From last issue: The Buddha knew at once that Bhikshuni Yashodara had something on her mind.
The Buddha told Yashodhara, "In a future age, within the Dharma of hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of Buddhas, you shall cultivate the Bodhisattva conduct as a Great Dharma Master, gradually perfecting the Buddha Path. In the world 'Wholesome' you shall become a Buddha by the name of the Thus Come One Complete with Tens of Thousands of Radiant Marks, One Worthy of Offerings, of Right and Universal Knowledge, Perfect in Clarity and Conduct, Well-Gone One who Understands the World, Supreme Lord, Regulating Hero, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, World Honored One. As a Buddha your life span will be limitless
asamkhyeyas of eons."
The Buddha told Yashodhara, "Although I have not yet mentioned your name or given you a prediction, don't worry. I will tell you now.
In a future age, within the Dharma of hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of Buddhas, you shall cultivate the Bodhisattva conduct. You shall cultivate the six perfections and the myriad practices, benefiting yourself and others, enlightening yourself and others. You shall act
as a Great Dharma Master, gradually, bit by bit,
perfecting the Buddha Path. In the world 'Wholesome,' in a very fine land,
you shall become a Buddha by the name of the Thus Come One Complete with Tens of Thousands of Radiant Marks. You will be very perfect, endowed with tens of thousands of radiant characteristics.
"One Worthy of Offerings, of Right and Universal Knowledge, Perfect in Clarity and Conduct, Well-Gone One who Understands the World, Supreme Lord, Regulating Hero, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, World Honored One. As a Buddha your life span will be limitless
asamkhyeyas of eons." The Sanskrit word
asamkhyeya means "countless," so this Buddha's life span will be countless eons.
At that time, the shuni Mahaprajapati and the Bhikshuni Yashodhara, together with their retinues, all rejoiced greatly having gained what they never had. They spoke these verses in the presence of the Buddha:
The World Honored One, Our Leader,
Brings tranquility to gods and humans:
Hearing this prediction,
Our hearts know perfect peace.
At that time, the Bhikshuni
Mahaprajapati, whose name means "Great Love for the Way,"
and Bhikshuni Yashodhara, "Flower Color,"
together with their retinues which they had brought along,
all rejoiced greatly, having gained what they never had. They attained a kind of delight never experienced before.
They spoke these verses in the presence of the Buddha Shakyamuni:
The World Honored One, who is honored both in and beyond the world,
Our Leader, great leader of humans and gods,
brings tranquility to gods and humans. You cause gods and people to be peaceful and happy.
Hearing this prediction of Buddhahood which you have bestowed upon all these Bhikshunis,
our hearts know perfect peace. We are extremely comfortable and happy, perfectly at peace.
In Buddhism, everything is understood in terms of cause and effect. Even the Buddha's son, Rahula, couldn't escape the laws of cause and effect. He plugged up a mouse hole for six days and as retribution had to stay in his mother's womb for six years, and so he was called "covering obstacle." Now, we are liberating life. Think about it; here are these birds. They have wings, but they cannot fly. They are not free. We are going to let them go. Most people think that this is pretty stupid. Not only that, even someone in our own temple, Bhikshuni Guo Xiu, said that she thought it was stupid when we wanted to set them free on the Buddha's Birthday. She said it wasn't that she thought it was stupid, but that other people might think so. But she herself also had such a thought.
This time we set many creatures free, and some people did complain, saying that when we let the pigeons go, the vultures eat them. They said that liberating life isn't compassionate. But if we just keep them in their cages, is that being compassionate? In this world, it is better to do less than to do more. As it is said, "Good deeds are no better than no deed." Good things are good, certainly, but it is even better when nothing is the matter. Liberating life is basically a compassionate thing, but some demon kings pop up and publically say, "You are not compassionate. You let the vultures eat those birds."
There is another way to explain this. You could say that we are liberating life, but they are taking life. How do we know
they didn't send the vultures out? We set the pigeons free, and they release the vultures to come and prey on the pigeons, and then they accuse us of not being compassionate! Even if it is not compassionate, letting them go is still better than not letting them go.
I have another explanation: Maybe they wanted to eat the pigeons themselves and they were jealous that the vultures got to eat them. They thought, "If you had given me all those pigeons, they would have lasted me half a year. Why did you have to let them out for the vultures to eat?" In their passion, they went on the radio to air their views.
Actually, before they mentioned liberating creatures, few people believed it. When they went on the radio criticizing it, more people sympathized with us. In effect, they helped to advertise for us, giving us publicity, so we shouldn't be upset. Those of you with unobstructed eloquence can go on radio to debate them, saying, "You liberated the vultures!" Good is good and evil is evil; they both have their attendant retributions. If you don't talk about this, no one is aware of it. Once you mention it, people want to know the whole story. Once they get to the bottom of it, they know such criticisms are unjustified.
When they had finished speaking this verse, the Bhikshunis said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, we too shall extensively proclaim this Sutra in other lands." At that time, the World Honored One looked upon the eighty billion
nayutas of Bodhisatrvas
When they had finished speaking this verse, the Bhikshunis said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, we too shall extensively proclaim this Sutra in other lands.
We Bhikshunis can also expound upon this Sutra in other lands, propagating and explaining the
Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra." At that time, the World Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha,
looked upon the eighty billion nayutas of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, the great Bodhisattvas.
All of these Bodhisattvas were Avaivartikas who turned the irreversible Dharma Wheel and who had attained all of the dharanis.
Commentary: "Avaivartika" is Sanskrit and means "not retreating." They did not retreat in thought, conduct, or position. They were
those who turned the irreversible Dharma Wheel and who had attained all the
dharanis, the Dharma doors of uniting all dharmas
and holding limitless meanings.
All of these Bodhisattva were Avaivartikas.
To be continued