Sutra text from last issue: Then Manjushri... spontaneously rose up out of the great sea from the Sagara Dragon Palace. [He] rose high into the air and went to Magic Vulture Mountain. Descending from his lotus, he went before the Buddhas and bowed in worship at the feet of the two World Honored Ones...
Now someone is wondering, “In the beginning of The Lotus Sutra, in the Introduction, Manjushri was present in the Dharma assembly! When did he leave? How did he get into the ocean? Besides, Shakyamuni Buddha made the seas all disappear. How did he manage to pop out of the ocean?”
You might say this was a very intelligent question; you could also say it’s a really stupid question. You could say it is an important question, and you could also say that it is not important. In the Buddhadharma, such principles are not rigid.
Earlier in the “Chapter on Vision of the Jeweled Stupa,” Shakyamuni Buddha purified the lands three times. But this was just a transformation. It meant that one could no longer “see” the oceans. It didn’t mean that they weren’t actually there.
You could also explain it by saying that although Shakyamuni Buddha has moved the great seas to some other world, Manjushri Bodhisattva himself had great spiritual powers, and he might have come from some other world. In the first chapter, Manjushri Bodhisattva was present in the Dharma assembly. However, Bodhisattvas have limitless, boundless division bodies. At any time they can transform millions of bodies to go off to any world to teach and transform living beings. So the question is both important and unimportant, stupid and intelligent. My responses should have taken care of such questions. If you still can’t figure it out, perhaps you’ll have a dream that will make it clear for you.
Before he had finished speaking, countless Bodhisattvas sitting upon jeweled lotuses rose up out of the sea, went to Magic Vulture Mountain and hovered there in space. These Bodhisattvas had been taught and crossed over by Manjushri Bodhisattva. All of them had perfected the Bodhisattva practices and were discussing among themselves the Six Paramitas. Those who had been Hearers were in empty space expounding upon the practice of Hearers. All of them were now cultivating the principle of emptiness of the Great Vehicle.
Before he had finished speaking, countless Bodhisattvas, Great Vehicle Bodhisattvas, sitting upon jeweled lotuses rose up out of the sea, went to Magic Vulture Mountain and hovered there in space. Manjushri hadn’t even finished saying that the number of living beings he had taught in the Dragon Palace were uncountable in number and totally unfathomable. He was just saying, “Wait and you’ll see for yourself,” and right while he was saying that, all those countless Bodhisattvas emerged from the sea. They all took off for Magic Vulture Mountain, the Bodhimanda of Shakyamuni Buddha. When they arrived, they used the wondrous function of their spiritual powers and just stayed there in space. These Bodhisattvas had all been taught and crossed over by Manjushri in the ocean. All of them had perfected the Bodhisattva Practices, the Bodhisattva Path and were discussing among themselves the Six Paramitas. They were investigating the Six Perfections. We see that the Bodhisattvas discuss and investigate the Six Perfections, and study them carefully. How much the more so should we common folks work on them! And yet we hear a few lectures and think, “I know all about the Six Perfections!”
That’s ridiculous! Understanding of the Six Perfections isn’t gained from listening to a couple of lectures. It is only gained through the practice of the Bodhisattva conduct. Thus, all the Bodhisattvas were together studying the Dharma of the Six Perfections. Those who had been Hearers and who had subsequently brought forth the Great Vehicle Bodhisattva-mind were in empty space expounding upon the practices of the Hearers. Some of them hadn’t completely understood the Bodhisattva Path, but still remembered Hearer Dharma-doors like the Four Truths and the Twelve Causes and Conditions, and so they were talking about them. All of them were now cultivating the principle of emptiness of the Great Vehicle. Regardless of whether they were Bodhisattvas or Sound Hearers, they were cultivating the principle of emptiness of the Great Vehicle. And what is that principle? It’s the Real Mark. They cultivated the Dharma-door of Real Mark.
To be continued