THE Blessed One said to his disciples: "When I have passed away and can no longer address you and edify your minds with religious discourse, select from among you men of good family and education to preach the truth in my stead. And let those men be invested with the robes of the Tathagata, let them enter into the abode of the Tathagata, and occupy the pulpit of the Tathagata.
"The robe of the Tathagata is sublime forbearance and patience. The abode of the Tathagata is charity and love of all beings. The pulpit of the Tathagata is the comprehension of the good law in its abstract meaning as well as in its particular application.
"The preacher must propound the truth with unshrinking mind. He must have the power of persuasion rooted in virtue and in strict fidelity to his vows. The preacher must keep in his proper sphere and be steady in his course. He must not flatter his vanity by seeking the company of the great, nor must he keep company with persons who are frivolous and immoral. When in temptation, he should constantly think of the Buddha and he will conquer. All who come to hear the doctrine, the preacher must receive with benevolence, and his sermon must be without invidiousness. The preacher must not be prone to carp at others, or to blame other preachers; nor speak scandal, nor propagate bitter words. He must not mention by name other disciples to vituperate them and reproach their demeanor.
"Clad in a clean robe, dyed with good color, with appropriate undergarments, he must ascend the pulpit with a mind free from blame and at peace with the whole world. He must not take delight in quarrelous disputations or engage in controversies so as to show the superiority of his talents, but be calm and composed. No hostile feelings shall reside in his heart, and he must never abandon the disposition of charity toward all beings. His sole aim must be that all beings become Buddhas. Let the preacher apply himself with zeal to his work, and the Tathagata will show to him the body of the holy law in its transcendent glory. He shall be honored as one whom the Tathagata has blessed. The Tathagata blesses the preacher and also those who reverently listen to him and joyfully accept the doctrine.
"All those who receive the truth will find perfect enlightenment. And, verily, such is the power of the doctrine that even by the reading of a single stanza, or by reciting, copying, and keeping in mind a single sentence of the good law, persons may be converted to the truth and enter the path of righteousness which leads to deliverance from evil. Creatures that are swayed by impure passions, when they listen to the voice, will be purified. The ignorant who are infatuated with the follies of the world will, when pondering on the profundity of the doctrine, acquire wisdom. Those who act under the impulse of hatred will, when taking refuge in the Buddha, be filled with good-will and love.
"A preacher must be full of energy, and cheerful hope, never tiring and never despairing of final success. A preacher must be like a man in quest of water who digs a well in an arid tract of land. So long as he sees that the sand is dry and white, he knows that the water is still far off. But let him not be troubled or give up the task as hopeless. The work of removing the dry sand must be done so that he can dig down deeper into the ground. And often the deeper he has to dig, the cooler and purer and more refreshing will the water be. When after some time of digging he sees that the sand be comes moist, he accepts it as a token that the water is near. So long as the people do not listen to the words of truth, the preacher knows that he has to dig deeper into their hearts; but when they begin to heed his words he apprehends that they will soon attain enlightenment.
"Into your hands, O you men of good family and education who take the vow of preaching the words of the Tathagata, the Blessed One transfers, intrusts, and commends the good law of truth. Receive the good law of truth, keep it, read and re-read it, fathom it, promulgate it, and preach it to all beings in all the quarters of the universe.
"The Tathagata is not avaricious, nor narrow-minded, and he is willing to impart the perfect Buddha-knowledge unto all who are ready and willing to receive it. Do you be like him. Imitate him and follow his example in bounteously giving, showing, and bestowing the truth. Gather round you hearers who love to listen to the benign and comforting words of the law; rouse the unbelievers to accept the truth and fill them with delight and joy. Quicken them, edify them, and lift them higher and higher until they see the truth face to face in all its splendor and infinite glory."
When the Blessed One had thus spoken, the disciples said: "O thou who rejoicest in kindness having its source in compassion, thou great cloud of good qualities and of benevolent mind, thou quenchest the fire that vexeth living beings, thou pourest out nectar, the rain of the law! We shall do, O Lord, what the Tathagata commands. We shall fulfill his behest; the Lord shall find us obedient to his words."
And this vow of the disciples resounded through the universe, and like an echo it came back from all the Bodhisattvas who are to be and will come to preach the good law of Truth to future generations.
And the Blessed One said: "The Tathagata is like unto a powerful king who rules his kingdom with righteousness, but being attacked by envious enemies goes out to wage war against his foes. When the king sees his soldiers fight he is delighted with their gallantry and will bestow upon them donations of all kinds. Ye are the soldiers of the Tathagata, while Mara, the Evil One, is the enemy who must be conquered. And the Tathagata will give to his soldiers the city of Nirvana, the great capital of the good law. And when the enemy is overcome, the Dharma-raja, the great king of truth, will bestow upon all his disciples the most precious crown, which jewel brings perfect enlightenment, supreme wisdom, and undisturbed peace."