiding Buddha-tasks.
Having achieved the great transcendent [faculties],
Acquired the four unhindered [powers of] wisdom,
And known the faculties [of others], keen or dull,
He has always preached the pure Law.
Expounding such principles as these,
He has taught thousands of kotis of beings,
Leading them to rest in the Great-vehicle Law,
And himself purified his buddha-land.
In future he shall also worship
Infinite, numberless buddhas,
Protect and aid in proclaiming the Righteous Law,
And himself purify his buddha-land.
Constantly with tactful methods
He shall fearlessly preach the Law
And lead incalculable beings
To attain perfect knowledge;
And worshiping the tathagatas,
And guarding the treasury of the Law,
He shall afterward become a buddha
Whose title will be Law Radiance.
His domain, named Excellent Purity,
Will be formed of the precious seven,
And his kalpa be called Jewel Radiance.
His bodhisattvas, a great host,
Infinite kotis in number,
All accomplished in great transcendent [faculties]
And perfect in dread powers,
Will fill that domain to the full.
Numberless also will be his shravakas
With the three clear [views] and eight emancipations,
Who have attained the four unhindered wisdoms.
Such will be his monks.

All the living in that domain
Will be free from carnal passions,
Pure and born by transformation,
Adorned with all the signs.
Joy in the Law and pleasure in meditation
Shall be their food, with no thought of other;
No womankind will be there,
Nor any evil ways.
The Bhikshu Purna,
Complete in all his merits,
Shall gain this pure land
Where the wise and sages abound.
Such are the boundless things of which
I have now but briefly spoken."

Then the twelve hundred arhats of self-reliant mind reflected thus: "Delighted are we to gain this unprecedented [experience]. If the World-honored One would predict for each of us [our future destiny] as for the other great disciples, how glad we should be!" The Buddha, knowing the thoughts in their minds, addressed Maha-Kashyapa, [saying]: "These twelve hundred arhats: let me now in their presence and in order predict [for them] Perfect Enlightenment.

Amongst this assembly, my great disciple Kaundinya Bhikshu, after paying homage to sixty-two thousand kotis of buddhas, will become a buddha whose title will be Universal Light Tathagata, Worshipful, All Wise, Perfectly Enlightened in Conduct, Well Departed, Understander of the World, Peerless Leader, Controller, Teacher of Gods and Men, Buddha, World-honored One. Of [the rest of] those arhats, five hundred--Uruvilva-Kashyapa,

Gaya-Kashyapa, Nadi-Kashyapa, Kalodayin, Udayin, Aniruddha, Revata, Kapphina, Vakkula, Cunda, Svagata, and others--all will attain to Perfect Enlightenment, all with the same title, namely, Universal Light."

At that time the World-honored One, desiring to proclaim this teaching over again, spoke thus in verse:

"Kaundinya Bhikshu
Will see innumerable buddhas,
And after asamkhyeya kalpas have passed,
Accomplish Perfect Enlightenment.
Ever emitting great light,
Perfect in the transcendent [powers],
His fame spread over the universe,
Revered by all [beings],
Ever preaching the supreme Way,
His title will be Universal Light.
Pure will be his domain;
His bodhisattvas all will be brave;
All mounted on wonderful buildings,
They will travel through all lands
With unsurpassed offerings,

To present them to the buddhas.
Having made these offerings,
Their hearts will greatly rejoice
And soon return to their own domain;
Such will be their supernatural powers.
That buddha's life will be six myriad kalpas;
His Righteous Law will remain twice his lifetime,
The Counterfeit Law double that.
His Law ended, gods and men will sorrow.
Five hundred other bhikshus
One by one shall become buddhas
With the same title, Universal Light;
In turn [each] shall predict, [saying]:
'After my extinction
So and so shall become buddha;
The world which he instructs
Shall be as mine of today.'
The splendid purity of their domain
And its transcendent powers,
Its bodhisattvas and shravakas,
Its Righteous Law and its Counterfeit,
The length of its kalpa period,
All will be as that above stated.
Kashyapa! You now know
Of these five hundred self-reliant ones.
The other band of shravakas
Will also be like them.
To these, who are not in this assembly,
Do you proclaim my words."

Thereupon the five hundred arhats present before the Buddha, having received [this] prediction, ecstatic with joy, instantly rose from their seats, went before the Buddha, made obeisance at his feet, repented their errors, and rebuked themselves, [saying]: "World-honored One! We have constantly been thinking that we had attained final nirvana. Now we know that we were just like the foolish ones. Wherefore? Because we ought to have obtained the Tathagata-wisdom, and yet were content with the inferior knowledge.

"World-honored One! It is as if some man goes to an intimate friend's house, gets drunk, and falls asleep. Meanwhile his friend, having to go forth on official duty, ties a priceless jewel within his garment as a present, and departs. The man, being drunk and asleep, knows nothing of it.

On arising he travels onward till he reaches some other country, where for food and clothing he expends much labor and effort, and undergoes exceedingly great hardship, and is content even if he can obtain but little. Later, his friend happens to meet him and speaks thus: 'Tut! Sir, how is it you have come to this for the sake of food and clothing?

Wishing you to be in comfort and able to satisfy all your five senses,7 I formerly in such a year and month and on such a day tied a priceless jewel within your garment. Now as of old it is present there and you in ignorance are slaving and worrying to keep yourself alive. How very stupid! Go you now and exchange that jewel for what you need and do whatever you will, free from all poverty and shortage.'

The Buddha also is like this. When he was a bodhisattva, he taught us to conceive the idea of perfect wisdom, but we soon forgot, neither knowing nor perceiving. Having obtained the arhat-way, we said we had reached nirvana;8 in the hardship of [gaining] a living we had contented ourselves with a mere trifle. [But] our aspirations after perfect wisdom still remain and were never lost, and now the World-honored One arouses us and speaks thus: 'Bhikshus! That which you have obtained is not final nirvana.

For long I have caused you to cultivate the roots of buddha-goodness, and for tactful reasons have displayed a form of nirvana. But you have considered it to be the real nirvana you had obtained.' World-honored One! Now we know we are really bodhisattvas predicted to attain Perfect Enlightenment. For this cause we greatly rejoice in our unprecedented gain."

Thereupon Ajnata-Kaundinya and the others, desiring to announce this meaning over again, spoke thus in verse:

"We, hearing his voice
Predicting [for us] unsurpassed comfort,9
Rejoice in our unexpected [lot]
And salute the all-wise Buddha.
Now before the World-honored One
We repent our errors;
[Though] countless Buddha-treasures [awaited],
With but a trifle of nirvana
We, like ignorant and foolish people,
Were ready to be content.
It is like [the case of] a poor man
Who goes to the house of a friend.
That friend, being very rich,
Sets much fine food before him.
A priceless precious pearl
He ties in his inner garment,
Secretly giving it and departing
While he sleeps on unaware.
The man when he arises
Travels on to another country
In search of food and clothes to keep alive,
Suffering great hardships for his living,
Contented with ever so little,
Wishing for nothing better,
Never perceiving that in his inner garment
There is a priceless jewel.
The friend who gave him the jewel
Afterward sees this poor man
And, bitterly rebuking him,
Shows where the jewel is bound.
The poor man, seeing this jewel,
Is filled with a great joy;
Rich, in possession of wealth,
He can satisfy his five senses.
Such were also we.
For long has the Wonderful-honored One
Always pitied and taught us
To cultivate the highest aspiration;
But because of our ignorance,
We neither perceived nor knew it;
Gaining but a little of nirvana,

Contented, we sought no more.
Now the Buddha has awakened us,
Saying this is not real nirvana;
[Only] on attaining the highest Buddha-wisdom
Is there real nirvana.
Now, having heard from the Buddha
The prediction and its glory,10
And the command11 we receive in turn,
Body and soul are full of joy