The White Lotus of the Good Dharma
The Prophecies to Ānanda, Rāhula, and Two
- 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.
At that time, Brother Ānanda thought, “May I obtain a prophecy like these!” Thinking that, contemplating it, and wishing for it, he rose from his seat and bowed down to the Bhagavān’s feet. Brother Rāhula also, thinking, contemplating, and wishing for the same thing, bowed down to the Bhagavān’s feet, and they said, “Bhagavān, may we have such an opportunity! Sugata, may we have such an opportunity! Bhagavān, you are our father, our progenitor, our refuge, our support, and our protector. Bhagavān, we are honored by the world with its devas, humans, and asuras as the sons of the Bhagavān, the attendants of the Bhagavān, and the keepers of the Dharma treasure of the Bhagavān. Therefore, Bhagavān, it would be fitting if the Bhagavān were quickly to give us the prophecy of our attainment of the highest, complete enlightenment.”
Moreover, more than two thousand bhikṣus, those in training and those passed beyond training, rose from their seats, removed their upper robe from one shoulder, and with hands together in homage stood facing the Bhagavān, gazing upon him and contemplating the wisdom of the Buddha, and thought, “May we also obtain the prophecy of our attainment of the highest, complete enlightenment!”
Then the Bhagavān [F.81.a] said to Brother Ānanda, “You, Ānanda, in a future time, will appear in the world as the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened buddha, the one with perfect wisdom and conduct, the sugata, the knower of the world, the unsurpassable guide who tames beings, the teacher of gods and humans, the buddha, the bhagavān named Sāgaravaradharabuddhivikrīḍitābhijña.
“You will honor, venerate, show respect for, and make offerings to six hundred and twenty million buddhas, receive the Dharma from them, and uphold their teaching. You will attain the highest, complete enlightenment and ripen for complete enlightenment hundreds of thousands of quintillions of bodhisattvas as numerous as the grains of sands in two hundred million Ganges Rivers.
“Your buddha realm will be fully endowed with a ground made of beryl. That realm will be named Anavanāmitavaijayantī. That eon will be named Manojñaśabdābhigarjita.340 The lifespan of the bhagavān, the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened buddha Sāgaravaradharabuddhivikrīḍitābhijña will be innumerable eons. One could not conclude measuring the lifespan of that bhagavān. It will be countless hundreds of thousands of quintillions of eons.
“Ānanda, the Dharma of the bhagavān, the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened buddha Sāgaravaradharabuddhivikrīḍitābhijña will remain after his nirvāṇa for twice as long as his lifespan. [F.81.b]
“Ānanda, the bhagavān, the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened buddha Sāgaravaradharabuddhivikrīḍitābhijña will be praised in the ten directions by many hundreds of thousands of quintillions of buddhas as numerous as the grains of sand in ten million Ganges Rivers.”
In that assembly at that time there were eight thousand342 bodhisattvas, who had newly entered the yāna, who thought, “We have never before heard such an extensive prophecy for bodhisattvas, let alone for the śrāvakas.343 What could be the cause, what could be the reason for this?”
The Bhagavān, knowing the thoughts and contemplation in the minds of those bodhisattvas, said to those bodhisattvas, “Noble sons, Ānanda and I together, at the same moment, developed the aspiration to the highest, complete enlightenment in front of the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened buddha Dharmagaganābhyudgatarāja. [F.82.a] This noble son has been continuously dedicated to receiving many teachings, while I was dedicated to diligent practice. That is why I have quickly attained the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood, and it is why this good Ānanda will be the keeper of the Dharma treasures of the buddha bhagavāns. Noble sons, it is the prayer of this noble son that this will be the cause for bodhisattvas reaching perfection.”
Brother Ānanda heard from the Bhagavān the prediction of his own attainment of the highest, complete enlightenment. He heard the description of the qualities of his own buddha realm, and he heard of his past prayer and conduct. Then he was contented, delighted, elated, and joyful, and he became glad and happy. At that time he remembered the Dharma of the many hundreds of thousands of quintillions of buddhas, and the prayer that he had made in the past.
Then the Bhagavān said to Brother Rāhula, “You, Rāhula, in a future time will honor, venerate, show respect for, and make offerings to tathāgatas, arhats, perfectly enlightened buddhas as numerous as the atoms in ten worlds. Then you will become the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened buddha, the one with perfect wisdom and conduct, the sugata, the knower of the world, the unsurpassable guide who tames beings, [F.82.b] the teacher of gods and humans, the buddha, the bhagavān named Saptaratnapadmavikrāntagāmin.
“You will constantly be the eldest son of those buddha bhagavāns, as you are for me. Rāhula, the lifespan of the bhagavān, the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened buddha Saptaratnapadmavikrāntagāmin will be the same as that of the bhagavān, the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened buddha Sāgaravaradharabuddhivikrīḍitābhijña. The perfection of all his many qualities will be like his, and he will have the same display of the qualities of his buddha realm as Sāgaravaradharabuddhivikrīḍitābhijña.
“Rāhula, you will be the eldest son of the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened buddha Sāgaravaradharabuddhivikrīḍitābhijña, and after that you will attain the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood.”
The Bhagavān looked upon two thousand śrāvakas, both those in training and those who had passed beyond training, who in the presence of the Bhagavān [F.83.a] were gazing upon the Bhagavān with tranquil minds, placid minds, and gentle minds.
“Ānanda,” said the Bhagavān, “all those two thousand bhikṣus will together practice the conduct of a bodhisattva. They will honor, venerate, show respect for, and make offerings to buddha bhagavāns as numerous as the atoms in fifty worlds, and be holders of their Dharma. Then in their last lives, in the same instant, the same moment, the same second, they will attain the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood, each in their own buddha realm among the worlds in the ten directions. They will be tathāgatas, arhats, perfectly enlightened buddhas named Ratnaketurāja.344 Their lifespans will be an entire eon. Their buddha realms will have the same display of qualities. Their gatherings of śrāvakas and gatherings of bodhisattvas will also be the same in number. They will all pass into nirvāṇa at the same time. Their Dharma also will remain for the same length of time.”
Those śrāvakas, both those in training and those who had passed beyond training, upon hearing directly from the Bhagavān the prophecies for each of them, became contented, delighted, elated, and joyful, and became glad and happy.
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