The White Lotus of the Good Dharma
The Benefits of the Purity of the Six
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
First published 2018
Current version v 1.2.12 (2022)
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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.
The Benefits of the Purity of the Six Āyatanas
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.
“They will smell the scents of different flowers, namely, the scents of royal jasmine, jasmine, magnolias, and bignonia flowers.
“They will smell the scent of water-borne flowers, namely, the scents of blue lotuses, red lotuses, night lotuses, and white lotuses.
“They will smell the scent of the flowers of various fruit- and flower-bearing trees, and the scent of fruits, namely, the scents of sandalwood, bay leaves, valerian, and agarwood.
“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.
“The Tathāgata’s śrāvakas will also wish to see them. The pratyekabuddhas will also wish to see them. The buddha bhagavāns will also wish to see them.
“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.”
This concludes “The Benefits of the Purity of the Six Āyatanas,” the eighteenth chapter of the Dharma teaching of “The White Lotus of the Good Dharma.”
Translated, revised, and finalized by the Indian Upādhyāya Surendrabodhi and the chief editor Lotsawa Bandé Nanam Yeshé Dé.
Tibetan Editions of the Sūtra
dam chos padma dkar po’i mdo (Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra) [The White Lotus of the Good Dharma]. Toh 113, Degé Kangyur, 103 vols. New Delhi: Karmapae Chodhey Gyalwae Sungrab Patrun Khang, 1976–79, vol. 51 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1a–180b.
———. bka’ ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 108 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–2009, vol. 51 (mdo sde, ja), pp. 3–427.
———. Choné Kangyur (co ne bka’ ’gyur). 108 vols. Choné: co ne par khang, 1926, vol. 31 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1–212b.
———. Lhasa Kangyur (lha sa bka’ ’gyur). 100 vols. Lhasa: zhol bka’ ’gyur par khang, 1934, vol. 53 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1b–285b.
———. Narthang Kangyur (snar thang bka’ ’gyur). 102 vols. Narthang: snar thang par khang, eighteenth century, vol. 53 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1b–281b.
———. Stok Palace Kangyur (stog pho brang bris ma bka’ ’gyur). 109 vols. Leh: smad rtsis shes rig dpe mdzod, 1975–80. vol. 67 (mdo sde, ma), folios 1a–270b.
———. Urga Kangyur (ur ga bka’ ’gyur). New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture, 1990–94. vol. 51 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1a–180b.
Khangkar, Tsultrim Kelsang (ed.) bod gyur dam pa’i chos padma dkar po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo: Tibetan Translation of Saddharmapuṇḍarīka-sūtra. Nyin bod nang rig deb grangs (Japanese and Tibetan Buddhist Culture Series) XI. Kyoto: Tibetan Buddhist Culture Association, 2009.
Sanskrit Editions of the Sūtra
Zhongxin, Jiang. Sanskrit Lotus Sutra Fragments from the Lüshun Museum Collection. Tokyo: Sōka Gakkai, 1997.
Vaidya, P. L. Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra. Darbhanga: The Mithila Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Sanskrit Learning, 1960.
Watanabe, Shōkō. Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Manuscripts Found in Gilgit. Tokyo: Reiyukai, 1972–75.
Wogihara, Unrai and Tsuchida, Chikao. Saddharmapuṇḍarīka-sūtram: Romanized and Revised Text of the Bibliotheca Buddhica publication by consulting a Sanskrit Ms. & Tibetan and Chinese translations. Tōkyō: Seigo-Kenkyūkai, 1934–35.
Translations of the Sūtra
Borsig, Margareta von. Lotos-Sutra: Das Große Erleuchtungsbuch des Buddhismus. Freiburg: Herder, 2003.
Burnouf, Eugene. Le lotus de la bonne loi. Paris: L’imprimerie Nationale, 1852.
Hurvitz, Leon. Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.
Katō, Bunnō. “The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law.” In The Threefold Lotus Sutra, translated by Bunnō Katō, Yoshirō Tamura, and Kōjirō Miyasaka, with revisions by W. E. Soothill, Wilhelm Schiffer, and Pier P. Del Campana, 18–213. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill and Kosei, 1993.
Kern, H. Saddharma-Puṇḍarīka or the Lotus of the Good Law. Sacred Books of the East XXII. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1884.
Kubo, Tsugunari and Akira Yuyama. The Lotus Sutra. Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research (revised second edition), 2007.
Montgomery, Daniel B. The Lotus Sutra: The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma. Tokyo: Nichiren Shu Headquarters, 1991.
Murano, Senchū. The Lotus Sutra: Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Dharma. Hayward, CA: Nichiren Buddhist International Center, 1974.
Reeves, Gene. The Lotus Sutra: A Contemporary Translation of a Buddhist Classic. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2008.
Soothill, W.E. The Lotus of the Wonderful Law, or The Lotus Gospel. Richmond: Curzon Press, 1987.
Watson, Burton. The Lotus Sutra. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.
Other Kangyur Texts
rgya cher rol pa’i mdo (Lalitavistarasūtra, Toh 95. Degé Kangyur vol. 46 (mdo sde, kha), folios 1b–216b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation committee (2013).
ting nge ’dzin gyi rgyal po’i mdo (Samādhirājasūtra), Toh 127, Degé Kangyur vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), folios 1a–175b. English translation in Roberts (2018).
de bzhin gshegs pa thams cad kyi gsang ba’i mdo (Tathāgataghuyakasūtra) [The Secret of the Tathāgatas Sūtra]. Toh 443, Degé Kangyur vol. 81 (rgyud, ca), folios 90a–157b.
phal po che’i mdo (Avataṁsakasūtra) [A Multitude of Buddhas Sūtra]. Toh 44, Degé Kangyur vols. 35–38 (phal chen, ka–a), folios ka 1a–nga 363a.
lang kar gshegs pa’i mdo (Laṅkāvatārasūtra) [The Entry into Laṅka Sutra]. Toh 107, Degé Kangyur vol. 49 (mdo sde, ca), folios 56a–191b.
shes rab pha rol tu phyin pa brgyad stong pa (Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā) [The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Verses]. Toh 12, Degé Kangyur vol. 33 (brgyad stong pa, ka), folios 1b–286a.
sa bcu pa’i mdo (Daśabhūmikasūtra) [The Sūtra of the Ten Bhūmis]. Chapter 31, in Toh 44, Degé Kangyur vol. 36 (phal chen, kha), folios 166a–283a. English translation in Roberts (2021).
gser ’od dam pa’i mdo (Suvarṇaprabhāsūtra) [The Golden Light Sūtra]. Toh 556, Degé Kangyur vol. 89 (rgyud, pa), folios 151b–273a.
Abhayākaragupta. thub pa’i dgongs pa’i rgyan (Munimatālaṁkāra). Toh 3903, Degé Tengyur vol. 210 (dbu ma, a), folios 73b–293a.
Asaṅga. theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos rnam par bshad pa (Mahāyānottaratantraśāstravyākhyā). Toh 4025, Degé Tengyur vol. 225 (sems tsam, phi), folios 74b–129a.
Candrakīrti. dbu ma la ’jug pa’i bshad pa (Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya). Toh 3862, Degé Tengyur vol. 204 (dbu ma, ’a), folios 220b–348a.
———. byang chub sems dpa’i rnal ’byor spyod pa bzhi brgya pa’i ’grel pa (Bodhisattvayogacaryācatuḥśatakaṭīkā) Toh 3865, Degé Tengyur vol. 205 (dbu ma, ya), folios 30b–239a.
Daṃṣṭrāsena, Vasubandhu, or neither. shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa ’bum pa dang nyi khri lnga stong pa dang khri brgyad stong pa’i rgya cher bshad pa (Śatasāhasrikāpañcaviṁśatisāhasrikaṣṭādaśasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitābṛhaṭṭīkā). Toh 3808, Degé Tengyur vol. 93 (sher phyin, pha), folios 1a–292b. English translation in Sparham (2022).
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Jānavajra. de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po’i rgyan (Tathāgatahṛdayālaṁkāra). Toh 4019, Degé Tengyur vol. 224 (mdo ’grel, pi), folios 1a–310a.
Kamalaśīla. shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa bdun brgya pa rgya cher bshad pa (Saptaśatikāprajñāpāramitāṭīkā). Toh 3815, Degé Tengyur vol. 95 (sher phyin, ma), folios 89a–178a.
Maitreya-Asaṅga. theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos (Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra) [A Mahāyāna Treatise on the Supreme Continuum]. Toh 4024, Degé Tengyur vol. 225 (sems tsam, phi), folios 54b–73a.
Nāgārjuna. mdo kun las btus pa (Sūtrasamuccaya). Toh 3934, Degé Tengyur vol. 212 (dbu ma, ki), folios 148b–215a.
Saitsalak (sa’i rtsa lag, Kuiji, Pṛthivībandhu). dam pa’i chos padma dkar po’i ’grel pa. Toh 4017, Degé Tengyur, vol. 120 (mdo ’grel, di), folios 175b–302a.
———. dam pa’i chos padma dkar po’i ’grel pa. bstan ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Tengyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 120 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 1994–2008, vol. 69 (mdo sde, di, vol. 135), pp. 476–826.
Śāntideva. bslab pa kun las btus pa (Śikṣāsamuccaya). Toh 3940, Degé Tengyur vol. 111 (dbu ma, khi), folios 3a–194b.
Vasubandhu. theg pa chen po bsdus pa’i ’grel pa (Mahāyānasaṁgrahabhāṣya). Toh 4050, Degé Tengyur vol. 225 (sems tsam, yi), folios 121b–190a.
Wantsik (wan tshig, Yuan Tso). dgongs pa zab mo nges par ’grel pa (Gambhīrasaṁdhinirmocanasūtraṭīkā). Toh 4016, Degé Tengyur vols. 220–22 (mdo ’grel, ti–ti), folios ti 1a–di 175a.
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