The White Lotus of the Good Dharma
The Benefits of the Purity of the Six
- Yeshé De
Degé Kangyur, vol. 51 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1.b–180.b
Translated by Peter Alan Roberts
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The White Lotus of the Good Dharma, popularly known as the Lotus Sūtra, is taught by Buddha Śākyamuni on Vulture Peak to an audience that includes bodhisattvas from countless realms, as well as bodhisattvas who emerge from under the ground, from the space below this world. Buddha Prabhūtaratna, who has long since passed into nirvāṇa, appears within a floating stūpa to hear the sūtra, and Śākyamuni enters the stūpa and sits beside him. The Lotus Sūtra is celebrated, particularly in East Asia, for its presentation of crucial elements of the Mahāyāna tradition, such as the doctrine that there is only one yāna, or “vehicle”; the distinction between expedient and definite teachings; and the notion that the Buddha’s life, enlightenment, and parinirvāṇa were simply manifestations of his transcendent buddhahood, while he continues to teach eternally. A recurring theme in the sūtra is its own significance in teaching these points during past and future eons, with many passages in which the Buddha and bodhisattvas such as Samantabhadra describe the great benefits that come from devotion to it, the history of its past devotees, and how it is the Buddha’s ultimate teaching, supreme over all other sūtras.
The White Lotus of the Good Dharma Sūtra was translated from Tibetan with reference to the Sanskrit by Peter Alan Roberts. Ling Lung Chen was the consultant for the Chinese versions. Emily Bower was the project manager and editor. Ben Gleason was the proofreader.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of May & George Gu, which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
Then the Bhagavān said to the bodhisattva mahāsattva Satatasamitābhiyukta, “If any noble man or noble woman possesses, reads, teaches, or asks questions about this Dharma teaching, that noble man or noble woman will gain eight hundred qualities of the eyes, will gain twelve hundred qualities of the nose, will gain eight hundred qualities of the ears, will gain twelve hundred qualities of the tongue, will gain eight hundred qualities of the body, and will gain twelve hundred qualities of mind.
“Through those many hundreds of qualities the combination476 of the six sensory faculties will be purified, completely purified. The purified faculty of the eye, the ordinary physical eyes that have come from the father and mother, [F.132.b] will see the outside and inside of the world realm of a thousand million worlds, with its mountains477 and forests, seeing all as far down as the Avīci hell and as far upward as the summit of existence. With ordinary eyes of flesh they will see all the birthplaces of beings, and know the ripening of their karma.”
“Moreover, Satatasamitābhiyukta, the noble man or noble woman who teaches and explains to others this Dharma teaching will have those twelve hundred qualities of the ears. They will hear all the outer and inner sounds that arise in the world realm of a thousand million worlds, from as far down as the Avīci hell to as high up as the summit of existence, such as the sounds of elephants, the sounds of horses, the sounds of camels, the sounds of oxen, the sounds of goats, the sounds of carts, the sounds of weeping, the sounds of misery, the sounds of fear, [F.133.a] the sounds of conches, the sounds of bells, the sounds of drums, the sounds of play, the sounds of song, the sounds of music, the sounds of men, the sounds of women, the sounds of boys, the sounds of girls, the sounds of the Dharma, the sounds of that which is not the Dharma, the sounds of happiness, the sounds of suffering, the sounds of fools, the sounds of the āryas, the sounds that are pleasant, the sounds that are unpleasant, the sounds of devas, the sounds of nāgas, the sounds of yakṣas, the sounds of gandharvas, the sounds of asuras, the sounds of garuḍas, the sounds of kinnaras, the sounds of fire, the sounds of water, the sounds of the air, the sounds of villages, the sounds of towns, the sounds of bhikṣus, the sounds of śrāvakas, the sounds of pratyekabuddhas, the sounds of bodhisattvas, and the sounds of tathāgatas—all the sounds that arise outside and inside within a world realm of a thousand million worlds.
“Although they will not yet have accomplished divine hearing, they will understand the sounds of each and every being and be able to differentiate them and understand them by listening with that ordinary faculty of the ears. That faculty of the ears will hear the sounds that the various beings make but the faculty of hearing will not be overwhelmed by all those sounds. Satatasamitābhiyukta, the bodhisattva mahāsattvas will acquire that kind of sense of hearing, but will not yet at that time have attained divine hearing.”
“Moreover, Satatasamitābhiyukta, the bodhisattva mahāsattvas who possess this Dharma teaching, teach it, recite it, or write it will have the eight hundred qualities of the nose; the sensory faculty of their nose will be completely purified.
“That completely pure nasal faculty will sense the multitude of different smells, both inside and outside in the world realm of a thousand million worlds, such as rotten smells, pleasant smells, and unpleasant smells.
“If there are a hundred thousand aromas in one place they will smell them all and know them all.
“They will also smell the many different scents of animals, namely, the scents of elephants, horses, oxen, goats, sheep, and cattle.
“They will smell the scents of the bodies of many different kinds of creatures reborn as animals.
“They will smell the scents of the bodies of men and of women. They will smell the scents of the bodies of boys and girls. They will smell the scents of grasses, bushes, [F.134.b] herbs, and forests that are far away. They will smell them correctly and know what they are, but they will not be fascinated by those smells; they will not be intoxicated by them.
“While being here in this world, they will smell the scents of the devas, namely, the scents of the divine night-flowering jasmine, orchid tree, coral tree, great coral tree, spider lily, and great spider lily flowers. They will smell the scents of a hundred thousand different kinds of divine flowers and know their names.
“They will smell the scents of the bodies of the devas; namely, they will smell the scent of the body of Śakra, lord of devas, and know if he is enjoying amusements and pleasures in Vaijayanta, his palace; if he is teaching the Dharma to the devas of Trāyastriṃśa in Sudharma, the assembly hall of the devas; or if he has come into the park there for pleasure. They will also smell the scents of the bodies of other devas. They will also smell the scents of the bodies of the deva maidens and the deva wives. They will also smell the scents of the bodies of the deva boys. They will also smell the scents of the bodies of the deva girls. They will not be fascinated by those smells, or intoxicated by them.
“In that way they will smell the scents of the bodies of beings up to the summit of existence. They will smell the scents of bodies of the Brahmakāyika devas and of the Mahābrahmās. In that way they will smell the scents of the bodies of all classes of devas.
“They will smell the scents of the bodies of śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, and tathāgatas. They will smell the scents of the thrones of the tathāgatas. They will know where the tathāgatas, arhats, perfectly enlightened buddhas are seated. Their nasal faculty will not be overwhelmed, impaired, or damaged by those multitudes of smells.” [F.135.a]
“Moreover, Satatasamitābhiyukta, the noble man or noble woman who possesses this Dharma teaching, teaches it, explains it, and has it written out [F.136.b] will attain twelve hundred qualities of the sensory faculty of the tongue.
“With that sense of the tongue, whatever taste is experienced, whatever taste is perceived, and any taste with which the sensory organ of the tongue comes into contact, will all become an excellent divine taste. Any delightful taste that has not been experienced before will be experienced. Whatever taste is unpleasant will be transformed, when it comes in contact with the tongue, into a divine flavor.
“When they teach the Dharma in the midst of an assembly, they will bring pleasure to the senses of those beings. They will be satisfied, completely satisfied and overjoyed. The words they hear will be beautiful, delightful, and profound. They will touch the heart and be beloved. They will make those beings happy and they will rejoice.
“Whenever they teach the Dharma to anyone, the devas, hearing the beautiful, delightful sound, will come to them so as to see them, pay homage to them, honor them, and listen to the Dharma. Male and female devas will wish to come to them so as to see them, pay homage to them, honor them, and listen to the Dharma. Śakras, Brahmās, and Brahmakāyika devas will wish to come to them so as to see them, pay homage to them, honor them, and listen to the Dharma. Male and female nāgas will wish to come to them so as to see them, pay homage to them, honor them, and listen to the Dharma. Male and female garuḍas will wish to come to them so as to see them, pay homage to them, honor them, and listen to the Dharma. Male and female kinnaras, male and female mahoragas,484 male and female yakṣas, and male and female piśācas will wish to come to them so as to see them, pay homage to them, honor them, and listen to the Dharma. They will revere them, venerate them, admire them, make offerings to them, praise485 them, and show them respect.
“They will also wish to see the bhikṣus and bhikṣuṇīs, and the upāsakas and upāsikās. [F.137.a] They will wish to see the kings, the princes, and the king’s ministers. They will wish to see and to revere the balacakravartin king, the cakravartin who possesses the seven jewels, with his princes, his ministers, his harem, and his attendants.
“Those dharmabhāṇakas will teach the beautiful Dharma exactly as it was spoken by the Tathāgata. Brahmins, householders, and other people of the towns486 and the land will always, continuously be their followers, and attendants of the dharmabhāṇakas, until the end of their lives.
“Wherever that noble man or noble woman is, they will be teaching the Dharma in the presence487 of the Tathāgata. They will have become vessels for the Buddha’s Dharma. They will emit the profound, beautiful words of the Dharma.”
“Moreover, Satatasamitābhiyukta, the bodhisattva mahāsattvas who possess this Dharma, read it, teach it, explain it, or write it out, will attain eight hundred qualities of the body. Their bodies will be purified. Their skin will be the pure color of beryl, and will bring happiness to those beings who see it.
“They will see the world realm of a thousand million worlds within their purified bodies. They will see in their bodies all the beings in the world realm of a thousand million worlds, whether they are dying or being born, good or bad, of a good color or a bad color, in the higher existences or the lower existences, dwelling on the Cakravāla or Mahācakravāla Mountains, [F.138.a] on the kings of mountains, Meru or Sumeru, or who live as far down below as the Avīci hell or as high above as the summit of existence.
“They will see in their own bodies the bodies that have been attained by the śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, and tathāgatas who are present in the world realm of a thousand million worlds, and of those to whom the tathāgatas are teaching the Dharma, and the beings who are honoring those tathāgatas. Why is that? It is because their bodies will have become completely purified.”
“Moreover, Satatasamitābhiyukta, the bodhisattva mahāsattvas who possess this Dharma, read it, teach it, explain it, or write it out will attain twelve hundred qualities of mental activity, and their mental faculty will be purified. Those who have a purified mental faculty will understand many meanings from hearing just one verse. And, comprehending that, they will be able to teach it for a month, for four months, or for a year. They will never forget any Dharma that they have been taught. They will be able to apply to the Dharma all of the world’s languages, incantations, and mundane terminology. They will know all the movement and activity in the minds of all those beings born in the six classes of existence in the world realm of a thousand million worlds.
“Even though they will not yet have attained the wisdom of the āryas, they will still have acquired that kind of purified mental faculty. Whatever Dharma definition they have contemplated, they will teach, and they will teach all of that correctly. They will teach all that the Tathāgata has taught. They will teach all the Dharma teachings taught by the jinas of the past.”
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