The Lotus Sutra
Translated by Burton Watson
Chapter Twenty-seven: The Former Deeds of King Wondrous Splendor
At that time the Buddha addressed the great assembly, saying: "In an age long ago, an immeasurable, boundless, inconceivable number of asamkhya kalpas in the past, there was a Buddha named Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom, tathagata, arhat, samyak-sambuddha. His land was named Light Bright Adornment and his kalpa was named Gladly Seen. In the midst of this Buddha's Law there was a king named Wonderful Adornment. This king's consort was named Pure Virtue, and he had two sons, one named Pure Storehouse and the other named Pure Eye. These two sons possessed great supernatural powers, merit, virtue, wisdom, and for a long time they had been practicing the way appropriate to a bodhisattva, carrying out the dana-paramita, shila-paramita, kshanti-paramita, virya-paramita, dhynana-paramita, pragna-paramita, the paramita of expedient means, pity, compassion, joy and indifference, as well as the thirty-seven aids to the way 9. All of these they had thoroughly understood and mastered. In addition, they had gained the samadhis of the bodhisattva, namely, the pure samadhi; sun, star, and constellation samadhi; pure light samadhi; pure color samadhi; pure illumination samadhi; long adornment samadhi; and great dignity and virtue storehouse samadhi, and had thoroughly mastered all these samadhis.
"At that time that Buddha, wishing to attract and guide King Wonderful Adornment, and because he thought with compassion of living beings, preached the Lotus Sutra. The king's two sons, Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye, went to where their mother was, pressed their palms and the nails of their ten fingers together, and said to her, 'We beg our mother to go and visit the place where the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom is. We too will attend him, drawing near to the Buddha and offering alms and obeisance. Why? Because this Buddha is preaching the Lotus Sutra in the midst of all the multitude of heavenly and human beings and it is right that we should listen and accept it.'
"The mother announced to her sons, 'Your father puts his faith in non-Buddhist doctrines and is deeply attached to the Brahmanical Law. You should go to your father, tell him about this, and persuade him to go with you.'
"Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye pressed their palms and ten fingernails together and said to their mother, 'We are sons of the Dharma King, and yet we have been born into this family of heretical views!'
"The mother said to her sons, 'You are right to think with concern about your father. You should manifest some supernatural wonder for him. When he sees that, his mind will surely be cleansed and purified and he will permit us to go to where the Buddha is.'
The two sons, being concerned about their father, leaped up into the air to the height of seven tala trees and there performed various types of supernatural wonders, walking, standing, sitting, and lying down in midair; making water come out of the upper part of their bodies; making fire come out of the lower part of their bodies, making water come out of the lower part of their bodies; making fire come at of the upper part of their bodies; manifesting huge bodies that filled the sky and then making themselves small again; after becoming small, making themselves big again; disappearing in the midst of the sky and then suddenly appearing on the ground; sinking into the ground as though it were water; walking on the water as though it were land. They manifested these various types of supernatural wonders in order to cause the mind of their royal father to become pure and to make him believe and understand.
"At that time when the father saw his sons displaying supernatural powers of this kind, his mind was filled with great delight, as he had never known before, and he pressed his palms together, faced his sons and said, "Who is your teacher? Whose disciples are you?'
"The two sons replied, "Great king, the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom is at present sitting in the Dharma seat under the seven-jeweled bodhi tree and, amid the multitudes of heavenly and human beings of all the world, is broadly expounding the Lotus Sutra. This is our teacher and we are his disciples.'
"The father said to his sons, 'I would like to go now and see your teacher, You can go with me.'
"With this the two sons descended from the air, proceeded to where their mother was, pressed their palms together and said to their mother, 'Our royal father has now come to believe and understand, he is fully capable of conceiving a desire for anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. We have finished doing the Buddha's work for the sake of our father. We beg that our mother will permit us to go to the place where the Buddha is, to leave the household life and to practice the way.'
"At that time the two sons, wishing to state their meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying to their mother:
We beg our mother to permit us
to leave the household and become shramanas.
The Buddhas are very hard to encounter;
we will follow this Buddha and learn from him.
Rare as is the udumbara flower,
rarer is it to encounter a Buddha,
and escaping from difficulties is also difficult--
we beg you to allow us to leave the household.
"Their mother then said to them, 'I will permit you to leave the household life. Why? Because the Buddha is difficult to encounter.'
"The two sons then addressed their father and mother, saying: 'Excellent, father and mother! And we beg you in due time to go to the place where the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom is, attend him in person and offer alms. Why? Because encountering the Buddha is as difficult as encountering the udumbara flower. Or as difficult as it is for a one-eyed turtle to encounter a floating log with a hole in it. We have been blessed with great good fortune from past existences and so have been born in an age where we can encounter the Buddha's Law. For this reason our father and mother should permit us to leave household life. Why? Because the Buddhas are difficult to encounter, and the proper time is also hard to come upon.'
"At that time the eighty-four thousand persons in the women's quarters of King Wonderful Adornment were all capable of accepting and upholding the Lotus Sutra. Bodhisattva Pure Eye had long ago mastered the Dharma flower samadhi, and Bodhisattva Pure Storehouse had already, some hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas in the past, mastered the samadhi of the escape from the evil realms of existence. This was because he wished to make it possible for all living beings to escape the evil realms. The king's consort had gained the samadhi of the Buddhas' assembly and was capable of understanding the secret storehouse of the Buddhas. Her two sons, as already described, had employed the power of expedient means to improve and transform their father so that he could acquire a mind of faith and understanding and love and delight in the Buddha's Law.
"Thereupon King Wonderful Adornment, accompanied by his ranks of ministers and his attendants; his queen Pure Virtue and all the ladies-in-waiting and attendants of the women's quarters; and the king's two sons and their forty-two thousand attendants, all at the same time went to where the Buddha was. Arriving there, they bowed their heads to the ground in obeisance to his feet, circled around the Buddha three times, and then withdrew and stood to one side.
"At that time that Buddha preached the Law for the sake of the king, instructing him and bringing him benefit and joy. The king was exceedingly delighted.
"At that time King Wonderful Adornment and his queen removed from their necks necklaces of pearls worth hundreds and thousands and scattered them over the Buddha. In midair the necklaces changed into a jeweled dais with four pillars. On the dais was a large jeweled couch spread with hundreds, thousands, ten thousands of heavenly robes. Seated cross-legged on them was a Buddha who emitted a brilliant light.
"At that time King Wonderful Adornment thought to himself: The Buddha's body is rare indeed, extraordinary in dignity and adornment, constituting a form of utmost subtlety and wonder! Then the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom spoke to the four kinds of believers, saying, 'Do you see this King Wonderful Adornment who stands before me with his palms pressed together? In the midst of my Law this king will become a monk, diligently practicing the Law that aids the Buddha way. He will be able to become a Buddha. His name will be Sal Tree King, his land will be called Great Light, and his kalpa will be called Great Lofty King. This Buddha Sal Tree King will have an immeasurable multitude of bodhisattvas, as well as immeasurable voice-hearers. His land will be level and smooth. Such will be his benefits.'
"The king immediately turned his kingdom to his younger brother and he himself, along with his queen, his two sons, and all their attendants, in the midst of the Buddha's Law renounced the household life to practice the way.
"After the king had left the household life, for the space of eighty-four thousand yours he constantly applied himself with diligence, practicing the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law. When his period had passed, he gained the samadhi of the adornment of all pure benefits. Rising into the air to the height of seven tala trees, he addressed the Buddha saying: 'World-Honored One, these two sons of mine have carried out the Buddha's work, employing transcendental powers and transformations to turn my mind away from heresies, enabling me to abide safely in the Buddha's Law, and permitting me to see the World-Honored One. These two sons have been good friends to me. They wished to awaken the good roots from my past existences and to enrich and benefit me, and for that reason they were born into my household.'
"At that time the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom said to King Wonderful Adornment, 'Just so, just so. It is as you have said. If good men and good women have planted good roots, and as a result in existence after existence have been able to gain good friends, then these good friends can do the Buddha's work, teaching, benefiting, delighting, and enabling them to enter anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Great king, you should understand that a good friend is the great cause and condition by which one is guided and led, and which enables one to see the Buddha and to conceive the desire for anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Great king, do you see these two sons? These two sons have already offered alms to Buddhas equal in number to the sands of sixty-five hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million nayutas of Ganges, have drawn near to them with reverence, and in the presence of those Buddhas have accepted and upheld the Lotus Sutra, thinking with compassion of living beings who embrace heretical views and causing them to abide in correct views.'
"King Wonderful Adornment then descended from midair and said to the Buddha, 'World-Honored One, the Thus Come One is a very rare being! Because of his benefits and wisdom, the knob of flesh on the top of his head illuminates all with bright light. His eyes are long, broad, and dark blue in color. The tuft of hair in between his eyebrows, one of his features, is white as a crystal moon. His teeth are white, even, closely spaced, and constantly have a bright gleam. His lips are red and beautiful as the bimba fruit.'
"At that time King Wonderful Adornment, having praised the Buddha's immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of benefits in this manner, in the presence of the Thus Come One single-mindedly pressed his palms together and addressed the Buddha once more, saying 'World-Honored One, such a thing as this has never been known before! The law of the Thus Come One is fully endowed with inconceivably subtle and wonderful benefits. Where his teachings and precepts are observed there will be tranquility and good feeling. From this day on I will give way to heretical views or to arrogance, anger, or other evil states of mind.'
"When he had spoken these words, he bowed to the Buddha and departed."
The Buddha said to the great assembly: "What is your opinion? Is this King Wonderful Adornment someone unknown to you? In fact he is none other than the present Bodhisattva Flower Virtue. And his queen Pure Virtue is Bodhisattva Light Shining Adornment Marks who is now in the Buddha's presence. Out of pity and compassion for King Wonderful Adornment and his attendants, he was born in their midst. The king's sons are the present bodhisattvas Medicine King and Medicine Superior.
"These bodhisattvas Medicine King and Medicine Superior have already succeeded in acquiring great benefits such as these, and in the presence of immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of Buddhas have planted numerous roots of virtue and acquired inconceivably good benefits. If there are persons who are acquainted with the names of these two bodhisattvas, the heavenly and human beings of all the world will surely do obeisance to them."
When the Buddha preached this chapter on the Former Affairs of King Wonderful Adornment, eighty-four thousand persons removed themselves from dust and defilement and with respect to the various phenomena attained the pure Dharma eye.