THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra

Chapter 20: Never-Slighting Bodhisattva

Sutra:

“Great Strength, the Buddha King of Awesome Sound had a life span of eons equal in number to the grains of sand in forty myriads of kotis of nayutas of Ganges Rivers.”

Outline:

I5. The Buddha's life span.


Commentary:

Great Strength Bodhisattva, the Buddha King of Awesome Sound had a life span of eons equal in number to the grains of sand in forty myriads of kotis of nayutas of Ganges Rivers—that long a time.

Sutra:


“His proper Dharma dwelt in the world for eons equal in number to the motes of dust in a single Jambudvipa. The Dharma Image Age dwelt in the world for eons equal in number to the motes of dust in one set of four continents. After benefiting living beings, he passed into stillness.”

Outline:

I6. The Proper and Image Ages.


Commentary:

His proper Dharma dwelt in the world for eons equal in number to the motes of dust in a single Jambudvipa. The Dharma Image Age dwelt in the world for eons equal in number to the motes of dust in one set of four continents. Jambudvipa is just one of the four continents. After benefiting living beings, he passed into stillness. After he had taught and transformed the living beings he was supposed to teach and transform, he then entered Nirvana.

Sutra:

“After the Proper and Image Dharma had become completely extinct, in this country yet another Buddha appeared, also by the name of King of Awesome Sound Thus Come One, One Worthy of Offerings, One of Proper and Pervasive Knowledge, One Perfect in Clarity and Conduct, Well Gone One, One Who Understands the World, Unsurpassed Lord, Regulating Hero, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, World Honored One. In this way, in sequence, there were twenty thousand kotis of Buddhas, all of the same name.”

Outline:

H2. The twenty thousand kotis of successive Buddhas.


Commentary:

After the Proper and Image Dharma. When the Buddha is in the world, that is the time of the Proper Dharma. Once the Buddha enters Nirvana, that is called the Dharma Image Age. During such a time, the Buddhadharma and Buddha images still remain in the world. But after both the Proper Dharma Age and the Dharma Image Age had become completely extinct, in this country called Great Accomplishment yet another Buddha appeared, also by the name of King of Awesome Sound Thus Come One, One Worthy of Offerings, One of Proper and Pervasive Knowledge, One Perfect in Clarity and Conduct, Well Gone One, One Who Understands the World, Unsurpassed Lord, Regulating Hero, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, World Honored One. In this way, in sequence, one after another, there were twenty thousand kotis of Buddhas, all of the same name. They were all called King of Awesome Sound Thus Come One.

Sutra:

“When the first Thus Come One King of Awesome Sound had passed into stillness, and after the extinction of his proper Dharma, during the Dharma Image Age there were Bhikshus of overweening pride who assumed great power. At that time there was a Bhikshu-Bodhisattva by the name of Never-Slighting.”

Ouline:

G2. Past affairs.
H1. The two names.


Commentary:

When the first Thus Come One King of Awesome Sound had passed into stillness, and after the extinction of his proper Dharma, during the Dharma Image Age there were Bhikshus of overweening pride who assumed great power. They thought they were higher and more important than anybody. Because of overweening pride they fought for name and profit, and they gained tremendous power and influence over Buddhism.

At that time, during the Dharma Image Age, there was a Bhikshu-Bodhisattva by the name of Never-Slighting. He was a Bhikshu-Bodhisattva because he practiced the Bodhisattva Path.

Sutra:

“Great Strength, for what reason was he called Never-Slighting? Whomever this Bhikshu met, be it a Bhikshu, Bhikshuni, Upasaka, or Upasika, he would bow to them all and praise them, saying, ‘I deeply respect all of you and dare not slight you. Why? You are all practicing the Bodhisattva Path and shall attain Buddhahood.’”

“This Bhikshu did not read and recite Sutras, but specialized in making obeisance to the point that when he saw the four assemblies from afar, he would approach them, bow, and praise them, saying, ‘I dare not slight you, for you shall all become Buddhas.’”

Outline:

H2. Faith and slander.
I1. What faithful ones gained.

Commentary:

Great Strength, for what reason was he called Never-Slighting? Whomever this Bhikshu met, be it a Bhikshu, Bhikshuni, Upasaka, or Upasika, he would bow to them all and praise them. Now a Bhikshu does not ordinarily bow to a Bhikshuni or a layperson. But the Bodhisattva Never-Slighting did this because he wished to practice the Bodhisattva Path. Bodhisattvas have no mark of a self. They are of one substance with everyone else. They have no mark of a self, no mark of others, no mark of living beings, and no mark of a life span.

"If there is no mark of a self, others, living beings, or a life, why did he bow to the other Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas? Isn't bowing a kind of mark?" you ask.

His bowing was a "markless mark." Why? If he had had a mark, he would not have been able to bow. Why didn't the Bhikshus of overweening pride practice bowing like this? They did not cultivate this practice because they had a mark of self. The Bodhisattva Never-Slighting had no mark of self. He saw the self as empty, and so he bowed to the other Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas and Upasikas. He had no self. Having no self, when he saw members of the four assemblies, he would bow and praise them, saying, "I deeply respect all of you and dare not slight you. Why? Because you are all practicing the Bodhisattva Path." All of you—Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas—are benefiting yourselves and benefiting others, and shall attain Buddhahood. Cultivating the Bodhisattva Path, you shall quickly become Buddhas."

This Bhikshu did not read and recite Sutras, but specialized in making obeisance to the four assemblies, to the point that when he saw the four assemblies from afar, he would approach them, bow, and praise them, saying, "I dare not slight you, for you shall all become Buddhas." Such a practice is not easy to do. Could you do it? That was cultivating what others cannot cultivate.

Sutra:

“Within the four assemblies, there were some who grew irate, those with impure minds who reviled him with foul mouths, saying, ‘Where did this senseless Bhikshu come from, who says “I dare not slight you” and then gives us predictions, saying we shall become Buddhas? We don’t need such false predictions!’”

“In this way for many years he was scolded and reviled. But he never got angry. He always said, ‘You shall become Buddhas.’ When he said that, those people would beat him with sticks or throw stones at him. He would run off, stand at a distance, and shout out, ‘I dare not slight you, for you shall all become Buddhas!’ Because he always said that, the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas of overweening pride gave him the name ‘Never-Slighting.’”

Outline:

I2. What slanderers lost.


Commentary:

Within the four assemblies there were some who grew irate, those with impure minds who reviled him with foul mouths. When Never-Slighting Bodhisattva bowed to them, they would kick him in the head. Why did they get angry? It was because their minds were impure. Their minds were filled with the three poisons of greed, hatred, and stupidity. They had taken too much poison, too many hallucinogenic drugs. They were confused and unclean. They were as if drunk. And so they only berated him, saying, "Where did this senseless, idiotic, dim-witted Bhikshu come from?" They would scold him and beat him when he bowed to them. Would you say the Bodhisattva Path is easy to practice? It certainly is not. The angry Bhikshus said to Never-Slighting, "Where do you come from? You have absolutely no conception of the Buddhist awesome manner. How can you do this? There are three hundred modes of propriety and three thousand modes of awesome comportment. You have not a single one!"

"Who is this person who says 'I dare not slight you' and then gives us predictions, saying we shall become Buddhas? Do you think it is that simple? You are really stupid! We don't need such false predictions. The Buddha is the only person who can give predictions. You raving maniac! You are a mess!"

In this way for many years he was scolded and reviled. It was not an isolated incident, in other words. But he never got angry, and he did not retreat. If you had a mark of self and someone humiliated you, you would be afraid to continue practicing the Bodhisattva Path. But he always said, "You shall become Buddhas."

When he said that, those people would beat him with sticks or throw stones at him. They would see him bow, and thinking him too stupid, they would grab a stick and hit him or throw a rock at his head. He would run off, stand at a distance, and shout out, "I dare not slight you, for you shall all become Buddhas!" Even though he had no mark of self, it still hurt when they hit him. He would bow hastily, run off, and shout, "I dare not slight you, for you shall all become Buddhas!" He was known as the village idiot. Everybody scolded him, "You are crazy! How disgusting!"

Because he always said that, the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas of overweening pride gave him the name "Never-Slighting."
So, take care that you do not become a Bhikshu, Bhikshuni, Upasaka, or Upasika of overweening pride. It is not a game.

He did not have this name to begin with, but because he was always saying, "I dare not slight you," the ones of overweening pride nicknamed him "Never-Slighting."

Sutra:

“When this Bhikshu’s life was coming to an end, in space he heard all of the complete twenty thousand myriad kotis of verses of the Dharma Flower Sutra previously spoken by the Buddha King of Awesome Sound. He was able to receive and uphold them all. He immediately obtained the purity of the eye and the purity of the ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, as mentioned above. Having obtained the purity of the six senses, his life span was further increased by two million kotis of nayutas of years. He extensively spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra for others.”

“At that time the four assemblies of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas of overweening pride who had ridiculed him and named him Never-Slighting saw that he had gained great powers of spiritual penetrations, the power of the eloquence of delight in speech, and the power of great wholesome silence. Hearing what he said, they faithfully submitted to him and followed him.

This Bodhisattva further transformed thousands of myriads of kotis of multitudes, causing them to dwell in anuttarasamyaksambodhi. When his life was over, he was able to encounter two thousand kotis of Buddhas, all named Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp. Within their Dharmas, he spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra. By means of these causes and conditions, he further encountered two thousand kotis of Buddhas, all named Cloud-like Comfort Lamp King. Within the Dharma of those Buddhas, he received, upheld, read, recited, and spoke for others of the four assemblies this Sutra, and so obtained the purity of his ordinary eye and the purity of his ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. He spoke the Dharma in the four assemblies with a heart free of fear.”

“Great Strength, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Never-Slighting made offerings to as many Buddhas as these: revering, honoring, and praising them and planting the roots of goodness.”

“He later encountered a thousand myriad kotis of Buddhas, and within the Dharma of all these Buddhas, he spoke this Sutra. When his merit and virtue were realized, he became a Buddha.”

Outline:

H3. The results of faith and slander.
I1. The rewards of the faithful.
J1. The reward.


Commentary:

When this Bhikshu's life was coming to an end, when he was about to die, in space he heard all of the complete twenty thousand myriad kotis of verses of the Dharma Flower Sutra previously spoken by the Buddha King of Awesome Sound. He was able to receive and uphold them all. He could receive them with his mind and uphold them with his body. He immediately obtained the purity of the eye and the purity of the ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, as mentioned above, as elucidated in the previous chapter, "The Merit and Virtue of a Dharma Master." Having obtained the purity of the six senses, he did not die, but his life span was further increased by two million kotis of nayutas of years. He extensively spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra for others. He always lectured on the Dharma Flower Sutra.

The Bodhisattva Never-Slighting had just attained the purity of the six sense faculties. Although he had not been certified to the fruition, he had obtained these advantages with the body born of his parents, and he was always lecturing the Dharma Flower Sutra to others. At that time the four assemblies of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas of overweening pride who had ridiculed him and named him Never-Slighting saw that he had gained great powers of spiritual penetrations. He was able to recite all the many verses of the Dharma Flower Sutra, and with his powerful wisdom and spiritual penetrations, lecture them to others. He had also gained the power of the eloquence of delight in speech in speaking Dharma and the power of great wholesome silence. When people scolded him, he did not get angry. Outwardly he displayed no distress, and inwardly he was not resentful. "Silence" means that he was able to bear the most unendurable things. That is because he had attained the power of patience and the power of prajna wisdom.

Hearing what he said, they faithfully submitted to him and followed him. Hearing him speak the Dharma Flower Sutra, they believed it, and they were tamed. They were not like they had been before when they scolded and beat him. They followed him wherever he went to speak the Dharma.

This Bodhisattva further transformed thousands of myriads of kotis of multitudes, causing them to dwell in anuttarasamyaksambodhi. He taught and transformed limitless, boundless living beings.

When his life was over, he was able to encounter two thousand kotis of Buddhas, all named Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp. After that life was over, in his next life he got to meet two thousand kotis of Buddhas. Within their Dharmas, he spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra. By means of these causes and conditions, because he spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra, he further encountered two thousand kotis of Buddhas, all named Cloud-like Comfort Lamp King. Within the Dharma of those Buddhas, he received, upheld, read, recited, and spoke for others of the four assemblies this Sutra. In life after life, Never-Slighting Bodhisattva spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra.

And so obtained the purity of his ordinary eye and was able to see throughout the three thousand great thousand world system. And he also obtained the purity of his ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. He spoke the Dharma in the four assemblies with a heart free of fear.

Great Strength, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Never-Slighting
, who never looked down on living beings, made offerings to as many Buddhas as these: revering, honoring, and praising them and planting the roots of goodness in the presence of those Buddhas.

He later encountered a thousand myriad kotis of Buddhas, and within the Dharma of all these Buddhas, he spoke this Sutra. When his merit and virtue were realized, he became a Buddha. He himself realized Buddhahood.

Sutra:

“Great Strength, what do you think? At that time, could the Bodhisattva Never-Slighting have been anyone else? He was none other than myself! Had I not in former lives received, upheld, read, and recited this Sutra and explained it to others, I would not have been able to gain anuttarasamyaksambodhi so quickly. Because in the presence of former Buddhas I received, upheld, read, and recited this Sutra and explained it to others, I quickly gained anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

Outline:

J2. Conclusion--the past and present.

Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha calls out, "Great Strength, what do you think? At that time, could the Bodhisattva Never-Slighting have been anyone else? He was none other than myself, when I was practicing the Bodhisattva Path as a Bodhisattva. Had I not in former lives received, upheld, read, and recited this Sutra and explained it to others, I would not have been able to gain anuttarasamyaksambodhi—the utmost, proper and equal, right enlightenment—so quickly. Because in the presence of former Buddhas I received, upheld, read, and recited this Sutra and explained it to others, I quickly gained anuttarasamyaksambodhi."

Sutra:

“Great Strength, because at that time the four assemblies of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas hatefully reviled me, for two hundred kotis of eons they did not encounter a Buddha or hear the Dharma or meet the Sangha. For a thousand eons they suffered great torment in the Avici Hell. Having received their punishment, they once again encountered Never-Slighting Bodhisattva, who taught and transformed them to anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

Outline:

I2. The retribution for slanderers.
J1. The retribution.


Commentary:

Great Strength, because at that time the four assemblies of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas hatefully reviled me and looked down on me, saying that I was a dumb Bhikshu, for two hundred kotis of eons they did not encounter a Buddha. Now that we have come upon the Buddhadharma, we know that we are not without good roots. People without good roots have no way to hear even the name of the Buddha or hear the Dharma or meet the Sangha—or even see a Bhikshu or Bhikshuni. Now in this country the Sangha has appeared. One must have good roots to meet with the Triple Jewel. Because those of overweening pride slighted and scolded Never-Slighting Bodhisattva, for two hundred kotis of eons they did not hear the name of the Triple Jewel. For a thousand eons they suffered great torment in the Avici Hell. Having received their punishment, they again got to be human beings, and they once again encountered Never-Slighting Bodhisattva, who taught and transformed them to anuttarasamyaksambodhi. He taught them and caused them to bring forth the mind for the utmost, proper and equal, right enlightenment.

Sutra:

“Great Strength, what do you think? At that time could the four assemblies who constantly slighted this Bodhisattva have been anyone else? They were just Bhadrapala Bodhisattva and the five hundred Bodhisattvas in this assembly, Lion Moon and the five hundred Bhikshus, and Sugatachetana and the five hundred Upasakas, all of whom are irreversible from anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

Outline:

J2. The conclusion--past and present.

Commentary:

Great Strength, what do you think? At that time could the four assemblies who constantly slighted this Bodhisattva have been anyone else? They were just Bhadrapala Bodhisattva and the five hundred Bodhisattvas in this assembly. "Bhadrapala" means "good protection." In the past he slighted the Bodhisattva, but having been taught and transformed by him, he is now one of his good protectors, and he conscientiously follows the rules as well. That assembly in the past also included Lion Moon and the five hundred Bhikshus—he spoke the Dharma like a lion and his wisdom was as bright as the moon. And Sugatachetana and the five hundred Upasakas, all of whom are irreversible from anuttarasamyaksambodhi were there. They have cultivated the Way to the level of non-retreat. They would not fall back again.

Sutra:

“Great Strength, you should know that the Dharma Flower Sutra greatly benefits all the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, causing them to arrive at anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Therefore, after the passing into stillness of the Thus Come One all the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas should always receive, uphold, read, and recite this Sutra, explain it to others, and write it out.”

Outline:

F3. Exhortation to uphold.


Commentary:

Great Strength, you should know that the Dharma Flower Sutra greatly benefits all the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, causing them to arrive at anuttarasamyaksambodhi—the utmost, right and equal, proper enlightenment. Therefore, after the passing into stillness of the Thus Come One, Shakyamuni Buddha, all the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas should always receive, uphold, read, and recite this Sutra, explain it to others, and write it out. According to how much merit and virtue you create, you will receive that much in the way of advantages. There is nothing false about this at all.

When people listen to Sutras, the more they hear, the better they should like it. The better they like it, the more they should listen. Studying the Buddhadharma should be even more delightful than eating honey. The Buddhadharma is sweet dew. Sweet dew is the medicine of immortality. Hearing the Buddhadharma, you can start out confused and then wake up. Not understanding, you can gain understanding. Why did the Buddha speak the Dharma? So that living beings could understand it. The Buddhadharma is not that easy to understand either. It is difficult to understand because it is too wonderful; it is inconceivable. Although it is not easy to understand, we should be determined to find a way to understand it. You cannot say that because it is difficult to understand, you would not study. The more you do not understand, the more you should study.

When you have attained the fourth stage of Arhatship, you will reach the stage beyond study. Although we say it is the stage beyond study, it applies only to the fruit of the Small Vehicle. According to the Great Vehicle, there is still studying to do, because the position is not ultimate. One still has to study the practice of the Bodhisattva and the Six Perfections and the Ten Thousand Conducts. Therefore, those who have not been certified to the fourth fruit of Arhatship need to study. If you do not understand, you have got to study. If you do understand, you should study even more.

"If I understand, then why do I need to study?" you ask.

Because there are still things which you do not understand. If you have completely understood the Dharma Flower Sutra, you still have not mastered the Shurangama Sutra. If you have mastered the entire Shurangama Sutra, then there is the Avatamsaka Sutra. And so the Buddhadharma is like the great sea. Living beings float in the great sea of the Buddhadharma. How should we study it? You can start with the Six Paramitas. First, learn about giving. "Giving" does not mean that you tell others to give to you; it means that you give to others. So practice giving. Second, learn how to keep the precepts. Third, develop your patience. The fourth paramita is vigor, the fifth is Dhyana samadhi, and the sixth is prajna wisdom.

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