The final commission spoken of here means an entrustment and a call for help. Shakyamuni strokes the heads of all the bodhisattvas and entrusts them with the great work of transmitting the treasured enlightenment to people coming later, calling upon them to preach the Dharma single-mindedly and cause living beings far and wide to benefit.
In response the bodhisattvas are filled with the highest joy and three times declare their determination as they happily undertake the difficult task ahead. We must note this well, for it is the prime point of this brief chapter. We latter-day bodhisattvas must take to heart this joy in favor bestowed and happiness in the face of a difficult task ahead.
With this chapter we come to the end of a major section of the Lotus Sutra. This is the close of that portion of the sutra, beginning with chapter 15, in which the perfect truth of the Buddha's ultimate substance or true body and its working is stated. After this we return from such ideal truth to the apparent actuality. In other words, the setting of the Lotus Sutra shifts from the assembly in the sky to Vulture Peak. We should note here that Shakyamuni is said to have preached the Lotus Sutra first at the assembly on Vulture Peak, then at the assembly in the sky, and last once again at the assembly on Vulture Peak.
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