The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law
Translated By H. Kern (1884)
Mañgusrî, the prince royal, said to the Lord: It is difficult, Lord, most difficult, what these Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas will attempt out of reverence for the Lord. How are these Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas to promulgate this Dharmaparyâya at the end of time, at the last period? Whereupon the Lord answered Mañgusrî, the prince royal: A Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, Mañgusrî, he who is to promulgate this Dharmaparyâya at the end of time, at the last period, must be firm in four things. In which things? The Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, Mañgusrî, must be firm in his conduct and proper sphere if he wishes to teach this Dharmaparyâya. And how, Mañgusrî, is a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva firm in his conduct and proper sphere? When the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, Mañgusrî, is patient, meek, has reached the stage of meekness; when he is not rash, nor envious; when, moreover, Mañgusrî, he clings to no law whatever and sees the real character of the laws (or things); when he is refraining from investigating and discussing these laws, Mañgusrî; that is called the conduct of a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva. And what is the proper sphere of a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, Mañgusrî? When the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, Mañgusrî, does not serve, not court, not wait upon kings; does not serve, not court, not wait upon princes; when he does not approach them; when he does not serve, not court, not wait upon persons of another sect, Karakas, Parivrâgakas, Âgîvakas, Nirgranthas [Three kinds of mendicant friars not belonging to the Buddhist, nor to the Gaina persuasion], nor persons passionately fond of fine literature; when he does not serve, not court, not wait upon adepts at worldly spells, and votaries of a worldly philosophy, nor keep any intercourse with them; when he does not go to see Kândâlas, jugglers, vendors of pork, poulterers, deer-hunters, butchers, actors and dancers, wrestlers, nor resort to places whither others flock for amusement and sport; when he keeps no intercourse with them unless from time to time to preach the law to them when they come to him, and that freely; when he does not serve, not court, not wait upon monks, nuns, lay devotees, male and female, who are adherents of the vehicle of disciples, nor keep intercourse with them; when he does not come in contact with them at the place of promenade or in the monastery, unless from time to time to preach the law to them when they come to him, and even that freely. This, Mañgusrî, is the proper sphere of a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva.
Again, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva does not take hold of some favourable opportunity or another to preach the law to females every now and anon, nor is he desirous of repeatedly seeing females; nor does he think it proper to visit families and then too often address a girl, virgin, or young wife, nor does he greet them too fondly in return. He does not preach the law to a hermaphrodite, keeps no intercourse with such a person, nor greets too friendly in return. He does not enter a house alone in order to receive alms, unless having the Tathâgata in his thoughts. And when he happens to preach the law to females, he does not do so by passionate attachment to the law, far less by passionate attachment to a woman. When he is preaching, he does not display his row of teeth, let alone a quick emotion on his physiognomy. He addresses no novice, male or female, no nun, no monk, no young boy, no young girl, nor enters upon a conversation with them; he shows no great readiness in answering their address, nor cares to give too frequent answers. This, Mañgusrî, is called the first proper sphere of a Bodhisattva Mahasattva.
Further, Mañgusrî, a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva looks upon all laws (and things) as void; he -sees them duly established, remaining unaltered, as they are in reality, not liable to be disturbed, not to be moved backward, unchangeable, existing in the highest sense of the word (or in an absolute sense), having the nature of space, escaping explanation and expression by means of common speech, not born, composed and simple, aggregated and isolated, not expressible in words, independently established, manifesting themselves owing to a perversion of perception. In this way then, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva constantly views all laws, and if he abides in this course, he remains in his own sphere. This, Mañgusrî, is the second proper sphere of a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva.
And in order to expound this matter in greater detail, the Lord uttered the following stanzas :
1. The Bodhisattva who, undaunted and unabashed, wishes to set forth this Sûtra in the dreadful period hereafter,
2. Must keep to his course (of duty) and proper sphere; he must be retired and pure, constantly avoid intercourse with kings and princes.
3. Nor should he keep up intercourse with king's servants, nor with Kândâlas, jugglers, and Tîrthikas in general.
4. He ought not to court conceited men, but catechise such as keep to the religion. He must also avoid such monks as follow the precepts of the Arhat [of the Gainas], and immoral men.
5. He must be constant in avoiding a nun who is fond of banter and chatter; he must also avoid notoriously loose female lay devotees.
6. He should shun any intercourse with such female lay devotees as seek their highest happiness in this transient world. This is called the proper conduct of a Bodhisattva.
7. But when one comes to him to question him about the law for the sake of superior enlightenment, he should, at any time, speak freely, always firm and undaunted.
8. He should have no intercourse with women and hermaphrodites; he should also shun the young wives and girls in families.
9. He must never address them to ask after their health. He must also avoid intercourse with vendors of pork and mutton.
10. With any persons who slay animals of various kind for the sake of profit, and with such as sell meat he should avoid having any intercourse.
11. He must shun the society of whoremongers, players, musicians, wrestlers, and other people of that sort.
12. He should not frequent whores, nor other sensual persons; he must avoid any exchange of civility with them.
13. And when the sage has to preach for a woman, he should not enter into an apartment with her alone, nor stay to banter.
14. When he has often to enter a village in quest of food, he must have another monk with him or constantly think of the Buddha.
15. Herewith have I shown the first sphere of proper conduct. Wise are they who, keeping this Sqtra in memory, live according to it.
16. And when one observes no law at all, low, superior or mean, composed or uncomposed, real or not real;
17. When the wise man does not remark, 'This is a woman,' nor marks,'This is a man;' when in searching he finds no laws (or things), because they have never existed;
18. This is called the observance of the Bodhisattvas in general. Now listen to me when I set forth what should be their proper sphere.
19. All laws (i.e. the laws, the things) have been declared to be non-existing, not appearing, not produced, void, immovable, everlasting; this is called the proper sphere of the wise.
20. They have been divided into existing and non-existing, real and unreal, by those who had wrong notions; other laws also, of permanency, of being produced, of birth from something already produced, are wrongly assumed.
21. Let (the Bodhisattva) be concentrated in mind, attentive, ever firm as the peak of Mount Sumeru, and in such a state (of mind) look upon all laws (and things) as having the nature of space [i.e. as being void],
22. Permanently equal to space, without essence, immovable, without substantiality. These, indeed, are the laws, all and for ever. This is called the proper sphere of the wise.
23. The monk observing this rule of conduct given by me may, after my extinction, promulgate this Sûtra in the world, and shall feel no depression.
24. Let the sage first, for some time, coerce his thoughts, exercise meditation with complete absorption, and correctly perform all that is required for attaining spiritual insight, and then, after rising (from his pious meditation), preach with unquailing mind.
25. The kings of this earth and the princes who listen to the law protect him. Others also, both laymen (or burghers) and Brahmans, will be found together in his congregation.
Further, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva who, after the complete extinction of the Tathâgata at the end of time, the last period, the last five hundred years, when the true law is in a state of decay, is going to propound this Dharmaparyâya, must be in a peaceful state (of mind) and then preach the law, whether he knows it by heart or has it in a book. In his sermon he will not be too prone to carping at others, not blame other preaching friars, not speak scandal nor propagate scandal. He does not mention by name other monks, adherents of the vehicle of disciples, to propagate scandal. He cherishes even no hostile feelings against them, because he is in a peaceful state. All who come, one after the other, to hear the sermon he receives with benevolence, and preaches the law to them without invidiousness. He refrains from entering upon a dispute; but if he is asked a question, he does not answer in the way of (those who follow) the vehicle of disciples; on the contrary, he answers as if he had attained Buddha-knowledge.
And on that occasion the Lord uttered the following stanzas :
26. The wise man is always at ease, and in that state he preaches the law, seated on an elevated pulpit which has been prepared for him on a clean and pretty spot.
27. He puts on a clean, nice, red robe, dyed with good colours, and a black woollen garment and a long undergarment;
28. Having duly washed his feet and rubbed his head and face with smooth ointments, he ascends the pulpit, which is provided with a footbank and covered with pieces of fine cloth of various sorts, and sits down.
29. When he is thus seated on the preacher's pulpit and all who have gathered round him are attentive, he proceeds to deliver many discourses, pleasing by variety, before monks and nuns,
30. Before male and female lay devotees, kings and princes. The wise man always (takes care to) deliver a sermon diversified in its contents and sweet, free from invidiousness.
31. If occasionally he is asked some question, even after he has commenced, he will explain the matter anew in regular order, and he will explain it in such away that his hearers gain enlightenment.
32. The wise man is indefatigable; not even the thought of fatigue will rise in him; he knows no listlessness, and so displays to the assembly the strength of charity.
33. Day and night the wise man preaches this sublime law with myriads of kotis of illustrations; he edifies and satisfies his audience without ever requiring anything.
34. Solid food, soft food, nourishment and drink, cloth, couches, robes, medicaments for the sick, all this does not occupy his thoughts, nor does he want anything from the congregation.
35. On the contrary, the wise man is always thinking: How can I and these beings become Buddhas? I will preach this true law, upon which the happiness of all beings depends, for the benefit of the world.
36. The monk who, after my extinction, shall preach in this way, without envy, shall not meet with trouble, impediment, grief or despondency.
37. Nobody shall frighten him, beat or blame him; never shall he be driven away, because he is firm in the strength of forbearance.
38. The wise man who is peaceful, so disposed as I have just said, possesses hundreds of kotis of advantages, so many that one would not be able to enumerate them in hundreds of Æons.
Again, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva who lives after the extinction of the Tathâgata at the end of time when the true law is in decay, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva who keeps this Sûtra is not envious, not false, not deceitful; he does not speak disparagingly of other adherents of the vehicle of Bodhisattvas, nor defame, nor humble them. He does not bring forward the shortcomings of other monks, nuns, male and female lay devotees, neither of the adherents of the vehicle of disciples nor of those of the vehicle of Pratyekabuddhas. He does not say: You young men of good family, you are far off from supreme, perfect enlightenment; you give proof of not having arrived at it; you are too fickle in your doings and not capable of acquiring true knowledge. He does not in this way bring forward the shortcomings of any adherent of the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas. Nor does he show any delight in disputes about the law, or engage in disputes about the law, and he never abandons the strength of charity towards all beings. In respect to all Tathâgatas he feels as if they were his fathers, and in respect to all Bodhisattvas as if they were his masters. And as to the Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas in all directions of space, he is assiduous in paying homage to them by good will and respect. When he preaches the law, he preaches no less and no more than the law, without partial predilection for (any part of) the law, and he does not show greater favour to one than to another, even from love of the law.
Such, Mañgusrî, is the third quality with which a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva is endowed who is to expound this Dharmaparyâya after the extinction of the Tathâgata at the end of time when the true law is in decay; who will live at ease' and not be annoyed in the exposition of this Dharmaparyâya. And in the synod he will have allies, and he will find auditors at his sermons who will listen to this Dharmaparyâya, believe, accept, keep, read, penetrate, write it and cause it to be written, and who, after it has been written and a volume made of it, will honour, respect, esteem, and worship it.
This said the Lord, and thereafter he, the Sugata, the Master, added the following:
39. The wise man, the preacher, who wishes to expound this Sûtra must absolutely renounce falsehood, pride, calumny, and envy.
40. He should never speak a disparaging word of anybody; never engage in a dispute on religious belief; never say to such as are guilty of shortcomings, You will not obtain superior knowledge.
41. He is always sincere, mild, forbearing; (as) a (true) son of Sugata he will repeatedly preach the law without any feeling of vexation.
42. 'The Bodhisattvas in all directions of space, who out of compassion for creatures are moving in the world, are my teachers;' (thus thinking) the wise man respects them as his masters.
43. Cherishing the memory of the Buddhas, the supreme amongst men, he will always feel towards them as if they were his fathers, and by forsaking all idea of pride he will escape hindrance.
44. The wise man who has heard this law, should be constant in observing it. If he earnestly strives after a peaceful life, kotis of beings will surely protect him.
Further, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, living at the time of destruction of the true law after the extinction of the Tathâgata, who is desirous of keeping this Dharmaparyâya, should live as far as possible away from laymen and friars, and lead a life of charity. He must feel affection for all beings who are striving for enlightenment and therefore make this reflection: To be sure, they are greatly perverted in mind, those beings who do not hear, nor perceive, nor understand the skilfulness and the mystery of the Tathâgata, who do not inquire for it, nor believe in it, nor even are willing to believe in it. Of course, these beings do not penetrate, nor understand this Dharmaparyâya. Nevertheless will I, who have attained this supreme, perfect knowledge, powerfully bend to it the mind of every one, whatever may be the position he occupies, and bring about that he accepts, understands, and arrives at full ripeness.
By possessing also this fourth quality, Mañgusrî, a Bodhisattva Mahasattva, who is to expound the law after the extinction of the Tathâgata, will be unmolested, honoured, respected, esteemed, venerated by monks, nuns, and lay devotees, male and female, by kings, princes, ministers, king's officers, by citizens and country people, by Brahmans and laymen; the gods of the sky will, full of faith, follow his track to hear the law, and the angels will follow his track to protect him; whether he is in a village or in a monastery, they will approach him day and night to put questions about the law, and they will be satisfied, charmed with his explanation. For this Dharmaparyâya, Mañgusrî, has been blessed by all Buddhas. With the past, future, and present Tathâgata, Mañgusrî, this Dharmaparyâya is for ever blessed. Precious in all worlds, Mañgusrî, is the sound, rumour, or mentioning of this Dharmaparyâya.
It is a case, Mañgusrî, similar to that of a king, a ruler of armies, who by force has conquered his own kingdom, whereupon other kings, his adversaries, wage war against him. That ruler of armies has soldiers of various description to fight with various enemies. As the king sees those soldiers fighting, he is delighted with their gallantry, enraptured, and in his delight and rapture he makes to his soldiers several donations, such as villages and village grounds, towns and grounds of a town; garments and head-gear; hand-ornaments, necklaces, gold threads, earrings, strings of pearls, bullion, gold, gems, pearls, lapis lazuli, conch-shells, stones (?), corals; he, moreover, gives elephants, horses, cars, foot soldiers, male and female slaves, vehicles, and litters. But to none he makes a present of his crown jewel, because that jewel only fits on the head of a king. Were the king to give away that crown jewel, then that whole royal army, consisting of four divisions, would be astonished and amazed. In the same manner, Mañgusrî, the Tathâgata, the Arhat, &c., exercises the reign of righteousness (and of the law) in the triple world which he has conquered by the power of his arm and the power of his virtue. His triple world is assailed by Mâra, the Evil One. Then the Âryas, the soldiers of the Tathâgata, fight with Mâra. Then, Mañgusrî, the king of the law, the lord of the law, expounds to the Aryas, his soldiers, whom he sees fighting, hundred thousands of Sûtras in order to encourage the four classes. He gives them the city of Nirvâna, the great city of the law; he allures them with that city of Nirvâna, but he does not preach to them such a Dharmaparyâya as this. just as in that case, Mañgusrî, that king, ruler of armies, astonished at the great valour of his soldiers in battle gives them all his property, at last even his crown jewel, and just as that crown jewel has been kept by the king on his head to the last, so, Mañgusrî, the Tathâgata, the Arhat, &c., who as the great king of the law in the triple world exercises his sway with justice, when he sees disciples and Bodhisattvas fighting against the Mâra of fancies or the Mâra of sinful inclinations, and when he sees that by fighting they have destroyed affection, hatred, and infatuation, overcome the triple world and conquered all Mâras, is satisfied, and in his satisfaction he expounds to those noble (ârya) soldiers this Dharmaparyâya which meets opposition in all the world, the unbelief of all the world, a Dharmaparyâya never before preached, never before explained. And the Tathâgata bestows on all disciples the noble crown jewel, that most exalted crown jewel which brings omniscience to all. For this, Mañgusrî, is the supreme preaching of the Tathâgatas; this is the last Dharmaparyâya of the Tathâgatas; this is the most profound discourse on the law, a Dharmaparyâya meeting opposition in all the world. In the same manner, Mañgusrî, as that king of righteousness and ruler of armies took off the crown jewel which he had kept so long a time and gave it (at last) to the soldiers, so, Mañgusrî, the Tathâgata now reveals this long-kept mystery of the law exceeding all others, (the mystery) which must be known by the Tathâgatas.
And in order to elucidate this matter more in detail, the Lord on that occasion uttered the following stanzas:
45. Always displaying the strength of charity, always filled with compassion for all creatures, expounding this law, the Sugatas have approved this exalted Sûtra.
46. The laymen, as well as the mendicant friars, and the Bodhisattvas who shall live at the end of time, must all show the strength of charity, lest those who hear the law reject it.
47. But I, when I shall have reached enlightenment and be established in Tathâgataship, will initiate (others), and after having initiated disciples preach everywhere this superior enlightenment.
48. It is (a case) like that of a king, ruler of armies, who gives to his soldiers various things, gold, elephants, horses, cars, foot soldiers; he also gives towns and villages, in token of his contentment.
49. In his satisfaction he gives to some hand-ornaments, silver and gold thread; pearls, gems, conch-shells, stones (?), coral; he also gives slaves of various description.
50. But when he is struck with the incomparable daring of one amongst the soldiers, he says: Thou. hast admirably done this; and, taking off his crown, makes him a present of the jewel.
51. Likewise do I, the Buddha, the king of the law, I who have the force of patience and a large treasure of wisdom, with justice govern the whole world, benign, compassionate, and pitiful.
52. And seeing how the creatures are in trouble, I pronounce thousands of kotis of Sûtrântas, when I perceive the heroism of those living beings who by pure-mindedness overcome the sinful inclinations of the world.
53. And the king of the law, the great physician, who expounds hundreds of kotis of Paryâyas, when he recognises that creatures are strong, shows them this Sûtra, comparable to a crown jewel.
54. This is the last Sûtra proclaimed in the world, the most eminent of all my Sûtras, which I have always kept and never divulged. Now I am going to make it known; listen all.
55. There are four qualities to be acquired by those who at the period after my extinction desire supreme enlightenment and perform my charge. The qualities are such as follows.
56. The wise man knows no vexation, trouble, sickness; the colour of his skin is not blackish; nor does he dwell in a miserable town.
57. The great Sage has always a pleasant look, deserves to be honoured, as if he were the Tathâgata himself, and little angels shall constantly be his attendants.
58. His body can never be hurt by weapons, poison, sticks, or clods, and the mouth of the man who utters a word of abuse against him shall be closed.
59. He is a friend to all creatures in the world. He goes all over the earth as a light, dissipating the gloom of many kotis of creatures, he who keeps this Sûtra after my extinction.
60. In his sleep he sees visions in the shape of Buddha; he sees monks and nuns appearing on thrones and proclaiming the many-sided law.
61. He sees in his dream gods and goblins, (numerous) as the sands of the Ganges, as well as demons and Nâgas of many kinds, who lift their joined hands and to whom he expounds the eminent law.
62. He sees in his dream the Tathâgata preaching the law to many kotis of beings with lovely voice, the Lord with golden colour.
63. And he stands there with joined hands glorifying the Seer, the highest of men, whilst the Gina, the great physician, is expounding the law to the four classes.
64. And he, glad to have heard the law, joyfully pays his worship, and after having soon reached the knowledge which never slides back, he obtains, in dream, magical spells.
65. And the Lord of the world, perceiving his good intention, announces to him his destiny of becoming a leader amongst men: Young man of good family (says he), thou shalt here reach in future supreme, holy knowledge.
66. Thou shalt have a large field and four classes (of hearers), even as myself, that respectfully and with joined hands shall hear from thee the vast and faultless law.
67. Again he sees his own person occupied with meditating on the law in mountain caverns; and by meditating he attains the very nature of the law and, on obtaining complete absorption, sees the Gina.
68. And after seeing in his dream the goldcoloured one, him who displays a hundred hallowed signs, he hears the law, whereafter he preaches it in the assembly. Such is his dream.
69. And in his dream he also forsakes his whole realm, harem, and numerous kinsfolk; renouncing all pleasures he leaves home (to become an ascetic), and betakes himself to the place of the terrace of enlightenment.
70. There, seated upon a throne at the foot of a tree to seek enlightenment, he will, after the lapse of seven days, arrive at the knowledge of the Tathâgatas.
71. On having reached enlightenment he will rise up from that place to move forward the faultless wheel and preach the law during an inconceivable number of thousands of kotis of Æons.
72. After having revealed perfect enlightenment and led many kotis of beings to perfect rest, he himself will be extinguished like a lamp when the oil is exhausted. So is that vision.
73. Endless, Mañgughosha, are the advantages which constantly are his who at the end of time shall expound this Sûtra of superior enlightenment that I have perfectly explained.
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