The scene is truly incomprehensible- Sakyamuni Buddha is given a seat within the magnificent stupa along with Abundant Treasures. Both sharing the same lion throne within the stupa, the whole assembly rising up to the level of the two Buddhas, the whole earth and innumerable worlds around all purified glowing blue, millions of Buddhas in attendance, music and chanting in praise of the Dharma, sweet incense filling the air, a spectacular light show from the purified ground and jewel trees (not to mention the stupa's unimaginable magnificence), could the scale and magnitude be any greater? let's see
From this perspective Buddha Sakyamuni asks- "Who can publish abroad the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law after the parinirvana? Now is indeed the time" then we get a few very important teachings before the question is to be answered.
A story is told about how the evil Devadatta, in a previous life, proclaimed the Law Sutra to bodhisattva Sakyamuni! Devadatta was instrumental in Sakyamuni's Buddhahood and, it is said, will attain Buddhahood himself after many millions of rebirths! This teaching is indeed hard to believe, Sakyamuni says that anyone who can hear this teaching with a heart free from doubt will never fall to the lower realms of rebirth, but will be born among the Buddhas! Wherever he is born he will hear the Lotus Sutra, such is the power of the faith that even an "evil" person has Buddha-nature.
Two great Bodhisattvas are conversing and one asks if there is anyone in the world that, having diligently practiced this Sutra, can attain Buddhahood speedily? The answer is yes and, it is a female! the eight year old daughter of the Dragon King has keen faculties, compassionate heart and bodhi mind. She travels to a far off world, instantly attains Buddhahood, preaches the Lotus Sutra to beings and predicts many to Perfect Enlightenment!
The faith and devotion of the whole assembly is stronger and thousands upon thousands attain the bodhi-mind. Thousands attain non-returning to mortal life.
In the next chapter (thirteen) Two Great Bodhisattvas vow to proclaim and spread the Lotus Sutra. Five hundred Arhats that have received the prediction to Perfect Enlightenment (Buddhahood) also vow to publish the Lotus Sutra in the saha-world after the Buddha's parinarvana. Two Arhat females- Sakyamuni's aunt and wife, recieve their individual predictions to Perfect Enlightenment along with their followers and they make similar vow to uphold the Sutra. Then the great unfathomable millions of Bodhisattvas in attendance vow to also preach the Lotus Sutra in the saha-world (earth) after the Buddha's parinirvana but, the Buddha Sakyamuni is silent at this.
There is a wonderful teaching here- the Buddha is asked how one should preach the Sutra in the future. How should one conduct oneself to be assured success? Chapter 14- The Happy Life is one of my own favorite teachings of the whole Lotus Sutra. The Buddha states in plain terms the way one should conduct himself, body, speech and mind. Most high, the preacher of the Sutra must keep a mind of equanimity and compassion (love) toward ALL beings. This chapter is great and profound in it''s teaching, afterward the Buddha tells another parable:
A great king (Buddha) wishes to expand his domain by force, the evil kings (mara) around his domain do not obey his command so, he sends his armies (Bodhisattvas) to battle them. Being pleased with them, the king gives land, houses, cities and precious jewels (sutras, instruction, nirvana). Then, seeing his soldiers give themselves bravely and completely, the great king gives at last the crown jewel from his own head. The last and greatest thing that may not be given freely to anyone, this is the Lotus Sutra. The "mysterious treasury of all Buddhas," supreme above all teachings!
In Chapter 15- Springing up out of the Earth, we are brought back from the teachings to the action of the Lotus Sutra. All in attendance have made their vow to uphold and publish abroad the Lotus Sutra. Surely, with this great many of Bodhisattvas from other lands (as numerous as the sands of 8 Ganges rivers) proclaiming their intention, the success of the Lotus Sutra is assured. But the Buddha now proclaims that there is no need for the vow of these Bodhisattvas since he, in fact, has as many Irreversible Bodhisattvas as sixty-thousand Ganges rivers all with that same amount of followers each in the saha-world who are able to keep and preach the Sutra! When he speaks an amazing thing happens- the saha-world quakes and from below (infinite space, void, sunyata) an immeasurable, illimitable number of Bodhisattvas, beyond the powers of comprehension by calculation or comparison, spring forth.
It is amazing....a number so great that for each of the Bodhisattvas to approach the stupa, salute the Buddha Sakyamuni and Abundant Treasures, salute the Buddhas in attendance, fifty minor ages pass by. Time is shown to be truly transcended here again as, by the power of the Buddha Sakyamuni it seems to the assembly as half a day. The Bodhisattva Maitreya asks on behalf of himself and the Bodhisattvas in attendance who trained these millions upon billions of Irreversible Bodhisattvas in the Lotus Sutra? All are perplexed and confused. The Bodhisattva attendants of the emanated Buddhas from the other worlds ask the same question and are told to listen, Sakyamuni Buddha has been asked and will answer the question himself! The Buddhas know. Only the Buddhas know and now is the time for the highest, most profound teaching of all. Sakyamuni Buddha says "to cherish no doubt or fear, exert your faith and listen with believing heart."
Sakyamuni reveals that he has trained them all, they are his followers from ages ago! He has constantly taught, led and inspired in them the will for Perfect Enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.
Faith and devotion as: the emotional response inspired by the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, are shown to be the power behind the teachings here. Faith that an "evil" person has essential Buddha-nature. Or, that a woman is equal to man in capacity for understanding and attainment, this is shown to be an amazing power for spiritual development. The faith and devotion must be placed in worthy ideals but, is not surpassed by wisdom. Indeed, it is a direct path to wisdom.
It is all happening right now