The main subject of this chapter is Shakyamuni's explanation to the Bodhisattva Infinite Thought of why the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World had such a name.
It is easy in reading the chapter to think of the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World as an object upon whose power, quite outside and apart from the individual, it is possible to rely for salvation. It is of highest importance, however, to see that this is not so but that in fact he is a symbol of knowledge of the truth. Now, exactly speaking, this knowledge of the truth means realization of the middle truth that visible forms are neither the void nor the temporary but a commingling of the two. Applied to the human condition, this means free and liberating knowledge that makes it possible for the person who has it to fit exactly into any situation, while at the same time preserving his or her identity and distinction.
The Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World was possessor of such knowledge of the truth. He was also possessor of vast compassion that made him ready to accept the sufferings of others in their stead.
Knowing the truth, thinking on the truth, and acting in accord with the truth - this course and no other is the true way to be saved. Further, to save others, we must, out of a spirit of compassion, be self-sacrificing, for thus we may lead them into the path of truth. This is what really is taught in this chapter in the detailed account of deliverance from seven perils by holding in mind the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World.
People in olden times had difficulty in grasping so abstract an idea, and this is why the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World is presented in the Lotus Sutra as a beautiful, gentle being endowed with surpassing powers of perception, such that he observes the sounds of the world, knows every move, sees what everyone desires, and so, in compassion, appears in what are described as thirty-three guises to rescue people from their every pain. Holding such a being in mind brought salvation as the mind responded to the truth.
We today ought to think on the superb character of the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World and try to make ourselves like him. To emulate the bodhisattva passionately will see us through whatever troubles come and will lead us to lend a helping hand whenever we see others in trouble. This is really the main lesson of this chapter.
A further point not to be overlooked is the way in which the Bodhisattva Infinite Thought is so moved by the great virtue and power of the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World that he offers up his necklace. Regarder of the Cries, in accepting it, at once divides it, giving half to Shakyamuni the World-honored One and half to the stupa of the Buddha Abundant Treasures. What this means is that the great virtue and power of the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries is due equally to the truth of the buddha-nature, which the stupa represents, and to Shakyamuni, the one who explains that truth. We may here see quite plainly that it is a great mistake to think we will be saved merely by praying to the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World.
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