Sutra text from last issue: Chapter Twelve: Devadatta "...and the entire assembly silently believed and accepted."
At that time the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Medicine King and the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Great Delight in speaking, along with a retinue of twenty thousand Bodhisattvas came before the Buddha and made the following vow: "We only pray that the World Honored One will not be concerned. After the Buddha's Nirvana, we will reverently maintain, read, recite, and explain this Sutra.
"In the future evil age, as their good roots diminish, living beings will become increasingly arrogant, greedy for benefits and offerings, of increasingly unwholesome roots, far removed from liberation, and difficult to teach and transform. Still, we shall give rise to the great power of patience, read, and recite this Sutra, maintain and speak it, write it out, and make various kinds of offerings to it, not sparing our very bodies and lives."
This is Chapter Thirteen of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Its title is "Exhortation to Maintain." The "Exhortation" is to encourage people to receive and uphold, read and recite, this Sutra. Originally, you may not have known anything about the Dharma Flower Sutra, but then someone tells you, "The Dharma Flower Sutra is the king of Sutras. If you recite the Dharma Flower Sutra, you will gain inconceivable merit. The Dharma Flower Sutra is wonderful beyond all words. There is nothing more wonderful. If you don't believe me, read it and you will discover how wonderful it is." When you hear these words, you think, "I'll try it out," and so you recite it. Once you have started, you can't stop. You recite it every day, read it, write it out, and vow to maintain it. That's why the title of this chapter is "Exhortation to Maintain." Thus, if someone encourages people to read and recite this Sutra, such a one will gain limitless merit and virtue. From that you can surmise how much more merit is involved in listening to the Sutra lectures on this Sutra. Such merit is inconceivable! Great indeed! In this chapter, Shakyamuni Buddha and all the Great Bodhisattvas and Arhats exhort living beings to receive and maintain the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
At that time, right after the Devadatta Chapter was spoken, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Medicine King, the great Bodhisattva who specializes in curing illnesses, and the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Great Delight in Speaking, the Bodhisattva who enjoys lecturing on the Sutras more than anything else, along with a retinue of twenty thousand Bodhisattvas, came before the Buddha and made the following vow: "We only pray that the World Honored One will not be concerned. Do not worry. After the Buddha's Nirvana, we will reverently make offerings to, maintain, read, recite and explain this Sutra for others." Above, Shakyamuni Buddha was looking for someone to make a vow to receive, maintain, and propagate the Dharma Flower Sutra. Now, the Bodhisattvas are making vows to do just that.
In the future evil age, no one will believe in the Buddha. If you lecture on the Dharma, no one will listen to you. The world will be filled with evil living beings who have no good roots at all. Day by day, their good roots will diminish, day by day, things will get worse. As their good roots diminish, living beings will become increasingly arrogant. Their blessings will be very scanty. You won't be able to find anyone with good roots, but you'll encounter arrogant people all over the place. "Hah!" they will say, "Do you know what I am? I am the Buddha. Not only am I the Buddha, everybody is a Buddha!" That's the kind of unmitigated arrogance you'll run into. They are shameless karmicobstacle ghosts who insist that they are Buddhas. They are totally unscrupulous and pay no attention to the rules and precepts. They don't understand a single Sutra that the Buddha spoke, but insist that they are Buddhas. What kind of a Buddha is it who doesn't know even the title of a single Buddhist Sutra? I really don't understand Buddhas like that. They are arrogant and think, "There is no one but me!" They are afraid that people will object if they say that they are Buddhas, so they cover for themselves by saying, "Everybody is a Buddha!" If everybody is a Buddha, what's the use of becoming a Buddha, anyway? If everybody were a Buddha, then we would not need to cultivate and realize Buddhahood. They end up convincing people that there is no need to cultivate. What they say is total nonsense.
To be continued