“I would never disrespect you because you will all become buddhas.”

by Bob Schwartz

The Lotus Sutra—aka The King of Sutras, The Lotus Blossom of the Wonderful Dharma, The Discourse on the White Lotus of the True Doctrine—is one of the best-known and best-loved discourses of the Buddha.

A bodhisattva is one who takes up the way of the Buddha for the benefit of others. The Buddha speaks of various characters of bodhisattvas in the Lotus Sutra. In Chapter 20 we find Sadāparibhūta Bodhisattva—the Never Disrespectful, Never Disparaging, Never Belittling Bodhisattva.

The Never Disrespectful Bodhisattva was mocked and cursed by people, including those who were “attached to the Dharma superficially”, for his absolute refusal to disrespect others, no matter their behavior. His simple explanation was “I would never disrespect you because you will all become buddhas.” Ultimately, after a long while, the others learned and came around to his way.

How easy, even irresistible, it can be to disrespect, disparage and belittle others, especially when it seems to us so clearly appropriate and deserved. How cleverly cutting we can be. At those times, recall the Never Disrespectful Bodhisattva:

Then the World-Honored One, wanting to restate this teaching, spoke in verse:

There was a bodhisattva
Whose name was Never Disrespectful.

At that time the four groups
Were attached to the Dharma superficially.

Never Disrespectful Bodhisattva would go to them
And say: “I would never disrespect you,
For you are following the Way
And surely will all become buddhas.”

When people heard this
They made light of him or cursed him.
Never Disrespectful Bodhisattva
Withstood it all patiently…

At the end of his life
Never Disrespectful met countless buddhas,
And through teaching this sutra
Gained immeasurable happiness.

Gradually developing his blessings,
He quickly attained the Buddha way.
The Never Disrespectful of that time
Was really me.