Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chapter 5 Lotus Sutra

Hard to grasp...

1. I am the Dharmarâga, born in the world as the destroyer of existence. I declare the law to all beings after discriminating their dispositions.

2. Superior men of wise understanding guard the word, guard the mystery, and do not reveal it to living beings.

3. That science is difficult to be understood; the simple, if hearing it on a sudden, would be perplexed; they would in their ignorance fall out of the way and go astray.

4. I speak according to their reach and faculty; by means of various meanings I accommodate my view (or the theory).

5. It is, Kâsyapa, as if a cloud rising above the horizon shrouds all space (in darkness) and covers the earth.

6. That great rain-cloud big with water, is wreathed with flashes of lightning and rouses with its thundering call all creatures.

7. By warding off the sunbeams, it cools the region; and gradually lowering so as to come in reach of hands, it begins pouring down its water all around.

8. And so, flashing on every side, it pours out an abundant mass of water equally, and refreshes this earth.

9. And all herbs which have sprung up on the face of the earth, all grasses, shrubs, forest trees, other trees small and great;

10. The various field fruits and whatever is green; all plants on hills, in caves and thickets;

11. All those grasses, shrubs, and trees are vivified by the cloud that both refreshes the thirsty earth and waters the herbs.

12. Grasses and shrubs absorb the water of one essence which issues from the cloud according to their faculty and reach.

13. And all trees, great, small, and mean, drink that water according to their growth and faculty, and grow lustily.

14. The great plants whose trunk, stalk, bark, twigs, pith, and leaves are moistened by the water from the cloud develop their blossoms and fruits.

15. They yield their products, each according to its own faculty, reach, and the particular nature of the germ; still the water emitted (from the cloud) is of but one essence.

16. In the same way, Kâsyapa, the Buddha comes into the world like a rain-cloud, and, once born, he, the world's Lord, speaks and shows the real course of life.

17. And the great Seer, honoured in the world, including the gods, speaks thus: I am the Tathâgata, the highest of men, the Gina; I have appeared in this world like a cloud.

18. I shall refresh all beings whose bodies are withered, who are clogged to the triple world. I shall bring to felicity those that are pining away with toils, give them pleasures and (final) rest.

19. Hearken to me, ye hosts of gods and men; approach to behold me: I am the Tathâgata, the Lord, who has no superior, who appears in this world to save.

20. To thousands of kotis of living beings I preach a pure and most bright law that has but one scope, to wit, deliverance and rest.

21. I preach with ever the same voice, constantly taking enlightenment as my text. For this is equal for all; no partiality is in it, neither hatred nor affection.

22. I am inexorable, bear no love nor hatred towards any one, and proclaim the law to all creatures without distinction, to the one as well as the other.

23. Whether walking, standing, or sitting, I am exclusively occupied with this task of proclaiming the law. I never get tired of sitting on the chair I have ascended.

24. I recreate the whole world like a cloud shedding its water without distinction; I have the same feelings for respectable people as for the low; for moral persons as for the immoral;

25. For the depraved as for those who observe the rules of good conduct; for those who hold sectarian views and unsound tenets as for those whose views are sound and correct.

26. I preach the law to the inferior (in mental culture) as well as to persons of superior understanding and extraordinary faculties; inaccessible to weariness, I spread in season the rain of the law.

27. After hearing me, each according to his faculty, the several beings find their determined place in various situations, amongst gods, men, beautiful beings, amongst Indras, Brahmas, or the monarchs, rulers of the universe.

28. Hear, now, I am going to explain what is meant by those plants of different size, some of them being low in the world, others middle-sized and great.

29. Small plants are called the men who walk in the knowledge of the law, which is free from evil after the attaining of Nirvâna, who possess the six transcendent faculties and the triple science.

30. Mean plants are called the men who, dwelling in mountain caverns, covet the state of a Pratyekabuddha, and whose intelligence is moderately purified.

31. Those who aspire to become leading men (thinking), I will become a Buddha, a chief of gods and men, and who practise exertion and meditation, are called the highest plants.

32. But the sons of Sugata, who sedulously practise benevolence and a peaceful conduct, who have arrived at certainty about their being leading men, these are called trees.

33. Those who move forward the wheel that never rolls back, and with manly strength stand firm in the exercise of miraculous power, releasing many kolis of beings, those are called great trees.

I, speaking for myself, can't but help see a "this is really really really really really so good you can't even find good metaphors for how good this is" mentality pervading this text.

But behind that text, this is merely stating that Buddha nature is pervasive, immanent.

That's the cloud metaphor mixed with the plant metaphor.

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