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 XIII - Perseverance

At that time Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Bhaiṣajyarāja and Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Mahāpratibhāna made this declaration in the presence of the Buddha, together with two thousand bodhisattvas: “O Bhagavat! We entreat you not to be concerned since, after the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa we will preserve, recite, and teach this [Lotus] Sutra! In the troubled world to come, sentient beings will have hardly any roots of good merit but will have excessive pride and will be greedy to receive offerings. They will increase their roots of bad merit and thus will be far away from liberation. It will be difficult to lead and inspire them. Therefore, we will produce the power of great patience and recite, preserve, teach, and copy this sutra as well as pay it homage in various ways, even willingly giving up our bodies and lives.”

Then in the assembly, five hundred arhats who had received their predictions addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat! We also declare that in other lands we will extensively teach this sutra.”

Moreover, eight thousand of those who had received their predictions, including those who had more to learn and those who did not, rose from their seats and with their palms pressed together, faced the Buddha and made this declaration: “O Bhagavat! We also will extensively teach this sutra in other lands. Why is this? Because in the sahā world there are many erring people, with excessive pride and superficial virtue, those who are quick to anger, deceitful, and untrue.”

Thereupon the Buddha’s aunt, the nun Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī, with six thousand nuns, some of whom had more to learn and some who did not, rose from their seats and with their palms pressed together gazed attentively at the Buddha, never turning their eyes away. Then the Bhagavat spoke to Mahāprajā patī Gautamī, saying:

“Why are you anxiously staring at the Tathāgata? Are you thinking that

I have not given you your prediction of highest, complete enlightenment? O Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī! I have previously said that all of the śrāvakas would receive their predictions. Now if you wish to know your prediction, I will tell you that in the future you will become a great expounder of the Dharma, taught by sixty-eight thousand koṭis of buddhas. These six thousand nuns, some of whom have more to learn and some who do not, will all become expounders of the Dharma together. In this way you will gradually be able to complete the bodhisattva path and become a buddha called Sarvarūpa- saṃdarśana, 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. O Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī! This Buddha Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana will give predictions of highest, complete enlightenment one by one to bodhisattvas totaling six thousand in number.”

Then the nun Yaśodharā, the mother of Rāhula, thought this: “While giving the predictions, the only name the Bhagavat did not mention was mine.”

The Buddha addressed Yaśodharā, saying: “In the future you will cultivate the bodhisattva practice of the teachings of hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of buddhas. You will become a great expounder of the Dharma, and gradually complete the buddha path. In a land called Bhadrā you will become a buddha called Raśmiśatasahasraparipūrṇadhvaja, 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. This buddha’s lifespan will be for immeasurable, incalculable kalpas.”

At that time the nun Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī and the nun Yaśo dharā together with their attendants all rejoiced greatly at having attained such an unprecedented experience. In the presence of the Buddha they immediately spoke in verse, saying:

O Bhagavat! As a great leader
You bring ease to devas and humans.
Having heard our predictions,
Our minds are at peace And we are content.

Having spoken this verse all the nuns addressed the Buddha, saying: “O

Bhagavat! We also will extensively expound this sutra in other lands.”

Then the Bhagavat saw eighty myriads of koṭis of nayutas of bodhisattva mahāsattvas, all of whom were at the stage of nonretrogression. They had turned the irreversible wheel of the Dharma and attained the power of recollection. Arising from their seats they went before the Buddha with their palms pressed together and with this wholehearted thought: “If the Bhagavat commands us to preserve and teach this sutra, then we will extensively expound this Dharma exactly as the Buddha has taught.”

They also thought: “The Buddha now keeps silent and does not command us. What should we do?”

Then all of the bodhisattvas, respecting the Buddha’s intention and also wanting to fulfill their original vow, uttered a lion’s roar in the presence of the Buddha and declared: “O Bhagavat! After the Tathāgata’s parinirvāṇa we will roam throughout the worlds of the ten directions enabling sentient beings to copy, preserve, and recite this [Lotus] Sutra, and to explain its meaning, practice it according to the Dharma, and remember it correctly. This will all be due to the Buddha’s majestic power.

“O Bhagavat! We entreat you to protect us from afar while we are in other quarters.”

Immediately after that, all of the bodhisattvas spoke these verses in unison:

We entreat you not to be concerned
Because we will extensively teach
In the fearful, troubled world,
After the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa.
We will be patient
With those who are ignorant,
Those who disparage others with evil words,
Or who attack us with sticks and swords.
Monks in this troubled world
Will have false wisdom And be deceitful.
They will think they have attained
What they have not, and their minds
Will be full of conceit.
Then there will be those who dwell
In tranquil forests wearing rags,
With the thought that they alone practice the true path,
And who look down on those who lead worldly lives.
There will be those who teach the Dharma
To laypeople only out of greed for offerings,
Yet they will be respected in the world
As if they were arhats endowed with
The six transcendent powers.
The minds of such people are in error;
They are always thinking about worldly matters;
And they enjoy pointing out our faults,
Playing the role of the forest dwellers,
Thus they will say such things as:

All of these monks here
Teach heretical doctrines
Because they are greedy for profit!
They have fabricated this sutra
To deceive the people of the world,
And they explain this sutra
Out of desire for fame!

They always want to slander us
In the great assembly;
They slander us to the kings,
Ministers, brahmans, householders,
And to other monks, saying that we are evil.
They say:

These are people of false views
Who teach heretical doctrines.

Since we revere the Buddha,
We will be patient with their wickedness.
They will mockingly address us, saying:

All you buddhas!

We will be patient with
These scornful words.
In the troubled world of the Age of [the Decadent Dharma]
There are many fearful things.
People possessed by evil spirits
Will scorn and slander us.
But we shall wear the armor of patience
Because we trust and revere the Buddha;
And we will persevere under these difficulties
In order to teach this sutra.
We will not be attached to our bodies or lives
We only desire the highest path.
In the future we will preserve
What the Buddha has entrusted us with.
The Bhagavat himself must know
That the erring monks in the troubled world
Will not understand the Dharma
Taught by the Buddha through skillful means,
According to what is appropriate to sentient beings.
They will utter evil words with angry countenances,
And they will repeatedly expel us,
And keep us away from the monasteries and stupas.
There will be many evils such as this.
We will all endure in these matters
Because we remember the Buddha’s decree.
If there are any people seeking this Dharma
In villages or cities, we will all go there
And teach the Dharma entrusted to us by the Buddha.
Because we are the Bhagavat’s ambassadors,
Wherever we go we have nothing to fear.
We will skillfully teach the Dharma.
We entreat you, O Buddha, to be at ease.
In the presence of the Bhagavat,
And all of the buddhas who have come
From the ten directions,
We make this declaration.
O Buddha! You know our intentions!

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