THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
First, they will be protected by gods and dragons.
Second, their good roots will increase daily.
Third, they will amass supreme causes pertaining to sagehood.
Fourth, they will not retreat from Bodhi.
Fifth, their clothing and food will be abundant.
Sixth, they will never succumb to epidemics.
Seventh, they will escape calamities involving fire and water.
Eighth, they will never be threatened by thieves.
Ninth, they will be respected by all who see them.
Tenth, they will be aided by ghosts and spirits.
First, they will be protected by gods and dragons. Gods, celestial dragons and celestial asuras will protect you because you know how to recite the Earth Store Sutra. Asuras in the heavens enjoy blessings but no authority. They swear to protect you. Gandharvas are music spirits before the Jade Emperor. They are also called “sniffing spirits”. Whenever the Jade Emperor lights up a particular incense, Gandharvas come. There are male gandharvas and female gandharvas. Male gandharvas wear a horn similar to chimeras on their heads. Once they get a whiff of this scent, they will dance and sing, so the celestial music rings in the heavens. Recite Earth Store Sutra and gandharvas will sing praises as they dance on air. Garudas are Great Peng birds with golden wings. Kinnaras are music spirits too. Maharagas are giant pythons. All of them protect someone who recite the Earth Store Sutra or bow to Earth Store Bodhisattva.
Second, their good roots will increase daily. Sometimes cultivators are extremely bold as they set their resolve on Bodhi; consequently doing a lot of merit. Sometimes they turn around and withdraw. They retreat because they feel that they do not experience any responses despite all the merit they do for Buddhism. Good results increase daily means that they do no retreat; instead they grow by the day. They develop blessings and wisdom, do good and virtuous deeds, achieve merit and always move forward vigorously in Buddhism. Why? It is because you recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name, recite the Fundamental Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra or pay respects to Earth Store Bodhisattva that you experience the response of growing good effects on a daily basis.
Third, they will amass supreme causes pertaining to sagehood. This means they do various jobs in Buddhism, such as printing sutras and building temples. Repairing bridges and paving roads are about amassing supreme causes pertaining to sagehood too. Making sutras, turning the great Dharma wheel and doing all these good deeds are about cultivating the path to Bodhi and amassing supreme causes pertaining to sagehood.
Fourth, they will not retreat from Bodhi. Sometimes we are vigilant and sometimes we are lax in our cultivation. Vigilant, we are quite bold with everything. Lax, we feel that we are not getting any responses from any work we do, so we retreat. Recite Earth Store Sutra, recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name, and bow and make offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva; we do not renounce our resolve for Bodhi. Our wish for enlightenment moves ahead and grows on a daily basis, never retreating.
Fifth, their clothing and food will be abundant. We are not short of clothes or food. People work their entire lives for those three meals a day. They work hard out of fear of dying because of starvation or cold. They are always looking for more money. When we did not have any money, we want 10,000 dollars. When we get our wish and earn 10,000, we find that lacking. We tell ourselves, if we had 100,000 dollars, we will retire. But when we make that 100,000 dollars, we remember that our kids have to go to school. We do not have enough money. We want to buy a car, so there is not enough money. We want to buy a cruise boat, so there is not enough money still. Thinking even bigger, we may want an airplane. Hundred thousand dollars does not do any good. We look for money. When we find that one million dollars and are ready to buy that plane, the price of the airplane has gone up. We could have purchased it for $990,000 before, but now it is $9,900,000. The price has gone up by ten times. We cannot afford it once again. We can never catch up because of our greed. We were going to be satisfied and retired as millionaires, but we end up continuing with the pursuit. We are never satisfied and never content. If you recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name, recite Earth Store Sutra, bow and make offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva, you will always enjoy more than enough clothing and food. When you want to buy an airplane, you will earn more than enough money for two airplanes. That is how wonderful this Dharma is. In that case, I will hurry up and recite Earth Store Bodhisattva! Recite Earth Store Bodhisattva in the hopes of buying two airplanes is greed. Large amounts of greed will not bring about results. All we can do is try our best while reciting. Do not care so much about whether there will be results. Some say, “Master, I feel I am tricked by what you say!” Then what? Do not be tricked. Consequently, we must be content and be patient with what comes.
Sixth, they will never succumb to epidemics. Recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name and you will not contract any contagious diseases. Epidemics cannot touch you because there seems to be a border between you and the disease.
I remember when I was in Northeast China during a plague. A household of eleven had thirteen deaths in three days. How can a household of eleven have two more deaths than the number in the family? Two were bearers of gifts. Eleven was not a large enough number, two more had to be added. Out of these two, one was a worker for the family and the other was a distant relative who came to visit. They were additions to the eleven that made the total number of dead thirteen. When I was there, I took four young disciples with me. “We are going to go and rescue people!” How? I told them, “Let us recite the Great Compassion Mantra to duel the plague spirit.” We went to villages plagued by this epidemic and circled the place three times, reciting the Great Compassion Mantra. When we finished reciting Great Compassion Mantra, the epidemic vanished. So reciting the Great Compassion Mantra is very effective and wonderful.
Seventh, they will escape calamities involving fire and water. Recite Earth Store’s name, there will be no floods or fire, or they will not drown in water and not be burned by fire. They will naturally float to shallow spots and reach the shore when they fall into the sea; they will naturally be rescued when fire is closing in on them.
Eighth, they will never be threatened by thieves. Why are you robbed and stolen from? It is because you unreasonably took other people’s money for your own. You had lied in the past so you are robbed in this life. You have to pay your due. This is the reason why you are robbed and stolen from. All this is a result of cause and effect. There is nothing strange about it. If you really understand this, then you will see the cause and effect in any state and recognize this cyclic law.
Ninth, they will be respected by all who see them. Recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and Earth Store Bodhisattva’s names and pay respect to them; people will respect you and feel close to you. They feel as if they see relatives from long ago. They feel so close to you, as if they have come home. This is like being along overseas where you know no one. When you meet some old friends, you feel awkward. You do not know whether you are happy or sad, whether to smile or cry, Or you want to laugh and cry! You cry because you see someone dear to you. You laugh because you feel secure now. People respect you at the sight of you. No one criticizes you or mistreats you. Do not say, “You know, I am an upasaka! You must respect me!” Or, “I am a Dharma Master, bow to me when you see me!” This is not about forcing others to respect you. The saying goes, “ Musk will naturally smell nice, why let the wind blow on it?” If you were really virtuous, do not act like some medicinal patches salesperson. “Oh, my medicinal patch is the best. Arthritis, rheumatism, numbness, just put on this patch and it will cure itself even if you do not put on the patch. Do not sell yourself, fearing that others will not know you. “Do you know who I am? I am the most powerful Buddhist Dharma Protector. I am a senior Dharma Protect at so and so temple. Also, I am the Board of Director of some charity organization. I am also the supporter of some place, etc., etc.” One introduces oneself because one is afraid that other people will not know. Stop, that is pretense and untrue. Advertise and sell yourself, then blind individuals will not know and be swindled by you; but people with eyes will see it right away, finding you pathetic.
Tenth, they will be aided by ghosts and spirits. If you have real merit, why publicize it for yourself? Ghosts, spirits, & Dharma protectors will help and support you. They will help you and resolve your difficulties from behind the scenes. No need to publicize. The tenth advantage is that all ghosts, good and bad, and all spirits, good and bad, will all help you. Evil spirits will also help you? Is this due to the power of Earth Store Bodhisattva? It is by the power of Earth Store Bodhisattva. All evil ghosts and spirits become Dharma protectors. If I recite Earth Store King Bodhisattva, will he tell people to come and scold me? No. Why? To tell you the truth, you are not up the level yet! You have not even finished studying, how can you pass the test? You pass when you graduate from college. Why test you if you just entered college and have not even graduated? Do not think that scolding is bad. Scoldings are tests. If you can take it, you pass. If you pass, keep going forward and cultivate. Do you cultivate any more after you pass the test? Cultivate even more once you pass. If not, what is the use of passing the test? What is the use of studying to earn a Ph.D.? It is the same idea. If you understand, you understand; if you do not understand, there is nothing I can do.
Eleventh, women who want to, can be reborn as men.
Twelfth, women who want to, can be reborn as daughters of national leaders and officials.
Thirteenth, they will have upright appearances.
Fourteenth, they will often be born in the heavens.
Fifteenth, they may be emperors or national leaders.
Sixteenth, they will have the wisdom to know past lives.
Seventeenth, they will obtain whatever they seek.
Eighteenth, their families will be happy.
Nineteenth, they will never undergo any disasters.
Twentieth, they will leave the bad karmic paths forever.
Twenty-first, they will always reach their destination.
Twenty-second, their dreams will be peaceful and happy.
Twenty-third, their deceased relatives will leave suffering behind.
Twenty-fourth, they will enjoy blessings earned in previous lives.
Twenty-fifth, they will be praised by sages.
Twenty-sixth, they will be intelligent and have keen faculties.
Twenty-seventh, they will be magnanimous and empathetic.
Twenty-eighth, they will ultimately realize Buddhahood.
Eleventh, women who want to, can be reborn as men. The eleventh advantage is that if you are tired of being a woman, by paying respects and making offerings, praising and reciting the Fundamental Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, or reciting and praising Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name, then you as a woman will turn into a man. Perhaps it is not because you are tired of being a woman that you wish to become a man. You feel that it is inconvenient being a woman and therefore wish to become a man. You make that kind of vow because everything will be convenient then. Earth Store Bodhisattva will make your wishes come true.
Twelfth, women who want to, can be reborn as daughters of national leaders and officials. Any wish to go from a woman to a man will be met. So will the wish to go from a man to a woman. Men may recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name, bow to an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva or recite the Fundamental Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra to become a woman who teaches living beings. Women usually have less of a temper, are more detail-oriented and speak as if they have affinities with others. This is why some Bodhisattvas make the vow to go from being men to women. They go from being men to women to propagate the Buddhadharma and teach living beings. Consequently, these women are not average women, but daughters to kings and ministers. They enjoy a lot of power to influence people so that people may develop their faith and intention to cultivate. These women have been reborn again because of their vows.
Thirteenth, they will have upright appearances. The thirteenth advantage is not only about being women, but women who are intelligent and wise, nice looking without any flaws. The nose, eyes, ears and mouth all look the way they should. Someone asks, “Are there ears that do not look like ears. Are there eyes that do not look like eyes?” Some women have triangular eyes or strange looking eyes that look about as if they are ready to steal some cows. They do not look so elegant. They are rather crude, improper and less than perfect. The nose is on top of the head, with nostrils pointed upward. What do you think that is like? Some women have one eye up close to the sky and one eye close to the floor, ears on the back of her head, and a mouth on the chin. They do not look quite like people, not quite like ghosts, and not quite like monkeys. If they were a product of evolution, how is it that they do not look like anybody else but they are the only ones who look that way? This is an improper and imperfect look. If you wish to become women, your looks ought to be perfect and proper. If your features were proper-looking, people will feel a sense of affinity with you. If your features were improper, people take a look and run away as if they saw a yaksha.
Fourteenth, they will often be born in the heavens. The fourteenth advantage surpasses those described before. They are born in the heavens often to enjoy heavenly blessings and supremely wonderful bliss.
Fifteenth, they may be emperors or national leaders. The fifteenth is that they may become candidates for emperors by reciting the Earth Store Sutra, bow to Earth Store Bodhisattva, and recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name. This is an incredible advantage. “Dharma Master, I do not want to go to the heavens and be an emperor or be a good-looking individual. This Saha World is so miserable, I have had enough already.” You really had enough? There are other opportunities for realizing Buddhahood, the last enumerated advantage is to realize Buddhahood.
Sixteenth, they will have the wisdom to know past lives. They know what they did in their past lives. Perhaps they were political officials, scholars or business people. They know what their last names, first names were, their place of birth and age of death. Now they are in a new house, different from their earlier ones. Those with the power to know past lives know what occurred in their past lives.
Seventeenth, they will obtain whatever they seek. The 17th advantage is that you get what you want. You want riches and you get them. You want people, you get people. You want food, you get food. You want to be rich and you will own an uncountable amount of gold, silver and jewels. Just avoid following in the footsteps ofReza Shah Pahlavi [the Iranian czar], who earned so much money, none of which was enjoyed during his lifetime. He died empty-handed. How meaningless and worthless. Do not be misers.
Eighteenth, their families will be happy. The 18th advantage is that their family, relatives and friends around them are all happy, safe and at peace. People do not fight or argue. This creates happy families.
Sometimes a lot of afflictions develop in the family, between husband and wife, father and son, brothers and sisters, or in-laws. The most intimate relationship in our lives has to be that between parent and child. When their opinions diverge, the child may think: “Look, the old man’s brain is arcane; his knowledge is arcane; everything he does is arcane. He has not caught up with modern times and does not know how to deal with the contemporary world.” He feels that old people do present a problem. Elders are so concerned about their children that they forgive their children no matter what wrong they do. The children, unfortunately, are ungrateful and consider the elders in the wrong. Why do you not educate your children well? It is because parents do not know how to teach their children. Consequently children do not know how to take care of their parents. Many problems remain unresolved between parents and their children. As for couples, before marriage, both wear a façade and do not argue or fight. After marriage, both display their temper. The man will let the woman know that he is upset and the woman will let the man know that she is upset. They give each other stress. With this 18 th advantage, your families and friends will always be happy if you get to see an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva or hear the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva.
Nineteenth, they will never undergo any disasters. All disasters and accidents, adverse and inauspicious events are unexpected disasters. Suicide by hanging, drowning at the sea, airplane crashes, car accidents, suicide by taking poisons are all unexpected deaths. When all accidents disappear, all disasters disappear. There will be no more hurt or harm.
Twentieth, they will leave the bad karmic paths forever. No more offense karma. The three evil destinies are the realms of hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals.
Twenty-first, they will always reach their destination. The 21st advantage is one where they go everywhere unobstructed and very smoothly. Things are auspicious and beneficial for them.
Twenty-second, their dreams will be peaceful and happy. The 22nd advantage. Unlike average people’s dreams some always have vicious nightmares. They experience nightmares where they are either chased by ghosts, bitten by dogs, or eaten by tigers. Sometimes they are pressed upon by ghosts and cannot move. They panic. Recite The Fundamental Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra and Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name, your dreams will become happy and lucky.
Twenty-third, their deceased relatives will leave suffering behind. The 23rd advantage is that your parents, ancestors, and relatives since beginningless time, will leave suffering and attain bliss, become liberated from birth and death. Many deceased individuals fall into the hells because of their karma. However, because you see an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva or hear the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva, there are 28 advantages that make the deceased leave suffering behind and acquire bliss. The deceased of the present are our deceased parents and relatives in this life. They will leave suffering and attain bliss. The deceased of the past are all of our deceased parents and relatives throughout all of our lives will leave suffering and attain bliss.
Twenty-fourth, they will enjoy blessings earned in previous lives. You ride on the good roots and blessings from your past lives. Having done a lot of merit and planted deep roots of goodness, they enjoy such blessings of lives past. Why are we rich in this life? In past lives we made offerings to the Sangha and offered charity to the poor. In the past, we made offerings to the Triple Jewel, guarded Buddhism, and helped the poor. This is why we are rich in this lifetime. Why are we poor in this life, perhaps so impoverished that we have no clothing or food? In past lives we refused to help the poor. In lives past, we refused to aid the poor. We were very stingy and did not want to give up anything. If we were not so miserly before, but cultivated blessings and wisdom instead, then the blessings done in past lives may be enjoyed in this lifetime.
Twenty-fifth, they will be praised by sages. The 25th is that all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, sages, and arhats praise you and tell you that you are a good man or a good woman.
Twenty-sixth, they will be intelligent and have keen faculties. The 26th advantage is about being very smart and wise, having a powerful memory. The eyes are bright and they see far. The ears hear well. All six sense faculties are keen.
Twenty-seventh, they will be magnanimous and empathetic. The 27th is being full of sympathy and compassion toward everyone. Providing every individual with joy and relieving one of one’s pain. Regardless of how unkind people are, they treat others kindly and refuse to seek revenge.
Twenty-eighth, they will ultimately realize Buddhahood. What is the 28th advantage? This is the most critical advantage-- to irreversibly enter the Bhodi path so that they will definitely become Buddhas in the future.
“Moreover, Empty Space Treasury Bodhisattva, if gods, dragons, or spirits of the present or future hear Earth Store’s name, bow to Earth Store’s image, or hear of Earth Store’s past vows and the events of his practices, and then praise, behold, and bow to him, they will benefit in seven ways:
“Moreover, let me tell you again, Empty Space Treasury Bodhisattva, if gods, dragons, or spirits of the present or future hear Earth Store’s name, bow to Earth Store’s image, or hear of Earth Store’s past vows and the events of his practices, such as all the stories of cause and effect in the Fundamental Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra and then praise, behold, and bow to him, they will benefit in seven special ways. What are the advantages of bowing to any of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? There is incomparable benefit to bowing to the Buddhas. Bow before the Buddhas to eliminate offenses as numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges River.
First, they will quickly ascend to levels of sagehood.
Second, their evil karma will dissolve.
Third, all Buddhas will protect and be near them.
Fourth, they will not retreat from Bodhi.
Fifth, their inherent powers will increase.
Sixth, they will know past lives.
Seventh, they will ultimately realize Buddhahood.
What are these seven advantages?
First, they will quickly ascend to levels of sagehood. What does ascend mean? For instance, going from the first ground to the third ground, skipping the second ground. Or going from the third ground to the fifth ground, then from the fifth ground to the eighth ground. They ascend quickly by passing over certain stages.
Second, their evil karma will dissolve. Why do people not become Buddhas? They have impure karma. Evil karma is tainted. The karma you create is impure. Evil karma is dark karma. You do not want people to know about anything you do. Recite Earth Store Bodhisattva and your evil karma is eliminated.
Third, all Buddhas will protect and be near them. All Buddhas throughout the ten directions come before you to protect you.
Fourth, they will not retreat from Bodhi. You will never withdraw from your resolve for Bodhi, for enlightenment. You grow by the day and make progress each day, only advancing and never retreating. Once Bodhi resolve burgeons, I want to receive the Five Precepts today and leave home tomorrow. The day after. I must become an eminent monk. The day after that: I must become a patriarch. The day after that I will practice the ways of a Bodhisattva. A while later I will become a Buddha. You must not rescind your resolve for Bodhi. Avoid making the resolve for receiving the Five Precepts then reject the idea, thinking, “It would be embarrassing to receive the precepts then violate them. I could not stand it if most people know I violated the precepts.” Or they hear that monastic life is bitter, so they reconsider and decide not to become a monastic. Very few can remain steadfast toward the goal of Bodhi.
Fifth, their inherent powers will increase. Inherent power refers to the strength of our inherent Buddha nature. Living beings have the opportunity and power to become Buddhas. What people do is to cover over their inherent Buddha nature and allow afflictions and ignorance to develop. Now that you shattered ignorance and broke with afflictions, then your inherent power manifests and increases.
Sixth, they will know past lives. They know what they did in their last life and what they did the life before that. They know about their lives as far back as 80,000 great eons. Those who certify to arhatship know their past lives, but they do not know anything beyond 80,000 great eons. Once someone has the ability to know past lives, they know, for example I was an ant in one life! That was a tiny body. Now I am huge as a human being. Perhaps we go from ants to bees, bees to butterflies, butterflies to birds, birds to eagles. We were vegetarian eagles, so we built blessings and planted causes for Buddhahood. Hence we became humans, who will become Buddhas in the future. With the ability to know past lives, you know when you were an ant, what kind of insect or animal you were. This body of ours will change, perhaps what follows are numerous transformations.
Seventh, they will ultimately realize Buddhahood. They will become Buddhas eventually. This is the same as the 28 th in the earlier list.
At that time, all the indescribably ineffable numbers of Buddhas, Thus Come Ones who had come from the Ten Directions, and great Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division, having heard Shakyamuni Buddha’s praise of Earth Store Bodhisattva’s great awesome spiritual powers, lauded this unprecedented event.
At that time, all the indescribably ineffable numbers of Buddhas, Thus Come Ones who had come from the Ten Directions, and the unimaginable and unspeakable number of great Bodhisattvas, Sound Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions, Pratyekabuddhas, gods, people, ghosts, spirits, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division, having heard Shakyamuni Buddha’s praise of Earth Store Bodhisattva’s great awesome spiritual powers and incredible blessings, incomparable by any other Bodhisattvas, lauded this unprecedented event. Everyone extolled at how there has never been such a supreme and rare Bodhisattva.
Following that, incense, flowers, heavenly garments, and pearl necklaces rained down in the Trayastrimsha Heaven as offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha and Earth Store Bodhisattva, and everyone in the assembly joined together in gazing at and making obeisance to the Buddha and Bodhisattva. Then they put their palms together and withdrew.
Following that, an array of incense, scented flowers such as mandaravas (little white flowers) and mahamandaravas (large white flowers), heavenly garments lighter than nylon, and pearl necklaces rained down in the Trayastrimsha Heaven (the Heaven of Thirty-Three) as offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha and Earth Store Bodhisattva. The most valuable and rare gems were offered to Shakyamuni Buddha who was the greatest, and then to Earth Store Bodhisattva. After the offerings, everyone in the assembly who had gathered, such as Bodhisattvas, arhats, gods, ghosts and spirits joined together in gazing at and making obeisance to the Buddha and Bodhisattva. Then they put their palms together and respectfully withdrew to the side.