The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER II SKILLFULNESS
The Lord then rose with recollection and consciousness from his meditation, and forthwith addressed the venerable Sâriputra: The Buddha knowledge, Sâriputra, is profound, difficult to understand, difficult to comprehend. It is difficult for all disciples and Pratyekabuddhas to fathom the knowledge arrived at by the Tathâgatas, &c., and that, Sâriputra, because the Tathâgatas have worshiped many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Buddhas; because they have fulfilled their course for supreme, complete enlightenment, during many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Æons; because they have wandered far, displaying energy and possessed of wonderful and marvelous properties; possessed of properties difficult to understand; because they have found out things difficult to understand.
The mystery of the Tathâgatas, &c., is difficult to understand, Sâriputra, because when they explain the laws (or phenomena, things) that have their causes in themselves they do so by means of skillfulness, by the display of knowledge, by arguments, reasons, fundamental ideas, interpretations, and suggestions. By a variety of skillfulness they are able to release creatures that are attached to one point or another. The Tathâgatas, &c., Sâriputra, have acquired the highest perfection in skillfulness and the display of knowledge; they are endowed with wonderful properties, such as the display of free and unchecked knowledge; the powers; the absence of hesitation; the independent conditions; the strength of the organs; the constituents of Bodhi; the contemplations; emancipations; meditations; the degrees of concentration of mind. The Tathâgatas, &c., Sâriputra, are able to expound various things and have something wonderful and marvelous. Enough, Sâriputra, let it suffice to say, that the Tathâgatas, &c., have something extremely wonderful, Sâriputra. None but a Tathâgatha, Sâriputra, can impart to a Tathâgata those laws which the Tathâgata knows. And all laws, Sâriputra, are taught by the Tathâgata, and by him alone; no one but he knows all laws, what they are, how they are, like what they are, of what characteristics and of what nature they are.
7 To whom this law could be explained or who would be able to understand it when explained, with the exception of the Bodhisattvas, those who are firm in resolve.
8 As to the disciples of the Knower of the world, those who have done their duty and received praise from the Sugatas, who are freed from faults and have arrived at the last stage of bodily existence, the Gina-knowledge lies beyond their sphere.
12 If the ten points of space were filled with Pratyekabuddhas, free from faults, gifted with acute faculties, and standing in the last stage of their existence, as numerous as reeds and bamboos in Ganges, with undivided attention and subtle wit, even then that (knowledge) would be beyond their ken.
14 If the ten points of space were full of Bodhisattvas who, after having don their duty under many kotis of Buddhas, investigated all things and preached many sermons, after entering a new vehicle [or rather a new career];
16 If they were going on investigating for many kotis of Æons, as incalculable as the sand of the Ganges, with undivided attention and subtle wit, even then that knowledge would be beyond their understanding.
20 I address all disciples here, those who have set out to reach the enlightenment of Pratyekabuddhas, those who are roused to activity at my Nirvâna, and those who have been released from the series of evils.
The eminent disciples in the assembly headed by Âgñâta-Kaundinya, the twelve hundred Arhats faultess and self-controlled, the other monks, nuns, male and female lay devotees using the vehicle of disciples, and those who had entered the vehicle of Pratyekabuddhas, all of them made this reflection: What may be the cause, what the reason of the Lord so extremely extolling the skillfulness of the Tathâgatas? of his extolling it by saying, 'Profound is the law by me discovered;' of his extolling it by saying, 'It is difficult for all disciples and Pratyekabuddhas to understand it.' But as yet the Lord has declared no more than one kind of emancipation, and therefore we also should acquire the Buddha-laws on reaching Nirvâna. We do not catch the meaning of this utterance of the Lord.
And the venerable Sâriputra, who apprehended the doubt and uncertainty of the four classes of the audience and guessed their thoughts from what was passing in his own mind, himself being in doubt about the law, then said to the Lord: What, O Lord, is the cause, what the reason of the Lord so repeatedly and extremely extolling the skillfulness, knowledge, and preaching of the Tathâgata? Why does he repeatedly extol it by saying, 'Profound is the law by me discovered; it is difficult to understand the mystery of the Tathâgatas.' Never before have I heard from the Lord such a discourse on the law. Those four classes of the audience, O Lord, are overcome with doubt and perplexity. Therefore may the Lord be pleased to explain what the Tathâgata is alluding to, when repeatedly extolling the profound law of the Tathâgatas.
24 Thou speakest unasked and laudest thine own course; thou mentionest thy having obtained knowledge and pronouncest profound words.
28 Myself have reached the perfection (of virtue), have been taught by the supreme Sage; still, O highest of men! even in my position I feel some doubt whether the course (of duty) shown to me shall receive its final sanction by Nirvâna.
29 Let thy voice be heard, O thou whose voice resounds like an egregious kettle-drum! proclaim thy law such as it is. The legitimate sons of Gina here standing and gazing at the Gina, with joined hands;
30 As well as the gods, Nâgas, goblins, Titans, numbering thousands of kotis, like sand of the of the Ganges; and those that aspire to superior enlightenment, here standing, fully eighty thousand in number;
31 Further, the kings, rulers of provinces and paramount monarchs, who have flocked thither from thousands of kotis of countries, are now standing with joined hands, and respectful, thinking: How are we to fulfill the course of duty?
The venerable Sâriputra having spoken, the Lord said to him: Enough, Sâriputra; it is of no use explaining this matter. Why? Because, Sâriputra, the world, including the gods, would be frightened if this matter were expounded.
But the venerable Sâriputra entreated the Lord a second time, saying: Let the Lord expound, let the Sugata expound this matter, for in this assembly, O Lord, there are many hundreds, many thousands, many hundred thousands, many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of living beings who have seen former Buddhas, who are intelligent, and will believe, value, and accept the words of the Lord.
32 Speak clearly, O most eminent of Ginas! in this assembly there are thousands of living beings trustful, affectionate, and respectful towards the Sugata; they will understand the law by there expounded.
And the Lord said a second time to the venerable Sâriputra; Enough, Sâriputra; it is of no use explaining this matter for the the world, including the gods, would be frightened if this matter were expounded, and some monks might be proud and come to a heavy fall.
32 Speak no more of it that I should declare this law! This knowledge is too subtle, inscrutable, and there are too many unwise men who in their conceit and foolishness would scoff at the law revealed.
A third time the venerable Sâriputra entreated the Lord, saying, Let the Lord expound, let the Sugata expound this matter. In this assembly, O Lord, there are many hundreds of living beings my equals, and many hundreds, many thousands, many hundred thousands, many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of other living beings more, who in former births have been brought by the Lord to full ripeness. They will believe, value, and accept what the Lord declares, which shall tend to their advantage, weal, and happiness in length of time.
34 Explain the law, O thou most high of men! I, thine eldest son, beseech thee. Here are thousands of kotis of beings who are to believe in the law by thee revealed.
When the Lord for the third time heard the entreaty of the venerable Sâriputra, he spoke to him as follows: Now that thou entreatest the Tathâgata a third time, Sâriputra, I will answer thee. Listen then, Sâriputra, take well and duly to heart what I am saying; I am going to speak.
Now it happened that the five thousand proud monks, nuns and lay devotees of both sexes in the congregation rose from their seats and, after saluting with their heads the Lord's feet, went to leave the assembly. Owing to the principle of good which there is in pride they imagined having attained what they had not, and having understood what they had not. Therefore, thinking themselves aggrieved, they went to leave the assembly, to which the Lord by his silence showed assent.
Thereupon the Lord addressed the venerable Sâriputra: My congregation, Sâriputra, has been cleared from the chaff, freed from the trash; it is firmly established in the strength of faith. It is good, Sâriputra, that those proud ones are gone away. Now I am going to expound the matter, Sâriputra. 'Very well, Lord,' replied the venerable Sâriputra. The Lord then began and said:
It is but now and then, Sâriputra, that the Tathâgata preaches such a discourse on the law as this. just as but now and then is seen the blossom of the glamorous fig-tree, Sâriputra, so does the Tathâgata but now and then preach such a discourse on the law. Believe me, Sâriputra; I speak what is real, I speak what is truthful, I speak what is right. It is difficult to understand the exposition of the mystery of the Tathâgata, Sâriputra; for in elucidating the law, Sâriputra, I use hundred thousands of various skilful means, such as different interpretations, indications, explanations, illustrations. It is not by reasoning, Sâriputra, that the law is to be found: it is beyond the pale of reasoning, and must be learnt from the Tathâgata. For, Sâriputra, it is for a sole object, a sole aim, verily a lofty object, a lofty aim that the Buddha, the Tathâgata, &c., appears in the world. And what is that sole object, that sole aim, that lofty object, that lofty aim of the Buddha, the Tathâgata, &c., appearing in the world? To show all creatures the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge does the Buddha, the Tathâgata, &c., appear in the world; to open the eyes of creatures for the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge does the Buddha, the Tathâgata, &c., appear in the world. This, O Sâriputra, is the sole object, the sole aim, the sole purpose of his appearance in the world. Such then, Sâriputra, is the sole object, the sole aim, the lofty object, the lofty aim of the Tathâgata. And it is achieved by the Tathâgata. For, Sâriputra, I do show all creatures the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge; I do open the eyes of creatures for the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge, Sâriputra; I do firmly establish the teaching of Tathâgata-knowledge, Sâriputra; I do lead the teaching of Tathâgata-knowledge on the right path, Sâriputra. By means of one sole vehicle, to wit, the Buddha-vehicle, Sâriputra, do I teach creatures the law; there is no second vehicle, nor a third. This is the nature of the law, Sâriputra, universally in the world, in all directions. For,Sariputra, all the Tathâgatas, &c., who in times past existed in countless, innumerable spheres in all directions for the weal of many, the happiness of many, out of pity to the world, for the benefit, weal, and happiness of the great body of creatures, and who preached the law to gods and men with able means, such as several directions and indications, various arguments, reasons, illustrations, fundamental ideas, interpretations, paying regard to the dispositions of creatures whose inclinations and temperaments are so manifold, all those Buddhas and Lords, Sâriputra, have preached the law to creatures by means of only one vehicle, the Buddha-vehicle, which finally leads to omniscience; it is identical with showing all creatures the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge; with opening the eyes of creatures for the sight of Tathâgata-knowledge; with the awakening (or admonishing) by the display (or sight) of Tathâgata -knowledge; with leading the teaching of Tathâgata-knowledge on the right path. Such is the law they have preached to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who have heard the law from the past Tathâgatas, &c., have all of them reached supreme, perfect enlightenment.
And the Tathâgatas, &c., who shall exist in future, Sariputra, in countless, innumerable spheres in all directions for the weal of many, the happiness of many, out of pity to the world, for the benefit, weal, and happiness of the great body of creatures, and who shall preach the law to gods and men (&c., as above till) the right path. Such is the law they shall preach to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who shall hear the law from the future Tathâgatas, &c., shall all of them reach supreme, perfect enlightenment.
And the Tathâgatas, &c., who now at present are staying, living, existing, Sâriputra, in countless, innumerable spheres in all directions, &c., and who are preaching the law to gods and men (&c., as above till) the right path. Such is the law they are preaching to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who are hearing the law from the present Tathâgatas, &c., shall all of them reach supreme, perfect enlightenment.
I myself also, Sâriputra, am at the present period a Tathâgata, &c., for the weal of many (&c., till) manifold; I myself also, Sâriputra, am preaching the law to creatures (&c., till) the right path. Such is the law I preach to creatures. And those creatures, Sâriputra, who now are hearing the law from me, shall all of them reach supreme, perfect enlightenment. In this sense, Sâriputra, it must be understood that nowhere in the world a second vehicle is taught, far less a third.
Yet, Sâriputra, when the Tathâgatas, &c., happen to appear at the decay of the epoch, the decay of creatures, the decay of besetting sins, the decay of views, or the decay of lifetime; when they appear amid such signs of decay at the disturbance of the epoch; when creatures are much tainted, full of greed and poor in roots of goodness; then, Sâriputra, the Tathâgatas, &c., use, skilfully, to designate that one and sole Buddha-vehicle by the appellation of the threefold vehicle. Now, Sâriputra, such disciples, Arhats, or Pratyekabuddhaswho do not hear their actually being called to the Buddha-vehicle by the Tathâgata, who do not perceive, nor heed it, those, Sâriputra, should not be acknowledged as disciples of the Tathâgata, nor as Arhats, nor as Pratyekabuddhas.
Again, Sâriputra, if there be some monk or nun pretending to Arhatship without an earnest vow to reach supreme, perfect enlightenment and saying, 'I am standing too high for the Buddha-vehicle, I am in my last appearance in the body before complete Nirvâna,' then, Sâriputra, consider such a one to be conceited. For, Sâriputra, it is unfit, it is improper that a monk, a faultless Arhat, should not believe in the law which he hears from the Tathâgata in his presence. I leave out of question when the Tathâgata shall have reached complete Nirvâna; for at that period, that time, Sâriputra, when the Tathâgata shall be wholly extinct, there shall be none who either knows by heart or preaches such Sûtras as this. It will be under other Tathâgatas, &c., that they are to be freed from doubts. In respect to these things believe my words, Sâriputra, value them, take them to heart; for there is no falsehood in the Tathâgatas, Sâriputra. There is but one vehicle, Sâriputra, and that the Buddha-vehicle.
43 Those living beings I initiate in this (law) by the aid of manifold interpretations and reasons; and by hundreds of arguments and illustrations have I, in one way or another, gladdened all creatures.
47 Why should not the mighty one, after having waited for the right time, speak, now that he perceives the right moment is come? This is the fit opportunity, met somehow, of commencing the exposition of what really is.
48 Now the word of my commandment, as contained in nine divisions, has been published according to the varying degree of strength of creatures. Such is the device I have shown in order to introduce (creatures) to the knowledge of the giver of boons.
50 For they are endowed with such gifts of mental disposition and such advantages of a blameless outward form that I can announce to them: in future ye shall become Buddhas benevolent and compassionate.
55 There where the self-born one has established himself, and where the object of knowledge is, of whatever form or kind; (where) the powers, the stages of meditation, the emancipations, the perfected faculties (are); there the beings also shall be established.
58 When, splendidly marked with (the thirty-two) characteristics, I am illuminating this whole world, and, worshiped by many hundreds of beings, I show the (unmistakable) stamp of the nature of the law;
62 And considering them to be such, and that they have not accomplished their course of duty in previous existences, (I see how) they are attached and devoted to sensual pleasures, infatuated by desire and blind with delusion.
64 They are continually entangled in the thickets of (sectarian) theories, such as, 'It is and it is not; it is thus and it is not thus.' In trying to get a decided opinion on what is found in the sixty-two (heretical) theories they come to embrace falsehood and continue in it.
73 Yet the Ginas possess various and manifold means through which the Tathâgata reveals to the world, including the gods, superior enlightenment, in consideration of the inclinations and dispositions (of the different beings).
74 And all in the world who are hearing or have heard the law from the mouth of the Tathâgatas, given alms, followed the moral precepts, and patiently accomplished the whole of their religious duties;
86 Those even, whether men or boys, who during the lesson or in play, by way of amusement, made upon the walls (such) images with the nail or a piece of wood,
92 They have all of them reached enlightenment. By paying various kinds of worship to the relics of the Sugatas, by doing but a little for the relics, by making resound were it but a single musical instrument;
93 Or by worshiping were it but with a single flower, by drawing on a wall the images of the Sugatas, by doing worship were it even with distracted thoughts, one shall in course of time see kotis of Buddhas.
94 Those who, when in presence of a Stûpa, have offered their reverential salutation, be it in a complete form or by merely joining the hands; who, were it but for a single moment, bent their head or body;
99 Never has there been any being who, after hearing the law of those (leaders), shall not become Buddha; for this is the fixed vow of the Tathâgatas: Let me, by accomplishing my course of duty, lead others to enlightenment.
102 They shall reveal the stability of the law, its being subjected to fixed rules, its unshakeable perpetuity in the world, the awaking of the Buddhas on the elevated terrace of the earthr skillfulness.
104 Those Buddhas while manifesting skillfulness display various vehicles though, at the same time, indicating the one single vehicle: the supreme place of blessed rest; virtuous actions; with due regard to their strenuousness and vigour, as well as their inclination, the Buddhas impart their lights to them.
105 Acquainted as they are with the conduct of all mortals, with their peculiar dispositions and previous actions; with due regard to their strenuousness and vigour, as well as their inclination, the Buddhas impart their lights to them.
108 I reveal the law in its multifariousness with regard to the inclinations and dispositions of creatures. I use different means to rouse each according to his own character. Such is the might of my knowledge.
110 Fettered as they are by desire like the yak by its tail, continually blinded by sensual pleasure, they do not seek the Buddha, the mighty one; they do not seek the law that leads to the end of pain.
115 All stood with joined hands and respectful, while myself was revolving the matter in my mind (and thought): What shall I do? At the very time that I am uttering syllables, beings are oppressed with evils.
116 In their ignorance they will not heed the law I announce, and in consequence of it they will incur some penalty. It would be better were I never to speak. May my quiet extinction take place this very day!
120 'We also, being Buddhas, will make clear the highest word, divided into three parts; for men (occasionally) have low inclinations, and might perchance from ignorance not believe (us, when we say), Ye shall become Buddhas.
123 'I, too, will act according to the indications of the wise leaders of the world; having myself been born in the midst of the degradation of creatures, I have known agitation in this dreadful world.'
128 And when such as had heard the law of the Ginas, owing to the many-sidedness of (their) skillfulness, had approached me and stood before my face, all of them with joined hands, and respectful;
136 Just as the blossom of the glamorous fig-tree is rare, albeit sometimes, at some places, and somehow it is met with, as something pleasant to see for everybody, as a wonder to the world including the gods;
137 (So wonderful) and far more wonderful is the law I proclaim. Any one who, on hearing a good exposition of it, shall cheerfully accept it and recite but one word of it, will have done honor to all Buddhas.
143 Such is the mastership of the leaders; that is, their skilfulness. They have spoken in many mysteries; hence it is difficult to understand (them).
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER I
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER II SKILLFULNESS
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER III A PARABLE
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER IV DISPOSITION
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER V ON PLANTS
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER VI ANNOUNCEMENT OF FUTURE DESTINY
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER VII ANCIENT DEVOTION
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER VIII ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE FUTURE DESTINY OF THE FIVE HUNDRED MONKS
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER IX ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE FUTURE DESTINY OF ÂNANDA, RAHULA, AND THE TWO THOUSAND MONKS
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER X THE PREACHER
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XI APPARITION OF A STÛPA
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XII EXERTION
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XIII PEACEFUL LIFE
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XIV ISSUING OF BODHISATTVAS FROM THE GAPS OF THE EARTH
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XV DURATION OF LIFE OF THE TATHÂGATA
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XVI OF PIETY
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XVII INDICATION OF THE MERITORIOUSNESS OF JOYFUL ACCEPTANCE
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XVIII THE ADVANTAGES OF A RELIGIOUS PREACHER
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XIX SADÂPARIBHÛTA
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XX CONCEPTION OF THE TRANSCENDENT POWER OF THE TATHÂGATAS
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XXI SPELLS
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XXII ANCIENT DEVOTION OF BHAISHAGYARÂGA
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XXIII GADGADASVARA
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XXIV CHAPTER CALLED THAT OF THE ALL-SIDED ONE, CONTAINING A DESCRIPTION OF THE TRANSFORMATIONS OF AVALOKITESVARA
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XXV ANCIENT DEVOTION
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XXVI ENCOURAGEMENT OF SAMANTABHADRA
- The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law - CHAPTER XXVII THE PERIOD (OF THE LAW, DHARMAPARYÂYA)