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Chapter Three: Simile and Parable

19/03/201417:47(Xem: 2594)
Chapter Three: Simile and Parable
The Lotus Sutra

Translated by Burton Watson


Chapter Three: Simile and Parable

At that time Shariputra's mind danced with joy. Then he immediately stood up, pressed his palms together, gazed up in reverence at the face of the Honored-One, and said to the Buddha, "Just now, when I heard from the World-Honored One, this voice of the Law, my mind seemed to dance and I gained what I had never had before. Why do I say this? Because in the past when I heard a Law of this kind from the Buddha and saw how the bodhisattvas received prophecies that in time they would attain Buddhahood, I and the others felt that we had no part in the affair. We were deeply grieved to think we would never gain the immeasurable insight of the Thus Come One.

"World-Honored One, I have constantly lived in the mountain forest or alone under the trees, sometimes sitting, sometimes walking around, and always I have thought to myself, since I and the others all alike have entered into the nature of the Law, why does the Thus Come One use the Law of the Lesser Vehicle to bring us salvation?

"But the fault is ours, not that of the World-Honored One. Why do I say this? If he had been willing to wait until the true means for attaining anuttara-samyak-sambodhi was preached, then we would surely have obtained release through the Great Vehicle. But we failed to understand that the Buddha was employing expedient means and preaching what was appropriate to the circumstances. So when we first heard the Law of the Buddha, we immediately believed and accepted it, supposing that we had gained understanding.

"World-Honored One, for a long time now, all day and throughout the night, I have repeatedly taxed myself with this thought. But now I have heard from the Buddha what I had never heard before, a Law never known in the past, and it has ended all my doubts and regrets. My body and mind are at ease and I have gained a wonderful feeling of peace and security. Today at last I understand that truly I am the Buddha's son, born from the Buddha's mouth, born through conversion to the Law, gaining my share of the Buddha's Law!"

At that time Shariputra, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

When I heard the sound of this Law,
I gained what I had never had before.
My mind was filled with great joy,
I was released from all bonds of the net of doubt.
From past times I have received the Buddha's teachings
and have not been denied the Great Vehicle.
The Buddha's sound is very rarely heard,
but it can free living beings from distress.
Already I have put an end to outflows,
and hearing this, am freed from care and distress.
I lived in the mountain valleys
or under the forest trees,
sometimes sitting, sometimes walking around,
and constantly I thought of this matter--
how severely I taxed myself!
"Why have I been deceived?" I said.
"I and the others are sons of the Buddha too,
all alike have entered the Law that is without outflows,
yet in times to come we will never be able
to expound the unsurpassed way.
The golden body, the thirty-two features,
the ten powers, the various emancipations--
though all alike share a single Law,
these we will never attain!
The eighty types of wonderful characteristics,
the eighteen unshared properties--
merits such as these
are all lost to us!"
When I was walking around alone,
I saw the Buddha among the great assembly,
his fame filling the ten directions,
bringing benefit far and wide to living beings,
and I thought to myself, I am deprived of such benefits!
How greatly have I been deceived!
Constantly, day and night,
whenever I pondered over this,
I wanted to ask the World-Honored One
whether I had indeed been deprived or not.
Constantly, when I saw the World-Honored One
praising the bodhisattvas,
then day and night
I would mull this matter over.
But now as I listen to the voice of the Buddha,
I see he preaches the Law in accordance with what
is appropriate,
using this hard-to-conceive doctrine of no outflows
to lead people to the place of practice.
Formerly I was attached to erroneous views,
acting as teacher to the Brahmans.
But the World-Honored One, knowing what was in my mind,
rooted out my errors and preached nirvana.
I was freed of all my errors
and gained understanding of the Law of emptiness.
At that time my mind told me
I had reached the stage of extinction,
but now I realize
that was not true extinction.
If the time should come when I can become a Buddha,
then I will possess all the thirty-two features
and heavenly and human beings, the many yakshas,
dragons, spirits and others will hold me in reverence.
When that time comes, then I can say
that at last all has been wiped out without residue.
In the midst of the great assembly, the Buddha
declared that I will become a Buddha.
When I heard the sound of the this Law
my doubts and regrets were all wiped away.
At first, when I heard the Buddha's preaching,
there was great astonishment and doubt in my mind.
Is this not a devil pretending to be the Buddha,
trying to vex and confuse my mind? I thought.
But the Buddha employed various causes,
similes, and parables, expounding eloquently.
His mind was peaceful as the sea,
and as I listened, I was freed from the net of doubt.
The Buddha said that in past ages
the countless Buddhas who have passed into extinction
rested and abided in the midst of expedient means,
and all likewise preached this Law.
The Buddhas of the present and future,
whose numbers are beyond calculation,
they too will use expedient means
in expounding this same Law.
Thus the present World-Honored One,
being born and later leaving his family,
attaining the way and turning the wheel of the Law,
likewise employs expedient means in preaching.
The World-Honored One preaches the true way.
Papiyas would not do that.
Therefore I know for certain
this is not a devil pretending to be the Buddha.
But because I fell into the net of doubt
I supposed this to be the devil's work.
Now I hear the Buddha's soft and gentle sound,
profound, far-reaching, very subtle and wonderful,
expounding and discoursing on the pure Law,
and my mind is filled with great joy.
My doubts and regrets are forever ended,
I will rest and abide in true wisdom.
I am certain I will become a Buddha,
to be revered by heavenly and human beings,
turning the wheel of the unsurpassed Law
and teaching and converting the bodhisattvas.

At that time the Buddha said to Shariputra, "Now, in the midst of this great assembly of heavenly and human beings, shramanas, Brahmans and so forth, I say this. In the past, under twenty thousand million Buddhas, for the sake of the unsurpassed way I have constantly taught and converted you. And you throughout the long night followed me and accepted my instruction.. Now , because I want to make you recall to mind the way that you originally vowed to follow, for the sake of the voice-hearers I am preaching this Great Vehicle sutra called the Lotus of the Wonderful Law, a Law to instruct the bodhisattvas, one that is guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas.

"Shariputra, in ages to come, after a countless, boundless inconceivable number of kalpas have passed, you will make offerings to some thousands, ten thousands millions of Buddhas, and will honor and uphold the correct Law. You will fulfill every aspect of the way of the bodhisattva and will be able to become a Buddha with the name Flower Glow Thus Come One, worthy of offerings, of right and universal knowledge, perfect clarity and conduct, well gone, understanding the world, unexcelled worthy, trainer of people, teacher of heavenly and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One.

"Your realm will be called Free from Stain, the land will be level and smooth, pure and beautifully adorned, peaceful, bountiful and happy. Heavenly and human beings will flourish there. The ground will be of lapis lazuli, roads will crisscross it in eight directions, and ropes of gold will mark their boundaries. Beside each road will grow rows of seven-jeweled trees which will constantly flower and bear fruit. And this Flower Glow Thus Come One will employ the three vehicles to teach and convert living beings.

"Shariputra, when this Buddha appears, although it will not be an evil age, because of his original vow he will preach the Law through the three vehicles. His kalpa will be called Great Treasure Adornment. Why will it be called Great Treasure Adornment? Because in that land bodhisattvas will be looked on as a great treasure. Those bodhisattvas will be countless, boundless, inconceivable in number, beyond the reach of reckoning or of simile and parable. Without the power of Buddha wisdom, one cannot understand how many.. Whenever these bodhisattvas wish to walk anywhere, jeweled flowers will uphold their feet.

'These bodhisattvas will not have just conceived the desire for enlightenment, but all will have spent a long time planting the roots of virtue. Under countless hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, millions of Buddhas they will have carried out Brahma practices in a flawless manner, and will have been perpetually praised by the Buddhas. Constantly they will have cultivated Buddha wisdom, acquiring great transcendental powers and thoroughly understanding the gateways to all the doctrines. They will be upright in character, without duplicity, firm in intent and thought. Bodhisattvas such as this will abound in that land.

"Shariputra, the life span of the Buddha Flower Glow will be twelve small kalpas, not counting the times when he is still a prince and before he becomes a Buddha. The people of his land will have a life span of eight small kalpas. When Flower Glow Thus Come One has lived for twelve small kalpas, he will prophesy that the bodhisattva Firm Full will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. He will announce to the monks, 'This bodhisattva Firm Full will be the next to become a Buddha. He will be named Flower feet Safely Walking, tathagata, arhat, samyak-sambuddha. His Buddha land will be like mine.'

"Shariputra, after the Buddha Flower Glow has passed into extinction, the era of the Correct Law will last for thirty-two small kalpas, and the era of the Counterfeit Law will last for another thirty-two small kalpas."

At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Shariputra, in ages to come
you will become a Buddha, of universal wisdom, venerable,
bearing the name Flower Glow,
and you will save countless multitudes.
You will make offerings to numberless Buddhas,
be endowed with all the Bodhisattva practices,
the ten powers and other blessings,
and will realize the unsurpassed way.
After countless kalpas have passed,
your kalpa will be named Great Treasure Adornment.
Your world will be called Free from Stain,
pure, without flaw or defilement.
Its land will be made of lapis lazuli,
its roads bounded by ropes of gold,
and seven-jeweled trees in a jumble of colors
will constantly bear blossoms and fruit.
The bodhisattvas of that realm
will always be firm in intent and thought.
Transcendental powers and paramitas--
each will be endowed with all of these,
and under numberless Buddhas
they will diligently study the bodhisattva way.
Thus these great men
will be converted by the Buddha Flower Glow.
When that Buddha was still a prince,
he gave up his country, abandoned worldly glory,
and in his final incarnation
left his family and attained the Buddha way.
Flower Glow Buddha will continue in the world
for a life span of twelve small kalpas.
The numerous people of his land
will have a life span of eight small kalpas.
After that Buddha has passed into extinction,
the Correct Law will endure in the world
for thirty-two small kalpas,
saving living beings far and wide.
When the correct law has passed away,
the Counterfeit Law will endure for thirty-two kalpas.
The Buddha's relics will circulate widely;
heavenly and human beings everywhere will make offerings to them.
The actions of Flower Glow Buddha
will all be as I have said.
This most saintly and venerable of two-legged beings
will be foremost and without peer.
And he will be none other than you--
you should rejoice and count yourself fortunate!

At that time, when the four kinds of believers, namely, monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, and the heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, and others in the great assembly saw how Shariputra received from the Buddha this prophecy that he would attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, their hearts were filled with great joy and danced without end. Each one removed the upper robe that he or she was wearing and presented it a an offering to the Buddha. Shakra Devanam Indra, King Brahma, and the countless sons of gods likewise took their wonderful heavenly robes, heavenly mandarava flowers and great mandarava flowers and offered them to the Buddha. The heavenly robes they had scattered remained suspended in the air and turned round and round of themselves. Heavenly beings made music, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand varieties, all at the same time in the midst of the air, raining down quantities of heavenly flowers and speaking these words: "In the past at Varanasi the Buddha first turned the wheel of the Law. Now he turns the wheel again, the wheel of the unsurpassed, the greatest Law of all!"

At that time the sons of gods, wishing to state their meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

In the past at Varanasi
you turned the wheel of the Law of the four noble truths,
making distinctions, preaching that all things
are born and become extinct, bing made up of the
five components.
Now you turn the wheel of the most wonderful,
the unsurpassed great Law.
This Law is very profound and abstruse;
there are few who can believe it.
Since times past often we have heard
the World-Honored One's preaching,
but we have never heard this kind of profound, wonderful and superior Law.
Since the World-Honored One preaches this Law,
we all welcome it with joy.
Shariputra with his great wisdom
has now received this venerable prophecy.
We too in the same way
will surely be able to attain Buddhahood,
throughout all the many worlds
the most venerable, the unsurpassed goal.
The Buddha way is difficult to fathom,
but you will preach with expedient means,
according to what is appropriate.
The meritorious deeds we have done
in this existence or past existences,
and the blessings gained from seeing the Buddha--
all these we will apply to the Buddha way.

At that time Shariputra said to the Buddha: "World-Honored One, now I have no mere doubts or regrets. In person I have received from the Buddha this prophecy that I will attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. These twelve hundred persons here whose minds are free -- in the past they remained at the level of learning, and the Buddha constantly taught and converted them, saying, 'My Law can free you from birth, old age, sickness and death and enable you at last to achieve nirvana.' These persons, some of whom were still learning and some who had completed their learning, each believed that, because he had shed his views of 'self,' and also his views of 'existing' and 'not existing,' he had attained nirvana. But now from the World-Honored One they hear what they had never heard before, and all have fallen into doubt and perplexity.

"Very well, World-Honored One. I beg that for the sake of the four kinds of believers you will explain the causes and conditions and make it possible for them to shed their doubts and regrets."

At that time the Buddha said so Shariputra, "Did I not tell you earlier that when the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, cite various causes and conditions and use similes, parables, and other expressions, employing expedient means to preach the Law, it is all for the sake of anuttara-samyak-sambodhi? Whatever is preached is all for the sake of converting the bodhisattvas.

"Moreover, Shariputra, I too will now make use of similes and parables to further clarify this doctrine. For through similes and parables those who are wise can obtain understanding.

"Shariputra, suppose that in a certain town in a certain country there was a very rich man. He was far along in years and his wealth was beyond measure. He had many fields, houses and menservants. His own house was big and rambling, but it had only one gate. A great many people--a hundred, two hundred, perhaps as many as five hundred--lived in the house. The halls and rooms were old and decaying, the walls crumbling, the pillars rotten at their base, and the beams and rafters crooked and aslant.

"At that time a fire suddenly broke out on all sides, spreading through the rooms of the house. The sons of the rich man, ten, twenty perhaps thirty, were inside the house. When the rich man saw the huge flames leaping up on every side, he was greatly alarmed and fearful and thought to himself, I can escape to safety through the flaming gate, but my sons are inside the burning house enjoying themselves and playing games, unaware, unknowing, without alarm or fear. The fire is closing in on them, suffering and pain threaten them, yet their minds have no sense of loathing or peril and they do not think of trying to escape!

"Shariputra, this rich man thought to himself, I have strength in my body and arms. I can wrap them in a robe or place them on a bench and carry them out of the house. And then again he thought, this house has only one gate, and moreover it is narrow and small.

My sons are very young, they have no understanding, and they love their games, being so engrossed in them that they are likely to be burned in the fire. I must explain to them why I am fearful and alarmed. The house is already in flames and I must get them out quickly and not let them be burned up in the fire!

"Having thought in this way, he followed his plan and called to all his sons, saying, 'You must come out at once!" But though the father was moved by pity and gave good words of instruction, the sons were absorbed in their games and unwilling to heed them. They had no alarm, no fright, and in the end no mind to leave the house. Moreover, they did not understand what the fire was, what the house was, what the danger was. They merely raced about this way and that in play and looked at their father without heeding him.

"At that time the rich man had this thought: the house is already in flames from this huge fire. If I and my sons do not get out at once, we are certain to be burned. I must now invent some expedient means that will make it possible for the children to escape harm.

"The father understood his sons and knew what various toys and curious objects each child customarily liked and what would delight them. And so he said to them, 'The kind of playthings you like are rare and hard to find. If you do not take them when you can, you will surely regret it later. For example, things like these goat-carts, deer-carts and ox-carts. They are outside the gate now where you can play with them. So you must come out of this burning house at once. Then whatever ones you want, I will give them all to you!'

"At that time, when the sons heard their father telling them about these rare playthings, because such things were just what they had wanted, each felt emboldened in heart and, pushing and shoving one another, they all came wildly dashing out of the burning house.

"At that time the rich man, seeing that his sons had gotten out safely and all were seated on the open ground at the crossroads and were no longer in danger, was greatly relieved and his mind danced for joy. At that time each of the sons said to his father, "the playthings you promised us earlier, the goat-carts and deer-carts and ox-carts--please give them to us now!'

"Shariputra, at that time the rich man gave to each of his sons a large carriage of uniform size and quality. The carriages were tall and spacious and adorned with numerous jewels. A railing ran all around them and bells hung from all four sides. A canopy was stretched over the top, which was also decorated with an assortment of precious jewels. Ropes of jewels twined around, a fringe of flowers hung down, and layers of cushions were spread inside, on which were placed vermillion pillows. Each carriage was drawn by a white ox, pure and clean in hide, handsome in form and of great strength, capable of pulling the carriage smoothly and properly at a pace fast as the wind. In addition, there were many grooms and servants to attend and guard the carriage.

"What was the reason for this? This rich man's wealth was limitless and he had many kinds of storehouses that were all filled and overflowing. And he thought to himself, 'There is no end to my possessions. It would not be right if I were to give my sons small carriages of inferior make. These little boys are all my sons and I love them without partiality. I have countless numbers of large carriages adorned with seven kinds of gems. I should be fair-minded and give one to each of my sons. I should not show any discrimination. Why? Because even if I distributed these possessions of mine to every person in the whole country I would still not exhaust them, much less could I do so by giving them to my sons!

"At that time each of the sons mounted his large carriage, gaining something he had never had before, something he had originally never expected. Shariputra, what do you think of this? When this rich man impartially handed out to his sons these big carriages adorned with rare jewels, was he guilty of falsehood or not?"

Shariputra said, "No, World-Honored One. This rich man simply made it possible for his sons to escape the peril of fire and preserve their lives. He did not commit a falsehood. Why do I say this? Because if they were able to preserve their lives, then they had already obtained a plaything of sorts. And how much more so when, through an expedient means, they are rescued from that burning house! World-Honored One, even if the rich man had not given them the tiniest carriage, he would still not be guilty of falsehood. Why? Because this rich man had earlier made up his mind that he would employ an expedient means to cause his sons to escape. Using a device of this kind was no act of falsehood. How much less so, then, when the rich man knew that his wealth was limitless and he intended to enrich and benefit his sons by giving each of them a large carriage."

The Buddha said to Shariputra, "Very good, very good. In is just as you have said. And Shariputra, the Thus Come One is like this. That is, he is a father to all the world. His fears, cares and anxieties, ignorance and misunderstanding, have long come to an end, leaving no residue. He has fully succeeded in acquiring measureless insight, power and freedom from fear and gaining great supernatural powers and the power of wisdom. He is endowed with expedient means and the paramita of wisdom, his great pity and great compassion are constant and unflagging; at all times he seeks what is good and will bring benefit to all.

'He is born into the threefold world, a burning house, rotten and old. In order to save living beings from the fires of birth, old age, sickness and death, care suffering, stupidity, misunderstanding, and the three poisons; to teach and convert them and enable them to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

"He sees living beings seared and consumed by birth, old age, sickness and death, care and suffering, sees them undergo many kinds of pain because of their greed and attachment and striving they undergo numerous pains in their present existence, and later they undergo the pain of being reborn in hell or as beasts or hungry spirits. Even if they are reborn in the heavenly realm or the realm of human beings, they undergo the pain of poverty and want, the pain of parting from loved ones, the pain of encountering those they detest--all these many different kinds of pain.

"Yet living beings drowned in the midst of all this, delight and amuse themselves, unaware, unknowing, without alarm or fear. They feel no sense of loathing and make no attempt to escape. In this burning house which is the threefold world, they race about to east and west, and though they encounter great pain, they are not distressed by it.

Shariputra, when the Buddha sees this, then he thinks to himself, I am the father of living beings and I should rescue them from their sufferings and give them the joy of the measureless and boundless Buddha wisdom so that they may find their enjoyment in that.

"Shariputra, the Thus Come One also has this thought: if I should merely employ supernatural powers and the power of wisdom; if I should set aside expedient means and for the sake of living beings should praise the Thus Come One's insight, power and freedom from fear, then living beings would not be able to gain salvation. Why? Because these living beings have not yet escaped from birth, old age, sickness, death, care and suffering, but are consumed by flames in the burning house that is the threefold world. How could they be able to understand the Buddha's wisdom?

"Shariputra, that rich man, though he had strength in his body and arms, did not use it. He merely employed a carefully contrived expedient means and thus was able to rescue his sons from the peril of the burning house, and afterward gave each of them a large carriage adorned with rare jewels. And the Thus Come One does the same. Though he possesses power and freedom from fear, he does not use these. He merely employs wisdom and expedient means to rescue living beings from the burning house of the threefold world, expounding to them the three vehicles, the vehicle of the voice-hearer, that of pratyekabuddha, and that of the Buddha.

"He says to them, 'You must not be content to stay in this burning house of the threefold world! Do not be greedy for its coarse and shoddy forms, sounds, scents, tastes and sensations! If you become attached to them and learn to love them, you will be burned up! You must come out of this threefold world at once so that you can acquire the three vehicles, the vehicles of the voice-hearer, the pratyekabuddha and the Buddha. I promise you now that you will get them, and that promise will never prove false. You have only to apply yourselves with diligent effort!'

"The Thus Come One employs this expedient means to lure living beings into action. And then he says to them, 'You should understand that these doctrines of the three vehicles are all praised by the sages. They are free, without entanglements, leaving nothing further to depend upon or seek. Mount these three vehicles, gain roots that are without outflows, gain powers, awareness, the way, meditation, emancipation, samadhis, and then enjoy yourselves. You will gain the delight of immeasurable peace and safety.'

"Shariputra, if there are living beings who are inwardly wise in nature, and who attend the Buddha, the World-Honored One, hear the Law, believe and accept it, and put forth diligent effort, desiring to escape quickly from the threefold world and seeking to attain nirvana, they shall be called [those who ride] the vehicle of the voice hearer.

They are like those sons who left the burning house in the hope of acquiring goat-carts.

"If there are living beings who attend the Buddha, the World-Honored One, hear the Law, believe and accept it, and put forth diligent effort, seeking wisdom that comes of itself, taking solitary delight in goodness and tranquility, and profoundly understanding the causes and conditions of all phenomena, they shall be called [those who ride] the vehicle of the pratyekabuddha. They are like the sons who left the burning house in the hope of acquiring deer-carts.

"If there are living beings who attend the Buddha, the World-Honored One, hear the Law, believe and accept it, and put forth diligent effort, seeking comprehensive wisdom, the insight of the Thus Come One, powers and freedom from fear, who pity and comfort countless living beings, bring benefit to heavenly and human beings, and save them all, they shall be called [those who ride] the Great Vehicle. Because the bodhisattvas seek this vehicle, they are called mahasattvas. They are like the sons who left the burning house in the hope of acquiring ox-carts.

"Shariputra, that rich man, seeing that his sons had all gotten out of the burning house safely and were no longer threatened, recalled that his wealth was immeasurable and presented each of his sons with a large carriage. And the Thus Come One does likewise. He is the father of all living beings. When he sees that countless thousands of millions of living beings, through the gateway of the Buddha's teaching, can escape the pains of the threefold world, the fearful and perilous road, and gain the delights of nirvana, the Thus Come One at that time has this thought: I possess measureless, boundless wisdom, power, fearlessness, the storehouse of the Law of the Buddhas. These living beings are all my sons. I will give the Great Vehicle to all of them equally so that there will not be those who gain extinction by themselves, but that all may do so through the extinction of the Thus Come One.

"To all the living beings who have escaped from the threefold world he then gives the delightful gifts of the meditation, emancipation, and so forth, of the Buddhas. All these are uniform in characteristics, uniform in type, praised by the sages, capable of producing pure, wonderful, supreme delight.

"Shariputra, that rich man first used three types of carriages to entice his sons, but later he gave them just the large carriage adorned with jewels, the safest, most comfortable kind of all. Despite this, that rich man was not guilty of falsehood. The Thus Come One does the same, and he is without falsehood. First he preaches the three vehicles to attract and guide living beings, but later he employs just the Great Vehicle to save them. Why? The Thus Come One possesses measureless wisdom, power, freedom from fear, the storehouse of the Law. He is capable of giving to all living beings the Law of the Great Vehicle. But not all of them are capable of receiving it.

"Shariputra, for this reason you should understand that the Buddhas employ the power of expedient means. And because they do so, they make distinctions in the one Buddha vehicle and preach it as three."

The Buddha, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

Suppose there was a rich man
who had a large house.
This house was very old,
and decayed and dilapidated as well.
The halls, though lofty, were in dangerous condition
beams and rafters were slating and askew,
foundations and steps were crumbling.
Walls were cracked and gaping
and the plaster had fallen off of them.
The roof thatch was in disrepair or missing,
the tips of the eaves had dropped off.
The fences surrounding it were crooked or collapsed
and heaped rubbish was piled all around.
Some five hundred persons
lived in the house.
Kites, owls, hawks, eagles,
crows, magpies, doves, pigeons,
lizards, snakes, vipers, scorpions,
centipedes and millipedes,
newts and ground beetles,
weasels, raccoon dogs, mice, rats,
hordes of evil creatures
scurried this way and that.
Places that stank of excrement
overflowed in streams of filth
where dung beetles and other creatures gathered.
Foxes, wolves and jackals
gnawed and trampled in the filth
or tore apart dead bodies,
scattering bones and flesh about.
Because of this, packs of dogs
came racing to the spot to snatch and tear,
driven by hunger and fear,
searching everywhere for food,
fighting, struggling and seizing,
baring their teeth, snarling and howling.
That house was fearful, frightening,
so altered was its aspect.
In every part of it
there were goblins and trolls,
yakshas and evil spirits
who feed on human flesh
or on poisonous creatures.
The various evil birds and beasts
bore offspring, hatched and nursed them,
each hiding and protecting its young,
but the yakshas outdid one another
in their haste to seize and eat them.
And when they had eaten their fill,
their evil hearts became fiercer than ever;
the sound of their wrangling and contention
was terrifying indeed.
Kumbhanda demons
crouched on clumps of earth
or leaped one or two feet
off the ground,
idling, wandering here and there,
amusing themselves according to their whims.
Sometimes they seized a dog by two of its legs
and beat it till it had lost its voice,
or planted their feet on the dog's neck,
terrifying it for their own delight.
Again there were demons
with large tall bodies,
naked in form, black and emaciated
constantly living there,
who would cry out in loud ugly voices,
shouting and demanding food.
There were other demons
whose throats were like needles,
or still other demons
with heads like the head of an ox,
some feeding on human flesh,
others devouring dogs.
Their hair like tangled weeds,
cruel, baleful, ferocious,
driven by hunger and thirst,
they dashed about shrieking and howling.
The yakshas and starving spirits
and the various evil birds and beasts
hungrily pressed forward in all directions,
peering out at the windows.
Such were the perils of this house,
threats and terrors beyond measure.
This house, old and rotting,
belonged to a certain man
and that man had gone nearby
and he had not been out for long
when a fire
suddenly broke out in the house.
In one moment from all four sides
the flames rose up in a mass.
Ridgepoles, beams, rafters, pillars
exploded with a roar, quivering, splitting,
broke in two and came rumbling down
as walls and partitions collapsed.
The various demons and spirits
lifted their voices in a great wail,
the hawks, eagles and other birds,
the kumbhanda demons,
were filled with panic and terror,
not knowing how to escape.
The evil beasts and poisonous creatures
hid in their holes and dens,
and the pishacha demons,
who were also living there,
because they had done so little that was good,
were oppressed by the flames
and attacked one another,
drinking blood and gobbling flesh.
The jackals and their like
were already dead by this time
and the larger of the evil beasts
vied in devouring them.
Foul smoke swirled and billowed up,
filling the house on every side.
The centipedes and millipedes,
the poisonous snakes and their kind,
scorched by the flames,
came scurrying out of their lairs,
whereupon the kumbhanda demons
pounced on them and ate them.
In addition, the starving spirits,
the fire raging about their heads,
hungry, thirsty, tormented by the heat,
raced this way and that in terror and confusion.
Such was the state of that house,
truly frightening and fearful;
malicious injury, the havoc of fire-
many ills, not just one, afflicted it.
At this time the owner of the house
was standing outside the gate
when he heard someone say,
"A while ago your various sons,
in order to play their games,
went inside the house.
They are very young and lack understanding
and will be wrapped up in their amusements."
When the rich man heard this,
he rushed in alarm into the burning house,
determined to rescue his sons
and keep them from being burned by the flames.
He urged his sons to heed him,
explaining the many dangers and perils,
the evil spirits and poisonous creatures,
the flames spreading all around,
the multitude of sufferings
that would follow one another without end,
the poisonous snakes, lizards and vipers,
as well as the many yakshas
and kumbhanda demons,
the jackals, foxes and dogs,
hawks, eagles, kites, owls,
ground beetles and similar creatures
driven and tormented by hunger and thirst,
truly things to be feared.
His sons could not stay in such a perilous place,
much less when it was all on fire!
But the sons had no understanding
and although they heard their father's warnings,
they continued engrossed in their amusements,
never ceasing their games.
At that time the rich man
thought to himself:
My sons may behave in this manner,
adding to my grief and anguish.
In this house at present
there is not a single joy,
and yet my sons,
wrapped up in their games,
refuse to heed my instructions
and will be destroyed by the fire!
Then it occurred to him
to devise some expedient means,
and he said to his sons,
"I have many kinds
of rare and marvelous toys,
wonderful jeweled carriages,
goat-carts, deer-carts,
carts drawn by big oxen.
They are outside the gate right now
you must come out and see them!
I have fashioned these carts
explicitly for you.
You may enjoy whichever you choose,
play with them as you like!
When the sons heard
this description of the carts,
at once they vied with one another
in dashing out of the house,
till they reached the open ground,
away from all peril and danger.
When the rich man saw that his sons
had escaped from the burning house
and were standing in the crossroads,
he seated himself on a lion seat,
congratulating himself in these words:
"Now I am content and happy.
These sons of mine
have been very difficult to raise.
Ignorant, youthful, without understanding,
they entered that perilous house
with its many poisonous creatures
and its goblins to be feared.
The roaring flames of the great fire
rose up on all four sides,
yet those sons of mine
still clung to their games.
But now I have saved them,
caused them to escape from danger.
That is the reason, good people,
I am content and happy."
At that time the sons,
seeing their father comfortably seated,
all went to where he was
and said to him:
"Please give us
the three kinds of jeweled carriages
you promised us earlier.
You said if we came out of the house
you'd give us three kinds of carts
and we could choose whichever we wished.
Now is the time
to give them to us!"
The rich man was very wealthy
and had many storehouses.
With gold, silver, lapis lazuli,
seashells, agate,
and other such precious things
he fashioned large carriages
beautifully adorned and decorated,
with railings running around them
and bells hanging from all sides.
Ropes of gold twisted and twined,
nets of pearls
stretched over the top,
and fringes of golden flowers
hung down everywhere.
Multicolored decorations
wound around and encircled the carriages,
soft silks and gauzes
served for cushions,
with fine felts of most wonderful make
valued at thousands or millions,
gleaming white and pure,
to spread over them.
There were large white oxen,
sleek, stalwart, of great strength,
handsome in form,
to draw the jeweled carriages,
and numerous grooms and attendants
to accompany and guard them.
These wonderful carriages
the man presented to each of his sons alike.
The sons at that time
danced for joy,
mounting the jeweled carriages,
driving off in all directions,
delighting and amusing themselves
freely and without hindrance.
I say this to you, Shariputra-
I am like this rich man.
I, most venerable of the sages,
am the father of this world
and all living beings
are my children.
But they are deeply attached to worldly pleasures
and lacking in minds of wisdom.
There is no safety in the threefold world;
it is like a burning house,
replete with a multitude of sufferings,
truly to be feared,
constantly beset with the griefs and pains
of birth, old age, sickness and death,
which are like fires
raging fiercely and without cease.
The Thus Come One has already left
the burning house of the threefold world
and dwells in tranquil quietude
in the safety of forest and plain.
But now this threefold world
is all my domain,
and the living beings in it
are all my children.
Now this place
is beset by many pains and trials.
I am the only person
who can rescue and protect others,
but though I teach and instruct them,
they do not believe or accept my teachings,
because, tainted by desires,
they are deeply immersed in greed and attachment.
So, I employ an expedient means,
describing to them the three vehicles,
causing all living beings
to understand the pains of the threefold world,
and then I set forth and expound
a way whereby they can escape from the world.
If these children of mine
will only determine in their minds to do so,
they can acquire all the three understandings
and the six transcendental powers,
can become pratyekabuddhas
or bodhisattvas who never regress.
I say to you, Shariputra,
for the sake of living beings
I employ these similes and parables
to preach the single Buddha vehicle.
If you and the others are capable
of believing and accepting my words,
then all of you are certain
to attain the Buddha way.
This vehicle is subtle, wonderful,
foremost in purity;
throughout all worlds
it stands unsurpassed.
The Buddha delights in and approves it,
and all living beings
should praise it,
offer it alms and obeisance.
There are immeasurable thousands of millions
of powers, emancipations,
meditations, wisdoms,
and other attributes of the Buddha.
But if the children can obtain this vehicle,
it will allow them
day and night for unnumbered kalpas
to find constant enjoyment,
to join the bodhisattvas
and the multitude of voice-hearers
in mounting this jeweled vehicle
and proceeding directly to the place of practice.
For these reasons,
though one should seek diligently in the ten directions,
he will find no other vehicles
except when the Buddha preaches them as an expedient means.
I tell you, Shariputra,
you and the others
are all my children,
and I am a father to you.
For repeated kalpas
you have burned in the flames of manifold sufferings,
but I will save you all
and cause you to escape from the threefold world.
Although earlier I told you
that you had attained extinction,
that was only the end of birth and death,
it was not true extinction.
Now what is needed
is simply that you acquire Buddha wisdom.
If there are bodhisattvas
here in this assembly,
let them with a single mind
listen to the true Law of the Buddhas.
Though the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones,
employ expedient means,
the living beings converted by them
are all bodhisattvas.
If there are persons of little wisdom
who are deeply attached to love and desire,
because they are that way,
the Buddha preaches for them the rule of suffering.
Then the living beings will be glad in mind,
having gained what they never had before.
The rule of suffering which the Buddha preaches
is true and never varies.
If there are living beings
who do not understand the root of suffering,
who are deeply attached to the causes of suffering
and cannot for a moment put them aside,
because they are that way,
the Buddha uses expedient means to preach the way.
As to the cause of all suffering,
it has its root in greed and desire.
If greed and desire are wiped out,
it will have no place to dwell.
To wipe out all suffering-
this is called the third rule.
For the sake of this rule, the rule of extinction,
one practices the way.
And when one escapes from the bonds of suffering
this is called attaining emancipation.
By what means
can a person attain emancipation?
Separating oneself from falsehood and delusion-
this alone may be called emancipation.
But if a person has not truly
been able to emancipate himself from everything,
then the Buddha will say
he has not achieved true extinction,
because such a person
has not yet gained the unsurpassed way.
My purpose is not to try
to cause them to reach extinction.
I am the Dharma King,
free to do as I will with the Law.
To bring peace and safety to living beings-
that is the reason I appear in the world.
I say to you, Shariputra,
this Dharma seal of mine
I preach because I wish
to bring benefit to the world.
You must not recklessly transmit it
wherever you happen to wander.
If there is someone who hears it,
responds with joy and gratefully accepts it,
you should know that person
is an avivartika.
If there is someone who believes and accepts
the Law of this sutra,
that person has already seen
the Buddhas of the past,
has respectfully offered alms to them
and listened to this Law.
If there is someone who can
believe what you preach
then that person has seen me,
and has also seen you
and the other monks
and the bodhisattvas.
This Lotus Sutra
is preached for those with profound wisdom.
If persons of shallow understanding hear it,
they will be perplexed and fail to comprehend.
As for all the voice-hearers
and pratyekabuddhas,
in this sutra there are things
that are beyond their powers.
Even you, Shariputra,
in the case of this sutra
were able to gain entrance through faith alone.
How much more so, then, the other voice-hearers.
Those other voice-hearers
it is because they have faith in the Buddha's words
that they can comply with this sutra,
not because of any wisdom of their own.
Also, Shariputra,
to persons who are arrogant or lazy
or taken up with views of the self,
do not preach this sutra.
Those with the shallow understandings of ordinary persons,
who are deeply attached to the five desires,
cannot comprehend it when they hear it.
Do not preach it to them.
If a person fails to have faith
but instead slanders this sutra,
immediately he will destroy all the seeds
for becoming a Buddha in this world.
Or perhaps he will scowl with knitted brows
and harbor doubt or perplexity.
Listen and I will tell you
the penalty this person must pay.
Whether the Buddha is in the world
or has already entered extinction,
if this person should slander
a sutra such as this,
or on seeing those who read, recite,
copy and uphold this sutra,
should despise, hate, envy,
or bear grudges against them,
the penalty this person must pay
listen, I will tell you now:
When his life comes to an end
he will enter the Avichi hell,
be confined there for a whole kalpa,
and when the kalpa ends, be born there again.
He will keep repeating this cycle
for a countless number of kalpas.
Though he may emerge from hell,
he will fall into the realm of beasts,
becoming a dog or jackal,
his form lean and scruffy,
dark, discolored, with scabs and sores,
something for men to make sport of.
Or again he will
be hated and despised by men,
constantly plagued by hunger and thirst,
his bones and flesh dried up,
in life undergoing torment and hardship,
in death buried beneath the tiles and stones.
Because he cut off the seeds of Buddhahood
he will suffer this penalty.
If he should become a camel
or be born in the shape of a donkey,
his body will constantly bear heavy burdens
and have the stick or whip laid on it.
He will think only of water and grass
and understand nothing else.
Because he slandered this sutra,
this is the punishment he will incur.
Or he will be born as a jackal
who comes to the village,
body all scabs and sores,
having only one eye,
by the boys
beaten and cuffed,
suffering grief and pain,
sometimes to the point of death.
And after he has died
he will be born again in the body of a serpent,
long and huge in size,
measuring five hundred yojanas,
deaf, witless, without feet,
slithering along on his belly,
with little creatures
biting and feeding on him,
day and night undergoing hardship,
never knowing rest.
Because he slandered this sutra,
this is the punishment he will incur.
If he should become a human being,
his faculties will be blighted and dull,
he will be puny, vile, bent, crippled,
blind, deaf, hunchbacked.
The things he says
people will not believe,
the breath from his mouth will be constantly foul,
he will be possessed by devils,
poor and lowly,
ordered around by others,
plagued by many ailments, thin and gaunt,
having no one to turn to.
Though he attached himself to others,
they would never think of him;
though he might gain something,
he would at once lose or forget it.
Though he might practice the art of medicine
and by its methods cure someone's disease,
the person would grow sicker from some other malady
and perhaps in the end would die.
If he himself had an illness,
no one would aid or nurse him,
and though he took good medicine,
it would only make his condition worse.
If others should turn against him,
he would find himself plundered and robbed.
His sins would be such
that they would bring unexpected disaster on him.
A sinful person of this sort
will never see the Buddha,
the king of the many sages,
preaching the Law, teaching and converting.
A sinful person of this sort
will constantly be born amid difficulties,
crazed, deaf, confused in mind,
and never will hear the Law.
For countless kalpas
numerous as Ganges sands
he will at birth become deaf and dumb,
his faculties impaired,
will constantly dwell in hell,
strolling in it as though it were a garden,
and the other evil paths of existence
he will look on as his own home.
Camel, donkey, pig, dog-
these will be the forms he will take on.
Because he slandered this sutra,
this is the punishment he will incur.
If he should become a human being,
he will be deaf, blind, dumb.
Poverty, want, all kinds of decay
will be his adornment;
water blisters, diabetes,
scabs, sores, ulcers,
maladies such as these
will be his garments.
His body will always smell bad,
filthy and impure.
Deeply attached to views of self,
he will grow in anger and hatred;
aflame with licentious desires,
he will not spurn even birds or beasts.
Because he slandered this sutra,
this is the punishment he will incur.
I tell you, Shariputra,
if I were to describe the punishments that fall
on persons who slander this sutra,
I could exhaust a kalpa and never come to the end.
For this reason
I expressly say to you,
do not preach this sutra
to persons who are without wisdom.
But if there are those of keen capacities,
wise and understanding,
of much learning and strong memory,
who seek the Buddha way,
then to persons such as this
it is permissible to preach it.
If there are persons who have seen
hundreds and thousands and millions of Buddhas,
have planted many good roots
and are firm and deeply committed in mind,
then to persons such as this
it is permissible to preach it.
If there are persons who are diligent,
constantly cultivating a compassionate mind,
not begrudging life or limb,
then it is permissible to preach it.
If there are persons who are respectful, reverent
with minds set on nothing else,
who separate themselves from common folly
to live alone among mountains and waters,
then to persons such as this
it is permissible to preach it.
Again, Shariputra,
if you see a person
who thrusts aside evil friends
and associates with good companions,
then to a person such as this
it is permissible to preach it.
If you see a son of the Buddha
observing the precepts, clean and spotless
as a pure bright gem,
seeking the Great Vehicle Sutra,
then to a person such as this
it is permissible to preach it.
If a person is without anger,
upright and gentle in nature,
constantly pitying all beings,
respectful and reverent to the Buddhas,
then to a person such as this
it is permissible to preach it.
Again, if a son of the Buddha
in the midst of the great assembly
should with a pure mind
employ various causes and conditions,
similes, parables, and other expressions
to preach the Law in unhindered fashion,
to a person such as this
it is permissible to preach it.
If there are monks who,
for the sake of comprehensive wisdom,
seek the Law in every direction,
pressing palms together, gratefully accepting,
desiring only to accept and embrace
the sutra of the Great Vehicle
and not accepting a single verse
of the other sutras,
to persons such as this
it is permissible to preach it.
If a person, earnest in mind,
seeks this sutra
as though he were seeking the Buddha's relics,
and having gained and gratefully accepted it,
that person shows no intention
of seeking other sutras
and has never once given thought
to the writings of the non-Buddhist doctrines,
to a person such as this
it is permissible to preach it.
I tell you Shariputra,
if I described all the characteristics
of those who seek the Buddha way,
I could exhaust a kalpa and never be done.
Persons of this type
are capable of believing and understanding.
Therefore for them you should preach
the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law.
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06/02/2011(Xem: 3178)
Chapter 1 Couplets 1. Mind is the forerunner of (all evil) states. Our life is the creation of our mind. If one speaks or acts with impure mind, suffering follows one as the wheel of the cart follows the draught-ox that draws the cart. (1) 2. Mind is the forerunner of (all good) states. Our life is the creation of our mind. If one speaks or acts with pure mind, happiness follows one as his own shadows that never leaves. (2)
06/02/2011(Xem: 3217)
Thus I have heard, at one time, the Buddha dwelt at Shravasti, in the Jeta Grove, in the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary, together with a gathering of great Bhikshus, twelve hundred fifty in all, and with all of the Bodhisattvas, thirty-eight thousand in all.
05/02/2011(Xem: 2610)
Thus I have heard. The Blessed One once appeared in the Castle of Lanka which is on the summit of Mt. Malaya in the midst of the great Ocean. A great many Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas had miraculously assembled from all the Buddha-lands, and a large number of bhikshus were gathered there.
29/01/2011(Xem: 2634)
Aesop's fables enjoy worldly fame, while almost unknown are Sakyamuni's fables. Obviously there is a difference between them as far as the nature of the two books are concerned. the former tells stories to teach moral principles, whereas the latter illustrates a religious precept to reflect the nature of human being. Therefore, the latter is strictly a religious literature.
29/01/2011(Xem: 2464)
Thus have I heard. At one time, the Buddha stayed in the palace of the Dragon King of the Ocean together with an assembly of eight thousand great Bhikshus and thirty- two thousand Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas altogether. At that time the World Honored One told the Dragon Kingsaying: Because all beings have different consciousness and
29/01/2011(Xem: 2541)
Thus have I heard. One time the Buddha was staying at the city of Kusinagara, the birthplace of the great worthy, on the shore of the Ajiravati River between a pair of Sala trees. At that time, the World Honored One was accompanied by a great bhiksu congregation numbering eighty nayutas of kotis [1] of people, encircling him front and back. On the fifteenth day of the second month, the time of his entry into Nirvana was eminent.
29/01/2011(Xem: 3471)
Thus I have heard, at one time, the Bhagavan (World Honoured One) was dwelling in the city of Shravasti at the Jeta Grove, in the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary (Ananthapindada) , together with his regular disciples of twelve hundred and fifty great Bhikshus and twelve thousand Maha Bodhisattvas Sangha in all.
28/01/2011(Xem: 2552)
At that time, Vairocana Buddha began speaking in general about the Mind-Ground for the benefit of the Great Assembly. What he said represents but an infinitesimal part, the tip of a hair, of His innumerable teachings -- as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Ganges.
27/01/2011(Xem: 2253)
Om. Adoration to the Three Treasures! Om. Adoration to all the glorious Buddhas and Bodhisattvas! Adoration to all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Aryas, Sravakas, and Pratyekabuddhas, past, present, and to come, who dwell in the unlimited and endless world systems of the ten quarters!
09/12/2010(Xem: 2420)
Once the Buddha was dwelling in the garden of Anathapindika, in the Jeta Grove near Shravasti. At that time, a laywoman named Gangottara came from her dwelling in Shravasti to see the Buddha. She prostrated herself with her head at the Buddha's feet, withdrew to one side, and sat down.
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Nguyện đem công đức này, trang nghiêm Phật Tịnh Độ, trên đền bốn ơn nặng, dưới cứu khổ ba đường,
nếu có người thấy nghe, đều phát lòng Bồ Đề, hết một báo thân này, sinh qua cõi Cực Lạc.

May the Merit and virtue,accrued from this work, adorn the Buddhas pureland,
Repay the four great kindnesses above, andrelieve the suffering of those on the three paths below,
may those who see or hear of these efforts generates Bodhi Mind, spend their lives devoted to the Buddha Dharma,
the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Quang Duc Buddhist Welfare Association of Victoria
Tu Viện Quảng Đức | Quang Duc Monastery
Senior Venerable Thich Tam Phuong | Senior Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang
Address: Quang Duc Monastery, 105 Lynch Road, Fawkner, Vic.3060 Australia
Tel: 61.03.9357 3544 ; Fax: 61.03.9357 3600
Website: http://www.quangduc.com ; http://www.tuvienquangduc.com.au (old)
Xin gửi Xin gửi bài mới và ý kiến đóng góp đến Ban Biên Tập qua địa chỉ:
quangduc@quangduc.com , tvquangduc@bigpond.com