The Lotus Sutra - 07 Phantom City - 3 The Parable of the Phantom City
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Lotus sutra – translated by Burton Watson
“Monks, the Thus Come one is in a similar position. He is now acting as a great leader for you. He knows that the bad road of birth and death and earthly desires is steep, difficult, long and far-stretching, but that it must be traveled, it must be passed over. If living beings hear only of the one Buddha vehicle, then they will not want to see the Buddha, will not want to draw near him, but will immediately think to themselves, The Buddha road is long and far-stretching and one must labor diligently and undergo difficulties over a long period before he can ever attain success !
“The Buddha knows that the minds of living beings are timid, weak and lowly, and so, using the power of expedient means, he preaches two nirvanas in order to provide a resting place along the road. If living beings choose to remain in these two stages, then the Thus Come One will say to them, 'You have not yet understood what is to be done. This stage where you have chosen to remain is close to the Buddha wisdom. But you should observe and ponder further. This nirvana that you have attained is not the true one. It is simply that the Thus Come one, using the power of expedient means, has taken the one Buddha vehicle and, making distinctions, has preached it as three. '
“The Buddha is like that leader who, in order to provide a place to rest, conjured up a great city and then, when he knew that the travelers were already rested, said to them, 'The place where the treasure is is nearby. This city is not real. It is merely something I conjured up.' "
The Buddhas through the power of expedient means
make distinctions and preach three vehicles,
but there is only the single Buddha vehicle--
the other two nirvanas are preached to provide a resting place
Now I expound the truth for you-
what you have attained is not extinction.
For the sake of the comprehensive wisdom of the Buddha
you must expend great effort and diligence.
If you gain enlightenment in the Law of the Buddha
with its comprehensive wisdom and ten powers
and are endowed with the thirty-two features,
then this will be true extinction.
The Buddhas in their capacity as leaders
preach nirvana to provide a rest.
But when they know you have become rested,
they lead you onward to the Buddha wisdom.