Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Parable of the Burning House

As mentioned last month, the Buddha is plenty strong enough to save a person but to what end? No, it is necessary for each of us to save ourselves. But first we need to realize we are in a burning house surrounded by predatory demons and the most horrendous dangers.

[I thought, ‘] I am the father of the world. I eliminated fear, despondency, grief, ignorance and darkness. I obtained immeasurable insight, powers and fearlessness. I have great supernatural powers, the power of wisdom, the paramita of expedients, the paramita of wisdom, great compassion, and great loving-kindness. I am not tired of seeking good things or of benefiting all living beings. I have appeared in the triple world, which can be likened to the rotten and burning house, in order to save all living beings from the fires of birth, old age, disease, death, grief, sorrow, suffering, lamentation, stupidity, darkness, and the three poisons, to teach all living beings, and to cause them to attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. I see that all living beings are burned by the fires of birth, old age, disease, death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation. They undergo various sufferings because they have the five desires and the desire for gain. Because they have attachments and pursuits, they have many sufferings in their present existence, and will suffer in hell or in the world of animals or in the world of hungry spirits in their future lives. Even when they are reborn in heaven or in the world of humans, they will still have many sufferings such as poverty or parting from their beloved ones or meeting with those whom they hate. Notwithstanding all this, however, they are playing joyfully. They are not conscious of the sufferings. They are not frightened at the sufferings or afraid of them. They do not dislike them or try to get rid of them. They are running about this burning house of the triple world, and do not mind even when they undergo great sufferings.[‘]

Displaying the Wisdom and Compassion of a Buddha.

Shakyamuni Buddha was no different than any of us, except for his extraordinary wisdom and compassion. He is known as “the” Buddha, not because he attained something that ordinary people cannot attain, but because he was the first person in recorded history to awaken to the truth and to show others how to do so. In that sense, the title “Buddha” is reserved for Shakyamuni simply because he happened to be the one to fulfill the role of teacher and model for all those who would follow his path. However, all of us have the Buddha-nature. Therefore, all of us are capable of displaying the same wisdom and compassion as Shakyamuni Buddha.

Lotus Seeds

Implicit and Explicit Predictions

In Chapter 13, the predictions for Maha-Prajapati Biksuni and Yasodhara Biksuni come about in an indirect sort of way. The Buddha notices his aunt, the woman who raised him after his mother died in child birth, looking at him. I can just imagine it to be one of those looks only a mother could give a child, something on the order of a scolding without words. This would be a look that probably told the Buddha, hey aren’t you forgetting something.

At any rate the Buddha guesses what his aunt is thinking and asks her if she thought that somehow she had been left out of all the predictions that have now covered every practitioner type, Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas. He says he had already assured the Sravakas of their enlightenment and that he did not exclude her from that general grouping. In this I believe the Buddha realizes that even though he had implicitly included women in the general prediction, he realizes now that the women really need it clearly stated not just for them but for the males in the congregation.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – April 30, 2016

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.’

Five hundred of the Buddha’s monks give this explanation in Chapter Eight of the Lotus Sūtra. In the story, the Buddha has just assured them of reaching the same enlightenment he found. These monks had worked diligently for many years to rid themselves of suffering, and taught many other beings to become Bodhisattvas and reach the Buddha’s enlightenment, thinking they were not capable of reaching this wisdom. Not believing we are capable of something obscures the capability we have. When the Buddha proclaims that he leads all beings, he reminds us of this capacity and inspires us make efforts to bring all beings, including ourselves, to his joy.

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

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable.

Last month I discussed the Buddha’s explanation to Sariputra that “I always taught you in order to cause you to attain unsurpassed enlightenment.” And, more important to today’s discussion, “In order to cause you to remember the Way you practiced under your original vow, I now expound to the Sravakas this sutra of the Great Vehicle called the ‘Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas.’ ”

I will confess to a certain perplexity at the Buddha’s description of Sariputra in the far, far distant future as a Buddha called Flower-Light.

Sariputra! Although the world in which he appears will not be an evil one, that Buddha will expound the teaching of the Three Vehicles according to his original vow. The kalpa in which he appears will be called Great-Treasure-Adornment. Why will it be called Great-Treasure-Adornment? It is because in that world Bodhisattvas will be regarded as great treasures. The number of the Bodhisattvas [in that world] will be countless, inconceivable, beyond any mathematical calculation, beyond inference by any parable or simile. No one will know the number except the Buddha who has the power of wisdom. When those Bodhisattvas wish to go somewhere, jeweled flowers will receive their feet and carry them. Those Bodhisattvas will not have just begun to aspire for enlightenment. A long time before that they will have already planted the roots of virtue, performed the brahma practices under many hundreds of thousands of billions of Buddhas, received the praises of the Buddhas, studied the wisdom of the Buddhas, obtained great supernatural powers, and understood all the teachings of the Buddhas. They will be upright, honest, and resolute in mind. The world of that Buddha will be filled with such Bodhisattvas.

Why does the Buddha say Flower-Light Buddha “will expound the teaching of the Three Vehicles according to his original vow”? Why would he not teach the Lotus Sutra? And why would the world of this Sravaka-turned-Buddha be set up as a world where Bodhisattvas will be regarded as great treasures? This appears to be a prediction unique to Sariputra. Why?

Ordinary Buddhahood

Another principle of non-duality important in Nichiren Buddhism is the teaching that “with this present body we can become Buddhas.” This principle points to the fact that the state of Buddhahood is not so idealized that it cannot be attained by ordinary people living ordinary lives. A Buddha is not some kind of god-like being, but simply someone who has awakened to the truth and teaches it to others.

Lotus Seeds

The Great Secret Practice of Rahula

It is the ordinary day-to-day practice that each of us performs that is actually the great secret practice of Rahula. It isn’t fame or acquiring a big name that is required to attain enlightenment. It isn’t being famous that will lead others to practice the Lotus Sutra. It is our practice of the Lotus Sutra in our everyday lives that will enable countless others just like us to ultimately take faith in the Lotus Sutra. We should not be discouraged, instead we can look at Rahula who will become Walking-On-Flowers-Of-Seven-Treasures Buddha and we too can walk on the flowers of the seven treasures of Myoho-Renge-Kyo.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – April 29, 2016

If they think that I am always here, and do not think that I will pass away, they will become too arrogant and lazy to realize the difficulty of seeing me, and they will not respect me. Therefore I say [to them] expediently, ‘Bhikṣus, know this! It is difficult to see a Buddha who appears in [this] world.’

The Buddha makes this explanation to those gathered to hear him teach in Chapter Sixteen of the Lotus Sūtra. We may wonder what took the Buddha so long to give his highest teaching to us, whether he was holding it back because of stinginess, not wanting to share the great treasure of his wisdom. Here and in other parts of the Sūtra, he shows that unless we cultivate our respect for the Buddha, and thus for all beings, we take him for granted and lose his precious wisdom.

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

Day 4

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sutra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Last month I focused on the Buddha’s vow to “cause all living beings to become exactly as I am.”

A mighty promise accompanies that vow:

Any Sravaka or Bodhisattva
Who hears even a gatha
Of this sutra which I am to expound
Will undoubtedly become a Buddha.

There is only one teaching, that is, the One Vehicle
In the Buddha-worlds of the ten quarters.
There is not a second or a third vehicle
Except when the Buddhas teach expediently.

The Buddhas lead all Living beings
By tentative names [of vehicles]
In order to expound their wisdom.
They appear in the worlds
Only for the One Vehicle.

The first volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma ends with this warning:

Those who do not study the Dharma
Cannot understand it.
You have already realized
The fact that the Buddhas, the World-Teachers,
employ expedients,
According to the capacities of all living beings.
Know that, when you remove your doubts,
And when you have great joy,
You will become Buddhas!

I have such great joy and no doubts. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Accepting the Ultimate Truth

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo represents our acceptance of the ultimate truth of the Lotus Sutra, which reveals that all things, even defilements and suffering, can help us realize the true nature of all reality. Instead of being overwhelmed by desires or suffering, the practice of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo lets us view all things in the light of the ultimate truth.

Lotus Seeds