‘With my superknowledge, Subhuti, I recall that in the past period, long before Dipankara, the Tathagata, Arhat, fully Enlightened One, during incalculable, quite incalculable aeons, I gave satisfaction by loyal service to 84, 000 million milliards of Buddhas, without ever becoming again estranged from them. But the heap of merit, Subhuti, from the satisfaction I gave to those Buddhas and Lords without again becoming estranged from them – – compared with the heap of merit of those who in the last time, in the last epoch, the last five hundred years, at the time of the collapse of the good doctrine, will take up these Sutras, bear them in mind, recite and study them, and will illuminate them in full detail for others, it does not approach one hundredth part, not one thousandth part, nor a hundred thousandth part, not a ten millionth part, nor a one hundred millionth part, nor a 100,000 millionth part. It does not bear number, nor fraction, nor counting, nor similarity, nor comparison, nor resemblance. If moreover, Subhuti, I were to teach the heap of merit of those sons and daughters of good family, and how great a heap of merit they will at that time beget and acquire, beings would become frantic and confused. Since, however, Subhuti, the Tathagata has taught this discourse on Dharma as unthinkable, so just an unthinkable karma-result should be expected from it.’
This is the Buddha’s take on what Shohaku was talking about yesterday. When I opened the sutra to copy this section, I once again fell into deep appreciation for the flowing language of Dr Edward Conze’s translation, which I was so used to chanting every Friday morning at Zen Center.