The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Ten supernatural powers
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ten supernatural powers
十神力 (Jpn ju-jinriki )
The supernatural powers that Shakyamuni Buddha displays in the "Supernatural Powers" (twenty-first) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, before transferring the essence of the sutra to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
T'ient'ai (538-597) outlines and interprets them in The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra as follows:
(1) The Buddha extends his long broad tongue until it reaches the Brahma Heaven.
This indicates the truth of his words.
(2) He emits light of an infinite variety of colors from every pore of his body, illuminating all the worlds in the ten directions.
This means that the Buddha's wisdom penetrates everything.
(3) He clears his throat, causing the sound to reach the worlds in the ten directions.
This indicates that he reveals the truth completely.
(4) He snaps his fingers, causing the sound to reach the worlds in the ten directions.
This indicates that he rejoices.
(5) All the lands in the ten directions tremble in six different ways.
(a) This represents the elimination of illusions about the true nature of existence through six levels of practice.
Earlier in the same work T'ient'ai defined these six levels in terms of the fifty-two stages of bodhisattva practice:
the first four levels comprise the ten stages of security, the ten stages of practice, the ten stages of devotion, and the ten stages of development, respectively; the fifth level corresponds to the stage of near-perfect enlightenment, and the sixth level to the stage of perfect enlightenment.
(b) "Tremble in six different ways" also represents the purification of the six sense organs.
(6) All beings in the worlds of the ten directions behold the Ceremony in the Air and rejoice. This indicates that all Buddhas preach in the same way.
(7) Heavenly gods proclaim with loud voices to the beings in these worlds that the Buddha is now expounding a great vehicle sutra called the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, and that they should therefore rejoice and make offerings to him. This indicates that in the future only this sutra will spread widely.
(8) On hearing this proclamation, all the beings in the worlds of the ten directions convert to the Buddha's teaching and become his disciples. This indicates that in the future only those who embrace this sutra will fill the land.
(9) The beings scatter offerings of various treasures over the saha world, and these gather together like a cloud and form a jeweled curtain over the Buddhas assembled there. This means that in the future only this sutra will be practiced.
(10) Passage between all worlds in the ten directions becomes unobstructed, as though they were one Buddha land. This means that in the future, through the practice of this teaching, all people will open and reveal their innate Buddha wisdom and only the truth will prevail throughout the world. The Annotations on "The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra" says that the first five of the ten supernatural powers were displayed for the benefit of people in Shakyamuni's time, and the latter five, for the sake of those who would come after his death.
In his 1273 work The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind, however, Nichiren interprets all ten as being displayed for the benefit of those who would appear in the future, because the "Supernatural Powers" chapter introduces the transfer of the essence of the Lotus Sutra to be propagated in the Latter Day of the Law.