At that time, the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form to his monks, saying: "Since I attained Buddhahood, the number of kalpas (an extremely long period of time) that have passed, is an immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions, trillions, asamkhyas (an ancient Indian numerical unit, indicating an uncountable large number). Constantly I have preached the Law, teaching, converting countless millions of living beings, causing them to enter the Buddha way, all this for immeasurable kalpas. In order to save living beings, as an expedient means I appear to enter Nirvana, but in truth I do not pass into extinction. I am always here, preaching the Law. I am always here, but through my transcendental powers I make it so that living beings in their befuddlement do not see me even when close by. When the multitude see that I have passed into extinction, far and wide they offer alms to my relics. All harbor thoughts of yearning and in their minds thirst to gaze at me. When living beings have become truly faithful, honest and up- right, gentle in intent, single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha, not hesitating even if it costs them their lives, then I and the assembly of monks appear together on Holy Eagle Peak. At that time I tell the living beings that I am always here, never entering extinction, but that because of the power of an expedient means at times I appear to be extinct, at other times not, and that if there are living beings in other lands who are reverent and sincere in their wish to believe, then among them too I will preach the unsurpassed Law. But you have not heard of this, so you suppose that I enter extinction. When I look at living beings I see them drowned in a sea of suffering; there- fore, I do not show myself, causing them to thirst for me. Then when their minds are filled with yearning, at last I appear and preach the Law for them. Such are my transcendental powers. For asamkhya kalpas constantly I have dwelled on Holy Eagle Peak and in various other places. When living beings witness the end of a kalpa and all is consumed in a great fire, this, my land, remains safe and tranquil, constantly filled with heavenly and human beings. The halls and pavilions in its gardens and groves are adorned with various kinds of gems. Jeweled trees abound in flowers and fruit where living beings enjoy themselves at ease. The gods strike heavenly drums, constantly making many kinds of music. Mandarava (a kind of fragrant red flower that blooms in heaven) blossoms rain down, scattering over the Buddha and the great assembly. My pure land is not destroyed, yet the multitude see it as consumed in fire, with anxiety, read and other sufferings filling it everywhere. These living beings with their various offenses, through causes arising from their evil actions, spend asamkhya kalpas without hearing the name of the Three Treasures. But those who practice meritorious ways, who are gentle, peaceful, honest and up- right, all of them will see me here in person, preaching the Law. At times for this multitude I describe the Buddha's life span as immeasurable, and to those who see the Buddha only after a long time, I explain how difficult it is to meet the Buddha. Such is the power of my wisdom that its sagacious beams shine without measure. This life span of countless kalpas I gained as the result of lengthy practice. You who are possessed of wisdom, entertain no doubts on this point! Cast them off, end them forever, for the Buddha's words are true, not false. He is like a skilled physician who uses an expedient means to cure his deranged sons. Though in fact alive, he gives out word he is dead, yet no one can say he speaks falsely. I am the father of this world, saving those who suffer and are afflicted. Because of the befuddlement of ordinary people, though I live, I give out word I have entered extinction. For if they see me constantly, arrogance and selfishness arise in their minds. Abandoning restraint, they give themselves up to the five desires and fall into the evil paths of existence. Always I am aware of which living beings practice the way, and which do not, and in response to their needs for salvation, I preach various doctrines for them. At all times I think to myself: How can I cause living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of Buddha? (from the Lotus Sutra)