Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Last month I discussed Manjusri’s prediction of what the light being emitted by Sakyamuni portends. Today, Manjusri’s recollection of what he saw “innumerable, inconceivable, asamkya kalpas ago” underscores that what is to come is not some ordinary lecture but a sutra of very rare greatness.

“Good men! Innumerable, inconceivable, asamkya kalpas ago, there lived a Buddha called Sun-Moon-Light, the Tathagata, the Deserver of Offerings, the Perfectly Enlightened One, the Man of Wisdom and Practice, the Well-Gone, the Knower of the World, the Unsurpassed Man, the Controller of Men, the Teacher of Gods and Men, the Buddha, the World-Honored One. He expounded the right teachings. His expounding of the right teachings was good at the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end. The meanings of those teachings were profound. The words were skilful, pure, unpolluted, perfect, clean, and suitable for the explanation of brahma practices. To those who were seekng Sravakahood, he expounded the teaching of the four truths, a teaching suitable for them, saved them from birth, old age, disease, and death, and caused them to attain Nirvana. To those who were seeking Pratyekabuddhahood, he expounded the teaching of the twelve causes, a teaching suitable for them. To Bodhisattvas, he expounded the teaching of the six paramitas, a teaching suitable for them, and caused them to attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, that is, to obtain the knowledge of the equality and differences of all things.

After his extinction there appeared a Buddha also called Sun­Moon-Light. After his extinction there appeared another Buddha also called Sun-Moon-Light. In the same manner, twenty thousand Buddhas appeared in succession, all of them being called Sun-­Moon-Light with the surname Bharadvaja.

Maitreya, know this! All those Buddhas were called Sun-Moon­light with the ten epithets. Their expounding of the Dharma was good at the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end. The last Sun-Moon-Light Buddha was once a king. He had eight sons born to him before he renounced the world. The first son was called Having-Intention; the second, Good-Intention; the third, Infinite-­Intention; the fourth, Treasure-Intention; the fifth, Increasing-Intention; the sixth, Doubts-Removing-Intention; the seventh, Resounding-Intention; and the eighth, Dharma-Intention. These eight princes had unhindered powers and virtues. Each of them was the ruler of the four continents [of a Sumeru-world]. Having heard that their father had renounced the world and attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, they abdicated from their thrones, and followed their father. They renounced the world, aspired for the Great Vehicle, performed brahma practices, and became teachers of the Dharma. They had already planted the roots of good under ten million Buddhas in their previous existence.

Thereupon the last Sun-Moon-Light Buddha expounded a sutra of the Great Vehicle called the ‘Innumerable Teachings, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas.’ Having expounded this sutra, he sat cross-legged [facing the east] in the midst of the great multitude, and entered into the samadhi for the purport of the innumerable teachings. His body and mind became motionless.

Thereupon the gods rained mandarava-flowers, maha­mandarava-flowers, manjsaka-flowers, and maha-manjuSaka­flowers upon the Buddha and the great multitude. The world of the Buddha quaked in the six ways. The great multitude of the congregation, which included bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas, gods, dragons, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, men, nonhuman beings, the kings of small countries, and the wheel turning-holy kings, were astonished. They rejoiced, joined their hands together [towards the Buddha], and looked up at him with one mind.

Thereupon the Tathagata emitted a ray of light from the white curls between his eyebrows, and illumined all the corners of eighteen thousand Buddha-worlds in the east just as this Buddha is illumining the Buddha-worlds as we see now.

Not only is what they see from the light of Sakyamuni the same, but it is extremely rare. Twenty thousand Buddhas all preached the dharma, but only the last offered the light of his own wisdom.

Tying Up Worldly Passions

Chalkboard lesson
Chalkboard lesson
Fudo Myo-o
Fudo Myo-o

Following today’s Kaji Kito service, Ven. Kenjo Igarashi offered a chalkboard lesson on the need to subdue our passion and use the sword of wisdom to cut through our delusions. Or that’s what I came away with. Someone really needs to record these lessons. And before I continue I apologize if I’ve messed this up in my translation.

The central player in this lesson is Fudo Myo-o. Fudo Myo-o is depicted on the Mandala Gohonzon on the right side in the center. According to Rev. Ryuei McCormick’s book Lotus World, Fudo Myo-o is one of two esoteric deities on the Mandala Gohonzan who are the kings of mystic knowledge and represent the power of the buddhas to vanquish blind craving. They are known as “kings of mystic knowledge” because they wield the mantras, mystical spells made up of Sanskrit syllables imbued with the power to protect practitioners of the Dharma from all harm and evil influences. They appear in terrifying wrathful forms because they embody the indomitable energy of compassion that breaks down all obstacles to wisdom and liberation.

The image at right is standard depiction. For Ven. Igarashi’s lesson, the flames in the background are our worldly passions. The rope represents the Six Paramitas, with which we are able to bind up those passions. The sword represents the wisdom gained from chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. That wisdom cuts through the delusions.

The three parts – Six Paramitas, the dharma (Namu Myoho Renge Kyo) and wisdom – are required to subdue delusions.


In a postscript to last week’s blog post, the photo from the April 28, 1934, dedication of the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church has been hung on the wall of the church below the photo of Nichiren Shonin’s Mausoleum at Minobu and next to the Nichiren Shu Creed.

20160731_group_photo_cropped

Peace and Prosperity

[W]hen Nichiren began to promulgate his doctrines he composed an essay called the Rissho Ankoku Ron, or “Treatise on the Establishment of the Good Law and Pacification of the State,” which he offered to the Government of that day in hopes that the rulers would accept its precepts and put them into practice. The peace and prosperity of the individual necessarily depend on those of the family, and those of the family on those of the State: for when the State is unprosperous and disturbed the same condition will extend to both families and individuals.

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

Faith and Practice

Faith and practice in the Lotus Sutra are often presented in similar manner. I believe this is because faith is an actual practice for us. Faith is not simply the absolute belief in the teaching but is an experience of the truth of the teaching. Faith takes root in and grows from our daily practice and study. And yet, faith while growing from practice also nurtures that very same practice. In this way, faith and practice are not two separate activities but one constantly evolving cycle of activity.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – July 31, 2016

Seeing that you have peacefully attained
The enlightenment of the Buddha,
We, too, have obtained benefits.
Congratulations! How glad we are!

The children of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha sing these verses to their father in Chapter Seven of the Lotus Sūtra. They realize that when one being reaches enlightenment, it is a benefit for all beings. In Chapter Ten, the Buddha teaches that many people will hate his Wonderful Dharma with jealousy during his lifetime, and many more will be jealous of it after his extinction. These people see the Buddha as different from themselves, and do not understand how they can become as enlightened as he is. They believe that for one person to gain, another must lose. The Buddha shows that all beings benefit from his teaching. Nothing is taken away from anyone.

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

Day 1

Day 1 covers the first half of Chapter 1, Introductory

Having seen the light last month, I promised to return with Maitreya Bodhisattva’s personal visions this time around. I’ve decided to break that vision into two parts, leaving the detailed vision of the bodhisattvas for next month.

For now, it is important to remember that what Maitreya sees now lays a foundation for what will be revealed in the remainder of the Lotus Sutra.

The light from [the white curls]
Between the eyebrows of the Buddha illumines
Eighteen thousand worlds to the east.
Those worlds look golden-colored.

I see from this world
The living beings of the six regions
Extending down to the Avici Hell,
And up to the Highest Heaven
Of each of those worlds.
I see the region to which each living being is to go,
The good or evil karmas he is doing,
And the rewards or retributions he is going to have.

I also see the Buddhas,
The Saintly Masters, the Lion-like Ones,
Who are expounding
The most wonderful sutra
With their pure and gentle voices,
And teaching
Many billions of Bodhisattvas.
The brahma voices of the Buddhas
Are deep and wonderful,
Causing people to wish to hear them.

I also see the Buddha of each of those worlds
Expounding his right teachings to all living beings
In order to cause them to attain enlightenment.

He explains his teachings
With stories of previous lives,
And with innumerable parables and similes.
To those who are confronted with sufferings,
And tired of old age, disease, and death,
The Buddha expounds the teaching of Nirvana,
And causes them to eliminate these sufferings.

To those who have merits,
Who have already made offerings to the past Buddhas,
And who are now seeking a more excellent teaching,
The Buddha expounds [the Way of] cause-knowers.

To the Buddha’s sons
Who are performing various practices,
And who are seeking unsurpassed wisdom,
The Buddha expounds the Pure Way.

Transformation of Paradise

[O]ur founder, in his work entitled Hanson Syo, or “The Object of Worship,” says: “The world of evils is now free from the three calamities of conflagration, wind, and deluge, and has got rid of the four epochs of creation, existence, destruction, and emptiness. Thus we find it transformed into Paradise. The Buddha did not die in past times, nor will he be born in the future. He is one and the same with those whom he enlightens. His mind contains all phenomena in time and space.”

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

Planting Seeds of Future Enlightenment

In all of our efforts of propagation, we should always keep in mind that we do it for the joy and benefit of the person to whom we are teaching. It isn’t about acquiring points for converting others. It is about bringing joy into the lives of others. We should consider how best to benefit the person, even if it is helping them take small baby steps. There is no need, nor is it appropriate, to bludgeon someone or berate someone, or cajole someone into taking faith. We merely need to plant the seeds of their future enlightenment.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – July 30, 2016

The two sons, Pure-Store and Pure-Eyes, came to their mother, joined their ten fingers and palms together, and said, ‘Mother! Go to Cloud Thunderpeal-Star-King-Flower-Wisdom Buddha! We also will go to attend on him, approach him, make offerings to him, and bow to him because he is expounding the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to all gods and men.

The Buddha tells the story of King Wonderful-Adornment in Chapter Twenty-Seven of the Lotus Sūtra. The two sons chose to be born at a time when Cloud-Thunderpeal-Star-King-Flower-Wisdom Buddha was alive and led their parents to follow that Buddha and learn the Wonderful Dharma from him. They overcame their father’s attachment to wrong views, not by arguing against those views, but by demonstrating the wonders that come from the Buddha’s great teaching. This shows how when we as Bodhisattvas live this difficult teaching we lead others to it.

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

Day 32

Day 32 covers Chapter 28, The Encouragement of Universal-Sage Bodhisattva, closing the Eighth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Last month, I promised to discuss captivating women.

In this chapter we learn that “Universal-Sage Bodhisattva, who was famous for his virtues and supernatural powers without hindrance, came from a world [in the distance of many worlds] to the east [of this Saha-World].” He heard Sakyamuni preaching the Lotus Sutra in a “world in which lives Treasure-Power­-Virtue-Superior-King Buddha.”

Throughout this chapter, and in fact throughout the entire sutra, “good men or women” are offered inspiration.

[Universal-Sage Bodhisattva asks:] World-Honored One! Tell me how the good men or women who live after your extinction will be able to obtain this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma!

The Buddha said to Universal-Sage Bodhisattva:

The good men or women will be able to obtain this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma after my extinction if they do the following four things: 1. secure the protection of the Buddhas, 2. plant the roots of virtue, 3. reach the stage of steadiness [in proceeding to enlightenmentl, and 4. resolve to save all living beings. The good men or women will be able to obtain this sutra after my extinction if they do these four things.”

But clearly this chapter was not meant for women.

Universal-Sage Bodhisattva offers protective dharani-spells:

If they obtain these dharanis, they will not be killed by nonhuman beings or captivated by women.

And then there are Universal-Sage Bodhisattva’s rewards:

Anyone who copies this sutra will be reborn in the Heaven of the Trayastrimsa Gods immediately after his present life. On that occasion, eighty-four thousand goddesses will come and receive him, making many kinds of music. A crown of the seven treasures will be put on his head, and he will enjoy himself among the ladies in waiting.

And…

Anyone who keeps, reads and recites this sutra, and understands the meanings of it, will be given helping hands by one thousand Buddhas immediately after his present life. He will be fearless. He will not fall into any evil region. He will be reborn in the Tusita Heaven. There he will go to Maitreya Bodhisattva who, adorned with the thirty-two marks, will be surrounded by great Bodhisattvas, and attended on by hundreds of thousands of billions of goddesses.

Yesterday, I wondered about the lack of the youth who inspire and lead their parents. How could the youthful be awakened and their enthusiasm tapped? Perhaps “eighty-four thousand goddesses” could convince some teenaged boys to give up their toys and leave the burning house.