Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 21 The Divine Power of the Tathagata

At that time the bodhisattva-mahasattvas, equal to the atoms of a [great-]thousandfold world, who had sprung up from the earth, all before the Buddha with one mind folded their hands, looked up into his noble countenance, and spoke to the Buddha, saying: "World-honored One! After the extinction of the Buddha, in whatever lands the transformed body of the World-honored One exists, wherever he is extinct, we will widely preach this sutra. Wherefore? [Because] we also ourselves wish to obtain this truly pure Great Law in order to receive and keep, read and recite, explain, copy, and make offerings to it."

Thereupon the World-honored One, before Manjushri and the other countless hundred thousand myriad kotis of bodhisattva-mahasattvas, as well as of bhikshus, bhikshunis, upasakas, upasikas, gods, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings, and so on,1 [before] all these creatures, revealed his great divine power, putting forth his broad and far-stretched tongue till it reached upward to the Brahma world, every pore radiating the light of infinite and numberless colors, all shining everywhere throughout all directions of the universe. Under all the jewel trees the buddhas, each seated on a lion throne, also in like manner put forth their broad and far-stretched tongues radiating infinite light.

While Shakyamuni Buddha and all the [other] buddhas under jewel trees were revealing their divine powers, hundreds of thousands of years had fully passed. After that they drew back their tongues, coughed simultaneously, and snapped their fingers in unison. These two sounds reached through every direction of buddha worlds, all their lands being shaken in six ways. In the midst of these [worlds] all living beings, gods, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas,

human and nonhuman beings, and the other creatures, by reason of the divine power of the Buddha, all saw in this saha-world the infinite, boundless hundred thousand myriad kotis of buddhas seated on the lion thrones under all the jewel trees, and saw Shakyamuni Buddha together with the Tathagata Abundant Treasures seated on lion thrones in the midst of the stupa, and also saw the infinite, boundless hundred thousand myriad kotis of bodhisattva-mahasattvas, and the four groups who reverently surround Shakyamuni Buddha. After beholding this they were all greatly delighted, obtaining that which they had never experienced before.

At the same time all the gods in the sky sang with exalted voices: "Beyond these infinite, boundless hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of asamkhyeya worlds, there is a realm named saha. In its midst is a buddha, whose name is Shakyamuni. Now, for the sake of all bodhisattva-mahasattvas, he preaches the Great-vehicle Sutra called the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law, the Law by which bodhisattvas are instructed and which the buddhas watch over and keep in mind. You should with all your utmost heart joyfully follow it and should pay homage and make offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha."

All those living beings, after hearing the voice in the sky, folded their hands toward the saha-world and thus exclaimed: "Namah Shakyamuni Buddha! Namah Shakyamuni Buddha!" [Then] with various flowers, incense, garlands, canopies, as well as personal ornaments, gems, and wonderful things, they all from afar strewed the saha-world. The things so strewn from every quarter were like gathering clouds, transforming into a jeweled canopy, covering all the place above the buddhas. Thereupon the worlds of the universe were united as one buddha-land.

At that time the Buddha addressed Eminent Conduct and the host of other bodhisattvas: "The divine powers of buddhas are so infinite and boundless that they are beyond thought and expression. Even if I, by these divine powers, through infinite, boundless hundred thousand myriad kotis of asamkhyeya kalpas, for the sake of entailing it, were to declare the merits of this sutra, I should still be unable to reach the end of those [merits]. Essentially speaking, all the laws belonging to the Tathagata, all the sovereign, divine powers of the Tathagata, all the mysterious, essential treasuries of the Tathagata, and the very profound conditions of the Tathagata, all are proclaimed, displayed, revealed, and expounded in this sutra.

Therefore you should, after the extinction of the Tathagata, wholeheartedly receive and keep, read and recite, explain and copy, cultivate and practice it as the teaching. In whatever land, whether it be received and kept, read and recited, explained and copied, cultivated and practiced as the teaching; whether in a place where a volume of the sutra is kept, or in a temple, or in a grove, or under a tree, or in a monastery, or in a lay devotee's house, in a palace or a mountain, in a valley or in the wilderness, in all these places you must erect a caitya and make offerings. Wherefore? You should know that [all] these spots are the thrones of enlightenment. On these [spots] the buddhas attain Perfect Enlightenment; on these [spots] the buddhas roll the wheel of the Law; on these [spots] the buddhas [enter] parinirvana."

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

"All the buddhas, saviors of the world,
Dwelling in mighty divine penetration,
In order to gladden all creatures
Reveal their infinite powers divine.
Their tongues extend to the Brahma heavens,
Their bodies emit countless rays of light;
For those who seek the Way of the Buddha
They show this rare phenomenon.
The sound when the buddhas cough
And that of the snap of their fingers
Are heard throughout the whole universe,
And the earth in six ways shakes.
Because, after the Buddha's extinction,
It is possible to possess this sutra,

The buddhas all rejoice
And show infinite powers divine.
Now that this sutra is entailed
To him who keeps it, let praise,
Through kalpas infinite,
Be inexhaustible.
The merits of this man
Shall be boundless and without end
As space in every direction,
Which cannot find a limit.
He who can keep this sutra
Is one who already beholds me
And also the Buddha Abundant Treasures,
And all buddhas emanated [from me],
And sees besides the bodhisattvas
Whom I have instructed until now.
He who can keep this sutra
Will cause me and the [buddhas] emanated from me,
And the Buddha Abundant Treasures in nirvana,
All of us entirely to rejoice;
And the buddhas now in the universe,
And those of the past and the future,
He shall also see and serve
And cause to rejoice.
The mysterious laws that have been attained
By the buddhas each on his wisdom throne,
He who can keep this sutra
Must surely gain ere long.
He who can keep this sutra
Shall the meaning of the laws,
With their terms and expressions,
Delightedly expound without end,
Like the wind in the sky,
Which never has impediment.
After the Tathagata is extinct [such a one],
Knowing [this] sutra that the Buddha has taught,
[Together with] its reasoning and process,
Shall expound it according to its true meaning.
Just as the light of the sun and moon

Can dispel the darkness,
So this man, working in the world,
Can disperse the gloom of the living
And cause numberless bodhisattvas
Finally to abide in the One-vehicle.
Therefore he who has wisdom,
Hearing the benefits of this merit,
After I am extinct,
Should receive and keep this sutra.
This man shall in the Way of the Buddha
Be fixed and have no doubts.