particles of the land, to say nothing of the number of all fifty-two species together.
All these different species of beings brought flowers, incense, clothing, and food as their last offerings to the Buddha. Their voices resounded, crying out that the jeweled bridge for all living beings was about to collapse, that the eye of all living beings was about to be put out, that the parent, sovereign, and teacher of all living beings was about to pass away. Not only did their hair stand on end, but their tears flowed. Not only did their tears flow, but they beat their heads, pressed their hands to their chests, and cried aloud, not sparing their voices. The blood of their tears and the blood of their sweat fell upon Kushinagara more heavily than a torrential rain and flowed more abundantly than a mighty river. All this they did solely because the Lotus Sutra had opened for them the way to Buddha.ood, and they could never repay the debt of gratitude they owed the Buddha.
Even in this scene of grief, there were those who declared angrily that the enemies of the Lotus Sutra should have their tongues cut out, that they should never be allowed to sit with the others in the assembly. Bodhisattva Kashyapa vowed that he would appear in the form of frost and hail in the lands of the enemies of the Lotus Sutra. At that time the Buddha raised himself slightly from his reclining position and praised him, saying happily, Well spoken! Well spoken!
The other bodhisattvas, guessing where the Buddhas wishes lay, supposed that if they declared their intention to attack the enemies of the Lotus Sutra this might prolong the Buddhas life a little, and one by one they vowed to do so. In this way the bodhisattvas and the heavenly and human beings called upon the enemies of the Lotus Sutra to appear, hoping that if they
could fulfill the oath they had taken in the presence of the Buddha then Shakyamuni Buddha as well as Many Treasures and the other Buddhas and Thus Come Ones would understand that, faithful to the vow they had made before the Buddha, they would begrudge neither their reputations nor their lives in defense of the Lotus Sutra.
One may ask why the results of these vows should be so long in appearing. And yet, though one might point at the earth and miss it, though one might bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb and flow and the sun rise in the west, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered. If the bodhisattvas, the human and heavenly beings, the eight kinds of nonhuman beings, the two sages,30 the two heavenly deities,31 and the ten demon daughters would by some unlikely chance fail to appear and protect the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra, then above them they would be showing disdain for Shakyamuni and the other Buddhas, and below they would be guilty of deceiving the beings of the nine realms.32
It makes no difference if the practitioner himself is lacking in worth, defective in wisdom, impure in his person, and lacking in virtue derived from observing the precepts. So long as he chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they will invariably protect him. One does not throw away gold because the bag that holds it is dirty; one does not ignore the sandalwood trees because of the foul odor of the eranda trees around them; and one does not refuse to gather lotuses because the pond in the valley where they grow is not clean. If they ignore the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra, they will be going against their vow.
Now that the Former and Middle Days of the Law are over, persons who observe the precepts are as rare as tigers