The Lotus Sutra

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The Lotus Sūtra (Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra) is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sūtras, and is known for its extensive instruction on the concept and usage of skillful means (upāya), the seventh paramita or "perfection of a Bodhisattva". The ultimate teaching of the sutra is implied to the reader that "full Buddhahoo...

Chapter VI - Prediction

At that time, after the Bhagavat had spoken these verses, he addressed the great assembly, proclaiming: “This disciple of mine, Mahākāśyapa, in the future will be able to meet three hundred myriads of koṭis of Buddha Bhagavats to whom he will pay homage, respect, veneration, and praise; and he will extensively expound the immeasurable great teachings of these buddhas. In his last body he will become a buddha called Raśmiprabhāsa, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. “His world will be called Ava bhāsaprāpta in the kalpa called Mahāvyūha. The lifespan of this buddha will be twelve intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in the world for twenty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for twenty intermediate kalpas.

“His world will be adorned and there will be no dirt, shards, thorns, excrement, or other impurities. The earth will be level without irregularities, hollows, or hills. The earth will be made of lapis lazuli with jeweled trees in rows. Golden cords will line the borders of these roads, which will be scattered with precious flowers, and everywhere will be pure.

“In his world there will be immeasurable thousands of koṭis of bodhisattvas as well as innumerable śrāvakas. All malice will be far removed; and even though Māra and his minions will be there, they will all protect the Buddha-Dharma.”

Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to explain the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:

I tell you, O monks,
That I see with the buddha-eye
That Kāśyapa in the future
Will become a buddha
After innumerable kalpas have passed.
In the future he will meet and pay homage
To three hundred myriads of koṭis of Buddha Bhagavats
And practice the pure path of discipline and integrity,
Seeking for the wisdom of the buddhas.
Having offered respect to the highest and best of humans
And having completely grasped the ultimate wisdom,
He will become a buddha while in his last body.
His land will be pure.
The earth will be made of lapis lazuli,
And many jeweled trees will be in rows
Along roads bordered with golden cords,
And those who see it will be gladdened.
The air will be always filled
With a pleasant fragrance,
And many beautiful flowers
Will be strewn about.
Various wonderful things
Will adorn this earth,
Which will be level
Without hills or hollows.
There will be an incalculable number
Of bodhisattvas there
Who will have the power of self-control,
Be versed in transcendent powers,
And who will preserve the sutras of the Mahayana
Taught by the buddhas.
The multitude of śrāvakas,
Bearing their last bodies, free from corruption,
Heirs of the Dharma King,
Will also be unreckonable;
Their number will be impossible to calculate
Even with the divine eye.
The lifespan of this buddha
Will be twelve intermediate kalpas.
The True Dharma will last in the world
For twenty intermediate kalpas.
And the Semblance Dharma will also last
For twenty intermediate kalpas.
Thus will things be with
The Bhagavat Raśmiprabhāsa.

At that time Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Subhūti, and Mahākātyā yana were all charged with excitement, and with palms pressed together they attentively gazed at the Bhagavat, never turning their eyes from him. They immediately spoke these verses in unison:

O Bhagavat, Great Hero!
O King of the Dharma of the Śākyas!
Bestow the Buddha’s words upon us
Out of your compassion for us.
If, knowing the depths of our hearts,
You give us your predictions,
It will be like cooling our fevers
By sprinkling us with the Dharma of immortality.
It is as though someone coming
From a country suffering from famine
Were suddenly to find
A great king’s feast spread before him,
Yet is stricken with doubt
And does not venture to eat,
Until, being instructed by the king,
He dares at last to do so.
We are exactly like this.
We have been constantly thinking
About the faults of the inferior vehicle,
And so we had no knowledge of the way
To obtain the highest wisdom of the Buddha.
Although we hear the Buddha’s voice
Saying that we will become buddhas,
We still have doubt in our minds
As if we dare not eat the meal.
If we receive the Buddha’s prediction
It will immediately put us at ease.
The Bhagavat, the Great Hero,
Always wants to put the world at ease;
And so we entreat you to bestow
Upon us your predictions,
As though to starving people
Waiting for permission to eat.

Then the Bhagavat, knowing what lay in the thoughts of the great disciples, addressed the monks saying: “This Subhūti in the future will meet, respect, venerate, praise, and pay homage to three hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of buddhas; and he will always practice the pure path of discipline and integrity, and complete the bodhisattva path. In his last body he will become a buddha called Yaśasketu, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat.

“His land will be called Ratnasaṃbhava in the kalpa called Ratnāva bhāsa. The land will be even and the earth will be made of crystal and adorned with jeweled trees. It will be without pits, pebbles, thorns, or the filth of excrement. The earth will be covered with precious flowers and will be everywhere pure.

“The people in this world will all live in wonderful towers with jeweled terraces. The śrāvakas, the disciples there will be innumerable and limitless, beyond calculation and metaphor, and there will also be innumerable thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of bodhisattvas.

“The lifespan of this buddha will be twelve intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in the world for twenty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for twenty intermediate kalpas. This Buddha will always dwell in the air, teaching the Dharma for the multitude, and he will save incalculable bodhisattvas and śrāvakas.”

Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to explain the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:

O monks!
I shall now make something known to you.
You should attentively listen
To what I have to say.
My great disciple Subhūti
Will become a buddha called Yaśasketu.
He will pay homage to innumerable
Myriads of koṭis of buddhas,
And, following the Buddha’s practice,
He will gradually come to complete the great path.
He will attain the thirty-two marks
In his last body,
And his form will be fine and beautiful
Just like a jeweled mountain.
His buddha world will be ultimately pure.
Of the sentient beings who see it
There will be none who do not rejoice.
There the Buddha will bring
Incalculable sentient beings to enlightenment.
In the midst of his Dharma
There will be many bodhisattvas
With keen faculties,
Who turn the irreversible wheel [of the Dharma].
This world will always
Be graced with bodhisattvas.
There will also be
Incalculable numbers of śrāvakas.
All of them will have perfected the three sciences,
And the six transcendent powers,
Will abide in the eight liberations,
And have great dignity and virtue.
The Buddha will expound the Dharma
And reveal immeasurable,
Unthinkable, transcendent powers.
All the devas and humans,
As numerous as the sands of the
Ganges River,
Will listen to the Buddha’s words
With palms pressed together.
The lifespan of this buddha
Will be twelve intermediate kalpas.
The True Dharma will last in the world
For twenty intermediate kalpas,
And the Semblance Dharma will also last
For twenty intermediate kalpas.

Thereupon the Bhagavat addressed the monks, saying: “I will now tell you that this Mahākātyāyana in the future will honor, respect, and pay homage to eight thousand koṭis of buddhas with offerings. After the parinirvāṇas of these buddhas, he will erect stupas, each of which will be one thousand yojanas in height and five hundred yojanas in both width and depth. These stupas will all be constructed of the seven precious treasures—gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, agate, pearls, and rubies. He will pay homage to these stupas with many flowers and necklaces, fragrant ointments, scented powders, burning incense, canopies, flags, and banners.

“After this he will also pay homage to two myriads of koṭis of buddhas in exactly the same way and, having done so, he will perfect the bodhisattva path and become a buddha called Jāmbūna dā bhāsa, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat.

“His land will be level. The earth will be made of crystal and it will be adorned with jeweled trees. The roads will be bordered with golden cords and beautiful flowers will cover the earth. It will be pure everywhere and those who see it will rejoice.

“There will be none of the four troubled states of being, namely the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, and asuras. There will be many devas and humans, and immeasurable myriads of koṭis of śrāvakas and bodhisattvas will grace this world.

“The lifespan of this buddha will be twelve intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in the world for twenty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for twenty intermediate kalpas.”

At that time the Bhagavat, wanting to explain the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:

O monks, listen carefully!
What I shall say
Is nothing but the truth.
This Kātyāyana
Will pay homage to the buddhas
With various wonderful offerings.
After the parinirvāṇas of those buddhas,
He will erect stupas constructed
Of the seven precious treasures
And offer respect to their relics
With flowers and incense.
In his last body
He will attain the wisdom of the Buddha
And will achieve complete enlightenment.
His world will be pure
And he will save incalculable
Myriads of koṭis of sentient beings.
He will be venerated in the ten directions.
There is nothing that surpasses
This Buddha’s ray of light,
So this buddha
Will be called Jāmbūnadābhāsa.
There will be innumerable, uncountable
Bodhisattvas and śrāvakas gracing this world,
Who have shaken free from every state of being.

Thereupon the Bhagavat again addressed the assembly saying: “I will now tell you that this Mahāmaudgalyāyana will respect, venerate, and pay homage to eight thousand buddhas with various offerings; and after the parinirvāṇas of these buddhas, he will erect stupas, each of which will be one thousand yojanas in height and five hundred yojanas in both depth and width. These stupas will be constructed with the seven precious treasures— gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, agate, pearls, and rubies. He will offer them various flowers, necklaces, fragrant ointments, scented powders, burning incense, canopies, flags, and banners.

“After this he will pay homage to two hundred myriads of koṭis of buddhas in exactly the same way, and will become a buddha called Tamālapatracandanagandha, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat.

“His world will be called Mano’bhirāma in the kalpa called Ratiprapūrṇa. The land will be level. The earth will be made of crystal, adorned with jeweled trees, and strewn with flowers of pearls. It will be pure everywhere and those who see it will rejoice. There will be many devas and humans, innumerable bodhisattvas, and śrāvakas.

“The lifespan of this buddha will be twenty-four intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in this world for forty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for forty intermediate kalpas.”

Then the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on this meaning, spoke these verses:

This disciple of mine, Mahāmaudgalyāyana,
Having abandoned this body,
Will meet eight thousand and then two hundred
Myriads of koṭis of Buddha Bhagavats.
For the sake of the buddha path
He will pay them homage and respect them,
And always practice holy conduct (brahmacarya)
Of discipline and integrity
In the presence of these buddhas.
He will uphold the Buddha-Dharma
For immeasurable kalpas.
After the parinirvāṇas of these buddhas
He will erect stupas
Constructed with the seven precious treasures
On which golden banners
Will be long displayed.
He will pay homage to
These stupas of the buddhas
With flowers, incense, and music.
After having mastered
The bodhisattva path step by step,
In a land called Mano’bhirāma,
He will become a buddha
Called Tamālapatracandanagandha.
The lifespan of this buddha
Will be twenty-four intermediate kalpas.
He will always expound the buddha path
For the sake of devas and humans.
There will be countless śrāvakas,
As numerous as the sands of the Ganges River,
Who will have perfected the three sciences,
And six transcendent powers,
And have great dignity and virtue.
There will be innumerable bodhisattvas,
Resolute and persevering, who will never turn away
From the wisdom of the buddhas.
After the parinirvāṇa of this buddha
The True Dharma will last
For forty intermediate kalpas,
And the Semblance Dharma
Will also be like this.
All of my disciples,
Five hundred in number,
Who are endowed with dignity and virtue,
Will also receive my prediction.
In the future they will all become buddhas.
I will now explain the relationships
That you and I have formed in past lives.
All of you, listen carefully!

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