Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and the start of Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping the Sutra.

Senchu Murano’s footnote for the title of Chapter 12 says, “This chapter was not translated by Kumārajīva. It was inserted into Kumārajīva’s version.”

But I still believe:

“Good men or women in the future who hear this chapter of Devadatta of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma with faithful respect caused by their pure minds, and have no doubts [about this chapter], will not fall into hell or the region of hungry spirits or the region of animals. They will be reborn before the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten quarters. They will always hear this sūtra at the places of their rebirth. Even when they are reborn among men or gods, they will be given wonderful pleasures. When they are reborn before the Buddhas, they will appear in lotus-flowers.”

Back on Day 10, I commented: Becoming a Buddha at the time the Lotus Sutra was preached was no mean feat. On Day 17, I appreciate Śāriputra’s doubts about the daughter of the dragon-king quickly becoming a Buddha:

“You think that you will be able to attain unsurpassed enlightenment [and become a Buddha] before long. This is difficult to believe because the body of a woman is too defiled to be a recipient of the teachings of the Buddha. How can you attain unsurpassed Bodhi? The enlightenment of the Buddha is far off. It can be attained only by those who perform the [Bodhisattva] practices with strenuous efforts for innumerable kalpas. A woman has five impossibilities. She cannot become 1. the Brahman-Heavenly-King, 2. King Śakra, 3. King Māra, 4. a wheel-turning-holy-king, and 5. a Buddha. How can it be that you, being a woman, will become a Buddha, quickly [or not]?”

And after the daughter of the dragon-king quickly became a Buddha:

The Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva, Śāriputra, and all the other living beings in the congregation received the Dharma faithfully and in silence.

No singing. No dancing. Just “faithfully and in silence.”

Daily Dharma – Sept. 30, 2015

Your face is most wonderful.
Your light illumines the worlds of the ten quarters.
I once made offerings to you.
Now I have come to see you again.

Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva sings these verses to Sun-Moon-Pure-Bright-Virtue Buddha in a story told in Chapter Twenty-Three of the Lotus Sūtra. That Bodhisattva was the previous life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva who accepted all of the misfortunes of this world of delusion and ignorance so that he could benefit all beings living here. When we awaken our nature as Bodhisattvas, and resolve to use the Buddha’s teachings to purify this world, then we are assured we will never fail to meet Buddhas and repay the good they do for us.

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

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stupa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

The Saintly Master, the World-Honored One,
Who had passed away a long time ago,
Came riding in the stūpa of treasures
To hear the Dharma [directly from me].
Could anyone who sees him
Not make efforts to hear the Dharma?

The easy acts and the difficult acts:

Good men! Think this over clearly!
It is difficult
[To expound this sūtra].
Make a great vow to do this!

It is not difficult
To expound all the other sūtras
As many as there are sands
In the River Ganges.

It is not difficult
To grasp Mt. Sumeru
And hurl it to a distance
Of countless Buddha-worlds.

It is not difficult to move [a world]
[Composed of] one thousand million Sumeru-worlds
With the tip of a toe
And hurl it to another world.

It is not difficult
To stand in the Highest Heaven
And expound innumerable other sūtras
To all living beings.

It is difficult
To expound this sūtra
In the evil world
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To grasp the sky,
And wander about with it
From place to place.

It is difficult
To copy and keep this sūtra
Or cause others to copy it
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To put the great earth
On the nail of a toe
And go up to the Heaven of Brahman.

It is difficult
To read this sūtra
Even for a while in the evil world
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To shoulder a load of hay
And stay unburned in the fire
At the end of the kalpa [of destruction].

It is difficult
To keep this sūtra
And expound it to even one person
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To keep the store
Of eighty-four thousand teachings
Expounded in the sūtras
Composed of the twelve elements,
And expound it to people,
And cause the hearers to obtain
The six supernatural powers.

It is difficult
To hear and receive this sūtra,
And ask the meanings of it
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To expound the Dharma
To many thousands of billions of living beings
As many as there are sands
In the River Ganges
So that they may be able
To obtain the benefits:
Arhatship and the six supernatural powers.

It is difficult
To keep
This sūtra
After my extinction.

Since I attained
The enlightenment of the Buddha,
I have expounded many sūtras
In innumerable worlds.

This sūtra is
The most excellent.
To keep this sūtra
Is to keep me.

Daily Dharma – Sept. 29, 2015

These men and women are great Bodhisattvas. They should be considered to have appeared in this world by their vow to expound the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma out of their compassion towards all living beings, although they already attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi [in their previous existence].

The Buddha declares these lines to Medicine-King Bodhisattva at the beginning of Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sūtra. In the teachings of Nirvāṇa, the goal is to remove suffering so that we can be reborn in a peaceful realm. In this Sūtra, the Buddha reminds us that we who keep this Sūtra have given up the privilege of higher realms so that we can benefit beings where we find ourselves now. We do not fear rebirth in lower realms since our compassion takes us even there so we can benefit beings in those realms.

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

Day 15

Day 15 concludes Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma, and introduces Chapter 11, Beholding the Stupa of Treasures

The difficulty:

“I have expounded many sūtras. I am now expounding this sūtra. I also will expound many sūtras in the future. The total number of the sūtras will amount to many thousands of billions. This Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand.”

The support:

“Medicine-King, know this! Anyone who copies, keeps, reads and recites this sūtra, makes offerings to it, and expounds it to others after my extinction, will be covered by my robe. He also will be protected by the present Buddhas of the other worlds. He will have the great power of faith, the power of vows, and the power of roots of good. Know this! He will live with me. I will pat him on the head.”

The reward:

Anyone who, while seeking the enlightenment of the Buddha, sees or hears this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, and after hearing it, understands it by faith and keeps it, know this, will approach Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.

The view from the room of the Tathāgata:

“Medicine-King! How should the good men or women who live after my extinction expound this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to the four kinds of devotees when they wish to? They should enter the room of the Tathāgata, wear the robe of the Tathāgata, sit on the seat of the Tathāgata, and then expound this sūtra to the four kinds of devotees. To enter the room of the Tathāgata means to have great compassion towards all living beings. To wear the robe of the Tathāgata means to be gentle and patient. To sit on the seat of the Tathāgata means to see the voidness of all things.”

In gāthās:

If you wish to expound this sūtra,
Enter the room of the Tathāgata,
Wear the robe of the Tathāgata,
Sit on the seat of the Tathāgata,
[And after doing these three things,]
Expound it to people without fear!

To enter the room of the Tathāgata means to have great compassion.
To wear his robe means to be gentle and patient.
To sit on his seat means to see the voidness of all things.
Expound the Dharma only after you do these [three] things!

And finally, in Beholding the Stupa of Treasures, confirmation:

Thereupon a loud voice of praise was heard from within the stūpa of treasures:

“Excellent, excellent! You, Śākyamuni, the World-Honored One, have expounded to this great multitude the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the Teaching of Equality, the Great Wisdom, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas. So it is, so it is. What you, Śākyamuni, the World-Honored One, have expounded is all true.”

Daily Dharma – Sept. 28, 2015

Therefore, anyone who has wisdom should copy this sūtra with all his heart, cause others to copy it, and also keep, read and recite it, memorize it correctly, and act according to it.

The Buddha declares this to Universal-Sage Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty-Eight of the Lotus Sūtra. It is important to remember that early in the sūtra, the Buddha explained that he teaches only Bodhisattvas, beings who exist for the benefit of all beings. Our practice of the Lotus Sūtra is not just for ourselves. When we use it to lead others to enlightenment, we create the cause for our own enlightenment.

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

Sunday Ohigan Service in Sacramento

Sunday service at Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church
Ven. Kenjo Igarashi prepares for Ohigan service.

Attended the Ohigan Service at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church. There was a nice crowd and even a couple of visitors.

The meaning of the Ohigan service and its focus on the six paramitas is the topic of several articles written by Rev. Ryusho Jeffus, who runs Myosho-ji, Wonderful Voice Temple, in Charlotte, NC.

Ohigan – Six Paramitas

 

Day 14

Day 14 covers all of Chapter 9, The Assurance of Future Buddhahood of the Śrāvakas Who Have Something More to Learn and the Śrāvakas Who Have Nothing More to Learn and the first part of Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma

In Chapter 9, the Śrāvakas, having heard of their future Buddhahood, sing:

You, the World-Honored One, are the light of wisdom.
Hearing from you
That we are assured of our future Buddhahood,
We are as joyful as if we were sprinkled with nectar.

Rejoicing in the Lotus Sutra in Chapter 10:

The Buddha said to Medicine-King:
“If after my extinction anyone rejoices, even on a moment’s thought, at hearing even a gāthā or a phrase of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, I also will assure him of his future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.”

Compassion of the Bodhisattvas:

Anyone who keeps
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Should be considered to have given up his pure world and come here
Out of his compassion towards all living beings.

The Buddha’s messengers:

The good men or women who expound even a phrase of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma even to one person even in secret after my extinction, know this, are my messengers. They are dispatched by me. They do my work.

A sinful person:

Medicine-King! An evil man who speaks ill of me in my presence with evil intent for as long as a kalpa is not as sinful as the person who reproaches laymen or monks with even a single word of abuse for their reading and reciting the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

And in gāthās:

Whoever for as long as a kalpa,
With evil intent and flushed face,
Speaks ill of me,
Will incur immeasurable retributions.
Whoever for even a moment
Reproaches those who read, recite and keep
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Will incur even more retributions.

Daily Dharma – Sept. 27, 2015

The Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones,
Say only expediently [that some are not Bodhisattvas]
To tell the truth,
All living beings taught by them are Bodhisattvas.

This verse comes from Chapter Three of the Lotus Sūtra. In Chapter Two, the Buddha declared that he only teaches Bodhisattvas. If we believe that we are not Bodhisattvas, we could conclude that the Buddha does not teach us. Part of what the Buddha is explaining here is that we are all Bodhisattvas. The way to reach the Buddha’s enlightenment is by living as Bodhisattvas: beings whose every breath is intended to improve our world.

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

Day 13

Day 13 covers Chapter 8, The Assurance of Future Buddhahood of the Five Hundred Disciples.

Pūrṇa, the son of Maitrāyaṇī, reminds us that “Only the Buddha, only the World-Honored One, knows the wishes we have deep in our minds.”

The 500 Arhats react to learning of their future Buddhahood:

“World-Honored One! We thought that we had already attained perfect extinction. Now we know that we were like men of no wisdom because we were satisfied with the wisdom of the Lesser Vehicle although we had already been qualified to obtain the wisdom of the Tathāgata.

“World-Honored One! Suppose a man visited his good friend. He was treated to drink, and fell asleep drunk. His friend had to go out on official business. He fastened a priceless gem inside the garment of the man as a gift to him, and went out. The drunken man did not notice what his friend had given him. After a while he got up, and went to another country. He had great difficulty in getting food and clothing. He satisfied himself with what little he had earned. Some time later the good friend happened to see him. He said, ‘Alas, man! Why have you had such difficulty in getting food and clothing? I fastened a priceless gem inside your garment on a certain day of a certain month of a certain year so that you might live peacefully and satisfy your five desires. The gem is still there, and you do not notice it. You are working hard, and worrying about your livelihood. What a fool you are! Trade that gem for what you want! You will not be short of anything you want.’

“You, the Buddha, are like his friend. We thought that we had attained extinction when we attained Arhatship because we forgot that we had been taught to aspire for the knowledge of all things by you when you were a Bodhisattva just as the man who had difficulty in earning his livelihood satisfied himself with what little he had earned. You, the World-Honored One, saw that the aspiration for the knowledge of all things was still latent in our minds; therefore, you awakened us, saying, ‘Bhikṣus! What you had attained was not perfect extinction. I caused you to plant the good root of Buddhahood a long time ago. [You have forgotten this; therefore,] I expounded the teaching of Nirvāṇa as an expedient. You thought that you had attained true extinction when you attained the Nirvāṇa [which I taught you as an expedient].’

“World-Honored One! Now we see that we are Bodhisattvas in reality, and that we are assured of our future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. Therefore, we have the greatest joy that we have ever had.”

Not an Arhat by any stretch of the definition, I too feel great joy in finding this gem. What a fool I have been.