The Prince and his lovely wife, after long consultation and much thought, determined to make a pilgrimage to the temple of Hase-no-Kwannon Goddess of Mercy at Hase , for they believed, according to the beautiful tradition of their religion, that the Mother of Mercy, Kwannon, comes to answer the prayers of mortals in the form that they need the most.
Surely after all these years of prayer she would come to them in the form of a beloved child in answer to their special pilgrimage, for that was the greatest need of their two lives. Everything else they had that this life could give them, but it was all as nothing because the cry of their hearts was unsatisfied. So the Prince Toyonari and his wife went to the temple of Kwannon at Hase and stayed there for a long time, both daily offering incense and praying to Kwannon, the Heavenly Mother, to grant them the desire of their whole lives.
And their prayer was answered. A daughter was born at last to the Princess Murasaki, and great was the joy of her heart. On presenting the child to her husband, they both decided to call her Hase-Hime, or the Princess of Hase, because she was the gift of the Kwannon at that place. They both reared her with great care and tenderness, and the child grew in strength and beauty. When the little girl was five years old her mother fell dangerously ill and all the doctors and their medicines could not save her.
A little before she breathed her last she called her daughter to her, and gently stroking her head, said:. Though I die, you must grow up a good girl. Do your best not to give trouble to your nurse or any other of your family. Perhaps your father will marry again and some one will fill my place as your mother. Remember when you are grown up to be submissive to those who are your superiors, and to be kind to all those who are under you.
I die with the hope that you will grow up a model woman. Hase-Hime listened in an attitude of respect while her mother spoke, and promised to do all that she was told. Not long after the death of his first wife, Prince Toyonari married again, a lady of noble birth named Princess Terute. Very different in character, alas! She did not love her step-daughter at all, and was often very unkind to the little motherless girl, saying to herself:.
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But Hase-Hime bore every unkindness with patience, and even waited upon her step-mother kindly and obeyed her in every way and never gave any trouble, just as she had been trained by her own good mother, so that the Lady Terute had no cause for complaint against her. The little Princess was very diligent, and her favorite studies were music and poetry. She would spend several hours practicing every day, and her father had the most proficient of masters he could find to teach her the koto Japanese harp , the art of writing letters and verse.
When she was twelve years of age she could play so beautifully that she and her step-mother were summoned to the Palace to perform before the Emperor. It was the Festival of the Cherry Flowers, and there were great festivities at the Court. The Emperor threw himself into the enjoyment of the season, and commanded that Princess Hase should perform before him on the koto, and that her mother Princess Terute should accompany her on the flute. The Emperor sat on a raised dais, before which was hung a curtain of finely-sliced bamboo and purple tassels, so that His Majesty might see all and not be seen, for no ordinary subject was allowed to looked upon his sacred face.
Hase-Hime was a skilled musician though so young, and often astonished her masters by her wonderful memory and talent. On this momentous occasion she played well. But Princess Terute, her step-mother, who was a lazy woman and never took the trouble to practice daily, broke down in her accompaniment and had to request one of the Court ladies to take her place. This was a great disgrace, and she was furiously jealous to think that she had failed where her step-daughter succeeded; and to make matters worse the Emperor sent many beautiful gifts to the little Princess to reward her for playing so well at the Palace.
There was also now another reason why Princess Terute hated her step-daughter, for she had had the good fortune to have a son born to her, and in her inmost heart she kept saying:. So one day she secretly ordered some poison and poisoned some sweet wine. This poisoned wine she put into a bottle. Into another similar bottle she poured some good wine. All his toys of warriors and heroes were spread out and she was telling him wonderful stories about each of them. They were both enjoying themselves and laughing merrily with their attendants when his mother entered with the two bottles of wine and some delicious cakes.
Hase-Hime, never dreaming of the dreadful part her step-mother was acting, took one of the cups of wine and gave to her little step brother the other that had been poured out for him. The wicked woman had carefully marked the poisoned bottle, but on coming into the room she had grown nervous, and pouring out the wine hurriedly had unconsciously given the poisoned cup to her own child. Suddenly the little boy screamed and threw himself on the floor, doubled up with pain.
His mother flew to him, taking the precaution to upset the two tiny jars of wine which she had brought into the room, and lifted him up. Doctors did not know much in those ancient times, and it was thought that the wine had disagreed with the boy, causing convulsions of which he died. Thus was the wicked woman punished in losing her own child when she had tried to do away with her step-daughter; but instead of blaming herself she began to hate Hase-Hime more than ever in the bitterness and wretchedness of her own heart, and she eagerly watched for an opportunity to do her harm, which was, however, long in coming.
When Hase-Hime was thirteen years of age, she had already become mentioned as a poetess of some merit.
This was an accomplishment very much cultivated by the women of old Japan and one held in high esteem. It was the rainy season at Nara, and floods were reported every day as doing damage in the neighborhood. An Imperial Edict was sent forth to all the Buddhist temples commanding the priests to offer up continuous prayers to Heaven to stop the noise of the flood. But this was of no avail. Then it was whispered in Court circles that the Princess Hase, the daughter of Prince Toyonari Fujiwara, second minister at Court, was the most gifted poetess of the day, though still so young, and her masters confirmed the report.
Long ago, a beautiful and gifted maiden-poetess had moved Heaven by praying in verse, had brought down rain upon a land famished with drought—so said the ancient biographers of the poetess Ono-no-Komachi. If the Princess Hase were to write a poem and offer it in prayer, might it not stop the noise of the rushing river and remove the cause of the Imperial illness? What the Court said at last reached the ears of the Emperor himself, and he sent an order to the minister Prince Toyonari to this effect.
At last the day came and her poem was finished. It was written on a leaflet of paper heavily flecked with gold-dust. With her father and attendants and some of the Court officials, she proceeded to the bank of the roaring torrent and raising up her heart to Heaven, she read the poem she had composed, aloud, lifting it heavenwards in her two hands.
Strange indeed it seemed to all those standing round. The waters ceased their roaring, and the river was quiet in direct answer to her prayer. Then I thought: If I only praise the buddha vehicles, Those beings who are submerged in suffering Will not believe this Dharma. Because they reject and do not believe the Dharma, They will fall into the three troubled states of being. I would rather not teach the Dharma And instead immediately enter nirvana. Then I thought of the power of skillful means Practiced by past buddhas. This path that I have attained Should now also be taught as the three vehicles.
When I thought this,. O Supreme Leader, You have attained the highest Dharma, And yet still use the power of skillful means, Following all the other buddhas. We too have attained the best and utmost Dharma And with discretion have explained the three vehicles For the sake of sentient beings. Those with little wisdom Seek inferior teachings And do not believe that they will become buddhas.
That is why we use skillful means And with discretion teach of various results. Although we teach the three vehicles It is just for the instruction of the bodhisattvas! The Lotus Sutra 44 Through the power of skillful means. From a great many kalpas ago I have always taught like this: I have praised and illuminated The teaching of nirvana, Saying that it ends the sufferings Of birth and death. Now is precisely the right time for this!
You should know that Those who have dull faculties and little wisdom, And those who are attached to mere signs and Are arrogant cannot accept this teaching. Now I am happy and fearless. Having openly set aside skillful means, I will teach only the highest path To all the bodhisattvas. Having heard this teaching The bodhisattvas and twelve hundred arhats, Freeing themselves from the web of doubt,.
Will all become buddhas. Just as the buddhas in the three periods Of the past, present, and future, Teach the true nature of the Dharma, Now I too will expound the Dharma That is beyond conception. All the buddhas Appear in worlds far away And are difficult to meet. Even if they appear in this world It is difficult to hear their teaching.
Even in immeasurable, innumerable kalpas It is difficult to hear this Dharma, And those who are able to hear this Dharma Are also hard to find. Those who, hearing this teaching, Happily praise the buddhas By uttering even a single word Have already paid homage to all buddhas Of the three periods. All of you, have no doubts! I, the King of the Dharma, Now proclaim to the great assembly: I lead and inspire the bodhisattvas Only with the path of the single vehicle; I am here without disciples.
In the troubled worlds of the five kinds of defilement, Sentient beings are only attached to various desires, And ultimately do not seek the path of the buddhas. In the future the impure will hear The Buddha teach the single vehicle, But they will be confused and will not accept it. They will reject the Dharma And fall into the troubled states of being. To those who are modest and pure, And seek the path of the buddhas, I will praise extensively The path of the single vehicle. You should know that the Dharma Of all the buddhas is like this.
All of you, have no further doubts! Let great joy arise in your hearts And know that you will all become buddhas! What is the reason for this? In the past when I heard this Dharma from the Buddha and saw the bodhisattvas receive their predictions, I was not included. If we had waited for your explanation about the way to achieve highest, complete enlightenment, we certainly would have been able to save ourselves by means of the Mahayana.
However, we did not understand that you were teaching with skillful means, according to what is appropriate to us. Since long ago I have reproached myself incessantly day and night. But now from the Buddha we have heard the unprecedented Dharma that we have never heard before, and it has removed all our doubts. Today I have finally realized that I am truly the heir of the Buddha, born from the mouth of the Buddha, incarnated from the Dharma, and that I have inherited a part of the Buddha-Dharma.
The words of the buddhas are extremely rare And are capable of ridding sentient beings Of their suffering. Whether I was dwelling In mountain valleys or under forest trees, Whether I was sitting or walking, Grieving and blaming myself deeply, I thought incessantly: How have I deceived myself! I am also the heir of the buddhas, Having entered the same incorruptible Dharma.
Nevertheless, in the future, I shall not be able to explain the highest path. The golden color, the thirty-two marks, The ten powers, and the liberations Are all in the same Dharma; And yet I have not attained any of these. Moreover, such qualities as The eighty excellent and eighteen special characteristics Are completely lost to me.
When I was wandering alone, I saw the Buddha in the great assembly Filling the ten directions with his fame And greatly benefiting sentient beings. I then thought: The Lotus Sutra I have lost all these benefits Because I have been deceiving myself. I thought about this constantly day and night And wanted to ask the Bhagavat: Have I or have I not lost these? I always saw the Bhagavat Praising the bodhisattvas. That is why I pondered over such matters As these both day and night. Now I have heard the words of the Buddha, Explaining to sentient beings The incorruptible Dharma, Which is difficult to comprehend, And making them enter The terrace of enlightenment.
Formerly, I was attached to false views And was a teacher of brahmans. The Bhagavat, knowing my mind, Removed the false views and taught nirvana. I got rid of false views completely And attained the teaching of emptiness. At that time I considered myself To have attained nirvana. But now I have become aware That this was not the real nirvana.
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Only then can it be said that I have Permanently attained nirvana without residue. Before the great assembly The Buddha has proclaimed That I will become a buddha. Chapter III But the Buddha, who teaches skillfully By means of various explanations and illustrations, Has made my mind tranquil like the ocean. While listening to him I was freed from the web of my doubts. Immeasurable buddhas in the present and future Will also teach this Dharma With various skillful means.
The present Bhagavat, From the time he was born And renounced household life Until he obtained the path And turned the wheel of the Dharma, Has also taught through skillful means. The Bhagavat teaches the real path, But the Wicked One does not. When I heard the voice of the Buddha, Profound and very subtle, Fluently explaining the pure Dharma, I became full of great joy.
My doubts are completely and forever exhausted, And I have achieved the true wisdom. I will definitely become a buddha, Honored by devas and humans. I will turn the wheel of the highest Dharma And lead and inspire the bodhisattvas. You have fol- lowed my instructions for a long time. Because I led you with skillful means, you were born in my Dharma. In the past I inspired you to seek the buddha path. Yet just now you had completely forgotten this and considered yourself to have attained nirvana.
Its earth will be level and pure, orna- mented, peaceful, and rich. The devas and humans will prosper. The earth will be made of lapis lazuli with a well-planned network of roads like a chess- board bordered with golden cords. Rows of seven-jeweled trees, which are always full of flowers and fruits, will line the borders of these roads. When that buddha appears, even though his will not be a troubled world, he will teach the three vehicles because of his original vow.
Because in that world the bodhisattvas will be like great jewels. And these 11c bodhisattvas will not be those who are just setting out. They will always be praised by the buddhas and continually practice the buddha wisdom. They will be endowed with transcendent powers and know well all the teachings of the Dharma. They will be honest, without falsity, and firm in recollection. That world will be filled with bodhisattvas like these. The lifespan of this buddha Padmaprabha will be twelve intermediate kalpas, not including the period after he becomes a prince and before he becomes a buddha; and the lifespan of the people in that world will be eight intermediate kalpas.
His buddha world will also be like this one. In the future You will become a buddha of universal wisdom Named Padmaprabha, Who will save innumerable sentient beings. Having paid homage to innumerable buddhas, Perfected the bodhisattva practice, And the qualities, including the ten powers, You will attain the highest path. The earth will be made of lapis lazuli And the roads, bordered with golden cords, Will be lined with variegated trees of the seven treasures Which are always full of flowers and fruits.
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The bodhisattvas in that world Will be always firm in recollection. All of them will be completely endowed With transcendent powers and the perfections And will have properly practiced the bodhisattva path In the presence of innumerable buddhas. Such mahasattvas as these Will be led and inspired by the Buddha Padmaprabha. When this buddha becomes a prince He will abdicate his kingship And give up his worldly fame.
Bearing his last body, He will renounce household life And attain the path of the Buddha. This Buddha Padmaprabha will live in the world For twelve intermediate kalpas. And the lifespan of the people in this world Will be eight intermediate kalpas. The relics of the Buddha Will be distributed widely And devas and humans will pay them homage. All that the Buddha Padmaprabha does Will be exactly like this.
That very Best of Humans, Who will be foremost and without comparison, Is none other than you. You should be delighted to hear this! They rejoiced greatly and became immeasurably happy. All of them removed their outer garments and proffered them to the Buddha as offerings. Their heavenly garments floated and fluttered in the air, while in the sky the devas played hundreds of thousands of myriads of kinds of music together at one time. Now he has turned the wheel of the utmost and greatest Dharma again. You have now again turned the wheel Of the subtlest, utmost, and greatest Dharma.
This Dharma is extremely profound; Only a few will be able to believe it. Since long ago we have frequently heard The teaching of the Bhagavat, Yet we have never before heard Such a profound and supreme teaching. When the Bhagavat taught this Dharma We were all delighted. In the same way, we too, Shall certainly become buddhas. We shall become peerless, Unrivaled in all the world. The path of the Buddha, Which is difficult to understand, Is taught with skillful means According to what is appropriate for sentient beings.
May the merits of our beneficial acts, Whether of the past or the present, And those acquired in meeting the Buddha, 12b Be completely transferred to the buddha path. I now have no further doubts. I have received the prediction of the highest supreme enlightenment in the presence of the Buddha.
Yet now, in the presence of the Bhagavat, they have heard what they have never heard before and have fallen into doubt. I entreat you to explain to the fourfold assem- bly the reason why, and free them from their doubts! All of these teachings are for leading and inspiring the bodhisattvas. Those with wisdom will be able to understand through these illustrations. Suppose there were an aged and extremely affluent man, either in a town, city, or country, who has immeasurable wealth, abundant estates, mansions, and servants.
He has a spacious house, yet it only has a single entrance. Suppose many people live there, as many as one, two, or even five hundred people. The buildings are in poor repair, the fences and walls are crumbling, the pillar bases are rotten, and the beams and frame- work are dangerously tilted. The children of this man, ten, twenty, or thirty in num- ber are in the house. He thinks: I am capable of escaping through the burning entrance in safety, but my children are absorbed in play within the burning house and are not aware [of the fire], do not know, are not alarmed or terrified, and the fire is approaching them!
They are not troubled about their suffering nor do they intend to leave the house. The chil- dren, who are immature and still unaware, are attached to their place of play. They may fall into danger and be burned by the fire. I should now tell them of the danger; this house is already burning! They must escape as quickly as they can to avoid being burned by the fire! Run out immediately! Moreover, they do not even know what a fire is, the condition of the house, or what they may lose.
They merely run about, back and forth, looking at their father. If my children and I do not get out, we shall perish in the fire. I will now use skillful means to help my children escape from this disaster. If you do not take them you will certainly regret it later. Right now, outside the house, there are three kinds of carts. One is yoked to a sheep, one to a deer, and one to an ox.
Go play with them. Run out of this burn- ing house immediately and I will give you whatever you want! He was relieved, happy, and joyful. The children said to their father: Father, please give us the toys you promised: those [three] carts, one yoked to a sheep, one to a deer, and one to an ox! These carts were tall and spacious, adorned with various jewels, and encircled with railings full of hanging bells.
On the tops of the carts were canopies also decorated with various kinds of jewels. These carts were draped Chapter III They were thickly piled with fabrics, and red pillows had been placed about. These carts were each yoked to an ox with a spotlessly white hide. These oxen had beautiful bod- ies with powerful muscles, even gaits, and were as swift as the wind; and there were many attendants guarding them. Why did the affluent man give these carts? Because the man had great and immeasurable wealth and his abundant storehouses were full.
He thus thought further: Since my treasure has no limit, I should not give my children inferior carts. These are my children and I love them all equally. I have an immeasurable number of large carts such as these, decorated with the seven treasures. I should equally distribute them to each child without discrimination. Even if I gave carts like these to every- one in the country, their number would not be exhausted. Why should I not give them to my own children?
What do you think about this? This affluent man gave to his children equally a large cart decorated with precious treasures. Has he deceived them or not? The affluent man only tried to help his children escape from the disastrous fire. He saved their lives and did not deceive them. This is by no means a deception. Because by saving their lives they obtained marvelous toys. Moreover, they were saved from the burning house by skillful means. If this affluent man had not given them even the smallest cart, it still would not have been a deception. Because this affluent man thought before: I will help my children escape with skillful means.
How much more so, since the affluent man, knowing that he had immeasurable wealth and wanting to benefit them equally, gave each of his children a large [ox]cart. It is exactly as you have said. That is to say, as The Lotus Sutra He has attained immeasurable wisdom, insight, power, and fearlessness, as well as great transcendent powers and the power of wisdom.
He has attained the perfection of skillful means and of wisdom. With his great mercy and compassion he incessantly and indefatigably seeks the welfare of all beings and benefits them all. Thus he leads and inspires sentient beings and causes them to attain highest, complete enlightenment. Because of the desires of the five senses and the desire for monetary profit they also experience various kinds of suffering. Because of their attachment and pur- suits they experience various kinds of suffering in the present; and in the future they will suffer in the states of existence of hell, animals, and hungry ghosts pretas.
If they are born in the heavens or in the human world they will experience a variety of sorrows such as suffering from poverty and des- titution, separation from loved ones, or suffering from encounters with those they dislike. They are not aware, shocked, startled, or disgusted nor do they seek release. Running around in the burning house of the triple world, they experience great suffering and yet they do not realize it. Seeing these things the Buddha thought: Since I am the father of sentient beings I must rid them of their immeas- urable suffering and distress.
I will cause them to rejoice through the immeasurable and limitless pleasure of the buddha wisdom. The Lotus Sutra save them. Because these sentient beings have not escaped from birth, old age, illness, and death; anxiety, sorrow, suffering, and distress; and are being burned in the blazing house of the triple world.
Although that affluent man had physical strength he did not use it. He only earnestly employed skillful means to save his children from the disaster of the burning house, and later he gave each of them a large cart decorated with precious treasures. And do not thirst after inferior objects, sounds, smells, flavors, and tangibles. If you are attached to these objects and have desires, then you will be burned. I definitely guarantee this to you. In the end it will come true. You should be diligent and persistent! When they ride in them, sentient beings will enjoy faculties free from corruption and also powers, paths to enlightenment, meditation, lib- eration, and concentration.
And they themselves will attain immeas- urable ease and pleasure. They are like those children who left the burning house seeking the cart yoked to a sheep. They are just like those children who left the burning house seeking the cart yoked to a deer. They are just like those children who left the burning house seeking the cart yoked to an ox. That affluent man saw his children leave the burning house 13c safely and arrive at a safe place. Knowing that he had immeasurable wealth, he gave a large cart equally to each child.
At first that affluent man attracted his children with three kinds of carts, then later gave them only the safest and best large [ox]cart, Chapter III The Lotus Sutra adorned with jewels. Moreover, that affluent man was never accused of telling a lie. He tells no lies. And later he saves them through only the Mahayana. And although he is able to give the teaching of the Mahayana to all sentient beings, not all of them can accept it. You should know that the buddhas, with the power of skillful means, teach the single buddha vehicle, dividing and teaching it as three. The halls were extremely dangerous, The pillar bases rotten and disintegrating, The beams and framework dangerously tilted, And the stairways were falling apart.
The fences and walls were cracked, The plaster was peeling off, The thatched roof was falling down, The rafters and eaves were coming apart, The partitions were everywhere askew, And the whole place was covered with filth. Five hundred people lived there, And moving around helter-skelter were Kites, owls, hawks, eagles, crows, magpies, Doves, pigeons, lizards, snakes, vipers, Scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, Newts, myriapods, ferrets, badgers, mice, Rats, and other harmful creatures. It was filled with stench, And there were places overflowing with excrement.
All kinds of bugs Had gathered there. There were foxes, wolves, and vermin Devouring, trampling, and gnawing on corpses, Scattering bones and flesh about; And a pack of dogs, Forcing each other out of the way, Rushed to the spot— Frightened and exhausted from hunger, They were searching everywhere for food, Fighting among themselves, snatching at food, Biting, snarling, and barking at each other. There were various poisonous insects, All kinds of harmful birds of prey, And beasts who were producing, rearing, And protecting their offspring.
And after sating themselves, Evil thoughts would arise in them. The sound of their fighting Was terrifying. The Lotus Sutra 64 There were also other demons living there With large bodies, naked, dark, and gaunt. They were screaming horrifying howls, Crying out while searching for food. Their hair was disheveled like rank weeds And they were destructive and malicious. Driven by hunger and thirst, They were crying and scurrying about. In this house, with its immeasurable terrors, There were many such horrendous things as these. Now suppose this old and decaying house Belonged to a man, And this man came out from it a short distance.
Soon after, the house suddenly Burst into flames behind him.
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The fire instantly spread in all directions. The frame, beams, rafters, and pillars exploded, And shaking, split and crashed, While the fences and walls collapsed. All the demons screamed out loudly. Malicious beasts and poisonous insects Concealed themselves in holes. They were tearing at each other, Drinking blood and eating flesh. A horde of vermin had already died off, And the large malicious beasts Raced to devour them, While the smoke of the stench flowed And filled everywhere. The hungry ghosts, with their hair on fire, Ravenous, thirsty, and suffering from the heat, Frantically scurried about.
In this way, the house was extremely terrifying With poison and fire, And disasters more than one. Then the householder, who was standing Outside the entrance of the house, Heard someone say: Just a moment ago, In the midst of their play, Your children entered this house. Being young and ignorant, They are attached to playing games. Hearing this, the affluent man was startled And went into the burning house To save them from the disaster of the fire.
The Lotus Sutra 66 There are malicious demons, poisonous insects, And the fire is raging everywhere. There are endless horrors, One right after another. These horrors are difficult to deal with, How much more so the conflagration! Still attached to their games, They kept right on playing. Thereupon the affluent man thought: My children by doing this Increase my distress! There is nothing to enjoy now in this house.
Nevertheless, my children who are absorbed in play Will not accept my instructions And so will be hurt by the fire. Then he immediately thought That he should advise his children Using various skillful means, and said: I have a variety of unusual toys Such as fine carts adorned with beautiful treasures, Yoked to sheep, deer, and oxen. They are just outside the gate.
O children! Come out of the house! I had these carts made for you. Play with them as you like! Hearing about these carts, The children immediately started To push each other out of the way To get out of the house. Arriving at an open area, They escaped from the disaster. The affluent man, seeing that his children Had escaped from the burning house And were standing at the crossroads, Sat down on his lion seat.
Then he joyously said: Now I am happy! It is extremely difficult to raise these children. Foolish and ignorant, They entered a dangerous house Full of various poisonous insects, Terrifying ogres from mountains and valleys, And a raging fire that broke out in all directions. In spite of this, These children were attached to playing their games. But by causing them to escape from the disaster, I have saved them. Therefore, my people, I now feel at ease. Thereupon the children, Seeing their father sitting in peace, Approached him saying: Please, father, Give us the three kinds of carts Adorned with treasures That you just promised us, When you said that if we, your children, came out You would give us three kinds of carts Just as we like.
The Lotus Sutra 68 Now is the right time. Give them to us right away! This affluent man, Who was extremely wealthy, Had an abundance of treasures. He had a number of great carts made, Adorned with various precious things Like gold, silver, lapis lazuli, Mother-of-pearl, and agate. They were beautifully decorated, Encircled with railings, And were covered with hanging bells Attached to golden cords. Over them was hung a net of pearls With golden flower tassels Hanging down everywhere. They were all completely Decorated in a variety of colors. There were large white oxen, Healthy and powerful with beautiful bodies, Yoked to the jeweled carts, And they were guarded by many attendants.
When they were given these fine carts, The children were joyful and excited. They got on the carts And drove delightedly all about. Amusing themselves in play, They mastered them without difficulties. I am also like this. I am the father of the world, The best of the sages. All sentient beings are my children. They are deeply attached to worldly pleasures And have no wisdom. There is no peace in the triple world, Just like in the burning house, Which is full of various suffering And which is extremely terrifying. There are always the sufferings Of birth, old age, illness, and death.
Such fires as these burn endlessly. Now this triple world is my property And the sentient beings in it are my children. There are now many dangers here And I am the only one who can protect them. Although I give them advice, They do not accept it, Because they are tainted with desires And have deep attachments. On this occasion I teach the three vehicles Using skillful means. Realizing the sufferings of the triple world, I reveal and explain it To cause sentient beings to Escape from the mundane path. The Lotus Sutra 70 And six transcendent powers. Or they can become pratyekabuddhas or Bodhisattvas who have reached The stage of nonretrogression.
I explain the single buddha vehicle To sentient beings, using this illustration. If you are able to accept what I say, You will all attain the buddha path. This vehicle is subtle, pure, and peerless. There is nothing superior to it In all the worlds. This is what the Buddha enjoys. All the sentient beings should praise, Honor, and revere it. I cause my children to obtain such a vehicle And let them play continuously, Day and night, for kalpas. For this reason, There is no other vehicle but The skillful means of the buddhas, Even if one seeks in all the ten directions. Since you were burned by the fire Of various sufferings for many kalpas, I saved you all.
By leading you out of the triple world. You should now seek only The wisdom of the Buddha. If there are any bodhisattvas in this assembly, They should listen singlemindedly To the real teaching of all the buddhas. Those sentient beings Whom the Buddha Bhagavats Lead and inspire with skillful means Are all bodhisattvas. Because people have little knowledge And are deeply attached to pleasures, I teach them the truth of suffering i.
And those sentient beings rejoice, Having attained Such an unprecedented experience. The truth of suffering taught by the Buddha Is nothing but the truth. To those who do not know the origin of suffering i. All the causes of suffering Originate from excessive craving.
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When this craving is extinguished, The source is removed. The cessation of suffering Is called the Third [Noble] Truth. One practices the path leading to its cessation i. The Lotus Sutra 72 In order to attain the truth of cessation. Removing the bonds of sufferings is called liberation. In what sense have these people attained liberation?
They have merely removed false views And called that liberation. But actually, they have not yet completely attained it. The Buddha has explained that these people Have not actually attained nirvana: I do not intend to lead them to nirvana Because they have not yet attained the highest path. I am the Lord of the Dharma And have mastered the Dharma. I appear in the world To cause sentient beings to be at peace. Teach this my Dharma sign To benefit the world! Wherever you may go, Never propagate it recklessly.
You should know that those who hear, Rejoice, and fully accept it Have reached the stage of nonretrogression. Those who accept the teaching of this sutra Have formerly seen the buddhas in the past, Honored, and paid homage to them, And also heard this teaching. Those who are able to accept what you teach, Will see me, you, the monks and the bodhisattvas. This very Lotus Sutra shall be taught Only to the profoundly wise.
Those of superficial awareness who hear it Will become confused and will not comprehend it. Even you understood this sutra only through faith; It is no wonder that the other disciples cannot. Never teach this sutra To those who are arrogant and lazy, Or to those who hold False views about the self. Never teach it to those people Of superficial awareness, Who are deeply attached To the desires of the five senses, Since even if they heard it, They would not understand. Those people who will not accept And who disparage this sutra, Will consequently destroy the seed of the Buddha In the entire world.
Now listen to what I teach About the results of the errors of those people Who frown upon and have doubts about this sutra. The Lotus Sutra 74 After coming out of this hell, They will be reborn as animals. If born as dogs or vermin, Their bodies will be emaciated, dark-spotted, Devoid of hair, with scabies and leprosy.
Tormented, hated, and despised by people, They will constantly suffer from hunger and thirst. With withered bones and flesh, They will be in anguish while living And covered with stones after death. Because they destroyed The seed of the Buddha, They will suffer the consequences Of their errors. If they are born as camels or mules, They will always have heavy burdens to carry. They will be whipped repeatedly And think of nothing but water and grass. It is because they disparaged this sutra That they suffer the consequences of their errors in this way.
If they are born as vermin and enter a village, Children will beat them because they have scabies, Leprosy, and perhaps a missing eye. At times they will be tortured even to death. After dying, They will be reborn as giant snakes With great bodies as long as five hundred yojanas. Deaf, dumb, legless, slithering on their bellies, Eaten at by small insects, They will suffer day and night without respite.
They suffer the consequences of their errors in this way, Because they disparaged this sutra. If they are born as humans, They will have dull faculties And be runts who twitch and are crippled,. Blind, deaf, and humpbacked. No matter what they may say People will not believe them. Their breath will always be foul.
They will be snatched at by demons. Being poor and degraded and enslaved by others, They will be emaciated from many illnesses And will have nowhere to turn. When they approach others, They will be disdained. Even if they manage to get something They will immediately lose it. Even if they study medicine And cure themselves according to the correct method, They will suffer from other illnesses again And may even die. When they get sick No one will tend to them; And even if they take the proper medicine Their pain will increase.
Every hand will be turned against them, Threatening them, pilfering and stealing from them. They will fall helplessly into this plight Because of their transgressions. Such erring people will never see The Buddha, the king of seers, Preaching the Dharma and leading and inspiring people. Such people will always be born Into difficult circumstances. Crazed, unheeding, and unthinking, They will never hear the teaching. They will be born deaf and dumb, With defective faculties For as many immeasurable kalpas As the sands of the Ganges River.
Although they are in other troubled states of being, They will feel as if they were in their own home. They will live among camels, mules, boars, and dogs. These are the results of their error In disparaging this sutra. If they are born as human beings, They will be deaf, blind, mute, Impoverished, and decrepit.
Such will be their adornments. They will have dropsy, gonorrhea, Scabies, leprosy, and tumors. Such diseases as these will be their clothing. Their bodies will always be foul, filthy, and impure. Their deep attachment to false views About the self will cause Their anger and passion to increase. Their sexual desires will be insatiable, With either birds or beasts as their objects. These are the results of their Errors in disparaging this sutra. For that reason I am now telling you Never to expound this sutra To those who have little wisdom. You should teach it Only to those people of sharp faculties Who are wise, learned, and understanding, The Lotus Sutra Who have good memories and erudition, And are seeking the buddha path.
Teach it to those who strive, Always practice compassion, And give unsparingly of their bodies and lives.
State of Sorrow
You should teach it to those who are respectful And devoid of hypocrisy, Who are living alone In mountains and valleys away from fools. You should teach it To those who have left their bad companions And made friends with virtuous people. Teach it to the heirs of the Buddha Who have good conduct, are as pure as jewels, And who are seeking the Mahayana sutras. You should teach it To those who are free of anger, Honest, flexible, always sympathetic to everyone, And who honor all the buddhas. Teach it to the heirs of the Buddha In the great assembly, Who have pure thoughts And who teach the Dharma without doubts, Using various reasonings, Illustrations, and explanations.
You should teach it to those monks Who, always and everywhere in search of the Dharma, Seek the Omniscient One, To whom they joyfully press their palms together, Touch their heads, and preserve Only the Mahayana sutras with pleasure, Chapter III Teach it to those who seek this sutra As intently as they seek for the relics of the Buddha, Who after obtaining it will accept it Respectfully, with bowed heads; And will not seek any other sutra And will never think about heretical scriptures.
I say to you: I have described the characteristics of those Who seek the buddha path, Though a kalpa would not suffice to do so in full. You should teach the Lotus Sutra To those who are able to accept it. They immediately rose from their seats, straightened their garments, leaving their right shoulders bared, and touched their right knees to the ground. We considered ourselves to have attained nirvana and to be incapable of further seeking highest, complete enlightenment, so we did not do so.
Now we sit with weary bodies and only contemplate emptiness, sign- lessness, and wishlessness. Neither the bodhisattva teaching, nor the carefree sporting with transcendent powers, nor the pure buddha worlds, nor helping sentient beings attain enlightenment produced any eager desire in us. Because the Bhagavat caused us to leave the triple world and to attain nirvana. But now we are old and feeble. We never considered that we would suddenly be able to hear this marvelous teaching; and we are overjoyed that we have attained such great benefits—an immeasurable treasure which we attained, though unsought and unawaited.
We now wish to give an illustration to clarify what we mean: Suppose there were a man who, when he was still a child, left his father and ran away. Living in another region for a long time he passed the age of ten, twenty, even fifty years. The older he got the more impoverished He went searching everywhere for food and clothing, and while he was wandering about he started back by chance in the direction of his native country. From the first the father had looked for his son but in vain; in the meantime he had stayed in the city and become extremely wealthy, and now possessed uncountable treasures.
He had many servants, subordinates, and clerks as well as innumerable elephants, horses, carriages, cows, and sheep. He profited through lending and his trade with other countries was also great. Although the father had constantly thought about the son from whom he had been separated for over fifty years, he nevertheless had spoken to no one about it.
He brooded and grieved in his heart, thinking to himself: I have become old and feeble; and although I have many treasures, and storehouses filled with gold, silver, and precious jewels, I have no son. When I die my treasures will be scattered and lost for lack of some- one to whom to entrust them. He also thought: If I could get my son back and leave my fortune to him I would be relieved and happy, and without further worry. His body was adorned with pearl necklaces worth thousands of myriads.
He was attended on both sides by clerks and servants holding whisker fans. Above was a jew- eled canopy with various hanging flowered banners. Perfume was sprinkled on the ground, which was strewn with a variety of beautiful flowers. There The Lotus Sutra With various trappings such as these, the father appeared very majestic indeed. He thought to himself: He must be a king or of a similar rank.
This is not a place where I can obtain things as a hired worker. It would certainly be better for me to go to a poor village, a place where I can use my ability and easily obtain clothing and food. If I stay here for very long I will be seized and put to forced labor. At that time the wealthy man, sit- ting on the lion seat, realized that he had seen his son and became extremely happy. He then thought: Now there is someone to whom I can leave my fortune and treasures.
I have been constantly thinking about my son but had no way to meet him, and now suddenly he has come. This is exactly what I wanted.
Although I am old I still yearn for him. Then the attendants quickly ran and overtook him. The impoverished son was frightened and cried out in fear: I did nothing wrong! Why are you seizing me? Then the impoverished son thought: They have seized me even though I have done nothing wrong. I shall certainly be killed. Pour cold water on his face and bring him to consciousness. Chapter IV The father knew that his son was of lowly aspiration, and that his own wealth and position would cause him problems. He said to them: Approach the impoverished fellow and gently tell him that there is a place for him to work where he will be paid double.
If he gives his assent then bring him back to work. If he asks you what kind of work there is for him to do, tell him that he will be employed to sweep dung and that both of you will work with him. When they found him they told him this. At that time he took his pay and immediately went to work sweeping dung.
Then one day while looking through the window he saw his son in the distance appear- ing emaciated and wretched, soiled with dung and dirt. The father took off his necklaces, fine garments, and ornaments and put on torn, filthy clothes. Covering himself with dirt and taking a dung sweeper in his right hand, he made himself look fearsome. He spoke to him further saying: You! I want you to always work here. There will be no difficulty in getting the things you need, like utensils, rice, noodles, salt, and vinegar.
I also have an old servant. Be at ease! Why am I doing this? Because I am old and you are still young. Whenever you work you are never lazy or sullen and never complain. I never see in you the bad qualities the other workers have. From now on you will be just like my own son. At that time, even though the impoverished son rejoiced at being treated this way, he nevertheless still considered himself a humble employee.
For this reason his father let him continue to sweep dung for twenty years. At the end of this period of time each had come to trust the other. One day the wealthy man became ill and knew he was going to die before long. He said to the impoverished son: 17b This is what I have been thinking and I want you to understand my inten- tions: I now have plenty of gold, silver, and precious treasures filling my storehouses. Get to know exactly how much is being taken in and out of them.
Why do I want you to do this? Because you and I are one and the same. Although he learned everything about the gold, silver, precious treasure, and the storehouses, he never wanted to take even the least amount. Nevertheless he still lived in the same place as before and was still not able to get rid of his feeling of inferiority. The father then declared: This is my son, my own progeny.
When we were in a certain city he left me and fled. He wandered around for more than fifty years under- going hardships. His original name is Such-and-such, and my name is Such-and-such. Long ago when I was in that city I worried and searched for him. At last and unexpectedly I met up with him. This is my true son and I am, in truth, his father. All of the fortune I now possess Chapter IV He already knows about our finances. At that time the impoverished son, hearing what his father said, became extremely happy at having obtained such an unprecedented experience. Then he thought: I never even considered receiving this; nevertheless, this treasure house has come into my possession, though unsought and unawaited.
Because of the triple sufferings, O Bhagavat, we experienced pain, were confused, ignorant and attached to inferior teachings in life after life. We had already attained it and were extremely happy and satisfied with it. The Buddha, knowing that we were content with lowly aspirations, taught us according to what is appropriate through the power of skillful means. But we did not know that we really were the heirs of the Buddha. We have actually been the The Lotus Sutra If we had yearned for the superior teaching, then the Buddha would have taught the teachings of the Mahayana to us.
Yet, in this sutra he has taught only the single vehicle. That is why we say that though we originally had no desire to seek the great treasure of the King of the Dharma it has now come to us unsought and unawaited. We have all attained what we should attain as the heirs of the Buddha. The most magnificent jewels Have been obtained without being sought or awaited. Suppose there were a young and inexperienced child Who left his father And ran away to a distant country. He wandered around for more than fifty years. And his worried father looked for him everywhere.
The father, exhausted from searching for him, Remained in a city Where he had a house built And enjoyed the desires of the five senses. His family built up a vast wealth of much gold, silver, Mother-of-pearl, agate, pearls, lapis lazuli, Elephants, horses, cows, sheep, floats, carriages, Peasants, servants, and other employees. He earned interest through loans and deposits And had buyers and sellers Throughout all the other regions. There were many people Coming and going on different business.
He was thus extremely wealthy And very powerful. And yet as he grew older, He increasingly worried about his son. Day and night he thought: Soon I will die. My foolish son has abandoned me For over fifty years. What should I do with the Various goods in my treasure houses?
At that time the impoverished son Was going from town to town, From one country to another, Seeking food and clothing. Sometimes he obtained them, And sometimes he did not. He was emaciated from hunger, And his body was covered with scabies. At that time the wealthy man Was sitting within the gate The Lotus Sutra On a lion seat, sheltered by A huge jewel-covered canopy.
He was surrounded by his attendants And guarded by his men. Some were counting gold, silver, and jewels; And some were settling the finances, While others were keeping the accounts. The impoverished son saw his father, Who was extremely wealthy and dignified. He wondered if this man were a king Or someone of equal rank. He became intimidated And wondered why he had gone there.
He thought to himself: If I stay here for long I will be harassed and coerced into working. Thinking this, he ran away In search of a poor village Where he could find employment. At that time the wealthy man, Who was sitting on the lion seat, Saw his son in the distance. Though he recognized him he told no one, But sent his attendants To pursue him and bring him back. The impoverished son was terrified, Cried out, and collapsed on the ground In confusion, thinking: Since this man has seized me I shall certainly be killed.
In vain did I come here In search of food and clothing. The Lotus Sutra 88 Were humble and foolish, And that he would not believe what he said, Nor believe that he was his father. Then using skillful means, He dispatched other men With squint eyes, of small stature And little dignity, saying to them: Tell him: We will employ you To sweep dung, at double your wages. When he heard this The impoverished son was overjoyed And returned to sweep dung and clean houses. The wealthy man Constantly watched his son Through the window and thought That his son was foolish And willingly did menial things.
Then the wealthy man Put on torn and filthy clothes, And, holding a dung sweeper, Went out to his son. He approached his son Through this skillful means And said to him: Work hard! I have already increased your wages And given you more balm for your feet, Given you sufficient food And warm, thick mats. He further advised him, saying sternly: You should work diligently. Then he gently added: I will treat you like my son. The wealthy man, being wise, Gradually gave him freedom of the house; And, after twenty years had passed, Let him become involved In the family business.