AT THAT TIME Dharma Prince Manjushri Bodhisattva Mahasattva said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, all these Bodhisattvas are extremely rare. Reverently complying with the Buddha, they have made great vows to protect, maintain, read, and speak this Dharma Flower Sutra in the future evil age.
"World Honored One, how should Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas speak this Sutra in the future evil age?"
The Buddha told Manjushri. "If a Bodhisattva Mahasattva wishes to speak this Sutra in the future evil age, he should dwell securely in four Dharmas. First, by dwelling in the Bodhisattva’s range of practice and the Bodhisattva’s range of association, he will be able to expound this Sutra for living beings.
"Manjushri, what is meant by the Bodhisattva Mahasattva’s range of practice? If a Bodhisattva Mahasattva dwells on the ground of patience, is gentle and compliant, not impetuous or volatile; if his mind is not frightened; if, moreover, he does not practice in regard to any dharma, but contemplates the marks of all dharmas as they really are-not, however, practicing nondiscrimination-that is called the Bodhisattva Mahasattva’s range of practice.
"What is meant by the Bodhisattva Mahasattva’s range of association? Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas do not draw near to kings, princes, great ministers, or officials.
"They do not draw near to externalists-brahmacharins, nirgranthas, and the like-or to writers of worldly literature, to those who sing praises of externalist writings, to lokayatas, or to the opponents of lokayatas.
"They also do not draw near to violent amusements such as boxing and wrestling, to displays of martial arts that involve mutual attack, to natas, or to any entertainment that uses magic.
"They do not draw near to chandalas; to those who raise pigs, sheep, chickens, or dogs; or to those who hunt, fish, trap, or engage in any other evil activities. If such people should on occasion come to them, they speak the Dharma for them, but they have no expectations.
"They also do not draw near to those who seek to be Hearers, whether Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, or Upasikas, and they do not make a half bow to them. They do not remain in a room, a promenade, or a lecture hall with them. Should such people sometimes come to them, they speak Dharma as is appropriate, but seek nothing in return.
"Manjushri, moreover, Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas must not regard women’s bodies as objects of desire and speak Dharma for them. They do not take delight in looking at women. If they enter the homes of others, they do not speak with young girls, maidens, widows, and so forth.
"Further, they do not draw near to the five kinds of unmanly men or become friends with them.
"They do not enter others’ houses alone. If for some reason they must enter alone, they single-mindedly recollect the Buddha.
"If they speak the Dharma for women, they do not smile or laugh and let their teeth show, nor do they expose their chests. Even for the sake of the Dharma, they do not become familiar with them, much less for the sake of other matters!
"They take no delight in raising young disciples, Shramaneras, or children, and they do not take pleasure in sharing the same Master with them.
"They always delight in sitting in dhyana and, in a quiet place, cultivating collecting their thoughts. Manjushri, this is called the first range of association.
"Further, Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas contemplate all dharmas as empty, as characterized by actuality, as not upside-down, as not moving, as not retreating, as not turning, as being like empty space, as without a nature, as having the path of language cut off, as not coming into being, as not coming forth, as not arising, as without a name, as without an appearance, as in reality nonexistent, as measureless, as boundless, as unimpeded, and as unobstructed.
"They exist only because of causes and conditions and are produced from inversion. Therefore, it is said that constantly delighting in contemplating such characteristics of dharmas is called the second range of association of a Bodhisattva."
At that time the World Honored One, wishing to restate his meaning, spoke the following verses:
If there is a Bodhisattva,
"Manjushri, after the Tathagata’s Nirvana, in the Dharma-ending Age, if one wishes to speak this Sutra, one should dwell in this happily-dwelling conduct.
"Whether one is expounding upon the Sutra orally or reading the Sutra itself, one should take no delight in speaking of the faults of people or of the Sutra, nor should one hold other Dharma Masters in contempt, nor speak of the good or bad qualities, the strengths or weaknesses of others. With regard to Hearers, one should not mention them by name in order to speak of their faults, nor should one speak of them by name to praise their excellence. One should not harbor resentment or jealousy.
"Because one skillfully cultivates such peaceful and happy thoughts, he will not oppose his listeners’ intentions. If asked difficult questions, he does not answer by resorting to the Small Vehicle Dharma, but uses only the Great Vehicle for his explanation, which causes his listeners to obtain the wisdom of all modes."
At that time the World Honored One, wishing to restate his meaning, spoke these verses, saying,
The Bodhisattva ever delights
"Further, Manjushri, in the future ending age, when the Dharma is about to become extinct, the Bodhisattva who receives, upholds, reads, or recites this Sutra should harbor no thoughts of envy, flattery, or deceit. He should also not ridicule or malign those who study the Buddha Way, nor should he seek their strengths or weaknesses. If there are Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, those who seek to be Hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, or those who seek the Bodhisattva Way, he should not torment them or cause them to have doubts by saying to them, "You are all very far from the Path, and you will never obtain the wisdom of all modes. Why not? Because you are careless and lax in the Way." Further, he should not frivolously discuss the Dharma for the sake of argument.
"He should give rise to thoughts of great compassion towards all living beings and think of all the Tathagatas as compassionate fathers, all Bodhisattvas as great Masters. Always, he should deeply revere and pay respect to all the great Bodhisattvas of the ten directions. He should speak Dharma in equal measure for all living beings. In accord with Dharma, he should speak neither too much nor too little; even to those who deeply love the Dharma, he should not speak too much.
"Manjushri, in the future age, when the Dharma is about to become extinct, it will be impossible to trouble or confuse a Bodhisattva Mahasattva who has accomplished this third happily-dwelling conduct when he is speaking the Dharma. He shall gain good fellow students with whom he may read and recite this Sutra. Large assemblies will gather to listen to and accept it. Having heard it, they will uphold it; having upheld it, they will recite it; having recited it, they will be able to speak it; having spoken it, they will be able to write it out; to cause others to write it out; to make offerings to it; to revere, honor, and praise it."
At that time the World Honored One, wishing to restate his meaning, spoke verses, saying:
If one wishes to speak this Sutra
"Further, Manjushri, in the future Ending Age when the Dharma is about to become extinct, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, who upholds the Dharma Flower Sutra, should give rise to thoughts of great kindness for those at home and those who have left home. He should give rise to thoughts of great compassion for those who are not Bodhisattvas.
"He should think, "People like this are missing a great deal. Although the Tathagata speaks the Dharma expediently and appropriately, they do not hear, know, or awaken to it. They do not inquire into it, believe it, or understand it.
"Although these people do not inquire into, believe, or understand this Sutra, still, when I attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi, wherever they happen to be, I shall use the power of spiritual penetrations and the power of wisdom to lead them to abide within this Dharma.
"Manjushri, after the Nirvana of the Tathagata, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva who, accomplishes this, the fourth dharma, shall be free from error when he speaks this Dharma.
"He will always receive offerings from and be revered, honored, and praised by Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, kings, princes, great ministers, common people, Brahmans, laypeople, and so on. The gods in empty space will always follow and serve him in order to hear the Dharma. If, in villages or cities, in the wilds or forests, someone wishing to pose difficult questions approaches him, all the gods, for the sake of the Dharnia, will protect him day and night, and he will cause the listeners to be joyful.
"Why is this? This Sutra is protected by the spiritual powers of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.
"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."
At that time the World Honored One, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses saying,
Always practicing patience,