Just as Shariputra's buddhahood was predicted in chapter 3 of the sutra, in this chapter Shakyamuni recognizes that four other disciples - Maha-Kashyapa, Maha-Maudgalyayana, Subhuti, and Maha-Katyayana - have achieved discernment of and faith in the Law, and here he foretells their buddhahood.
Prediction, as pointed out earlier, in the chapter on tactfulness, means assurance of attaining the enlightenment of a buddha and thus of attaining buddhahood at some future time.
But the prediction, or assurance, is conditional. As it is stated, the achievement of buddhahood may seem near at hand, but in fact it is to be attained only after long, long practice at an almost indefinitely distant time in the future. If we think about the meaning of this in contemporary terms, it is somewhat like being admitted to a fine school or university. The admission is essential and important, but admission papers are not a diploma. Study is an absolute requirement in learning, just as practice is essential in religion. We may see here, then, a somewhat different aspect of the power without and the power within ourselves, which was described indirectly and suggested in the parable in chapter 3.
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