Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Lotus Sutra Chapter 8: Announcement of the future destiny of the 500 monks

A sublime, grand, splendid, and matchless prediction,
but what about those gods? And that nasty bit about women?

And as to the Buddhas, monks, who have in future to appear in this Bhadra-kalpa, to the number of a thousand less four, under the mastership of them also shall this same Pûrna, son of Maitrayanî, be the foremost among the preachers of the law and the keeper of the true law. Thus he shall keep the true law of innumerable and incalculable Lords and Buddhas in future, promote the interest of innumerable and incalculable beings, and bring innumerable and incalculable beings to full ripeness for supreme and perfect enlightenment. Constantly and assiduously he shall be instant in purifying his own Buddha-field and bringing creatures to ripeness. After completing such a Bodhisattva-course, at the end of innumerable, incalculable Æons, he shall reach supreme and perfect enlightenment; he shall in the world be the Tathâgata called Dharmaprabhâsa, an Arhat, &c., endowed with science and conduct, a Sugata, &c. He shall appear in this very Buddha-field.

Further, monks, at that time the Buddha-field spoken of will look as if formed by thousands of spheres similar to the sands of the river Ganges. It will be even, like the palm of the hand, consist of seven precious substances, be without hills, and filled with high edifices of seven precious substances. There will be cars of the gods stationed in the sky; the gods will behold men, and men will behold the gods. Moreover, monks, at that time that Buddha-field shall be exempt from places of punishment and from womankind, as all beings shall be born by apparitional birth. They shall lead a spiritual life, have ideal bodies, be self-lighting, magical, moving in the firmament, strenuous, of good memory, wise, possessed of gold-coloured bodies, and adorned with the thirty-two characteristics of a great man.

Yes, this book is very much a product of its time and place, and thankfully this can be read allegorically.

One wonders what sorts of doubts existed amongst whom that gave rise to such cheer leading.


It can be seen that there is the possibility of a better future destiny if one lives one's life one way as opposed to another.

I recently saw the movie The Legend of Baggger Vance (again.) The parts where Will Smith's character describes how the shot one takes one's was prepared by one's whole life is a worthwhile point, gilded in its own way.

One can quibble with the cultural and historical aspects of much of the Lotus Sutra, for sure, but it is undeniable that there are better ways to live one's life, and there are worse ways to live one's life, and the whole past gives rise to what it's like to be in this present moment, and what can be done in this present moment.

Is that in Chapter 8 of the Lotus Sutra? Not really, I'd admit, but I suspect a sentiment was in effect when they wrote it.

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