The Dharma Protection of an Earth Spirit
At that time the Earth Spirit Firm and Stable
spoke to the Buddha and said, "World Honored One, from long ago
I have personally beheld and bowed to limitless numbers of Bodhisattvas,
Mahasattvas. All of them have inconceivable and great spiritual
penetrations and wisdom that they use in taking vast numbers of
beings across. Among all the Bodhisattvas, Earth Store Bodhisattva,
Mahasattva has the deepest and most weighty vows.
"World Honored One, Earth Store Bodhisattva
has great affinities in Jambudvipa. Manjushri, Samantabhadra,
Avalokiteshvara, and Maitreya, also produce by transformation,
hundreds of thousands of bodies to take across those in the Six
Paths, but their vows have an end.
Earth Store Bodhisattva has made these vows
to teach and transform beings in the Six Paths throughout eons
as many as the number of sand grains in hundreds of thousands
of millions of Ganges Rivers.
"World Honored One, as I regard beings of
the present and future, I see those who make shrines of clay,
stone, bamboo, or wood and set them on pure ground in the southern
part of their dwellings. They place within the shrines images
of Earth Store Bodhisattva, either sculpted, painted, or made
of gold, silver, copper, or iron. They then light incense, make
offerings, behold, worship, and praise him.
By doing those things, such people will receive
ten kinds of benefits.
"What are those ten?
First, their lands will be fertile.
Second, their families and homes will always be peaceful.
Third, their ancestors will be born in the heavens.
Fourth, those of the current generation will enjoy benefits and
Fifth, they will easily obtain what they want.
Sixth, they will not encounter disasters of water and fire.
Seventh, they will avoid unforeseen calamities.
Eighth, they will never have nightmares.
Ninth, they will be protected by spirits in their daily comings
Tenth, they will encounter many causes that pertain to Sagehood.
World Honored One, beings of the present and
future who make offerings in their homes in the prescribed manner
will attain benefits like those."
He further said to the Buddha, "World Honored
One, good men or good women in the future may keep this Sutra
and an image of the Bodhisattva where they live. Further, they
may recite the Sutra and make offerings to the Bodhisattva.
For those who do that, I shall constantly
use my own spiritual powers to guard and protect them day and
night so that nothing bad happens to them, including floods, fire,
robbery and theft, major disasters, and minor accidents."
The Buddha told the Earth Spirit Firm and
Stable, "There are few spirits who can match your great spiritual
power. Why do I say that?
"All the lands in Jambudvipa receive your
protection. All the grasses, woods, sands, stones, paddy fields,
hemp, bamboo, reeds, grains, rice, and gems come forth from the
earth because of your power.
Moreover, your constant praising of the beneficial
deeds of Earth Store Bodhisattva makes your meritorious virtues
and spiritual penetrations hundreds of thousands of times those
of ordinary earth spirits.
"If good men or good women in the future make
offerings to this Bodhisattva, or recite the Sutra of the Past
Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva and rely upon even a single
aspect of it in their cultivation, you should use your own spiritual
powers to protect them. Do not allow any disasters or unwelcome
events even to be heard, much less undergone, by them.
Not only will those people be protected by
you, they will also be protected by the followers of Shakra, Brahma,
and other gods. Why will they receive protection from sages and
worthies such as those?
It will be due to their having beheld and
worshipped an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva and from having
recited this Sutra of his past vows. Such people will quite naturally
be able to leave the sea of suffering and ultimately be certified
to the bliss of Nirvana. For those reasons they receive great