The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law
Translated By H. Kern (1884)
The Lord then rose with recollection and consciousness from his meditation, and forthwith addressed the venerable Sâriputra: The Buddha knowledge, Sâriputra, is profound, difficult to understand, difficult to comprehend. It is difficult for all disciples and Pratyekabuddhas to fathom the knowledge arrived at by the Tathâgatas, &c., and that, Sâriputra, because the Tathâgatas have worshipped many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Buddhas; because they have fulfilled their course for supreme, complete enlightenment, during many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Æons; because they have wandered far, displaying energy and possessed of wonderful and marvellous properties; possessed of properties difficult to understand; because they have found out things difficult to understand.
The mystery of the Tathâgatas, &c., is difficult to understand, Sâriputra, because when they explain the laws (or phenomena, things) that have their causes in themselves they do so by means of skilfulness, by the display of knowledge, by arguments, reasons, fundamental ideas, interpretations, and suggestions. By a variety of skilfulness they are able to release creatures that are attached to one point or another. The Tathâgatas, &c., Sâriputra, have acquired the highest perfection in skilfulness and the display of knowledge; they are endowed with wonderful properties, such as the display of free and unchecked knowledge; the powers; the absence of hesitation; the independent conditions; the strength of the organs; the constituents of Bodhi; the contemplations; emancipations; meditations; the degrees of concentration of mind. The Tathâgatas, &c., Sâriputra, are able to expound various things and have something wonderful and marvellous. Enough, Sâriputra, let it suffice to say, that the Tathâgatas, &c., have something extremely wonderful, Sâriputra. None but a Tathâgatha, Sâriputra, can impart to a Tathâgata those laws which the Tathâgata knows. And all laws, Sâriputra, are taught by the Tathâgata, and by him alone; no one but he knows all laws, what they are, how they are, like what they are, of what characteristics and of what nature they are.
And on that occasion, to set forth the same subject more copiously, the Lord uttered the following stanzas:
1. Innumerable are the great heroes in the world that embraces gods and men; the totality of creatures is unable to completely know the leaders.
2. None can know their powers and states of emancipation, their absence of hesitation and Buddha properties, such as they are.
3. Of yore have I followed in presence of kotis of Buddhas the good course which is profound, subtle, difficult to understand, and most difficult to find.
4. After pursuing that career during an inconceivable number of kotis of Æons, I have on the terrace of enlightenment discovered the fruit thereof.
5. And therefore I recognise, like the other chiefs of the world, how it is, like what it is, and what are its characteristics.
6. It is impossible to explain it; it is unutterable; nor is there such a being in the world.
7. To whom this law could be explained or who would be able to understand it when explained, with the exception of the Bodhisattvas, those who are firm in resolve.
8. As to the disciples of the Knower of the world, those who have done their duty and received praise from the Sugatas, who are freed from faults and have arrived at the last stage of bodily existence, the Gina-knowledge lies beyond their sphere.
9. If this whole sphere were full of beings like Sârisuta, and if they were to investigate with combined efforts, they would be unable to comprehend the knowledge of the Sugata.
10. Even if the ten points of space were full of sages like thee, ay, if they were full of such as the rest of my disciples,
11. And if those beings combined were to investigate the knowledge of the Sugata, they would, all together, not be able to comprehend the Buddha-knowledge in its whole immensity.
12. If the ten points of space were filled with Pratyekabuddhas, free from faults, gifted with acute faculties, and standing in the last stage of their existence, as numerous as reeds and bamboos in Ganges, with undivided attention and subtle wit, even then that (knowledge) would be beyond their ken.
13. And if combined for an endless number of myriads of kotis of Æons, they were to investigate a part only of my superior laws, they would never find out its real meaning.
14. If the ten points of space were full of Bodhisattvas who, after having don their duty under many kotis of Buddhas, investigated all things and preached many sermons, after entering a new vehicle [or rather a new career];
15. If the whole world were full of them, as of dense reeds and bamboos, without any interstices, and if all combined wre to investiage the law which the Sugata has realised;
16. If they were going on investigating for many kotis of Æons, as incalculable as the sand of the Ganges, with undivided attention and subtle wit, even then that knowledge would be beyond their understanding.
17. If such Bodhisattvas as are unable to fall back, numerous as the sand of the Ganges, were to investigate it with undivided attention, it would prove to lie beyond their ken.
18. Profound are the laws of the Buddhas, and subtle; all inscrutable and faultless. I myself know them as well as the Ginas do in the ten directions of the world.
19. Thou, Sâriputra, be full of trust in what the Sugata declares. The Gina speaks no falsehood, the great Seer who has so long preached the highest truth.
20. I address all disciples here, those who have set out to reach the enlightenment of Pratyekabuddhas, those who are roused to activity at my Nirvâna, and those who have been released from the series of evils.
21. It is by my superior skilfulness that I explain the law at great length to the world at large. I deliver whosoever are attached to one point or another, and show the three vehicles.
The eminent disciples in the assembly headed by Âgñâta-Kaundinya, the twelve hundred Arhats faultess and self-controlled, the other monks, nuns, male and femal lay devotees using the vehicle of disciples, and those who had entered the vehicle of Pratyeka-buddhas, all of them made this reflection: What may be the cause, what the reason of the Lord so extremely extolling the skilfulness of the Tathâgatas? of his extolling it by saying, ‘Profound is the law by me discovered;’ of his extolling it by saying, ‘It is difficult for all disciples and Pratyekabuddhas to understand it.’ But as yet the Lord has declared no more than one kind of emancipation, and therefore we also should acquire the Buddha-laws on reaching Nirvâna. We do not catch the meaning of this utterance of the Lord.
And the venerable Sâriputra, who apprehended the doubt and uncertainty of the four classes of the audience and guessed their thoughts from what was passing in his own mind, himself being in doubt about the law, then said to the Lord: What, O Lord, is the cause, what the reason of the Lord so repeatedly and extremely extolling the skilfulness, knowledge, and preaching of the Tathâgata? Why does he repeatedly extol it by saying, ‘Profound is the law by me discovered; it is difficult to understand the mystery of the Tathâgatas.’ Never before have I heard from the Lord such a discourse on the law. Those four classes of the audience, O Lord, are overcome with doubt and perplexity. Therefore may the Lord be pleased to explain what the Tathâgata is alluding to, when repeatedly extolling the profound law of the Tathâgatas.
On that occasion the venerable Sâriputra uttered the following stanzas:
22. Now first does the Sun of men utter such a speech: ‘I have acquired the powers, emancipations, and numberless meditations.’
23. And thou mentionest the terrace of enlightenment without any one asking thee: thou mentionest the mystery, although no one asks thee.
24. Thou speakest unasked and laudest thine own course; thou mentionest thy having obtained knowledge and pronouncest profound words.
25. To-day a question rises in my mind and of these self-controlled, faultless beings striving after Nirvâna: Why does the Gina speak in this manner?
26. Those who aspire to the enlightenment of Pratyekabuddhas, the nuns and monks, gods, Nâgas, goblins, Gandharvas, and great serpents, are talking together, while looking up to the highest of men,
27. And ponder in perplexity. Give an elucidation, great Sage, to all the disciples of Sugata here assembled.
28. Myself have reached the perfection (of virtue), have been taught by the supreme Sage; still, O highest of men! even in my position I feel some doubt whether the course (of duty) shown to me shall receive its final sanction by Nirvâna.
29. Let thy voice be heard, O thou whose voice resounds like an egregious kettle-drum! proclaim thy law such as it is. The legitimate sons of Gina here standing and gazing at the Gina, with joined hands;
30. As well as the gods, Nâgas, goblins, Titans, numbering thousands of kotis, like sand of the of the Ganges; and those that aspire to superior enlightenment, here standing, fully eighty thousand in number;
31. Further, the kings, rulers of provinces and paramount monarchs, who have flocked thither from thousands of kotis of countries, are now standing with joined hands, and respectful, thinking: How are we to fulfil the course of duty?
The venerable Sâriputra having spoken, the Lord said to him: Enough, Sâriputra; it is of no use explaining this matter. Why? Because, Sâriputra, the world, including the gods, would be frightened if this matter were expounded.
But the venerable Sâriputra entreated the Lord a second time, saying: Let the Lord expound, let the Sugata expound this matter, for in this assembly, O Lord, there are many hundreds, many thousands, many hundred thousands, many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of living beings who have seen former Buddhas, who are intelligent, and will believe, value, and accept the words of the Lord.
The venerable Sâriputra addressed the Lord with this stanza:
32. Speak clearly, O most eminent of Ginas! in this assembly there are thousands of living beings trustful, affectionate, and respectful towards the Sugata; they will understand the law by there expounded.
And the Lord said a second time to the venerable Sâriputra; Enough, Sâriputra; it is of no use explaining this matter for the the world, including the gods, would be frightened if this matter were expounded, and some monks might be proud and come to a heavy fall.
And on theat occasion uttered the Lord the following stanza:
32. Speak no more of it that I sould declare this law! This knowledge is too subtle, inscrutable, and there are too many unwise men who in their conceit and foolishness would scoff at the law revealed.
A third time the venerable Sâriputra entreated the Lord, saying, Let the Lord expound, let the Sugata expound this matter. In this assembly, O Lord, there are many hundreds of living beings my equals, and many hundreds, many thousands, many hundred thousands, many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of other living beings more, who in former births have been brought by the Lord to full ripeness. They will believe, value, and accept what the Lord declares, which shall tend to their advantage, weal, and happiness in length of time.
On that occasion the venerable Sâriputra uttered the following stanzas:
34. Explain the law, O thou most high of men! I, thine eldest son, beseech thee. Here are thousands of kotis of beings who are to believe in the law by thee revealed.
35. And those beings that in former births so long and constantly have by thee been brought to full maturity and now are all standing here with joined hands, they, too, are to believe in this law.
36. Let the Sugata, seeing the twelve hundred, my equals, and those who are striving after superior enlightenment, speak to them and produce in them an extreme joy.
When the Lord for the third time heard the entreaty of the venerable Sâriputra, he spoke to him as follows: Now that thou entreatest the Tathâgata a third time, Sâriputra, I will answer thee. Listen then, Sâriputra, take well and duly to heart what I am saying; I am going to speak.
Now it happened that the five thousand proud monks, nuns and lay devotees of both sexes in the congregatino rose from their seats and, after saluting with their heads the Lord’s feet, went to leave the assembly. Owing to the principle of good which there is in pride they imagined having attained what they had not, and having understood what they had not. Therefore, thinking themselves aggrieved, they went to leave the assembly, to which the Lord by his silence showed assent.
Thereupon the Lord addressed the venerable Sâriputra: My congregation, Sâriputra, has been cleared from the chaff, freed from the trash; it is firmly established in the strength of faith. It is good, Sâriputra, that those proud ones are gone away. Now I am going to expound the matter, Sâriputra. ‘Very well, Lord,’ replied the venerable Sâriputra. The Lord then began and said:
It is but now and then, Sâriputra, that the Tathâgata preaches such a discourse on the law as this. just as but now and then is seen the blossom of the glomerous fig-tree, Sâriputra, so does the Tathâgata but now and then preach such a discourse on the law. Believe me, Sâriputra; I speak what is real, I speak what is truthful, I speak what is right. It is difficult to understand the exposition of the mystery of the Tathâgata, Sâriputra; for in elucidating the law, Sâriputra, I use hundred thousands of various skilful means, such as different interpretations, indications, explanations, illustrations. It is not by reasoning, Sâriputra, that the law is to be found: it is beyond the pale of reasoning, and must be learnt from the Tathâgata. For, Sâriputra, it is for a sole object, a sole aim, verily a lofty object, a lofty aim that the Buddha, the Tathâgata, &c., appears in the world. And what is that sole object, that sole aim, that lofty object, that lofty aim of the Buddha, the Tathâgata, &c., appearing in the world? To show all creatures the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge does the Buddha, the Tathâgata, &c., appear in the world; to open the eyes of creatures for the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge does the Buddha, the Tathâgata, &c., appear in the world. This, O Sâriputra, is the sole object, the sole aim, the sole purpose of his appearance in the world. Such then, Sâriputra, is the sole object, the sole aim, the lofty object, the lofty aim of the Tathâgata. And it is achieved by the Tathâgata. For, Sâriputra, I do show all creatures the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge; I do open the eyes of creatures for the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge, Sâriputra; I do firmly establish the teaching of Tathâgata-knowledge, Sâriputra; I do lead the teaching of Tathâgata-knowledge on the right path, Sâriputra. By means of one sole vehicle, to wit, the Buddha-vehicle, Sâriputra, do I teach creatures the law; there is no second vehicle, nor a third. This is the nature of the law, Sâriputra, universally in the world, in all directions. For,Sariputra, all the Tathâgatas, &c., who in times past existed in countless, innumerable spheres in all directions for the weal of many, the happiness of many, out of pity to the world, for the benefit, weal, and happiness of the great body of creatures, and who preached the law to gods and men with able means, such as several directions and indications, various arguments, reasons, illustrations, fundamental ideas, interpretations, paying regard to the dispositions of creatures whose inclinations and temperaments are so manifold, all those Buddhas and Lords, Sâriputra, have preached the law to creatures by means of only one vehicle, the Buddhavehicle, which finally leads to omniscience; it is identical with showing all creatures the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge; with opening the eyes of creatures for the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge; with the awakening (or admonishing) by the display (or sight) of Tathâgata -knowledge; with leading the teaching of Tathâgata-knowledge on the right path. Such is the law they have preached to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who have heard the law from the past Tathâgatas, &c., have all of them reached supreme, perfect enlightenment.
And the Tathâgatas, &c., who shall exist in future, Sariputra, in countless, innumerable spheres in all directions for the weal of many, the happiness of many, out of pity to the world, for the benefit, weal, and happiness of the great body of creatures, and who shall preach the law to gods and men (&c., as above till) the right path. Such is the law they shall preach to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who shall hear the law from the future Tathâgatas, &c., shall all of them reach supreme, perfect enlightenment.
And the Tathâgatas, &c., who now at present are staying, living, existing, Sâriputra, in countless, innumerable spheres in all directions, &c., and who are preaching the law to gods and men (&c., as above till) the right path. Such is the law they are preaching to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who are hearing the law from the present Tathâgatas, &c., shall all of them reach supreme, perfect enlightenment.
I myself also, Sâriputra, am at the present period a Tathâgata, &c., for the weal of many (&c., till) manifold; I myself also, Sâriputra, am preaching the law to creatures (&c., till) the right path. Such is the law I preach to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who now are hearing the law from me, shall all of them reach supreme, perfect enlightenment. In this sense, Sâriputra, it must be understood that nowhere in the world a second vehicle is taught, far less a third.
Yet, Sâriputra, when the Tathâgatas, &c., happen to appear at the decay of the epoch, the decay of creatures, the decay of besetting sins, the decay of views, or the decay of lifetime; when they appear amid such signs of decay at the disturbance of the epoch; when creatures are much tainted, full of greed and poor in roots of goodness; then, Sâriputra, the Tathâgatas, &c., use, skilfully, to designate that one and sole Buddha-vehicle by the appellation of the threefold vehicle. Now, Sâriputra, such disciples, Arhats, or Pratyekabuddhaswho do not hear their actually being called to the Buddha-vehicle by the Tathâgata, who do not perceive, nor heed it, those, Sâriputra, should not be acknowledged as disciples of the Tathâgata, nor as Arhats, nor as Pratyekabuddhas.
Again, Sâriputra, if there be some monk or nun pretending to Arhatship without an earnest vow to reach supreme, perfect enlightenment and saying, ‘I am standing too high for the Buddha-vehicle, I am in my last appearance in the body before complete Nirvâna,’ then, Sâriputra, consider such a one to be conceited. For, Sâriputra, it is unfit, it is improper that a monk, a faultless Arhat, should not believe in the law which he hears from the Tathâgata in his presence. I leave out of question when the Tathâgata shall have reached complete Nirvâna; for at that period, that time, Sâriputra, when the Tathâgata shall be wholly extinct, there shall be none who either knows by heart or preaches such Sûtras as this. It will be under other Tathâgatas, &c., that they are to be freed from doubts. In respect to these things believe my words, Sâriputra, value them, take them to heart; for there is no falsehood in the Tathâgatas, Sâriputra. There is but one vehicle, Sâriputra, and that the Buddha-vehicle.
And on that occasion to set forth this matter more copiously the Lord uttered the following stanzas:
37. No less than five thousand monks, nuns, and lay devotees of both sexes, full of unbelief and conceit,
38. Remarking this slight, went, defective in training and foolish as they were, away in order to beware of damage.
39. The Lord, who knew them to be the dregs of the congregation, exclaimed: They have no sufficient merit to hear this law.
40. My congregation is now pure, freed from chaff; the trash is removed and the pith only remains.
41. Hear from me, Sâriputra, how this law has been discovered by the highest man, and how the mighty Buddhas are preaching it with many hundred proofs of skilfulness.
42. 1 know the disposition and conduct, the various inclinations of kotis of living beings in this world; I know their various actions and the good they have done before.
43. Those living beings I initiate in this (law) by the aid of manifold interpretations and reasons; and by hundreds of arguments and illustrations have I, in one way or another, gladdened all creatures.
44. I utter both Sûtras and stanzas; legends, Gâtakas, and prodigies, besides hundreds of introductions and curious parables.
45. I show Nirvâna to the ignorant with low dispositions, who have followed no course of duty under many kotis of Buddhas, are bound to continued existence and wretched.
46. The self-born one uses such means to manifest Buddha-knowledge, but he shall never say to them, Ye also are to become Buddhas.
47. Why should not the mighty one, after having waited for the right time, speak, now that he perceives the right moment is come? This is the fit opportunity, met somehow, of commencing the exposition of what really is.
48. Now the word of my commandment, as contained in nine divisions, has been published according to the varying degree of strength of creatures. Such is the device I have shown in order to introduce (creatures) to the knowledge of the giver of boons.
49. And to those in the world who have always been pure, wise, good-minded, compassionate sonsof Buddha and done their duty under many kotis of Buddhas will I make known amplified Sûtras.
50. For they are endowed with such gifts of mental disposition and such advantages of a blameless outward form that I can announce to them: in future ye shall become Buddhas benevolent and compassionate.
51. Hearing which, all of them will be pervaded with delight (at the thought): We shall become Buddhas pre-eminent in the world. And I, perceiving their conduct, will again reveal amplified Sûtras.
52. And those are the disciples of the Leader, who have listened to my word of command. One sinale stanza learnt or kept in memory suffices, no doubt of it, to lead all of them to enlightenment.
53. There is, indeed, but one vehicle; there is no second, nor a third anywhere in the world, apart from the case of the Purushottamas using an expedient to show that there is a diversity of vehicles.
54. The Chief of the world appears in the world to reveal the Buddha-knowledge. He has but one aim, indeed, no second; the Buddhas do not bring over (creatures) by an inferior vehicle.
55. There where the self-born one has established himself, and where the object of knowledge is, of whatever form or kind; (where) the powers, the stages of meditation, the emancipations, the perfected faculties (are); there the beings also shall be established.
56. 1 should be guilty of envy, should I, after reaching the spotless eminent state of enlightenment, establish any one in the inferior vehicle. That would not beseem me.
57. There is no envy whatever in me; no jealousy, no desire, nor passion. Therefore I am the Buddha, because the world follows my teaching’.
58. When, splendidly marked with (the thirty-two) characteristics, I am illuminating this whole world, and, worshipped by many hundreds of beings, I show the (unmistakable) stamp of the nature of the law;
59. Then, Sâriputra, I think thus: How will all beings by the thirty-two characteristics mark the self-born Seer, who of his own accord sheds his lustre all over the world?
60 And while I am thinking and pondering, when my wish has been fulfilled and my vow accomplished I no more reveal Buddha-knowledge
61. If, O son of Sâri, I spoke to the creatures, ‘Vivify in your minds the wish for enlightenment,’ they would in their ignorance all go astray and never catch the meaning of my good words.
62. And considering them to be such, and that they have not accomplished their course of duty in previous existences, (I see how) they are attached and devoted to sensual pleasures, infatuated by desire and blind with delusion.
63. From lust they run into distress; they are tormented in the six states of existence and people the cemetery again and again; they are overwhelmed with misfortune, as they possess little virtue.
64. They are continually entangled in the thickets of (sectarian) theories, such as, ‘It is and it is not; it is thus and it is not thus.’ In trying to get a decided opinion on what is found in the sixty-two (heretical) theories they come to embrace falsehood and continue in it.
65. They are hard to correct, proud, hypocritical, crooked, malignant, ignorant, dull; hence they do not hear the good Buddha-call, not once in kotis of births.
66. To those, son of Sari, I show a device and say: Put an end to your trouble. When I perceive creatures vexed with mishap I make them see Nirvâna.
67. And so do I reveal all those laws that are ever holy and correct from the very first. And the son of -Buddha who has completed his course shall once be a Gina.
68. It is but my skilfulness which prompts me to manifest three vehicles; for there is but one vehicle and one track; there is also but one instruction by the leaders.
69. Remove all doubt and uncertainty; and should there be any who feel doubts, (let them know that) the Lords of the world speak the truth; this is the only vehicle, a second there is not.
70. The former Tathâgatas also, living in the past for innumerable Æons, the many thousands of Buddhas who are gone to final rest, whose number can never be counted,
71. Those highest of men have all of them revealed most holy laws by means of illustrations, reasons, and arguments, with many hundred proofs of skilfulness.
72. And all of them have manifested but one vehicle and introduced but one on earth; by one vehicle have they led to full ripeness inconceivably many thousands of kotis of beings.
73. Yet the Ginas possess various and manifold means through which the Tathâgata reveals to the world, including the gods, superior enlightenment, in consideration of the inclinations and dispositions (of the different beings).
74. And all in the world who are hearing or have heard the law from the mouth of the Tathâgatas, given alms, followed the moral precepts, and patiently accomplished the whole of their religious duties;
75. Who have acquitted themselves in point of zeal and meditation, with wisdom reflected on those laws, and performed several meritorious actions, have all of them reached enlightenment.
76. And such beings as were living patient, subdued, and disciplined, under the rule of the Ginas of those times, have all of them reached enlightenment.
77. Others also, who paid worship to the relics of the departed Ginas, erected many thousands of Stûpas made of gems, gold, silver, or crystal,
78.Or built Stûpas of emerald, cat’s eye, pearls, egregious lapis lazuli, or sapphire; they have all of them reached enlightenment.
79. And those who erected Stûpas from marble, sandal-wood, or eagle-wood; constructed Stûpas from Deodar or a combination of different sorts of timber;
80. And who in gladness of heart built for the Ginas Stûpas of bricks or clay; or caused mounds of earth to be raised in forests and wildernesses in dedication to the Ginas;
81. The little boys even, who in playing erected here and there heaps of sand with the intention of dedicating them as Stûpas to the Ginas, they have all of them reached enlightenment.
82. Likewise have all who caused jewel images to be made and dedicated, adorned with the thirty-two characteristic signs, reached enlightenment.
83. Others who had images of Sugatas made of the seven precious substances, of copper or brass, have all of them reached enlightenment.
84. Those who ordered beautiful statues of Sugatas to be made of lead, iron, clay, or plaster have &c.
85. Those who made images (of the Sugatas) on painted walls, with complete limbs and the hundred holy signs, whether they drew them themselves or had them drawn by others, have &c.
86. Those even, whether men or boys, who during the lesson or in play, by way of amusement, made upon the walls (such) images with the nail or a piece of wood,
87. Have all of them reached enlightenment; they have become compassionate, and, by rousing many Bodhisattvas, have saved kotis of creatures.
88. Those who offered flowers and perfumes to the relics of the Tathâgatas, to Stûpas, a mound of earth, images of clay or drawn on a wall;
89. Who caused musical instruments, drums, conch trumpets, and noisy great drums to be played, and raised the rattle of tymbals at such places in order to celebrate the highest enlightenment;
90. Who caused sweet lutes, cymbals, tabors, small drums, reed-pipes, flutes of ekonnada or sugar-cane to be made, have all of them reached enlightenment.
91. Those who to celebrate the Sugatas made thoughts, one shall in course of time see kotis of Buddhas.
92. They have all of them reached enlightenment. By paying various kinds of worship to the relics of the Sugatas, by doing but a little for the relics, by making resound were it but a single musical instrument;
93. Or by worshipping were it but with a single flower, by drawing on a wall the images of the Sugatas, by doing worship were it even with distracted thoughts, one shall in course of time see kotis of Buddhas.
94. Those who, when in presence of a Stûpa, have offered their reverential salutation, be it in a complete form or by merely joining the hands; who, were it but for a single moment, bent their head or body;
95. And who at Stûpas containing relics have one single time said: Homage be to Buddha! albeit they did it with distracted thoughts, all have attained superior enlightenment.
96. The creatures who in the days of those Sugatas, whether already extinct or still in existence, have heard no more than the name of the law, have all of them reached enlightenment.
97. Many kotis of future Buddhas beyond imagination and measure shall likewise reveal this device as Ginas and supreme Lords.
98. Endless shall be the skilfulness of these leaders of the world, by which they shall educate kotis of beings to that Buddha-knowledge which is free from imperfection.
99. Never has there been any being who, after hearing the law of those (leaders), shall not become Buddha; for this is the fixed vow of the Tathâgatas: Let me, by accomplishing my course of duty, lead others to enlightenment.
100. They are to expound in future days many thousand kotis of heads of the law; in their Tathâgataship they shall teach the law by showing the sole vehicle before-mentioned.
101. The line of the law forms an unbroken continuity and the nature of its properties is always manifest. Knowing this, the Buddhas, the highest of men, shall reveal this single vehicle.
102. They shall reveal the stability of the law, its being subjected to fixed rules, its unshakeable perpetuity in the world, the awaking of the Buddhas on the elevated terrace of the earth, their skilfulness.
103. In all directions of space are standing Buddhas, like sand of the Ganges, honoured by gods and men; these also do, for the weal of all beings in the world, expound superior enlightenment.
104. Those Buddhas while manifesting skilfulness display various vehicles though, at the same time, indicating the one single vehicle: the supreme place of blessed rest.vious actions; with due regard to their strenuousness and vigour, as well as their inclination, the Buddhas impart their lights to them.
105. Acquainted as they are with the conduct of all mortals, with their peculiar dispositions and previous actions; with due regard to their strenuousness and vigour, as well as their inclination, the Buddhas impart their lights to them.
106. By dint of knowledge the leaders produce many illustrations, arguments, and reasons; and considering how the creatures have various inclinations they impart various directions.
107. And myself also, the leader of the chief Ginas, am now manifesting, for the weal of creatures now living, this Buddha enlightenment by thousands of kotis of various directions.
108. I reveal the law in its multifariousness with regard to the inclinations and dispositions of creatures. I use different means to rouse each according to his own character. Such is the might of my knowledge.
109. I likewise see the poor wretches, deficient in wisdom and conduct, lapsed into the mundane whirl retained in dismal places, plunged in affliction incessantly renewed.
110. Fettered as they are by desire like the yak by its tail, continually blinded by sensual pleasure, they do not seek the Buddha, the mighty one; they do not seek the law that leads to the end of pain.
111. Staying in the six states of existence, they are benumbed in their senses, stick unmoved to the low views, and suffer pain on pain. For those I feel a great compassion.
112. On the terrace of enlightenment I have remained three weeks in full, searching and pondering on such a matter, steadily looking up to the tree there (standing).
113. Keeping in view that king of trees with anunwavering gaze I walked round at its foot (thinking): This law is wonderful and lofty, whereas creatures are blind with dulness and ignorance.
114. Then it was that Brahma entreated me, and so did Indra, the four rulers of the cardinal points, Mahesvara, Îsvara, and the hosts of Maruts by thousands of kotis.
115. All stood with joined hands and respectful, while myself was revolving the matter in my mind (and thought): What shall I do? At the very time that I am uttering syllables, beings are oppressed with evils.
116. In their ignorance they will not heed the law I announce, and in consequence of it they will ncur some penalty. It would be better were I never to speak. May my quiet extinction take place this very day!
117. But on remembering the former Buddhas and their skilfulness, (I thought): Nay, I also will manifest this tripartite Buddha-enlightenment.
118. When I was thus meditating on the law, the other Buddhas in all the directions of space appeared to me in their own body and raised their voice, crying ‘Amen.
119. ‘Amen, Solitary, first Leader of the world! now that thou hast come to unsurpassed knowledge, and art meditating on the skilfulness of the leaders of the world, thou repeatest their teaching.
120. ‘We also, being Buddhas, will make clear the highest word, divided into three parts; for men (occasionally) have low inclinations, and might perchance from ignorance not believe (us, when we say), Ye shall become Buddhas.
121. ‘Hence we will rouse many Bodhisattvas by the display of skilfulness and the encouraging of the wish of obtaining fruits.’
122. And I was delighted to hear the sweet voice of the leaders of men; in the exultation of my heart I said to the blessed saints, ‘The words of the eminent sages are not spoken in vain.
123. ‘I, too, will act according to the indications of the wise leaders of the world; having myself been born in the midst of the degradation of creatures, I have known agitation in this dreadful world.’
124. When I had come to that conviction, O son of Sâri, I instantly went to Benares, where I skilfully preached the law to the five Solitaries, that law which is the base of final beatitude.
125. From that moment the wheel of my law has been moving, and the name of Nirvâna made its appearance in the world, as well as the name of Arhat, of Dharma, and Sangha.
126. Many years have I preached and pointed to the stage of Nirvâna, the end of wretchedness and mundane existence. Thus I used to speak at all times.
127. And when I saw, Sâriputra, the children of the highest of men by many thousands of kotis, numberless, striving after the supreme, the highest enlightenment;
128. And when such as had heard the law of the Ginas, owing to the many-sidedness of (their) skilfulness, had approached me and stood before my face, all of them with joined hands, and respectful;
129. Then I conceived the idea that the time had come for me to announce the excellent law and to reveal supreme enlightenment, for which task I had been born in the world.
130. This (event) to-day will be hard to be understood by the ignorant who imagine they see here a sign, as they are proud and dull. But the Bodhisattvas, they will listen to me.
131. And I felt free from hesitation and highly cheered; putting aside all timidity, I began speaking in the assembly of the sons of Sugata, and roused them to enlightenment.
132. On beholding such worthy sons of Buddha (I said): Thy doubts also will be removed, and these twelve hundred (disciples) of mine, free from imperfections, will all of them become Buddhas.
133. Even as the nature of the law of the former mighty saints and the future Ginas is, so is my law free from any doubtfulness, and it is such as I to-day preach it to thee.
134. At certain times, at certain places, somehow do the leaders appear in the world, and after their appearance will they, whose view is boundless, at one time or another preach a similar law.
135. It is most difficult to meet with this superior law, even in myriads of kotis of Æons; very rare are the beings who will adhere to the superior law which they have heard from me.
136. Just as the blossom of the glomerous fig-tree is rare, albeit sometimes, at some places, and somehow it is met with, as something pleasant to see for everybody, as a wonder to the world including the gods;
137. (So wonderful) and far more wonderful is the law I proclaim. Any one who, on hearing a good exposition of it, shall cheerfully accept it and recite but one word of it, will have done honour to all Buddhas.
138. Give up all doubt and uncertainty in this respect; I declare that I am the king of the law (Dharmarâga); I am urging others to enlightenment, but I am here without disciples.
139. Let this mystery be for thee, Sâriputra, for all disciples of mine, and for the eminent Bodhisattvas, who are to keep this mystery.
140. For the creatures, when at the period of the five depravities, are vile and bad; they are blinded by sensual desires, the fools, and never turn their minds to enlightenment.
141. (Some) beings, having heard this one and sole vehicle manifested by the Gina, will in days to come swerve from it, reject the Sûtra, and go down to hell.
142. But those beings who shall be modest and pure, striving after the supreme and the highest enlightenment, to them shall I unhesitatingly set forth the endless forms of this one and sole vehicle.
143. Such is the mastership of the leaders; that is, their skilfulness. They have spoken in many mysteries; hence it is difficult to understand (them).
144. Therefore try to understand the mystery of the Buddhas, the holy masters of the world; forsake all doubt and uncertainty: you shall become Buddhas; rejoice!
Source: Reluctant Messenger
The Lotus Sutra: Saddharma Pundarika Sutra or the Lotus of the True Law (H.Kern)
The Lotus Sutra and its Opening and Closing Sutras: A Beautiful Translation with Deep Love from a Lay Buddhist Practitioner (Minerva Lee)