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Shariputra, you should know,
That when I heard the Sagely Lions’
Deep, pure, and wondrous sound,
I called out “Homage to all Buddhas.”
And further had this thought,
“I have come into a turbid, evil world;
As the Buddhas speak,
I should follow in accord.”
Having thought upon this matter,
I went straightway to Varanasi.
Since the still and extinct mark of all dharmas,
Cannot be expressed in words,
I used the power of expedients,
To instruct the five Bhikshus.
O2. Shakyamuni Buddha praises them in turn and accords with their manner of teaching.
N3. Bestowal of the teaching.
Shariputra, you should know that when I heard the Sagely Lions’. When I heard the Buddhas of the ten directions praising me in this way, saying that I was number one, great guiding master. Deep, pure, and wondrous sound, their sound was clear and fine. So I called out “Homage to all Buddhas”. The Buddhas having praised Shakyamuni Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha then praised them. This is the Buddhas praising each other. And further had this thought “I have come into a turbid, evil world. I have now appeared in the Saha world, a world of five turbidities, an evil world.
As the Buddhas speak, I should follow in accord”. Since I have come into this evil world, I should speak the Dharma in the same manner as all the Buddhas of the ten directions. I should employ the same methods.
Having thought upon this matter, when I was done thinking this thing over, I went straightway to Varanasi. Varanasi is the Deer Park. Why do they call it the “Deer Park?”
Once, there were two deer kings living there. One deer king was a former incarnation, many births and many eons ago, of Shakyamuni Buddha. He was the compassionate deer king. The other deer king was a former incarnation of Devadatta.
At that time, the king of the country often went out to hunt deer. He took many people along with him, and killed many deer on every expedition. So many deer were killed that they were on the verge of becoming extinct altogether. The two deer kings had a meeting and decided that the deer king who was to become a Buddha would go present a petition to the king, begging him for clemency.
“What kind of petition shall we present?” asked the other deer king.
The compassionate deer king said, “We shall tell the king that everyday we will send him two deer for his food. Then our herds will not become extinct and the king will have fresh venison everyday. I am sure the king will agree to this. If he does not, pretty soon we will all be dead and he will not have any deer meat at all. Besides, he cannot possibly eat that much meat. I will bet he lets most of it rot.”
The deer king Devadatta said, “Okay, let us go ask him!” and the two of them went to the palace to present their request. When they arrived at the gate, they met the palace guard, who immediately drew his sword to slaughter them.
“Don’t kill us!” the two deer cried. “We have come today for an audience with the king. We want to present him with a petition.”
The guard was quite taken aback. “Weird,” he said, “talking deer!” and he ran to tell the king that two talking deer, for heaven’s sake, had come to see the king.
The king raised an eyebrow and looked at the guard, “Talking deer? Oh yes, well tell them to come in and we will see what kind of strange creatures they are.”
The two deer came in and politely spoke with the king. “You’ve been hunting our herds, Your Majesty, and many of our deer have been killed. You cannot possibly eat that much meat everyday, can you? If you keep it up we will disappear altogether and you will not have any meat to eat. So we have a petition to present to you. Everyday we will send two deer for you to eat. Then you will not have to go hunting but you will have meat to eat everyday.” At that time there were no refrigerators. “If you continue to kill us at the rate you have been, you will wipe us out.”
The king was already surprised to hear deer talking like people. He thought their request was logically very sound and agreed. “Everyday you can send us two deer,” he said. And that is just what they did.
One day, the deer king who was to become Shakyamuni Buddha appeared at the palace gate as food for the king. The king recognized the deer and said, “You’re the king of the deer. How can you offer yourself? Have all the other deer in your herd been eaten or what?
The compassionate deer king said, “Not only are there remain deer in our herds, but their numbers are increasing daily. We two deer kings each watch over five hundred deer. Of the five hundred, only one goes each day as an offering to Your Majesty. Everyday many fawns are born. So now, our retinues have redoubled several times over. But now, for a special reason, I myself have come as your daily offering.”
“But why?” asked the king.
“Today’s deer from my herd came with no problems, but in Devadatta’s herd there was trouble. The deer selected to go happened to be pregnant. Her baby was due in a day or two and she begged Devadatta to let her trade places with someone else, saying that when her baby was born she would gladly go to the king for food. But Devadatta would not hear of it. She came to me and asked me if a deer in my herd would trade with her. None of my deer wanted to go, of course, so I volunteered myself and here I am.”
When the king heard this he thought, “How strange. Basically, deer are living creatures, just like people. Why should I eat deer meat everyday? They have feelings just like people do.” Then he chanted a verse:
“You are a person with a deer’s head,” he cried.
And though I am a person I’m just a deer inside.
But from this day forward only vegetables I’ll eat;
I will never ever eat another living being’s meat.”
“You have the head of a deer,” he said, “but your heart is extremely kind and compassionate. Your heart is even bigger than that of most human beings. Now, I may have a person’s head, but my heart is not as good as that of a deer. From today on, I am not going to eat meat.” And so the king was moved to become a vegetarian. This is the reason that this particular place was called the Deer Park. It was a place of blue mountains and crystal streams. There were many cultivators there.
In the past, Shakyamuni Buddha had five fellow cultivators. Three were relatives on his father’s side and two were relatives on his mother’s side. They followed him when he left home and cultivated with him. However, three of them could not endure the suffering and ran away. Shakyamuni Buddha, while meditating in the Himalayas, ate only one sesame seed and one grain of rice a day. Three of them could not take it, and ran off to the Deer Park. Two remained with the Buddha.
At that time, the Buddha was so thin that he looked like a heap of firewood. Then a shepherdess brought him an offering of rice gruel and milk. The Buddha was very pleased, and ate it. His two companions exclaimed, “He’s finished! He’s useless! He’ll never realize the Way. What a glutton! Someone gives him some milk and he drinks it! Cultivating means enduring suffering, and he can no longer endure it, obviously. We are not going to stick around with someone like that. Let’s go!” So the Buddha was left all by himself.
Later, he went to sit beneath the Bodhi tree. One night, he saw a bright star and awoke to the Way.
Shakyamuni Buddha endured a great deal of bitterness in his cultivation. And we run into a bit of difficulty and cannot stand it. How do we measure up to Shakyamuni Buddha?
Since the still and extinct mark of all dharmas cannot be expressed in words. When the Buddha went to the Deer Park to teach, he knew that all dharmas are marked with still extinction; they have no appearance. The mark of still extinction, however, is basically ineffable. That is, you cannot express it in words.
The path of language has come to an end,
The place of the mind’s activity has been cast out.
I used the power of expedients to instruct the five Bhikshus. He spoke the Dharma for the sake of Ajnatakaundinya and the others. The five Bhikshus were the first to receive the Buddha’s teaching when he went to the Deer Park after realizing the Way. They were the five who had accompanied him when he left home. Three of them ran off because they were afraid of suffering and two of them ran off because they were afraid of enjoying themselves. Then, after the Buddha realized the Way, he observed the causes and conditions and saw the five Bhikshus cultivating in the Deer Park. He decided that he should first go to the Deer Park and teach the five Bhikshus the three turnings of the Four Truths.
This was called the turning of the Dharma-wheel.
Then came the sound of Nirvana,
As well as “Arhatship,”
“Dharma,” and the “Sangha,” various names.
From remote eons onward,
I have praised and shown Nirvana’s dharma,
As the final end of birth and death’s sufferings;
Always have I spoken thus.
Shariputra, you should know,
I see disciples of the Buddha,
Resolutely seeking the Buddha Way,
Limitless thousands of myriads of millions of them,
All with hearts of reverence,
All coming before the Buddha.
They had heard, from former Buddhas,
Expedient teachings of the Dharma.
This causes me to think,
“The reason why the Thus Come One appears,
Is to teach the wisdom of the Buddha,
And now the time is exactly right.”
Shariputra, you should know,
Those with dull faculties and slight wisdom,
Those attached to marks, the arrogant,
Cannot believe this Dharma.
I now rejoice and have no fear,
And among the Bodhisattvas,
I shall cast expedients aside and be straightforward,
Speaking only of the supreme Path.
When the Bodhisattvas have heard this Dharma,
The network of their doubts will be rent (destroyed);
Twelve hundred Arhats
Will all attain to Buddhahood.
N4. The receiving, the practice, the realization, and the entry into the teaching.
M2. Resolving doubts.
K3. Revealing the actual.
This was called the turning of the Dharma-wheel. What is meant by “the three turnings of the Four Truths?”
The Buddha expounded upon the Four Truths in three ways, called “three turnings.” In the first turning he said to the five Bhikshus:
1. This is suffering; its nature is oppressive.
2. This is origination; its nature is seductive.
3. This is extinction; its nature is that it can be certified to.
4. This is the Way; its nature is that it can be cultivated.
He said, “This is suffering. It is oppressive. This is origination. It has the nature of seduction. It comes through craving. You bring this affliction upon yourself. This is extinction. Extinction refers to the still extinction of Nirvana with its four virtues of permanence, bliss, true self, and purity. You can certify to extinction. This is the Way. You can cultivate it, and thereby certify to the Four Virtues of Nirvana.
In the second turning, he said,
1. This is suffering; I already know it.
2. This is origination; I have already severed it.
3. This is extinction; I have already certified to it.
4. This is the Way; I have already cultivated it.
I already know about suffering. I have already cut off afflictions. As to extinction, the Four Virtues of Nirvana, I have already certified to the attainment of that doctrine. As to the Way, I have already cultivated it with success. I have cultivated the Thirty-seven Wings of Enlightenment.
In the third turning, he said,
1. This is suffering; you should know it.
2. This is origination; you should cut it off.
3. This is extinction; you should certify to it.
4. This is the Way; you should cultivate it.
This is suffering and you also should understand it. This is origination. This affliction is the “guest dust.” It is not the host. It comes from outside and so it has the “nature of seduction.” In The Shurangama Sutra we read about the “guest dust.” It was because of those two words, “guest dust” that Ajnatakaundinya became enlightened. “A guest,” he said, “does not stay forever. In the future it is going to leave.” He became enlightened because of the two words “guest dust” and his name means, “the first to be released” or “understanding the original limit.” As to extinction, you should certify to it, too. And you should also cultivate the Way.
When the Buddha said these things to the five Bhikshus, Ajnatakaundinya understood and certified to the fruit. That was called the three turnings of the Four Holy Truths.
Then came the sound of Nirvana. Because he had turned the Dharma-wheel of the Four Truths, he had spoken of still, extinct Nirvana. As well as “Arhatship”. The term “Arhat” also came into use. There were first, second, third, and fourth stage Arhats. “Dharma,” and the “Sangha,” various names. The Dharma refers to the Dharma of the Four Truths. The Sangha refers to the Arhats.
From remote eons onwards, from the distant past, while cultivating the Dharma I have praised and shown Nirvana’s dharma. I have lauded the dharma of Nirvana. As the final end of birth and death’s sufferings. If you can certify to the happiness of Nirvana, to that wonderful doctrine, then you will have severed for all time the sufferings of birth and death. They will be gone forever. Always have I spoken thus, I have told you this over and over constantly. From distant eons onward in every life I have spoken this dharma for you.
Shariputra, you should know, you ought to know I see disciples of the Buddha, resolutely seeking the Buddha Way, limitless thousands of myriads of millions of them, all with hearts of reverence, all coming before the Buddha. They all come to see the Buddha.
They had heard, from former Buddhas in past lives. They had heard the Dharma from the Buddhas, expedient teachings of the Dharma. This causes me to think. Just now, it occurs to me the reason why the Thus Come One appears in the world is to teach the wisdom of the Buddha, to teach the genuine, real Buddha-wisdom.
And now the time is exactly right. Shariputra, you should know those with dull-faculties and slight wisdom. Stupid, dim-witted people with precious little wisdom. Those attached to marks, the arrogant, they are attached to marks. They are attached to everything, and what is more, they are arrogant and think that they are terribly important. Cannot believe this Dharma, they will not be able to hear The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. And, in fact, five thousand people did walk out.
I now rejoice and have no fear, all of those without good roots, all of the arrogant ones have left. I am now happy and fearless. I am not worried at all. And among the Bodhisattvas I shall cast expedients aside and be straightforward, speaking only of the supreme Path. I will not use expedient means. I will now open the gate, so you can see the mountain. I will frankly and straightforwardly explain the genuine wisdom. I am getting rid of the expedients. I will use them no more. I will only speak the Dharma-door of realizing Buddhahood.
The wonderful Dharma is hard to meet. What is more, it is hard to hear it. In a hundred million eons, it is not easy to encounter The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Though one encounters it, it is even more difficult to be able to read and recite it. If you are able to read and recite it, then to understand the doctrines contained within it is hard to do in a million eons. Having encountered it, it is difficult to hear it explained.
Now, in the entire world, there are very few places where one can hear this Sutra. Rare as it is, we are now explaining it. In the future, we will hear The Great Avatamsaka Sutra, which is even more difficult to encounter. In China during the past hundred years, it would be hard to find one occasion when The Avatamsaka Sutra was lectured.
When the Bodhisattvas have heard this Dharma, The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, the network of their doubts will be rent (destroyed). All their doubts will vanish.
Twelve hundred Arhats will all attain to Buddhahood. In the future they will all become Buddhas. Here the Buddha gives all his disciples predictions of future Buddhahood. So, in the Dharma Flower Assembly there is not one who will not become a Buddha. Those who have attended the Dharma Flower Assembly will all become Buddhas.
The doctrines in The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra are ineffably wonderful. But the doctrines in The Great Avatamsaka Sutra are even more wonderful. In order to explain The Avatamsaka Sutra, one must have a solid foundation in learning. Otherwise, one would not be able to understand much less explain it.
One passage says that those who cultivate dhyana samadhi will emerge from proper samadhi in the east and enter samadhi in the west. They will enter proper samadhi in the south and emerge from it in the north. It says they will enter samadhi through the nose, and emerge from samadhi through the tongue. What does that mean? What does it mean to enter proper samadhi from the nose and come out through the tongue? Within the six organs, you enter through one and emerge through another. Who is coming and who is leaving?
So, in the future, if there are those who like to study the Buddhadharma, and who wish to understand it, the opportunity will present itself. In the future, if you want to seek the Dhrarma you will not have to go all the way to India like China’s Xuan Zhuang did. He ran off to India to seek the Dharma and ran until his feet broke open. He wore himself out. Now, you can sit in your very own country and hear such wonderful Dharma. In the future, your opportunities will be even finer than those of Dharma Master Xuan Zhuang.
As the Buddhas of the three periods of time
In such a manner spoke the Dharma,
So do I likewise now expound
The undiscriminated Dharma.
All Buddhas come into the world
But rarely, and are hard to meet;
And when they appear in the world,
It’s hard for them to speak the Dharma.
Throughout countless eons, too,
It’s difficult to hear this Dharma.
And those who can hear this Dharma—
Such people too, are rare,
Like the udumbara flower,
In which all take delight,
Which the gods and humans prize,
For it blooms but once in a long, long time
So one who hears this Dharma, gives joyful praise,
With even just a single word,
Has thereby made offerings,
To all the Buddhas of the three periods of time.
Such people are extremely rare,
Rarer than the udumbara flower.
K4. Lauding the rareness of the Dharma.
As the Buddhas of the three periods of time, in such a manner spoke the Dharma. Shakyamuni Buddha says, “I now speak the real Buddhadharma, the teaching of real wisdom, the Buddha Vehicle. I do so in the same manner as did all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.
So do I likewise now expound, the undiscriminated Dharma. I speak the most subtle and wonderful Dharma of the One Buddha Vehicle, the only Vehicle. There are no other vehicles. That is the undiscriminated Dharma, which cannot be understood with one’s ordinary conscious mind.
All Buddhas come into the world but rarely, and are hard to meet. To be able to meet with a Buddha is very rare. It happens but once in a long while. And when they appear in the world, it’s hard for them to speak the Dharma. Even if you should meet with a Buddha appearing in the world, it is extremely rare for the Buddha to speak The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. The Buddha taught the Storehouse Teaching, then the Agamas, and then the Vaipulya and Prajna Teachings. It was not until the very end that he spoke The Dharma Flower Sutra.
Throughout countless eons, too, it’s difficult to hear this Dharma. To be able to hear this Dharma is also difficult. Our present Dharma Flower Assembly is most rare.
And those who can hear this Dharma, such people, too, are rare, like the udumbara flower which blooms only once every three thousand years. Once it blooms, it quickly fades. In which all take delight, which the gods and humans prize, for it blooms but once in a long, long time. All prize it because it is so rare. It will not bloom until the time is right.
So one who hears this Dharma, gives joyful praise, with even just a single word, has thereby made offerings, to all the Buddhas of the three periods of time. One who hears The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra and who praises it. With even just a single word, saying, “This Sutra is really wonderful,” has made offerings to all the Buddhas. Such people are extremely rare, rarer than the udumbara flower. The Udumbara flower blooms once every three thousand years, but this person is even rarer.
So you can see that it is difficult to hear the Dharma. Such causal affinities are hard to come by. This means that we should be very happy to hear it now. Throughout limitless ages, we have planted vast good roots, and today the good roots have ripened, enabling us to hear the Sutra. Without good roots, you would never have had the chance to hear it.
All of you should have no doubts,
For I am the Dharma King;
I declare to the assembly:
I use only the path of One Vehicle,
To teach and transform Bodhisattvas.
There are no Hearer Disciples.
Shariputra, all of you,
The Hearers and Bodhisattvas,
Should know that this wondrous Dharma
Is the secret essence of all Buddhas.
K5. Verifying the validity.
All of you should have no doubts, Shakyamuni Buddha says, “Take care, all of you, not to doubt this Dharma I have spoken. Why? For I am the Dharma King. I am the king of all dharmas, having obtained the real, true wisdom. I declare to the assembly. I will now use my trustworthy, true words to tell all of you in the Dharma gathering as well as those assemblies of the future, that I use only the path of One Vehicle. I use only the path of the One Buddha Vehicle, the Vehicle of realizing Buddhahood to teach and transform Bodhisattvas. There are no Hearer Disciples. There is no Small Vehicle Dharma.
Shariputra, all of you the Hearers and Bodhisattvas should know that this wondrous Dharma, this Dharma of the Great Vehicle, is the secret essence of all Buddhas. You should return from the small and head towards the great. Do not continue to be satisfied with obtaining just a little. Do not draw the line for yourself in the middle of the road saying, “This is it; I am stopping here. I do not want to go any further.” You should know that this wonderful Dharma spoken by all the Buddhas in The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, is the most esoteric, most important, and most wonderful Dharma. It is spoken by all the Buddhas in the ten directions and the three periods of time. Whatever you do, do not doubt it.
In the evil world of five turbidities,
Beings who are blissfully attached
To pleasures and desires,
Will never seek the Buddha Way.
Evil people of the future,
Hearing the Buddha speak of One Vehicle,
In their delusion will not accept or believe it,
But will slander it and fall into the evil paths.
Still, those with shame and purity,
Who resolutely seek the Buddha Way,
For such ones as these I praise
The path of One Vehicle, extensively.
K6. Dispensing with the false to encourage the faithful.
L1. Dispensing with the false.
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is the secret essence of all the Buddhas. Shakyamuni Buddha waited a long time to speak it. He waited because it was too important. If this Dharma were spoken, living beings would not believe it. They would slander it and fall into the three evil paths.
In the evil world of five turbidities; the eon turbidity, the view turbidity, the affliction turbidity, the living beings turbidity, and the life turbidity. Beings who are blissfully attached to pleasures and desires, who crave sensual pleasures, and are greedy for the objects of their desires. Will never seek the Buddha Way. They are greedy for temporary happiness.
Everyone is confused by these temporary pleasures. They are confused because they do not understand them. For example, people have various desires. Those greedy for wealth are confused by wealth. Those greedy for forms are confused by beauty. Those greedy for food are confused by food and drink. Those greedy for drugs are confused by drugs. They take some drugs and think, “Probably I did not take enough and that is why I did not get enlightened. There is some hope if I take a larger dose next time.” This is pathetic. It is totally impossible, but they try it anyway. The more confused they are, the more confused they get. Their confusion grows deeper and deeper. The deeper their confusion, the stronger their craving.
Whatever you desire, you are confused by that desire. If you are confused by it, you cannot free yourself. You are caught in your desire as if you were caught in quicksand. You get one leg out, but the other is still caught. Then you get the other leg out and the first leg gets stuck again. The Buddha knew long ago that there would be such deluded people. It will never occur to them to seek the Buddha Way, to bring forth genuine wisdom, or to break through their confusion.
Evil people of the future, that is just right now. The Buddha knew long ago that there would be evil people who hearing the Buddha speak of One Vehicle, in their delusion will not accept or believe it. They will doubt The Dharma Flower Sutra. They will wonder, “What is he talking about? What does he mean ‘become a Buddha?’” But will slander it and fall into the evil paths. Not only will they refuse to believe it, but they will slander it. They will say, “He says that is the Buddhadharma, but there is no such thing.” In this way they will fall into the hells, into the realm of the animals or hungry ghosts.
Still, those with shame and purity. Those who know enough to be ashamed of their mistakes, and who resolve to reform themselves in the future, those who are pure in their cultivation. Who resolutely seek the Buddha Way, who are determined to become Buddhas, for such ones as these I praise the path of One Vehicle, extensively. I speak The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, praising the Buddha Way of One Vehicle.
Shariputra, you should know,
The Dharma of all Buddhas is like this:
By means of millions of expedients,
I speak Dharma in accord with what’s appropriate.
But those who do not study it,
Will never come to understand it.
Since all of you already know
All Buddhas, Masters of the World,
Work by means of appropriate expedients,
You should have no further doubts.
Let your hearts be filled with joy;
You know you will reach Buddhahood.
L2. Encouraging the faithful.
Shariputra, you should know, you and all the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, the gods, dragons, and the rest of the eightfold division—you should all be informed that the Dharma of all Buddhas is like this. The Buddhas of the ten directions all have the same identical path. All the Buddhas are the same. So it is said,
All Buddhas of the three periods of time and the ten directions,
Have the same identical Dharma-body.
Their Dharma-body is one and their Dharma is “Thus.” The Dharma of all Buddhas is the same. It is like the wonderful Dharma of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. The Buddhas observe the potentials of living beings and by means of millions of expedients, I, the Buddha, speak Dharma in accord with what’s appropriate, using millions of different methods to teach and transform living beings. When living beings need a particular dharma, the Buddha teaches it to them.
But those who do not study it will never come to understand it. Although the Buddha speaks the Dharma for them, if they do not study it and put it into practice, they will never be able to understand it. You must study and practice it before you can understand it. Since they do not understand the Buddhadharma, they will not, of course, be able to cultivate according to it. Unable to cultivate according to it, they will not be able to become Buddhas.
Since all of you already know, all Buddhas, Master of the World. Shariputra, you and all the great Arhats, great Bodhisattvas, great Bhikshus and others, already know the genuine, wonderful Dharma is set forth by the Buddhas, the Masters of the World. They work by means of appropriate expedients. The Buddhas use clever, expedient devices to teach living beings. Since you know this you should have no further doubts. Let your hearts be filled with joy. Hearing The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, you should be very happy. You should remember that it is difficult to encounter. Such affinities are not easy to come by.
You know you will reach Buddhahood. Each one of you should know that you will certainly realize Buddhahood. So, in the Dharma Flower Assembly, all living beings are assured of their future Buddhahood. Shakyamuni Buddha has given them all predictions to that effect.
This concludes the second chapter and the first roll of The Dharma Flower Sutra. I will now explain the verse in praise that follows the end of this roll:
The World Honored One manifests portents;
Maitreya wondered about the auspicious signs.
Manjushri explained them extensively for the sake of those assembled.
The ancient Buddhas emitted the light from their hair mark
The Dharma was requested thrice,
To set forth the fragrance of the wonderful lotus.
Homage to the Dharma Flower Assembly of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (3x)
This verse sums up the first two chapters of the Sutra. The World Honored One manifests portents. The Buddha manifested six portents and so Maitreya wondered about the auspicious signs. Maitreya Bodhisattva did not understand why the Buddha manifested the portents, and so he requested Manjushri Bodhisattva to explain. Manjushri explained them extensively for the sake of those assembled. The ancient Buddhas of the ten directions emitted light from their hair mark to praise Shakyamuni Buddha. The Dharma was requested thrice. Shariputra requested the Buddha to speak the Dharma three times to set forth the fragrance of the wonderful lotus, to speak The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
Homage to the Dharma Flower Assembly of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In just reciting this praise, you gain unlimited merit and virtue. So in Japan, people recite it over and over, thinking they will gain great benefit. If they did not have a job, they get one. If they do not have food, they get food. If they do not have tea to drink, they get tea to drink. If they do not have wine to drink, they get wine to drink. It is incredibly wonderful, so they think.
For now, however, I have food, so I do not need to recite it right now, just explain it.