Day 3

Day 3 covers the first half of Chapter 2, Expedients.

Each day followers of Nichiren recite this section of the Chapter 2, Expedients:

Śāriputra! The Tathagatas divide [the Dharma] into various teachings, and expound those teachings to all living beings so skillfully and with such gentle voices that living beings are delighted. Śāriputra! In short, the Buddhas attained the innumerable teachings which you have never heard before. No more, Śāriputra, will I say because the Dharma attained by the Buddhas is the highest Truth, rare [to hear] and difficult to understand. Only the Buddhas attained [the highest Truth, that is,] the reality of all things’ in regard to their appearances as such, their natures as such, their entities as such, their powers as such, their activities as such, their primary causes as such, their environmental causes as such, their effects as such, their rewards and retributions as such, and their equality as such [despite these differences].

As Rev. Ryuei McCormick says his book “Lotus Seeds“:

Though the One Vehicle is expressed throughout the first half of the Lotus Sutra, the core passage, according to Nichiren Shohnin, is in the very first prose passage of the second chapter, “Tactfulness.” In that passage, the Buddha first reveals to his wisest disciple, Śāriputra, that the teaching of the Buddha is beyond the ability of even his most advanced disciples to understand. He tells Śāriputra that the true nature of reality can only be understood by the buddhas, and that this true nature of reality consists of Ten Factors (or “suchnesses”). … These Ten Factors are integral parts of the law of cause and effect, and they are found in the lives of all beings. They are present in the lives of ordinary beings, and they are present in the lives of Buddhas. It is due to the common ground of the Ten Factors that ordinary people are capable of becoming buddhas, and buddhas are capable of appearing as ordinary people.

As Rev. Ryusho Jeffus explains his book “Lecture on the Lotus Sutra“:

When it comes to the Ten Suchnesses, which we recite daily as we conclude our recitation of Chapter II, the most important idea is that there is no disconnect from any aspect of our physical life or our spiritual life and that in all things there is equality. Buddhism and enlightenment are not something that manifests in only one aspect of our life.

The Living Mirror of Our Buddha-Nature

In order to practice the Three Great Secret Dharmas and to follow the recommendation of the Lotus Sutra to “keep, read, recite, study, and copy” the sutra, Nichiren Buddhists regularly recite selections from the Lotus Sutra and chant the Odaimoku at the beginning and at the end of the day in the presence of the Gohonzon (usually in the form of a calligraphic mandala). In doing so, we recall that the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha, the living mirror of our own Buddha-nature, is continuously transferring the Dharma to us so we can awaken to the Truth in every moment.

Lotus Seeds

The Buddha Is The Lotus Sutra

The Odaimoku is nothing more than praising with our life the heart of the Lotus Sutra. The Odaimoku does not exist outside of the Lotus Sutra. It is not something that replaces the Lotus Sutra. It is merely an abbreviated way to practice the heart of the sutra, which is praising. Nichiren did not invent the Odaimoku; he was not even the first person to chant it. So if Nichiren didn’t invent the Odaimoku, and he wasn’t the first person to chant it, how could he in any logical way be superior to Shakyamuni Buddha, who taught the Lotus Sutra? Shakyamuni Buddha’s life is the manifestation of the Lotus Sutra, and the physical embodiment of the Eternal Buddha, which is revealed in no place other than the Lotus Sutra. It isn’t so much that the Buddha attained enlightenment by means of the Lotus Sutra; it is more that the Buddha is the Lotus Sutra and the teaching of the Lotus Sutra is that revelation.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – June 30, 2016

Needless to say, boundless will be the merits
Of the person who hears this sūtra with all his heart,
And expounds its meanings,
And acts according to its teachings.

The Buddha sings these verses to Maitreya (whom he calls Ajita – Invincible) in Chapter Eighteen of the Lotus Sutra. The merits we gain through our study and practice of the Lotus Sūtra do not make us better than any of the other beings with whom we share this world. Merits accumulate when we strip away our delusions and see the world for what it is. We sometimes focus on what we can do to change the world, thinking that merely changing how we look at the world will have little effect. It is only when we see things for what they are that we can act effectively. Otherwise we are merely reinforcing the delusions of ourselves and others.

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

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Yesterday detailed generally what the crowd saw when Sakyamuni “emitted a ray of light from the white curls between his eyebrows, and illumined all the corners of eighteen thousand worlds in the east, down to the Avici Hell of each world, and up to the Akanistha Heaven of each world.”

Today Manjusri answers Maitreya and speculates what exactly this means.

Thereupon Manjusri said to Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahasattva
and the other great men:

Good men! I think that the Buddha, the World-Honored One, wishes to expound a great teaching, to send the rain of a great teaching, to blow the conch-shell horn of a great teaching, to beat the drum of a great teaching, and to explain the meaning of a great teaching.

Good men! I met many Buddhas in my previous existence. At that time I saw the same good omen as this. Those Buddhas emitted the same ray of light as this, and then expounded a great teaching.

Therefore, know this! I think that this Buddha also is emitting this ray of light, and showing this good omen, wishing to cause all living beings to hear and understand the most difficult teaching in the world to believe.

And in gathas:

The good omen l see now is like that of old.
This is an expedient employed by the Buddhas.
The pre ent Buddha is also emitting a ray of light
In order to reveal the truth of the reality [of all things].

[Manjusri said to the multitude:]

All of you, know this, join your hands together,
And wait with one mind!
The Buddha will send the rain of the Dharma
And satisfy those who seek enlightemnent.

The Buddha will remove
Any doubt of those who seek
The teaching of the Three Vehicles.
No question will be left unresolved.

Making the World a Better Place

Nichiren Shonin’s teaching for practicing the Buddhism of the Lotus Sutra allows us to awaken to the infinite awareness of the Buddha’s awakening. By making the concepts, practices, and foundation of Buddhism accessible to all people without changing their essential meaning, Nichiren Buddhism has clarified that awakening is possible for all people, not just monks, nuns, and hermits. In this process, we not only make ourselves better people, we improve our society and the world as a whole.

Lotus Seeds

The Way of Bodhisattvas

There is one sentence in Chapter XVI where the Buddha makes the claim that the benefits he obtained by the practice of the Way of Bodhisattvas have not yet been exhausted. There are some who have tried to make the claim that this statement refers to the chanting of Odaimoku as being the Way of Bodhisattvas and this circles back to indicate that Nichiren is somehow superior to Shakyamuni. It is a convoluted argument, and a false one.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – June 29, 2016

World-Honored One, do not worry! We will keep, read, recite and expound this sūtra after your extinction. The living beings in the evil world after [your extinction] will have less roots of good, more arrogance, more greed for offerings of worldly things, and more roots of evil. It will be difficult to teach them because they will go away from emancipation. But we will patiently read, recite, keep, expound and copy this sūtra, and make various offerings to it. We will not spare even our lives [in doing all this].

Medicine-King Bodhisattva, his attendants and other Bodhisattvas make this vow to the Buddha in Chapter Thirteen of the Lotus Sūtra. Once we awaken to our Bodhisattva nature and resolve to benefit all beings, we may still hold on to the belief that those beings should gratefully receive the teaching and and keep progressing towards enlightenment. We may even become discouraged in our practice of the Wonderful Dharma when these beings do not live up to our expectations. The vow of these great Bodhisattvas reminds us of how difficult is is for us ordinary beings to keep the Lotus Sūtra, and of the determination it takes to create benefit in the world.

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

Day 1

What I truly love about my personal practice of reading a portion of the Lotus Sutra each day is the repetition. This may sound counterintuitive. Wouldn’t repetition be tedious? But it’s not. Each time through a different aspect emerges. This is especially true about the Introductory chapter. If you haven’t been through this cycle several times you can’t really enjoy what is being introduced. We’re seeing things that we will see again and this witnessing helps underline that the miraculous things that we will see and hear in this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma are the universal truth of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Last month I covered the crowd gathered around the Buddha. This month, I see the light:

Thereupon the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the white curls between his eyebrows, and illumined all the corners of eighteen thousand worlds in the east, down to the Avici Hell of each world, and up to the Akanistha Heaven of each world. The congregation saw from this world the living beings of the six regions of those worlds. They also saw the present Buddhas of those worlds. They also heard the Dharma expounded by those Buddhas. They also saw the bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas of those worlds who had already attained [the various fruits of] enlightenment by their various practices. They also saw the Bodhisattva-mahasattvas [of those worlds] who were practicing the Way of Bodhisattvas [in various ways] according to the variety of their karmas which they had done in their previous existence, and also according to the variety of their ways of understanding [the Dharma] by faith. They also saw the past Buddhas [of those worlds] who had already entered into Parinirvan. They also saw the stupas of the seven treasures which had been erected to enshrine the sariras of those Buddhas after their Parinirvana.

I’ll save for next month Maitreya Bodhisattva’s personal visions. For now, it’s enough to ponder what it might be like to see “from this world the living beings of the six regions of those worlds” – from hell to heaven – and hear the Dharma expounded by the Buddhas and understand that the “Bodhisattva-mahasattvas [of those worlds] … were practicing the Way of Bodhisattvas [in various ways] according to the variety of their karmas which they had done in their previous existence, and also according to the variety of their ways of understanding [the Dharma] by faith.”

Just imagine

Three Great Secret Dharmas, Three Treasures and Threefold Training

The Three Great Secret Dharmas can also be understood as a clarification of both of the Three Treasures and of the Threefold Training.

Three Great Secret Dharmas

The Three Great Secret Dharmas are not meant to replace or to change the traditional Three Treasures and Threefold Training. Rather, the Three Great Secret Dharmas are a way of clarifying and expressing their deepest meaning. Nichiren Buddhism is the Buddhism of Shakyamuni Buddha, but unlike other schools, it strives to practice according to the Buddha’s true intentions as expressed in the Lotus Sutra and as clarified by Nichiren Shonin.