Wonderful Dharma Lotus Sutra

Chapter Fourteen -- Happily-Dwelling Conduct

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,
In the future evil age,
Who, with a fearless mind,
Wishes to speak this Sutra,
He should enter the range of practice
And the range of association.
He should always stay away
From kings, as well as princes,
Great ministers and officials,
Brutal and dangerous performers;
From chandalas, along with
Externalists and brahmacharins.
He should not draw near to
Those of overweening pride
Who are attached to the Small Vehicle
And study the Three Stores.
Nor should he draw near to
Bhikshus who are breakers of the precepts,
Arhats in name only,
Or to Bhikshunis
Who like to play and laugh,
Those deeply attached to the five desires
Or seeking quiescence in the present.
Nor should he draw near Upasikas.
Should such people come
With good hearts
To the Bodhisattva
To hear of the Buddha Way,
The Bodhisattva, then, may
Without apprehension
And without expectations
Speak the Dharma for them.
He should not draw near
Widows, maidens
Or unmanly men,
Nor should he be familiar with
Or close to them.
He should also not draw near
Butchers, meat-cutters,
Hunters, or fishermen,
Or any who kill for profit
Or sell meat as their livelihood,
Or those who traffic in female flesh:
Such people as these
He should not draw near.
He should take care never
To draw near to those
Engaged in dangerous, violent sports,
Nor to actors and performers
Or prostitutes and the like.
He should not, while in a secluded place,
Speak the Dharma for women.
While speaking the Dharma,
He should not joke or laugh.
When he enters the city to seek alms,
He should go with another Bhikshu,
Or, if there is no other Bhikshu,
He should single-mindedly recollect the Buddha.
Those are what is called
The ranges of practice and association;
By resort to these two ranges
He can preach in peace and comfort.
Further, he does not practice
Higher, middle, or lower dharmas;
Nor conditioned or unconditioned dharmas,
Real or unreal dharmas.
He does not distinguish
Between men and women;
He does not obtain any dharma
Nor does he know or perceive any.
This is what is known as
The Bodhisattva's range of practice.
All the dharmas whatsoever
Are empty, nonexistent,
Without permanence,
Neither arising nor extinguished;
This is known as the Wise One's range of association.
It is through inverted discrimination
That dharmas exist or not exist,
Seem real or unreal,
Created or uncreated.
If, in a quiet place,
He cultivates and collects his thoughts
Peacefully dwelling, unmoved
Like Mount Sumeru,
Contemplating all dharmas
As having no existence,
Like empty space,
With nothing firm or solid,
Uncreated, not coming forth,
Unmoving, not retreating;
Dwelling always in one mark,
This is called the range of association.
If a Bhikshu,
After my Nirvana,
Enters into this range of practice
And range of association,
When he speaks this Sutra,
He will have no fear.
When a Bodhisattva
Enters a quiet room
And with upright mindfulness
Contemplates dharmas in accord with principle,
Arising from dhyana concentration
He may for the sake of kings,
Princes, ministers,
Brahmans and such
Teach, transform, and expound,
Speaking this Sutra
With a tranquil mind
And without fear.
This is called the Bodhisattva's
Peaceful dwelling in the first Dharma,
And he may, in the future age,
Speak the Dharma Flower Sutra.

"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 res