Illumination

buddillumin

At that time the Bhagavat was respectfully surrounded by the fourfold assembly (i.e., monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen), paid homage, honored, and praised. He then taught the bodhisattvas the Mahayana sutra called Immeasurable Meanings (Mahānirdeśa), the instruction for the bodhisattvas and the treasured lore of the buddhas. After having taught this sutra, the Buddha sat cross-legged, entered the samādhi called the “abode of immeasurable meanings” (ananta-nirdeśa-pratiṣṭhāna) and remained unmoving in both body and mind. Māndārava and great māndārava flowers, manjūṣaka and great manjūṣaka flowers then fell like rain from the sky, scattering upon the Buddha and all of his attendants; and the whole buddha world quaked in six ways. At that time, that whole assembly of such humans and nonhumans as monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen, the devas, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṃnaras, mahoragas, kings, and noble emperors, having experienced something unprecedented, were filled with joy, and with their palms pressed together they gazed attentively at the Buddha.

Sutra of Immeasurable Meanings (Mahānirdeśa):  this is part of what is known as the Three-fold Lotus Sutra; essentially it is a form of prologue to the Lotus Sutra.

samādhi called the “abode of immeasurable meanings” (ananta-nirdeśa-pratiṣṭhāna): As the Buddha remained “unmoving in both body and mind” during this particular Samadhi, its import is one of a great foreshadowing of the profound nature of the teaching to come. Tao-Sheng’s Commentary says:

-Samadhi of the Immeasurable Doctrine (entering the utmost samadhi), all that he will say after he rises from the Samadhi should not allow any error; Thus he has to verify it.

Māndārava and great māndārava flowers, manjūaka and great manjūaka flowers: at the height of his Samadhi, his spirit moves both heaven and earth; a sign of this are majestic flowers falling like rain.

Then the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows. It illuminated all the eighteen thousand worlds in the east, down as far as the lowest hell, Avīci, and up as high as the Akaniṣṭha Heaven. All the sentient beings in those worlds living in the six transmigratory states became visible from this world. The buddhas in those worlds were also seen, and the Dharma they were teaching could be heard. The monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen and those who had practiced and achieved the path were also to be seen, while the bodhisattva mahāsattvas, of various background causes and conditions, endowed in various degrees with the willingness to understand and having various appearances, were also seen practicing the bodhisattva path. All of the buddhas who had achieved parinirvāṇa were seen, as well as their relic stupas made of the seven precious treasures.

This is the great nota bene of the Buddha—take note, a great mystical signature is striking its marvelous tone: The Sign of Supreme Illumination!

This sign occurs elsewhere  in Buddhaic Literature, but this particular occasion it is the mark of something very deep and profound: the great bodhisattva Mañjuśrī will soon explain to bodhisattva Maitreya that the only time this occurs is when the Blessed One is about to preach the Holy Scripture  of the White Lotus Blossom of the Marvelous Dharma. This is also a tell-tale sign that the entire assembly will also become illumined with this forthcoming Holy Teaching, for this is a most Auspicious Light indeed! In a very real sense, their own Dharma-Eye will become open. Tao-Sheng’s Commentary magnifies this occurrence as:

This is intended to illustrate the right middle-path of the One Vehicle and the nonexistence of the two vehicles which are an illusion and hindrance. Its being present in the forehead signifies the mark of impartiality. When such a glow shines, the [noble] knowledge will certainly become manifest.

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