THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Chapters: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * 11 * 12 * 13 * 14 * 15 * 16 * 17 * 18 * 19 * 20

The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra

Chapter 21: The Spiritual Powers of the Thus Come One

Sutra:

At that time the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas equal in number to the motes of dust in a thousand worlds, who had welled forth out of the earth, in the presence of the Buddha, single-mindedly, with palms joined, gazed up at the Buddha and spoke to him, saying, “World Honored One, after the Buddha’s passing, in countries where there are division bodies of the Buddha, in places where he has passed into stillness, we shall extensively speak this Sutra. Why? Because we also wish to obtain this true, pure, and great Dharma; to receive, uphold, read and recite, explain, write out, and make offerings to it.”

Outline:

A3. Propagation—roots and traces.

B1. Bequeathing the job of propagation—Chapters on “Spiritual Powers” and “The Entrustment”

C1. Chapter on “Spiritual Powers”—Bodhisattvas receive a command to propagate the Sutra.

Commentary:

This chapter is called The Spiritual Powers of the Thus Come One. "Thus Come One" is one of the Buddha's ten titles. "Thus" is stillness. "Come" is movement. "Thus" means "still and silent." "Come" means "able to be humane"—able to do the kind and humane work of the Buddha. "Still and silent" represents the comfortable spiritual powers enabling one to become a Buddha.

"Spiritual" means natural, not artificial. "Spiritual" refers to an inner quality. "Power" refers to external function. When there is internal spirituality, there is power outwardly. If you have no spirituality, there can be no power. "The spiritual powers of the Thus Come One" refers to the inconceivable, wonderful functioning of the Buddha's spiritual powers, an inconceivable state.

Even though we have discussed it at length, some people still do not understand the concept of spiritual power. I will now speak of it in general terms. It is like the previous appearance of Shakyamuni Buddha’s division bodies of the ten directions. Where did they come from? They came from the spiritual power of Shakyamuni Buddha.

The Thus Come One Many Jewels came to the Way-place to certify the Dharma Flower Sutra, and this event also occurred through the spiritual power of the Thus Come One. The Bodhisattvas who welled forth out of the earth also did so through the spiritual power of the Thus Come One. The interpenetration of the six sense organs in the chapter "The Merit and Virtue of a Dharma Master" also happened through the spiritual power of the Thus Come One. Thus, the spiritual power of the Thus Come One is limitless and boundless. If you speak of it in detail, everything is a creation of the spiritual power of the Thus Come One.

At that time, when the chapter on “Never-Slighting Bodhisattva” was finished, the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas in the Dharma Flower Assembly equal in number to the motes of dust in a thousand worlds, who had welled forth out of the earth—these were all Bodhisattvas whom the Buddha in former lives had taught and transformed—in the presence of the Buddha, single-mindedly, with palms joined, reverent in body, gazed up at the Buddha with his fine marks and spoke to him, saying, "World Honored One, after the Buddha's passing, in countries where there are division bodies of the Buddha, in places where he has passed into stillness, regardless of which world or which country, wherever the World Honored One has manifested a division-body Buddha and then entered Nirvana, we shall extensively speak this Sutra. We will propagate the Dharma Flower Sutra. Why? Because we also wish to obtain this true, pure, and great Dharma." Bodhisattvas also wish to obtain this true, pure, and great Dharma. "True" represents the real Dharma. "Pure" represents the provisional Dharma. The real and the provisional are nondual—this is the great Dharma. The provisional is the real and the real is the provisional. This is the great Dharma of the nonduality of the provisional and the real.

"We wish to receive, uphold, read and recite, explain, write out, and make offerings to it, to the Dharma Flower Sutra."

Sutra:

At that time, in the presence of Manjushri and the others, limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas who had long resided in the Saha world, as well as the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, gods, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans, non-humans, and so forth, the World Honored One manifested great spiritual powers.

Outline:

E2. The Buddha manifests spiritual powers.
F1. The audience.

Commentary:

At that time, in the presence of Manjushri, Wonderfully Auspicious Bodhisattva, and the others, limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas who had long resided in the Saha world—these were Shakyamuni Buddha's old disciples, the great Bodhisattvas—as well as the Bhikshus; Bhikshunis; Upasakas; Upasikas; gods; dragons; yakshas; gandharvas, musical spirits; asuras, the ugly ones; garudas, the great golden-winged peng birds; kinnaras, also musical spirits; mahoragas, big snakes; humans; non-humans; and so forth, the World Honored One manifested great spiritual powers.

Sutra:

He put forth his vast and long tongue which reached upward to the Brahma worlds. From all of his hair pores, he emitted lights of limitless, countless colors, all of which pervasively illuminated the worlds of the ten directions. In the same way, all the Buddhas seated on lion thrones beneath jeweled trees also put forth their vast and long tongues and emitted limitless lights.

When Shakyamuni Buddha and the Buddhas beneath the jeweled trees had manifested their spiritual powers for a full hundred thousand years, they withdrew their tongues.

Outline:

F2. The manifestation.
G1. Putting forth their tongues.
G2. Emitting light from their hair pores.


Commentary:

He put forth his vast and long tongue, which reached upward to the Brahma worlds. The Buddha's tongue reaches all the way up to his hairline. People with great blessings and virtue can touch their nose with their tongue. The tongue of the Perfect, Full Reward Body Buddha reaches all the way up to the Brahma Heaven. Here the Buddha is manifesting his great spiritual powers and putting forth his vast and long tongue. From all of his hair pores, he emitted lights of limitless, countless colors, all of which pervasively illuminated the worlds of the ten directions.

In the same way, all the Buddhas seated on lion thrones beneath jeweled trees also put forth their vast and long tongues and, like Shakyamuni Buddha, emitted limitless lights which shone upon the worlds of the ten directions.

When Shakyamuni Buddha and the Buddhas beneath the jeweled trees, the division body Buddhas, had manifested their spiritual powers for a full hundred thousand years, they withdrew their tongues.

Sutra:

Then they coughed and snapped their fingers, and those two sounds pervaded the Buddha worlds of the ten directions.

Outline:

G3. Coughing.
G4. Snapping their fingers.

Commentary:

Then they coughed, very softly, to show they were thinking of living beings, to let them know they were there. This represents calling out and getting living beings' attention. The Buddhas of the ten directions all made this coughing sound at the same time.

And they then snapped their fingers; this represents alerting beings with sound. And those two sounds pervaded the Buddha worlds of the ten directions.

Sutra:

The earth quaked in six ways and the living beings in those worlds—the gods, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans, non-humans, and so forth—by means of the Buddha’s spiritual powers, all saw, in the Saha world, the limitless, boundless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of Buddhas seated on lion thrones beneath jeweled trees. They also saw Shakyamuni Buddha, together with the Thus Come One Many Jewels, seated on the lion throne within the jeweled stupa.

They further saw limitless, boundless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, as well as the four assemblies, reverently circumambulating Shakyamuni Buddha. Having seen this, they greatly rejoiced, having gained what they had never had.

Outline:

G5. Earthquakes.
G6. Seeing the entire great assembly.

Commentary:

The earth quaked in six ways—banging, roaring, cracking, shaking, rising, and surging—throughout the ten directions. The first three ways refer to sound; the second three refer to movement. This also represents the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind, the six sense organs functioning in mutual interpenetration.

Each of the six types of earthquakes divides into three varieties: banging, universal banging, and equal universal banging. This applies to the other five kinds of quaking as well, thus making eighteen kinds in all, representing the eighteen realms.

And the living beings in those worlds—the gods, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras.Kinnaras are music spirits in the court of the Jade Emperor. They can also dance. Their music is millions of times better than music in the human realm. If people ever heard this music, they would fly. Their thoughts would fly off into heaven. Mahoragas are big pythons. They turned into snakes because although they cultivated, they did not keep the precepts. There were humans, non-humans, and so forth, who, by means of the Buddha's inconceivable spiritual powers, all saw, in the Saha world, the limitless, boundless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of Buddhas seated on lion thrones beneath jeweled trees. The lion thrones were five yojanas high. They also saw Shakyamuni Buddha, together with the Thus Come One Many Jewels, seated on the lion throne within the jeweled stupa.

They further saw limitless, boundless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas as well as the four assemblies, reverently circumambulating Shakyamuni Buddha. Having seen this, through the Buddha's great spiritual powers, they greatly rejoiced, having gained what they had never had. They had never witnessed such an inconceivable state before.

Sutra:

Just then the gods in space called out in a loud voice: “Passing from here through limitless, boundless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of asamkhyeyas of worlds, there is a country called Saha. Within it is a Buddha named Shakyamuni who now, for the sake of all the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, proclaims a Great Vehicle Sutra by the name of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower, a Dharma for teaching Bodhisattvas, of whom the Buddha is protective and mindful. You should all rejoice deep within your hearts, bow, and make offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha.”

Outline:

G7. Calling out in space.


Commentary:

Just then the gods. Having just seen Shakyamuni Buddha in the Saha world being circumambulated by all the Bodhisattvas and other beings in the Saha world, the gods manifested great spiritual powers and spoke in space. The gods, dragons, and eightfold division passed on the word and in space called out in a loud voice. The voice sounded like thunder; all could hear it. It came through clearer than radio or television. And it said, "Passing from here through limitless, boundless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of asamkhyeyas of worlds, now hear this! Now hear this! There is a country called Saha." Saha means "able to be endured," because the living beings in that world really know how to cultivate patience. It is so bitter, and still they can take it. So we are pretty good, hanging in here in the Saha world practicing the Bodhisattva path. It is so much suffering, but we can still stand it. Within it is a Buddha named Shakyamuni who now, for the sake of all the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas and the Arhats, too, proclaims a Great Vehicle Sutra by the name of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower, the great Dharma of the real mark, the wonderful Sutra of the Great Vehicle. The Dharma is wonderful and the vehicle is great. It is the Great Vehicle's Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. The wonderful Dharma is as beautiful and immaculate as a lotus flower, which grows up out of the mud but is not defiled.

This king of Sutras is a Dharma for teaching Bodhisattvas. So we are now hearing the Great Vehicle Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, a teaching for great Bodhisattvas. Even though we have not yet realized the fourth fruit of Arhatship, we have already heard the Bodhisattva Dharma, of whom the Buddhas are protective and mindful. The Buddhas are protective of this Sutra, and if you recite it, they are protective and mindful of you. If you recite the Dharma Flower Sutra, the Buddhas of the ten directions will be protective and mindful of you. If you obtain the wonderful doctrine of the Dharma Flower Sutra you will develop wisdom and your stupidity will disappear. If it were not that the Buddhas were being protective and mindful of you, how could you get so intelligent? It is because you recite the Dharma Flower Sutra that you gain this kind of wisdom, wisdom like the sea. Wouldn't you say this was wonderful? You should all rejoice deep within your hearts. All of you should bring forth the great Bodhi resolve, bring forth the mind of true Prajna and rejoice in the merit and virtue of this Sutra, bow, and make offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha in the Saha world."

Sutra:

Hearing this sound in space, all the living beings placed their palms together, faced the Saha world, and said, “Namo Shakyamuni Buddha! Namo Shakyamuni Buddha!”

Outline:

G8. Taking refuge from afar.

Commentary:

Hearing this sound in space, this amazing voice booming through the air, all the living beings placed their palms together. The Bodhisattvas and Arhats may have spiritual powers, but common folks do not. This sound, however, was heard not only by the Bodhisattvas and Arhats, but by the common people as well. All the living beings thought, "This is truly inconceivable. They are telling us from empty space that Shakyamuni Buddha has appeared in the Saha world. Let's put our palms together and face that world which is 'able to be endured.'" And from such a long distance away they faced the Saha world and said, "Namo Shakyamuni Buddha! Namo Shakyamuni Buddha!" Shakyamuni Buddha is our teacher. After this, if someone asks you who your teacher is, just say, "Shakyamuni Buddha," because that is correct. If they say you are being evasive, you can say, "You just do not understand the Buddhadharma."

Sutra:

And then from afar, they scattered all kinds of flowers, incense, beads, banners, canopies, ornaments for the body, and precious and rare objects on the Saha world. The objects they scattered came from the ten directions like clouds gathering, and turned into jeweled canopies, completely covering the Buddhas in that region.

Outline:

G9. Making offerings from afar.

Commentary:

And then from afar, they scattered all kinds of flowers, incense, beads, millions of banners, canopies, ornaments for the body, and precious and rare objects on the Saha world. “Ornaments for the body” refers to caps and clothing, which are used to adorn the body. If you run out into the street without wearing any clothes, even though this is a free country, the police will stop you and ask what you are doing. The gods sent down very nice-looking and beautiful clothing. They did not follow the current American fashion of buying new clothes and cutting holes in them. That is really stupid. Why would you cut a hole in your sleeve and another one in your pants before wearing them? You think that shows you are an old cultivator, wearing such tattered clothes? That is extremely stupid. People who do this are just too confused. They do not know the difference between right and wrong. The young people start a fad, competing to cut holes in their clothes. You cut one hole, he cuts two, and others cut three, four, and five holes, even to the point of deliberately exposing their private parts of their bodies. The point of wearing clothes is to cover up those parts, but they cut holes there. Wouldn't you say that was stupid? This competition in stupidity—this new fad—is really a joke. You should not wear clothing that is too fancy, but you should not dress too poorly either. And you should not destroy your clothes, cutting holes in them for no good reason. The objects they scattered came from the ten directions like gathering clouds, and turned into jeweled canopies completely covering the Buddhas in that region. They covered Shakyamuni Buddha, the division-body Buddhas, and Many Jewels Buddha.

Sutra:

Then the worlds of the ten directions interpenetrated without obstruction, as if they were one Buddhaland.

Outline:

G10. The ten directions interpenetrating as if they were one Buddhaland.


Commentary:

Then the worlds of the ten directions, the other limitless worlds, interpenetrated without obstruction. The worlds of the ten directions joined into one world; one world was just the worlds of the ten directions. In this world, we do not know the situation in other worlds. But at that time, when Shakyamuni Buddha was speaking the Dharma Flower Sutra, the worlds of the ten directions united into one world. One world and the worlds of the ten directions had no distinctions. They penetrated one another without impediment, as if they were one Buddhaland. Shakyamuni Buddha appeared in the Saha world, and the Saha world and the worlds of the ten directions became one world.

Sutra:

At that time the Buddha told Superior Conduct and all the great assembly of Bodhisattvas, “The spiritual power of all the Buddhas is limitless, boundless, and inconceivable like this. If, using these spiritual powers, I were to speak of the meritorious virtues of this Sutra for limitless, boundless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of asamkhyeyaeons by way of entrustment, I could not finish.”

Outline:

E3. Conclusion: Exhortation to uphold the Sutra.
F1. Praising and entrusting.


Commentary:

At that time the Buddha told Superior Conduct Bodhisattva and all the great assembly of Bodhisattvas, all the Bodhisattvas who had welled forth out of the earth and the Bodhisattvas who came with the division-body Buddhas, "The spiritual power of all the Buddhas is limitless, boundless, and inconceivable like this. If, using these spiritual powers, I were to speak of the meritorious virtues of this Sutra for limitless, boundless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of asamkhyeya eons by way of entrustment, so as to urge living beings to receive, uphold, read, recite, and propagate the Dharma Flower Sutra, I could not finish."

Sutra:


“In general, all the Dharmas of the Thus Come One, all the sovereign spiritual powers of the Thus Come One, all the secret storehouses of the Thus Come One, all the extremely profound deeds of the Thus Come One are all proclaimed and revealed in this Sutra.”

Outline:

F2. Entrustment in general.

Commentary:

In general, all the Dharmas of the Thus Come One, all the sovereign spiritual powers of the Thus Come One, all the secret storehouses of the Thus Come One. The Dharma Flower Sutra is the secret storehouse and contains all of the Buddha's Dharmas. All the extremely profound deeds of the Thus Come One are all proclaimed and revealed in this Sutra. All the Dharma I did not speak during the past over forty years of my teaching is contained in this final Dharma Flower Sutra. No one had ever understood this Dharma, and now it is plainly revealed. I am revealing it to you all. It is not like before when I held back the wonderful Dharma and did not speak it. Now I proclaim it.

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