The Tibetan Lotus Sutra Translation Project: First Preview of Chapter 1

At that time, the four assemblies [of monks, nuns, male and female lay practitioners] around the Bhagavān fully circumambulated, and attending to him, they respected, venerated, honored, made offerings, extolled and supplicated him. Thereupon, he expounded an explanation of the type of Dharma known as ‘The Great Definitive Teaching’, a Sūtra of extremely great vastness instructed to Bodhisattvas, fully embraced by all Buddhas. There on that very Dharma seat, with cross-legged position, he rested equanimously in the deep meditative concentration known as ‘The Abode of the Limitless Definitive Teaching’, and as he abided there, his body became unmoving, and his mind unwavering.

As soon as the Bhagavān had entered into meditative equilibrium, a great rain of flowers, consisting of the divine flowers Mandāra, Mahā-Mandāra, Mañjushuka and Mahā-Mañjushuka, came down with great force, and scattered over the Bhagavān and those four assemblies. The all-encompassing realm of the Buddha also came to shake in six ways, that is, it vibrated, comprehensively and intensely vibrated, quivered, comprehensively and intensely quivered, trembled, and comprehensively and intensely trembled.

At that time, the monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, demigods, garuḍas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans and non-humans, kings of small countries, those who ruled over a powerful dominion, and those who ruled over the dominion of the four continents who had thus gathered in that assembly and were there arrayed, along with their retinues: all of them stood there looking at the Bhagavān, for they had become amazed, had become astronished, and had become most joyful.

Then at that time, from the Bhagavān’s Treasure-Hair in the space betweeen his eyebrows there emerged a single beam of light; and it went into eighteen thousand Buddha-realms in the eastern direction, and thus in all those Buddha-realms, everything from the great hells of unending torment all the way up to the peak of conditioned existence was made visible by the light of that light-beam. In the six transmigratory states of those Buddha-realms, all those sentient beings which were there, with none left out, were made visible. In those Buddha-realms all those Buddha-Bhagavāns who were abiding and remained living were also made visible. All those Dharmas which were expounded by those Buddha-Bhagavāns, with nothing left out, were resounding as well. In those Buddha-realms the monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, Yogis, and Yogic practitioners who had attained fruition and those who had not attained fruition were also all made visible. In those Buddha-realms, those Bodhisattvas who practiced the conduct of the Bodhisattva with causal skillful means of numerous different kinds of study, focus and aspiration were also all made visible. In those Buddha-realms, those Buddhas who had passed into Complete Nirvāṇa were also all made visible. In those Buddha-realms, those Stūpas made from precious materials containing the relics of the Buddha-Bhagavāns who had passed into Complete Nirvāṇa were also all made visible.

Then, the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva Maitreya had the thought: “Incredible! By what cause has this display of great signs and miracles here come about? Why has the Bhagavān shown such great signs and miracles? For while the Bhagavān is equanimously immersed within deep meditative concentration, these sort of inconceivable great miracles of magic, these great amazing wonders have also come to appear: So who shall I ask about the meaning of this? Who is there that can provide an answer for the meaning of this here?”

– from The Tibetan Lotus Sūtra (Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra)

‘The Noble White Lotus of the Sublime Dharma: A Mahāyāna Scripture’

(dam pa’i chos pad ma dkar po’i zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo)

Chapter 1: The Preamble

Translated from Tibetan by Erick Tsiknopoulos and the Sugatagarbha Translation Group

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