Daily Dharma – Aug. 31, 2015

He said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Do not go back! You can stay in that great city, and do anything you like. If you enter that city, you will be peaceful. If you go on afterwards and reach the place of treasures, then you can go home.

This is part of the Parable of the Magic City, told by the Buddha in Chapter Seven of the Lotus Sūtra. In the story, a guide is leading a group of travelers through a dangerous road to a city of treasures. Halfway through the trip, the travelers, overcome by their fear and fatigue, consider giving up their journey and returning to their previous lives. The guide makes a resting place for them where they can relax before continuing. When the travelers mistake this resting place for their destination, the guide makes the city disappear so that they will keep moving towards the true treasures. The Buddha compares himself to the guide, us to the travelers, the magic city to that place we all want where even our unspoken desires are met, and his enlightenment to the city of treasures. To see the world as it is and find true happiness, we need to let go of our delusions and keep faith in our guide and his highest teaching.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Daily Dharma – Aug. 30, 2015

How did you teach these innumerable Bodhisattvas
In such a short time,
And cause them to aspire for enlightenment
And not falter in seeking enlightenment?

Maitreya Bodhisattva sings these verses to the Buddha in Chapter Fifteen of the Lotus Sūtra. Despite the Buddha’s explanation that he personally taught all of the Bodhisattvas who appear in Chapter Fifteen, Maitreya and others are still confused by what the Buddha has told them. Since they have faith that whatever the Buddha teaches is for their benefit, they persist with their sincere questioning, assured that the Buddha is leading them to enlightenment. While faith is an important part of our practice, recognizing our own confusion, and using questions to resolve that confusion are equally important. The Buddha does not ask for blind obedience. He knows we cannot find peace until we bring our whole being to his practice.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Daily Dharma – Aug. 29, 2015

Anyone who keeps, reads and recites this sūtra, memorizes it correctly, understands the meanings of it, and acts according to it, know this, does the same practices that I do. He should be considered to have already planted deeply the roots of good under innumerable Buddhas [in his previous existence].

The Buddha declares this to Universal-Sage Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty-Eight of the Lotus Sūtra. In his expedient teachings, the Buddha taught according to the minds of those he was trying to reach. In the Lotus Sūtra, the Buddha brings us into his mind, and has us practice as he does rather than merely preparing for enlightenment. When we practice the Lotus Sūtra as it instructs, we can consider that we have already made the necessary preparations and are now ready to become Buddhas.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Daily Dharma – Aug. 28, 2015

When the Buddha expounded this Chapter of Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva, the eighty-four thousand people, who had come accompanying Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva, obtained the ability to practice the samādhi by which they could transform themselves into other living beings. Innumerable Bodhisattvas of this Sahā-World also obtained the ability to practice this samādhi.

This description comes at the end of Chapter Twenty-Four of the Lotus Sūtra. In the story, Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva had come to our world of conflict and delusion from his perfect world to hear the Buddha teach the Wonderful Dharma. The Bodhisattvas in this world asked the Buddha about the transformations Wonderful-Voice made to benefit others. This chapter shows how those beings who have vowed to benefit us appear in ways we may not recognize right away. It also shows us the capability we have as Bodhisattvas to transform ourselves for the benefit of others.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Daily Dharma – Aug. 27, 2015

My teaching is wonderful and inconceivable.
If arrogant people hear me,
They will not respect or believe me.

The Buddha sings these verses to Śāriputra in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sūtra. We sometimes think of arrogance as acting as if we know something that we really do not. These verses contrast arrogance with respect and faith. Faith does not mean blind belief. It is still important to ask questions when we don’t understand. Respect does not mean blind obedience, but it does mean that we have confidence in what the Buddha teaches, no matter how difficult it may seem. Arrogance blocks our ability to hear the Buddha. Respect and Faith open our hearts to his enlightenment.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Daily Dharma – Aug. 26, 2015

My words are true.
Believe me with all your hearts!
I have been teaching them
Since the remotest past.

The Buddha sings these verses to Maitreya Bodhisattva and others gathered to hear him teach in Chapter Fifteen of the Lotus Sūtra. Maitreya had never seen any of the other Bodhisattvas who sprang up from underground in this chapter, despite his memory of previous lives and other worlds. The Buddha explains that the beings who had just appeared are also his disciples and have come to spread this Wonderful Dharma in our world. Nichiren teaches that when he realized that he was an incarnation of Superior-Practice, the leader of the Bodhisattvas from underground, then all of us who follow Nichiren and continue to keep the Lotus Sūtra are the followers of Superior-Practice. We do not need to wait for someone to come to our world and lead us. The world does not need anyone other than those already here to teach the Dharma. We are the Bodhisattvas from underground.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Daily Dharma – Aug. 25, 2015

The arrogant bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇis, upāsakas and upāsikās, that is, the four kinds of devotees who had abused him and caused him to be called Never-Despising, saw that he had obtained great supernatural powers, the power of eloquence, and the great power of good tranquility. Having seen all this, and having heard the Dharma from him, they took faith in him, and followed him.

The Buddha tells this story of Never-Despising Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty of the Lotus Sūtra. Earlier in the sūtra, when the Buddha came out of his meditation to teach the Wonderful Dharma, five thousand of those gathered to hear him stood up and walked away. The Buddha did not stop them, and described them as arrogant: believing they knew something they did not. The arrogance of those who abused Never-Despising Bodhisattva, whose practice was to declare his respect for all beings, was rooted in their not seeing the Buddha’s wisdom in him and believing that they were superior to him. We can only learn from those we respect, and create misery only for ourselves when we despise.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Daily Dharma – Aug. 24, 2015

If anyone keeps, reads, recites, expounds and copies even a gāthā of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, and respects a copy of this sūtra just as he respects me…or just joins his hands together respectfully towards it, Medicine-King, know this, that person should be considered to have appeared in the world of men out of their compassion towards all living beings.

The Buddha declares these lines to Medicine-King Bodhisattva at the beginning of Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sūtra. We might believe that everything happens by chance, or that we were sent into this life by someone who is testing us. This Sūtra awakens us to our existence as Bodhisattvas who asked to be born in this world of suffering out of our vow to benefit all beings.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Daily Dharma – Aug. 23, 2015

Provisional teachings today are enemies of the True Dharma. If provisional teachings stand in your way as you try to spread the One Vehicle teaching of the Lotus Sutra, you should thoroughly refute them. Of the two ways of propagation, this is the aggressive way of the Lotus Sutra.

Nichiren wrote this passage in his Treatise on the True Way of Practicing the Teaching of the Buddha (Nyosetsu Shugyō-shō). We notice in this passage that his instruction is to refute the provisional teachings and not attack those who are attached to them. Even if those whose teachings we challenge become angry and violent, we can understand that we did not cause this reaction. This is one reason the Lotus Sūtra is so difficult. By keeping a mind of compassion we can maintain our respect for others even when we disagree with them. They too are going to become Buddhas, and we are benefiting them, even if they reject our help.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Daily Dharma – Aug. 22, 2015

Thereupon Universal-Sage Bodhisattva said to the Buddha:
“World-Honored One! If anyone keeps this sūtra in the defiled world in the later five hundred years after [your extinction], I will protect him so that he may be free from any trouble, that he may be peaceful, and that no one may take advantage [of his weak points].”

Universal-Sage Bodhisattva (Fugen, Samantabhadra) makes this vow to the Buddha in Chapter Twenty-Eight of the Lotus Sutra. In this world of conflict, it can seem like very few people are practicing the Buddha Dharma with us. Nichiren compared those beings alive in this world of conflict to the amount of soil in the whole earth, while those who keep and practice the Lotus Sūtra are like the dirt under a fingernail. The vow of Universal-Sage reminds us that innumerable beings support our practice and that in turn, we support them with our practice.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com