Friday, March 16, 2012
The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 20 The Bodhisattva Never Despise
At that time the Buddha addressed the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Great Power Obtained:1 "Now you should know that if bhikshus, bhikshunis, upasakas, and upasikas keep the Law-Flower Sutra, and if anyone curses, abuses, and slanders them, he will receive such great punishment as before announced; but those who attain merits such as those previously announced, their eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies, and thoughts will be clear and pure.
"Great Power Obtained! In a past period of olden times, infinite, boundless, inconceivable, and asamkhyeya kalpas ago, there was a buddha named King of Majestic Voice 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, whose kalpa was named Free from Decline and his domain All Complete.
That buddha, King of Majestic Voice, in that world preached to gods, men, and asuras. To those who sought to be shravakas he preached response to the Law of the Four Noble Truths for escape from birth, old age, disease, and death, [leading] finally to nirvana; to those who sought to be pratyekabuddhas he preached response to the Law of the Twelve Causes; to bodhisattvas he by means of Perfect Enlightenment preached response to the Six Paramitas for the perfecting of Buddha-wisdom. Great Power Obtained! The lifetime of this buddha, King of Majestic Voice, was forty myriad kotis of nayutas of kalpas, as many as the sands of the Ganges.
The number of kalpas during which the Righteous Law remained in the world was equal to the atoms in a Jambudvipa; and the number of kalpas during which the Counterfeit Law remained was equal to the atoms in four continents. After that buddha had abundantly benefited all living beings, he became extinct. After the Righteous Law and Counterfeit Law had entirely disappeared, in that domain there again appeared a buddha. He was also entitled King of Majestic Voice 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.
Thus in succession there were twenty thousand kotis of buddhas who all had the same title. After the extinction of the first Tathagata King of Majestic Voice and after the end of the Righteous Law, during [the period of] the Counterfeit Law bhikshus of utmost arrogance obtained the chief power. At that period there was a bodhisattva-bhikshu named Never Despise. Great Power Obtained! For what reason was he named Never Despise? [Because] that bhikshu paid respect to and commended everybody whom he saw, bhikshu, bhikshuni, upasaka, upasika, speaking thus: 'I deeply revere you.
I dare not slight and contemn you. Wherefore? [Because] you all walk in the bodhisattva-way and are to become buddhas.' And that bhikshu did not devote himself to reading and reciting the sutras but only to paying respect, so that when he saw afar off [a member of the] four groups, he would specially go and pay respect to them, commending them, saying: 'I dare not slight you, because you are all to become buddhas.' Amongst the four groups, there were those who, irritated and angry and muddy-minded, reviled and abused him, saying: 'Where did this ignorant bhikshu come from, who [takes it on] himself to say,
"I do not slight you," and who predicts us as destined to become buddhas? We need no such false prediction.' Thus he passed many years, constantly reviled but never irritated or angry, always saying, 'You are to become buddhas.' Whenever he spoke thus, the people beat him with clubs, sticks, potsherds, or stones. But, while escaping to a distance, he still cried aloud: 'I dare not slight you. You are all to become buddhas.' And because he always spoke thus, the haughty bhikshus, bhikshunis, upasakas, and upasikas styled him Never Despise.
"When this bhikshu was drawing near his end, from the sky he heard and was entirely able to receive and retain twenty thousand myriad kotis of verses of the Lotus-Flower Sutra, which the Buddha King of Majestic Voice had formerly preached. Whereupon he obtained as above clearness and purity of the eye-organ and of the organs of ear, nose, tongue, body, and thought. Having obtained the purity of these six organs, he further prolonged his life for two hundred myriad kotis of nayutas of years, and widely preached this Law-Flower Sutra to the people.
Then the haughty four orders of bhikshus, bhikshunis, upasakas, and upasikas who had slighted and contemned this man and given him the [nick]name Never Despise, seeing him possessed of great transcendent powers, of power of eloquent discourse, and of power of excellent meditation, and having heard his preaching, all believed in and followed him. This bodhisattva again converted thousands of myriads of kotis of beings to Perfect Enlightenment.
"After the end of his lifetime, he met two thousand kotis of buddhas who were all entitled Sun Moon Light, and under their Law he preached this Law-Flower Sutra. Because of this, he again met two thousand kotis of buddhas, all equally entitled Sovereign Light King of the Clouds.2 Because under the Law of those buddhas he received, kept, read, recited, and preached this sutra to all the four groups, he obtained clearness and purity of the common eye and of the organs of ear, nose, tongue, body, and thought, and among the four groups preached the Law fearlessly.
"Great Power Obtained! This Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Never Despise paid homage to such numerous buddhas as these, revering, honoring, and extolling them; and after cultivating the roots of goodness, again he met thousands of myriads of kotis of buddhas and also under the Law of those buddhas preached this sutra; his merits being complete, he then became a buddha. Great Power Obtained! What is your opinion? Can it be that the Bodhisattva Never Despise was at that time somebody else? He was [really] I myself. If I in my former lives had not received and kept, read and recited this sutra and preached it to others, I should not have been able so soon to attain Perfect Enlightenment. Because under former buddhas I received and kept, read and recited this sutra and preached it to others, I so soon attained Perfect Enlightenment.
"Great Power Obtained! At that time the four groups, bhikshus, bhikshunis, upasakas,and upasikas, with angry minds slighted and contemned me, therefore for two hundred kotis of kalpas they never met a buddha, never heard the Law, never saw a samgha, and for a thousand kalpas underwent great sufferings in the Avici hell. After their sin was brought to an end, they again met the Bodhisattva Never Despise, who taught and converted them to Perfect Enlightenment.
Great Power Obtained! What is your opinion? Those four groups at that time, who constantly slighted that bodhisattva - can they indeed be somebody else? They are now in this assembly--the five hundred bodhisattvas Bhadrapala and the others, the five hundred bhikshunis Lion Moon and the others, the five hundred upasakas Thinking of Buddha and the others,3 who will never retreat from Perfect Enlightenment. Know, Great Power Obtained! This Law-Flower Sutra greatly benefits all bodhisattva-mahasattvas and enables them to reach Perfect Enlightenment. Therefore all bodhisattva-mahasattvas, after the extinction of the Tathagata, should ever receive and keep, read and recite, expound and copy this sutra."
Then the World-honored One, desiring to proclaim this teaching over again, spoke thus in verse:
"In the past there was a buddha
Styled King of Majestic Voice,
Boundless in divine wisdom,
Leader of all creatures;
Gods, men, dragons, spirits
All paid homage to him.
After this buddha's extinction,
When the Law drew near its end,
There existed a bodhisattva
Whose name was Never Despise.
At that time the four groups
Were devoted to [material] things.
The Bodhisattva Never Despise
On approaching them
Would address them thus:
'I may not despise you;
You are followers of the Way
And will all become buddhas.'
When they had heard it, they
Contemned or reviled him.
Bodhisattva Never Despise
Bore it all patiently.
When his sins were expiated
And his end was drawing near,
He heard this sutra
And his organs were clarified.
By his transcendent power
He prolonged his period of life
And again, to all the people,
Widely preached this sutra.
The groups [formerly] devoted to things
All received from this bodhisattva
Instruction and perfection,
Being led to abide in the Buddha-way.
Never Despise, his lifetime ended,
Met with countless buddhas,
And through his preaching of this sutra
Obtained inestimable happiness.
Gradually perfecting his merits,
He soon accomplished the Buddha-way.
The Never Despise of that time
Is really I myself.
The four groups of that time,
Attached to [earthly] things,
Who heard Never Despise say,
'You are to become buddhas,'
And who because of this
Met with countless buddhas
Are the bodhisattvas of this assembly,
The host of five hundred,
And also the four sections
Of pure believers, men and women,
Who are now before me
Listening to the Law.
I, in my former lives,
Exhorted these people
To hear and receive this sutra,
The peerless Law,
And revealed and taught it to men,
That they might abide in nirvana.
Age by age have [I] received and kept
This so [wonderful] a sutra.
During myriads of kotis and kotis of kalpas
Of inconceivable reach,
Rare are the times that have heard
This Law-Flower Sutra.
During myriads of kotis and kotis of kalpas
Of inconceivable reach,
Buddhas, world-honored ones,
At rare times preach this sutra.
Therefore let his followers,
After the Buddha's extinction,
On hearing such a sutra as this,
Not conceive doubt or perplexity.
But let them wholeheartedly
Publish abroad this sutra,
And age by age meeting buddhas,
They will speedily accomplish the Buddha-way.
Posted by Judy Simon at 8:36 AM