Parable of Offering Pearl


"Manjushri, throughout limitless kalpas, it is not possible even to hear the name of the Dharma Flower Sutra, much less to see, receive, uphold, read, or recite it.

"Manjushri, it is like a powerful wheel-turning sage king who wishes to subdue other countries by force. But all the lesser kings do not follow his commands. The wheel-turning king then mobilizes his various troops and goes to punish them. Seeing his troops successful in warfare, he is greatly delighted and rewards them according to their merits, giving them fields, houses, villages, cities, counties; or else clothing; personal ornaments; or various precious treasures of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, carnelian, coral, or agate; or elephants, horses, carriages, servants, or subjects.

"Only the bright pearl on his cowl, that alone, he does not give away. Why not? Only the king can wear this pearl on his crown. If he gave it away, the king’s retinue would surely be greatly astonished.

"Manjushri, the Tathagata is also like this. Through the use of the powers of dhyana samadhi and wisdom, he has gained the country of the Dharma and is king of the three realms. Still, the demon kings refuse to submit. The Tathagata’s generals, the worthy ones and sages, do battle with them. With those who are successful, he is delighted. For the four assemblies, he speaks the Sutras, causing their hearts to rejoice. He confers upon them the dhyana concentrations, the liberations, the lack of outflows, the roots and powers, and all the wealth of the Dharma. He further bestows upon them the city of Nirvana, telling them that they have attained cessation. He guides their thoughts, causing them all to rejoice.

"But he does not speak the Dharma Flower Sutra.

"Manjushri, eventually the wheel-turning king, seeing among his troops those who have been greatly successful, is overjoyed and at last gives them the incredible pearl, which he has long worn in his topknot and which he would never casually give away.

"So, too, is it with the Tathagata. As the great king of the Dharma within the three realms, he uses Dharma to teach and transform all living beings. Seeing the army of worthy ones and sages doing battle with the demons of the five skandhas, the demons of afflictions, and the demons of death, and being greatly successful extinguishing the three poisons, escaping the three realms, and rending the nets of the demons, the Tathagata is greatly pleased. He then speaks to them the Dharma Flower Sutra, which can lead living beings to All-Wisdom, which meets with resentment and disbelief in all the world, and which he has never spoken of before.

"Manjushri, the Dharma Flower Sutra is the foremost among the Tathagata’s teachings. Among all the teachings it is the most profound, and it is only bestowed at the very end, just like that bright pearl which the powerful king long kept and then gave away. Manjushri, the Dharma Flower Sutra is the secret treasury of all the Buddhas, Tathagatas. Among all the Sutras it is the highest. In the long night of time it has been guarded and never recklessly expounded. Today, for the first time, I am speaking it for you."