Lastly, the Bodhisattva Boundless in Virtue and Goodness arose from his seat in the sacred assembly, bowed and then prostrated himself at the feet of the Tathagata and then circumambulated about him three times to the right. He then knelt down and with hands clasped in a manner depicting sublime devotion, invoked the Blessed One.
“World-Honored One of Infinite Compassion! You have most magnificently revealed for us and all sentient beings in the degenerate age about the nature of this inconceivable matter. World-Honored One, what manner of name should be applied to this Great Vehicle Teaching? How best to receive and observe and practice it? When sentient beings come to honor and practice it, what type of merits will they acquire? What will be the extent of merits received by those who propagate it?
After invoking his pleas in three-fold fashion, he then once again prostrated himself on the ground before the feet of the Blessed One.
Bodhisattva Boundless in Virtue and Goodness: The qualities of this Bodhisattva fully embodies all the others that came before; they represent the true-vessels of the Buddhadharma and are ripe for Buddhahood. They have realized the Wisdom Eye and thus are empowered to turn the wheel of the dharma and repel any attacks of the evil one. Yea, boundless in Virtue and Goodness, they bespeak of what is expounded about them in the Entry into the Realm of Reality:
“…how can I know the practice or tell of the virtues of the enlightening beings who have entered into the ocean of all enlightening beings’ practices in accord with pure vows; who have entered into the ocean of all vows, to remain in the world through all ages; who have entered into the mundane whirl of all beings, to act appropriately according to their mentalities; who have entered the ocean of minds of all beings, to communicate knowledge; who have entered the ocean of all virtues, to produce the vision of the knowledge of the ten powers without obstruction; who have entered the ocean of all beings’ faculties, to guide them to maturity and perfection with appropriate timing; who have entered the ocean of all lands, by carrying out the vow to purify all lands; who have entered the ocean of all Buddhas, by the power of the vow to honor and attend all enlightened ones; who have entered the ocean of all truths, for the communication of knowledge; who have entered the ocean of all virtues by pursuing their realization; who have entered the ocean of languages of all beings, to carry out the turning of the wheel of the teaching in all languages?”
Presently, the World-Honored One addressed Bodhisattva Boundless in Virtue and Goodness: “Most outstanding, most outstanding indeed! Most Virtuous One, you have enquired well on behalf of the multitude of Bodhisattvas and sentient beings in the degenerate age concerning the merits and name of this sutra teaching. Listen attentively and I shall explain it to you.”
Bodhisattva Boundless in Virtue and Goodness glowed with joy and listened silently along with the rest of the assembly.
“Virtuous ones, this sutra is expounded by billions upon billions of countless Buddhas in innumerable Dharma-realms. It is highly esteemed by all Tathagatas in the three times. It is the wonderful-refuge of Bodhisattvas in the ten-directions. It is the Pure Dharma-Eye of the twelve divisions of scriptures.”
twelve divisions of the scriptures: (jūnibu-kyō): Also, twelve divisions of the teachings. A classification of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings according to their content and style of presentation. The term “twelve divisions of the scriptures” is often used in the same sense as “the eighty thousand teachings,” indicating the entire body of the Buddha’s teachings. The twelve divisions of the scriptures are as follows: (1) sūtra, teachings in prose; (2) geya, restatements of sūtra in verse; (3) vyākarana, the Buddha’s predictions of the enlightenment of disciples; (4) gāthā, teachings set forth by the Buddha in verse; (5) udāna, teachings preached by the Buddha spontaneously without request or query from his disciples; (6) nidāna, descriptions of the purpose, cause, and occasion of propounding teachings and rules of monastic discipline; (7) avadāna, tales of previous lives of persons other than the Buddha; (8) itivrittaka, discourses beginning with the words “Thus the World-Honored One said” (according to another definition, stories that describe previous lives of the Buddha’s disciples and bodhisattvas); (9) jātaka, stories of the Buddha’s previous lives; (10) vaipulya, expansion of doctrine; (11) adbhutadharma, descriptions of marvelous events that concern the Buddha or his disciples (also applied to descriptions that praise the great merit and power of the Buddha and his disciples); and (12) upadesha, discourses on the Buddha’s teachings. (Nichiren Buddhist Library)
“This sutra is named the Dhāraṇī of Primordial Enlightenment; also known as the Sutra of Ultimate Truth; the mysterious Regal Samādhi; the Definitive Dharma-realm of the Tathagata; and the Distinctions within the Intrinsic Nature of the Tathagatagarbha. You should worthily receive it and honorably practice according to it.”
“Virtuous ones, this sutra reveals only the Dharma-realm of the Tathagatas, and thus only the Buddha—the Tathagata—can fully expound upon it. If Bodhisattvas and sentient beings in the Dharma-ending age practice according to this scripture, then they will gradually progress and realize Buddhahood.”
“Virtuous ones, this exemplary sutra is also called the Sudden-Teaching of the Great Vehicle. Sentient beings with the high-capacity for the “sudden” will surely awaken through it. At the same time, it embraces all others with different capacities who partake in gradual cultivation. It can be likened unto a Great Ocean which permits smaller streams to merge with it. All who drink from this oceanic cistern will find fulfillment and realization.”
“Virtuous ones, consider the example of a man, who with the purest of intentions, gathered together the seven treasures with enough quota to fill three-thousand galaxies, and distributed them all away for almsgiving. His merit would never be equal to the astounding merit of one who heard and understood the meaning of just a single passage from this sutra.”
Seven treasures: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother-of-pearl, red pearl, and camelian.
“Virtuous ones, if someone teaches hundreds of sentient beings as innumerable as the grains of sand of the Ganges such that they attain arhatship, his merit will never be compared to someone who expounded just half a gatha of this scripture.”
“Virtuous ones, if there is anyone who simply hears the name of this sutra and believes wholeheartedly in it beyond the shadow of any doubt, let it be made known that he has not just sown the seeds of merit and wisdom with just a few Buddhas, but has also fully cultivated his roots of goodness and virtue with countless myriads of Buddhas in all the ten-directions.”
“Virtuous ones, you should also protect any sentient being in the degenerate age who is a practitioner of this sutra, to the full extent of not allowing any evil force or heretical teachings to disrupt them from fulfilling their noble efforts.”
In order to reinforce this Mind-teaching, the World-Honored One spoke thus in verse:
Most Boundless in Virtue and Goodness, you should know
this Noble Sutra is that which all the Buddhas proclaim
and that which all the Tathagatas will well-protect.
It is the Wisdom-Eye of all the twelve divisions
and it is named
the Dhāraṇī of Primordial Enlightenment.
It is the Definitive Dharma-realms of the Tathagatas.
Those who fully practice according to its teachings,
will gradually advance to Buddhahood.
It is likened unto a Great Ocean
which gladly accepts all streams
and thus quenches all those who thirst.
If there was a man who accumulated the seven treasures,
thus donating it all away enough to fill three-thousand galaxies,
still it would never be equal to the hearing of this sutra.
If someone taught hundreds of sentient beings
as innumerable as the grains of sand of the Ganges
such that they attained arhatship,
It would never be equal to expounding just half a gatha.
Foremost, for the coming generations,
protect those who give and receive this teaching,
in such a manner that they will never regress again.
The Supernal Ones Grant Protection
Suddenly, from the midst of the assembly, arose Blazing-haired Vajra-warriors, Hammering Vajra-warriors, Blue Vajra-warriors—altogether eighty thousand Vajra-warriors together with their entourages. They then bowed and prostrated themselves at the feet of the Tathagata and said in unison: “Mighty World-Honored One, if we discover any sentient beings in the Dharma-ending age practicing this Great Vehicle Teaching, we will surely protect them as we would our own eyes. Additionally, we shall send our vanguard to shield their chosen sites for practice. We shall also assure them that their families and possessions will be forever free from any vicious assaults from the evil one; they shall also be freed and cured from any illnesses that may be inflicting them. Also, we shall see to it that they never suffer from poverty.”
Then the Great Brahma Kings, the Kings of the Twenty-Eight Heavens, altogether with the King of Mt. Sumeru and the nation-protecting Kings, arose from their seats. They then bowed and prostrated themselves at the feet of the Tathagata and said in unison: “World-Honored One, we shall also protect anyone who adheres to this sacred teaching. We will bestow upon them the spirit of peace and tranquility so that they may never be hindered in their practice.”
Twenty-eight heavens: (nijūhatten or nijūhachi-ten): Subdivisions of the world of heaven—the six heavens in the world of desire, the eighteen heavens (subdivisions of the four meditation heavens in the world of form), and the four immaterial realms in the world of formlessness. The six heavens in the world of desire are the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings (Chātur-mahārāja-kāyika), the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods (Trāyastrimsha), the Yāma Heaven, the Heaven of Satisfaction (Tushita), the Heaven of Enjoying the Conjured (Nirmānarati), and the Heaven of Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others (Paranirmita-vasha-vartin). The eighteen heavens in the world of form are the Heaven of Brahmā’s Retinue (Brahmakāyika), the Heaven of Brahmā’s Aide (Brahmapurohita), and the Heaven of Great Brahmā (Mahābrahman) in the first meditation heaven; the Minor Light Heaven (Parīttābha), the Infinite Light Heaven (Apramānābha), and the Light Sound Heaven (Ābhāsvara, also known as the Utmost Light and Purity Heaven) in the second meditation heaven; the Minor Purity Heaven (Parīttashubha), the Boundless Purity Heaven (Apramānashubha), and the All Pure Heaven (Shubhakritsna) in the third meditation heaven; and the Cloudless Heaven (Anabhraka), the Merit Increasing Heaven (Punyaprasava), the Large Fruitage Heaven (Brihatphala), the Heaven of No Thought (Asamjnin), the Heaven of No Vexations (Avriha), the Heaven of No Heat (Atapa), the Reward Appearing Heaven (Sudrisha), the Heaven of Clear Perception (Sudarshana), and the Akanishtha Heaven in the fourth meditation heaven. The four realms in the world of formlessness are the Realm of Boundless Empty Space (Ākāshānantyāyatana), the Realm of Boundless Consciousness (Vijnānānantyāyatana), the Realm of Nothingness (Ākimchanyāyatana), and the Realm of Neither Thought Nor No Thought (Naivasamjnānāsamjnāyatana). (Nichiren Buddhist Library)
Then a powerful demon-king named Kumbhanda, together with one hundred thousand other demon kings rose from their seats, prostrated themselves at the feet of the Tathagata and then circumambulated about him three times to the right and said in unison: “World-Honored One, we also shall watch over anyone who honors this most sacred text. Additionally, if any evil spirit dare approach within an area ten miles to the revered place of the practitioner, we will absolutely pulverize them to atoms!”
When the Blessed One finished preaching this scripture, all who were present in the assembly, including Bodhisattvas, devas, nagas, raksas, and the rest of the eight groups of spiritual beings together with their retinues, along with the rest of the Great Brahma Kings and Deva-Kings, having heard this Great Teaching became filled with ecstatic joy! They then reverently put it into practice.
The total eight groups of spiritual beings are: devas, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudhas, kinnaras, and mahoragas.
In closing, this sutra emphasized providing practitioners with the best means necessary to acquaint themselves with this particular manifestation of the Buddha-principle for the purpose of hearing the Dharma, which they would subsequently remember and propagate to others. The Path is twofold—the sudden and gradual approach to enlightenment. Hopefully after reading and studying this series the reader and spiritual adept will have also become better acquainted within themselves the path (and methods) that is best suited for them and their practice. Additionally, this sutra wonderfully portrayed and has hopefully edified the reader as to the precise nature of the three-fold meditation approach: śamatha, perfect quiescence; samapatti, correct mindfulness; and dhyāna, one-pointedness of mind. After many years of practice, one will surely discern that all of these three at one time or another bear equal weight for proper spiritual growth and cultivation.