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The Dharma Protection of an Earth Spirit
At that time, the Earth Spirit Firm and Stable addressed the Buddha thus, “World Honored One, since long ago I have personally beheld and bowed to limitless numbers of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas. All of them have inconceivably great spiritual penetrations and wisdom that they use in taking across vast numbers of beings. Among all the Bodhisattvas, Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva has made the deepest and weightiest vows. World Honored One, Earth Store Bodhisattva has great affinities with beings in Jambudvipa. Manjushri, Universal Worthy [Samantabhadra], Contemplator of the World’s Sounds [Avalokiteshvara, Guanyin], and Maitreya also manifest hundreds of thousands of transformation bodies to rescue those in the Six Paths, but their vows will ultimately be fulfilled. Earth Store Bodhisattva keeps renewing his vows to teach and transform beings in the Six Paths throughout eons as numerous as the number of sand grains in thousands of billions of Ganges Rivers.
“World Honored One, as I regard beings of the present and future, I see those who make shrines of clay, stone, bamboo, or wood and set them on pure ground in the southern part of their dwellings. They place within the shrines images of Earth Store Bodhisattva, either sculpted or painted, or made of gold, silver, copper, or iron. Then they burn incense, make offerings, behold, worship, and praise him. By doing those things, such people will receive ten kinds of benefits.
“What are those ten? First, their lands will be fertile. Second, their families and homes will always be peaceful. Third, their ancestors will be born in the heavens. Fourth, those of the current generation will enjoy benefits and long lives. Fifth, they will easily obtain what they want. Sixth, they will not encounter disasters of water and fire. Seventh, they will avoid unforeseen calamities. Eighth, they will never have nightmares. Ninth, they will be protected by spirits in their daily comings and goings. Tenth, they will create many causes that lead to sagehood.
“World Honored One, beings of the present and future who make offerings in their homes in the prescribed manner will attain benefits like those.”
He further said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, good men or women in the future may keep this sutra and an image of the Bodhisattva where they live. Furthermore, they may recite the sutra and make offerings to the Bodhisattva. I shall constantly use my own spiritual powers day and night to guard and protect those who do that from disasters, including floods, fire, robbery and theft, major calamities, and minor accidents.”
The Buddha told the Earth Spirit Firm and Stable, “There are few spirits who can match your great spiritual power. Why do I say that? All the lands in Jambudvipa receive your protection. All the grasses, woods, sands, stones, paddy fields, hemp, bamboo, reeds, grains, rice, and gems come forth from the earth because of your power. Moreover, your constant praising of the beneficial deeds of Earth Store Bodhisattva makes your meritorious virtue and spiritual penetrations hundreds of thousands of times greater than those of ordinary earth spirits.
“If good men or women in the future make offerings to this Bodhisattva, or recite The Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva and rely upon even a single aspect of it in their cultivation, you should use your own spiritual powers to protect them. Do not allow any disasters or unwelcome events even to be heard, much less undergone, by them. Not only will those people be protected by you, but they will also be protected by the followers of Shakra, Brahma, and other gods. Why will they receive protection from sages and worthies such as those? It will be due to their having beheld and worshipped an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva and from having recited this sutra of his past vows. Such people will quite naturally be able to leave the sea of suffering and will ultimately be certified to the bliss of Nirvana. For those reasons, they will receive great protection.”