Here we have the history of King Resplendent, his queen consort, and the princes his two sons. The consort and princes are adherents of the Buddha's Law and desire to get the king to give up his preoccupation with other teachings and recognize the rare excellence of the Buddha's Law. The buddha of the time is one Thunder Voice Constellation King of Wisdom. The princes have heard his preaching of that loftiest of things, the Law-Flower Sutra, and they ardently wish to get the king also to listen. They consult their mother, who advises them that nothing short of a miracle will work.
Accordingly, the princes go before the king, leap into the air, and walk about in the sky. They shoot fire and water out of their heads and feet, sink freely into the earth, and do all sorts of incredible things. The king is astonished, and when he asks them where they have learned such godlike powers, they inform him that their master is the Buddha Thunder Voice Constellation King of Wisdom, who teaches the Law-Flower Sutra. The king forthwith wishes to see this buddha, and the overjoyed princes, not wanting to lose the opportunity, go to their mother and get her permission to leave home and devote themselves to study of the Way under the buddha.
Thus it is that the influence of the princes brings the king, the consort, ministers, court ladies, and many people of the country to the buddha to hear the Law. The buddha assures King Resplendent that he will gain enlightenment as a buddha, and the king, upon hearing this, makes over the kingdom to his brother and with all his retinue leaves palace and home for the faith.
After long practice the king attains high state in the teaching and reports to the buddha that it is owing entirely to his sons the princes that he has come to this. The buddha confirms that indeed this is true and that a good friend and instructor is certainly the worthy cause that brings many to the buddha and moves them to seek the buddha's knowledge.
We should not take the miracles performed by the princes literally, for what is meant here is that, through faith in the Buddha's Law they had studied, their character had altered, and in consequence their conduct in daily life had undergone a complete change. This was apparent to their father, and the demonstration in actual conduct was what proved the merit of the Buddha's Law and roused their father's interest.
While it is important, in leading people, to preach the Law of the Buddha, what really works is demonstration in action. This is particularly so when the people we try to reach are in our own families or where we work, for whatever we may say about the Law, unless our conduct wins admiration, far from winning people over, we are likely to make others despise or doubt the merit of that Law. This is why the story takes the form it does, and the princes' mother is a wise woman in commending demonstration. Still, their father the king is admirable too in that he is ready to set aside his prejudices and turn his ear to the truth. One who would grasp the truth must have just this kind of mental flexibility.
There is yet another important lesson here in the way the king's faith affects his ministers, household, and subjects. The right faith of a person in a position of leadership has vast influence, certainly, but there is also a serious problem in such influence.
Faith must begin with a matter of individual choice, and faith is tarnished whenever politics or authority is involved. But when a respected leader has faith in the True Law, many people are affected as a matter of course, and there is nothing tarnished or tarnishing about the working of such an influence. In fact, it is a most wholesome influence of exactly the right kind.
Right faith, then, is something to be desired in people who are in positions over many others. They need exert no pressure, for the quality that the True Law calls forth in their persons will inevitably affect those under them for the better.
Copyright by Rissho Kosei-kai. All rights reserved.