This parable tells
the story of travelers who journeyed to a remote place seeking
rare treasures. Their trek was long and arduous, but they had
an experienced guide - a man who was not only wise, but who was
very familiar with the route.
The road took them through a great desert where they had been
wandering for many days when it became obvious that all of them,
except their fearless guide, had given up hope of reaching their
destination. They begged their guide to take them back, but just
at that moment, he pointed to a gleaming city, shimmering in the
heat in the distance, but near enough to reach before nightfall.
The travelers mustered their courage and forged on, till they
reached the gates of the wondrous Phantom City where they bathed,
feasted, and refreshed themselves.
No sooner were their spirits renewed, when, to their great surprise,
the guide announced that this city was a mere illusion, and that
they were only a little more than halfway to their true destination,
the Land of Rare Treasures. Instantly, the Phantom City vanished,
and they found themselves back on the treacherous road through
the desert. This time, however, determined to never give up until
they reached their goal, they resumed their journey, able at last
to fulfill their dream of finding the Land of Rare Treasures.
The pilgrims in this story are all of us. The guide is the Buddha,
or one who is awakened to the true nature of life. The Phantom
City is an expedient means the Buddha uses to teach the people.
The road to the Land of Rare Treasures is the path to enlightenment,
which can be found in the midst of our everyday struggles as human
beings. This is the message of the Lotus Sutra; that we are already
enlightened beings, no matter how hard it is to believe...