THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Chapter XIII

The Entrustment of People and Gods

Sutra:

At that time, the World Honored One extended his gold-colored arm, and again rubbed the crown of the head of Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva, saying, “Earth Store, Earth Store, your spiritual powers, compassion, wisdom, and eloquence are inconceivable. Even if all Buddhas of the Ten Directions were to proclaim their praises of your inconceivable deeds, they could not finish in thousands of millions of eons.

Commentary:

This chapter on the entrustment of people and gods is chapter thirteen and the final chapter. What is entrustment? Entrustment means to instruct and burden those in the heavens and the human realm with the work of propagating the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store [Ksitigarbha] Bodhisattva. Circulate this Sutra so that all beings receive the benefits from this practice.

At that time,the World Honored One, the Buddha Shakyamuni extended his golden-colored arm, and again rubbed the crown of the head of Earth Store Bodhisattva. He had rubbed Earth Store Bodhisattva’s head earlier, but now he rubs the crown of this great Bodhisattva’s head again in particular. Rubbing the crown of someone’s head is a sign of compassion and care in Buddhism. Saying to him, “Earth Store! Earth Store! The awesome powers of your spiritual penetrations are inconceivable and ineffable. He says, “Earth Store Bodhisattva, no other Bodhisattva can compare to you in terms of your spiritual powers and strength. This kind of spiritual powers and strength are inconceivable and ineffable. You can be said to be most outstanding and most special. Your supernatural powers are incredible.

Your compassion is indeed inconceivable and ineffable. You made vows saying, “Unless the hells are empty, I will not become a Buddha; I will only realize Bodhi when all beings are saved.” Great kindness and great compassion such as this comes from the power of great vows that no other Bodhisattva has made. You, Earth Store Bodhisattva, alone have the power of such greatly kind and greatly compassionate vows.Your wisdom is inconceivable. The Buddha says, “Earth Store, very few Bodhisattvas can compare to you in terms of your great wisdom. This kind of great wisdom is also inconceivable and ineffable. Your eloquence is inconceivable. You enjoy the four unobstructed eloquences: eloquence in phrasing, eloquence in meaning, eloquence in delight in speaking and eloquence in the Dharma. Your unobstructed eloquence is also inconceivable and ineffable. Even if all Buddhas of the Ten Directions were to proclaim their praises ofyour spiritual powers, compassion, wisdom and eloquence, of your inconceivable deeds, stories and achievements, they could not finish in thousands of millions of eons. They could not finish in a thousand or ten thousand great eons because there are so many.

Sutra:

“Earth Store, Earth Store, remember this entrustment that I am again making here in the Trayastrimsha Heaven in this great assembly of uncountable millions of billions of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division. I again entrust to you the gods, people, and others who are still in the burning house and have not yet left the Triple World. Do not allow those beings to fall into the evil destinies even for a single day and night, much less fall into the Fivefold Relentless Hell or the Avici Hell, where they would have to pass through thousands of billions of eons with no chance of escape.”

Commentary:

“Earth Store, Earth Store, remember this entrustment that I am again making here in the Trayastrimsha Heaven. Earth Store Bodhisattva, you must remember how I, Shakyamuni Buddha here in the Trayastrimsha Heaven today, in this great assembly of uncountable millions of billions of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division such as gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, maharagas, humans, nonhumans and other ghosts and spirits of the Eightfold Pantheon. I again entrust to you the gods, people, and others, essentially all beings in the human realm and heavens and all beings who are still in the burning house and have not yet left the Triple World, the burning house of the Desire Realm, Form Realm and Formless Realm. I leave all these beings with you.

Do not allow those beings to fall into the evil destinies even for as long as a single day and night, much less fall into the Fivefold Relentless Hell or the Avici Hell, where they would have to pass through thousands of billions of eons with no chance of escape.” Before they escape, protect all beings and prevent them from falling into the evil destinies.

You should know that a day and a night in the Heaven of the Four Kings are 50 years in the human realm. A day and a night in the human realm are 500 years in the hells. The reason for that is because there is a lot of joy in the heavens. Times goes by quickly for people who are enjoying themselves. Due to the suffering in the human realm, that period in the human realm is 50 years. Hells are even more miserable than the human realm. When beings suffer, time seems longer. For instance, when we are distressed and melancholy, the day seems extremely long. Conversely, if you were happy, time goes by imperceptibly and the day has gone. This proves the contrast between the human realm and the hells and that a day and a night in the human realm are 500 years in the hells. This is why Shakyamuni Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva to make sure that beings do not fall into the Relentless Hells for even one day and one night, because they will feel like they have no chance of escape forever.

Sutra:

“Earth Store, the beings of southern Jambudvipa have irresolute wills and natures. They habitually do many evil deeds. Even if they resolve to do good, they soon renounce that resolve. If they encounter evil conditions, they tend to become increasingly involved in them. For those reasons, I reduplicate thousands of billions of bodies to transform beings, take them across, and liberate them, all in accord with their own fundamental natures.”

Commentary:

Earth Store!” Shakyamuni Buddha called on Earth Store Bodhisattva again, saying, “The beings of Southern Jambudvipa of this Saha World where we have to be patient have irresolute wills and natures. Their determination and thoughts are unfixed, reaching suddenly for the heavens and suddenly for the earth. Suddenly they develop faith and suddenly they do not. They are always changing with no fixed place. They habitually do many evil deeds.There are always more beings who learn evils. For instance, you ask them to come and listen to the sutra lectures, they are always unwilling. They seem especially afraid of tossing out their evil when they come here and listen to the sutra lectures. What can you do? Undaunted by doing evil, they protect their evil and refuse to change. So more learn to be evil. People do not need anyone to teach them how to gamble, for example. They go to a casino and they quite naturally know to pull the handle to the slot machine. They pull and know either they win or lose. No one needs to teach them. They are very smart about gambling in Reno or Las Vegas. They understand without a teacher. On the other hand, if you were to teach them good, they do not seem to get it no matter what. They do not even have faith in goodness. Hence, more learn to be evil. The Buddha knew about our habits long ago. He looks into beings’ bones and marrow and knows everything that is there.

Even if theyresolve to do good, they soon renounce that resolve. After a while, they regret it: I wonder if all of my donations are of any use? Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty in China, for example, said, “I built so many temples, converted so many monks, donated and made offerings, how much merit do I have? I wonder if I have any merit?” He then retreats. Soon, in a very short time, they withdraw from everything. If they encounter evil conditions, which are impure conditions they lead to one’s fall. Any cause that leads to one’s fall is considered an evil condition. Some examples of evil conditions include doing something stupid, getting angry, being greedy for money or sex, being hateful and wishing to murder and commit arson, being stupid in wanting what you cannot own. They become increasingly involved in them.Each thought grows and becomes stronger. For those reasons, I ­manifest thousands of billions of transformation bodies. Shakyamuni Buddha says that beings are so difficult to save. Even if they were to resolve to do good, they retreat very soon. If they encounter evil conditions, they become increasingly involved in them. For these reasons, I, Shakyamuni Buddha, divided my body to take them across and liberate them, all in accord with their own fundamental natures.” I will use millions and millions of expedient practices to teach beings, based on their faculty and nature to save all beings so that they leave suffering and attain bliss. (This section is an iteration of a previous one from the Chapter on Karmic Retributions. The intention is to again exhort Earth Store to emulate the Buddha to manifest transformation bodies to take living beings across and liberate them.)

Sutra:

“Earth Store, I now earnestly entrust the multitudes of gods and people to you. If in the future, among gods and people, there are good men or women who plant a few good roots in the Buddhadharma, be they as little as a strand of hair, a mote of dust, a grain of sand, or a drop of water, then you should use your powers in the Way to protect them so that they gradually cultivate the unsurpassed Way and do not get lost or retreat from it.”

Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha again says, “Earth Store, I now earnestly entrust, due to my sincere and tremendous expectation for you, the multitudes of gods and people to you. I trust them with you, leave them with you. If in the future, is a time that includes me and you now. When Earth Store Bodhisattva and Shakyamuni Buddha signed this contract, they included you, me and all beings. If among gods and people, there are good men or women. See! This essentially includes you and me. You are a good man or a good woman, and I am a good man or a good woman. We are not evil men or women. An evil man or woman cannot sit still here. One sits down and is ready to run because one seems to have sat on a bed of needles. Because you are a good man or good woman you can sit down and not want to leave. The more you listen, the more you enjoy listening; the more you enjoy listening, the more you find it interesting. That is why you do not want to leave. Who plant a few good roots in the Buddhadharma. See how we have hope! Don’t worry everyone. Now that Shakyamuni Buddha and Earth Store Bodhisattva have signed this explicitly clear contract that says, those who have any little bit of good roots in the Buddhadharma, be they as little as a strand of hair, a mote of dust, a grain of sand, or a drop of water among all the grains and drops of the Ganges River, then you should use your powers in the Way. Although they do very little, what is done is done with good intentions. You must contemplate with your eye of the Way. Use the strength of your spiritual penetrations, supernatural powers, compassion, wisdom and eloquence to protect them. Guard those who cultivate even this little amount of good roots so that they gradually cultivate the unsurpassed Way. Make them cultivate this unsurpassed Way more each day and understand it more each day. And do not get lost or retreat from it. Do not let them renounce their resolve for Bodhi.

Some people may wonder, the Sutra says that beings will be supported by Earth Store Bodhisattva if they do only so little. But we do so much and have not won the support of Earth Store Bodhisattva. I have not seen Earth Store Bodhisattva come and support me? You have not seen Earth Store Bodhisattva supporting you? You know, if you did not plant that little bit or an abundant amount of good roots, then you may have died in that car crash. You only incurred a slight injury and not death because Earth Store Bodhisattva was protecting you. Or how come you became cured all of a sudden? Would you experience this kind of miracle if Earth Store Bodhisattva was not protecting you? Someone else says, I have never been in car accidents or experienced any illness, so does that mean Earth Store Bodhisattva does not protect me? Do you recall the time when you were on a boat and it nearly capsized? Earth Store Bodhisattva was protecting you and prevented the boat from turning over, you just did not know about it. Someone else then says that he has never been in a boat. But you take flights and have not met any crashes. This is also because of Earth Store Bodhisattva’s protection. For example, some people are afraid when they ride airplanes. Will the airplane fall from such heights? Why are they afraid? It is because of their heavy karmic obstructions from the past, so they are afraid that such karmic obstructions will hurt them and make them plummet. Fortunately they study the Buddhadharma, so the plane does not fall from the air. Some say, I am not fearful of anything. You are not afraid? That is courage and protection granted to you by Earth Store Bodhisattva. Earth Store Bodhisattva is most efficacious in the above situations. Every one of you should believe in Earth Store King Bodhisattva because Earth Store King Bodhisattva signed a contract with Shakyamuni Buddha while in Tryashitrimsha Heaven. It is a rigorous contract that protects you and me, all beings now, because Earth Store Bodhisattva is responsible. So have faith.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Earth Store, in the future gods or people, according to the responses of their karmic retributions, may be due to fall into the evil destinies. They may be on the brink of falling or may already be at the very gates to those paths. But if they can recite the name of one Buddha or Bodhisattva or a single sentence or verse of a Great Vehicle Sutra, then you should use your spiritual powers to rescue them with expedient means, display a boundless body in the places where they are, smash the hells, and lead them to be born in the heavens and to experience supremely wonderful bliss.”

Commentary:

“Moreover, Earth Store, let me tell you more, Earth Store Bodhisattva! In the future gods or people, according to the responses of their karmic retributions they face their effects. They may be due to fall into the evil destinies. They may be on the brink of falling or may already be at the very gates to those three evil paths. But if they, all beings, can recite the name of one Buddha just once or Bodhisattva or a single sentence or verse of a Great Vehicle Sutra, then you should use your spiritual powers to rescue them, all these beings, with expedient means, display a boundless body, great might, and awesome virtue, in the places where they are, smash the hells. You shake your staff and the gate to the doors opens, releasing the hungry ghosts. And thereupon you lead them to be born in the heavens and to experience supremely wonderful bliss.”

Sutra:

At that time, the World Honored One spoke in verse, saying:

I am entrusting to your care the multitudes
Of gods and people both now and in the future.
Use spiritual powers and expedients to save them.
Do not allow them to fall into the evil destinies.

Commentary:

At that time, the Buddha again spoke in verse,

At that time, the World Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha, spoke in verse, saying:

I am entrusting to your care the multitudes. With the greatest hope, I now sincerely and earnestly instruct you and leave with you all beings of gods and people both now and in the future.

Use spiritual powers and expedients to save them. Use the expedients and powers of your great spiritual penetration to save all beings.

Do not allow them to fall into the evil destinies. Make sure that gods, humans and all beings do not fall into the evil realms of hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals and asuras.

Sutra:

At that time, Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva knelt on one knee, joined his palms together, and said to the Buddha, “I beg the World Honored One not to be concerned. In the future, if good men and women have a single thought of respect for the Buddhadharma, I shall use hundreds of thousands of expedients to take them across and free them. They will quickly be liberated from birth and death. How much more will that be the case for those who, having heard about all these good matters, are inspired to cultivate. Those people will naturally become irreversible from the unsurpassed Way.”

Commentary:

At that time, Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva is a great Bodhisattva among the Bodhisattvas. He is most outstanding among the Bodhisattvas. He is most replete with great awesome spiritual power, great vows of compassion, great power of wisdom, and great eloquence. Great means inconceivable. He is inconceivable because he is great. This great Bodhisattva now kneels before Shakyamuni Buddha. He knelt on one knee, joined his palms together, and said to the Buddha. With the three karmas of body, mouth and mind pure, he spoke to the Buddha saying, “I beg the World Honored One not to be concerned. Go ahead and let go of living beings. Leave them with me. I will be responsible for them. I will ensure that all these beings become Buddhas. Rest assured, Buddha, and worry no more for future beings.

Commentary:

In the future worlds of beings, if good men and women in any place and any country, have a single thought of respect, demonstrated by an intent, by putting their palms together but once, by lowering their heads just slightly at the sight of a Buddha image, or by bowing for the Buddhadharma, I shall use hundreds of thousands of expedients to take them across and free them. I will guide them along over time so that they leave suffering and attain bliss. They will quickly be liberated from birth and death, facing suffering no more.

Each of us should consider how did we come into the world? What are we to do? Are we here simply to let time slip through our fingers as we wait for death? We eat then sleep; sleep then eat. Do we wait for death then? Do we earn our living during the day for that couple of meals we take and the clothes we wear? Is it for these things? If it were, then we might as well die soon and be relieved from all that hassle. How is life meaningful that way? It is not particularly meaningful to eat then sleep; sleep then eat, only to age then die. Considering life meaningless, some may learn to make a living, make a few dollars, by cheating people. They figure they came to this life for these petty issues. If our survival were for the insignificant issues of food, clothing and lodging, then we might as well not go on living. We develop a lot of afflictions and face the development of many problems as we run around for the basic necessities of survival. These problems cause much more misery than delight. We encounter more difficulties than leisure. In this case we might as well be dead.

Why did we people come here? We came to the world because “awakened ones awaken those who shall be awakened.” I will make those who do not understand the principles I understand also understand. If everyone understands the principles of cultivation, then we would not have so many afflictions. This is our real obligation, which is to come to the world and contribute to the world and bring virtue to the people. Help everyone. Let me help others rather than wanting others to help me. Some think that I save some energy and get the better end of the bargain when other people help me. This is actually a major loss. Helping others is to do good deeds, which benefits the world and future generations. Shakyamuni Buddha, for example, helped all of us. All patriarchs and great Bodhisattvas did the same. We must emulate Shakyamuni Buddha, past patriarchs and great Bodhisattvas if we really want to learn the Buddhadharma. Do not pay lip service to the Buddhadharma only, but make sure everyone understands the Buddhadharma so that they may become liberated soon. This is most critical.

How much more will that be the case for those who, having heard about all these good matters, are inspired to cultivate. I hear some people are printing sutras, so, “Ah, let me print 5,000 copies. I will take care of them!” Or some people are renovating a monastery, “Let me go and work for them. Even though I do not have any money, I will contribute what money I have and what skills I have. I will go and do hard labor.” For instance, someone offered today that he will definitely build a temple for the Bodhisattvas next year. One individual volunteers, ten people volunteer, then millions of people will volunteer. The monastery will be built very quickly. This is very beneficial. Cultivating in thought after thought means to never forget cultivation. Instead of thinking about creating karma in thought after thought, cultivate purity in thought after thought. Those people will naturally become irreversible from the unsurpassed Way. Quite naturally, they will never renounce the unsurpassed fruition of Bodhi.

Sutra:

After he finished speaking, a Bodhisattva named Empty Space Treasury who was in the assembly addressed the Buddha, “World Honored One, I personally have come to the Trayastrimsha Heaven and have heard the Thus Come One praise Earth Store Bodhisattva’s awesome spiritual strength, describing it as inconceivable. If in the future good men, good women, gods and dragons hear this sutra and the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva, and if they behold and bow to his image, how many kinds of blessings and benefits will they obtain? Please, World Honored One, say a few words about this for the sake of beings of the present and future.”

Commentary:

After he finished speaking, a Bodhisattva in the great Tryastrimsha assembly named Empty Space Treasury who was in the assembly. Empty Space Treasury wears a treasury on his head. This wish-fulfilling pearl grants him anything he wants since it is on his head. This is why he is called Empty Space Treasury. You recognize him? That Bodhisattva who wears on his head a precious pearl that makes wishes come true is Empty Space Treasury Bodhisattva. His valuables are in empty space, or empty space contains his treasury. I believe you will never be poor if you know this Bodhisattva. Why? This Bodhisattva will give the valuables in his empty space treasury to you. You will never deplete it throughout lives to come.

He addressed the Buddha, “World Honored One, I personally have come to the Trayastrimsha Heaven. He said, from my land I passed eight zillion lands to arrive here at this Dharma Assembly of the Trayastrimsha Heaven. And I have heard the Thus Come One praise Earth Store Bodhisattva’s awesome spiritual strength, the might and power of his awesome virtue and spiritual penetrations, describing it as inconceivable, unthinkable, ineffable and unheard of. If in the future good men, good women, gods and dragons, and others of the eightfold pantheon hear this sutra on Earth Store and the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva, and if they behold and bow to his image, how many kinds of blessings and benefits will they obtain? How much advantage will they gain? Please, World Honored One, say a few words about this for the sake of beings of the present and future. Now I only hope you, World Honored One, will describe these briefly for all of us beings in the present and future.

Sutra:

The Buddha told Empty Space Treasury Bodhisattva, “Listen attentively, listen attentively. I shall enumerate them and describe them to you. Good men or women in the future may see images of Earth Store Bodhisattva and hear this Sutra or read or recite it. They may use incense, flowers, food and drink, clothing, and gems to give gifts and make offerings to him. They may praise, behold, and bow to him. Such beings will benefit in twenty-eight ways:

Commentary:

The Buddha Shakyamuni told Empty Space Bodhisattva,“Listen attentively, listen attentively. This means for you to pay special attention. I will tell you now. If you do not pay attention and listen, then I will not speak. What good will it do if I talk and you do not listen?” Similarly, as I lecture the sutra for you now, you must also listen attentively. If you keep on sleeping instead of listening, then you do not hear what I say, rendering what I say to be unspoken essentially. My first request, then, is to stop sleeping and being drowsy. I shall enumerate them and describe them to you one at a time. Good men or women, or men and women who do good deeds, in the future may see images of Earth Store Bodhisattva and hear this Sutra or read or recite it. Seeing an image of Earth Store is an expression of sincerity with the eye sense faculty; hearing the Earth Store Sutra is an expression of sincerity with the ear sense faculty; reciting is an expression of sincerity with the tongue sense faculty; offerings of incense and flowers are expressions of sincerity with the nose sense faculty; and food and drink are expressions of sincerity with the tongue sense faculty. Clothing and gems are expressions of sincerity with the body sense faculty. To give gifts and make offerings to him, to praise, behold, and bow to him using eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body are expressions of sincerity with the mind sense faculty. Due to the earnest expressed by the six sense faculties of such beings, they will benefit in twenty-eight ways. What are these 28 different advantages?

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