“Former Affairs of King Wonderful Adornment” chapter ［妙荘厳王本事品］ ( Myōshōgonnō-honji-hon): Abbreviated as the “King Wonderful Adornment” chapter. The twenty-seventh chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in which Shakyamuni relates the story of King Wonderful Adornment. In the remote past, Shakyamuni says, there was a Buddha named Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom who expounded the Lotus Sutra. The king’s two sons, Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye, begged their mother Pure Virtue to come with them to listen to the Buddha. She replied that they must first persuade their father, a devout believer in Brahmanism, and suggested that they perform magical feats to demonstrate to him the power of Buddhism. They then displayed transcendental powers before the king, awakening in him a desire to hear the Buddha’s teaching. Together with his wife, two sons, ministers, and attendants, King Wonderful Adornment went to make offerings to the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom and received from him a prophecy of Buddhahood. The king proclaimed that his sons were what Buddhism calls his good friends because they had led him to Buddhism. Then he, his wife and sons, and his entire retinue renounced the secular world and became the Buddha’s disciples.
In the concluding part of this chapter, King Wonderful Adornment is identified as the present Bodhisattva Flower Virtue, who is among the assembly at Eagle Peak; Queen Pure Virtue as the bodhisattva Light Shining Adornment Marks; and Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye as the bodhisattvas Medicine King and Medicine Superior. In The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, T’ien-t’ai (538–597) tells the following story about the past relationship between Wonderful Adornment and his wife and sons. In the remote past, there were four religious practitioners carrying out austerities in search of the way. They found themselves hindered, however, by the daily routines of cooking and cleaning. To assist the practice of the other three, one of them abandoned his austerities and took all these chores upon himself. The other three continued their practice and obtained the way to Buddhahood, but he did not. As his karmic reward for having supported the others’ practice, however, he was reborn as King Wonderful Adornment, and the other three were reborn as his wife and sons to lead him to the Buddha way and thus repay their debt to him.