Day 1

Day 1 covers the first half of Chapter 1, Introductory

This is the 12th time through this exercise. It feels like a December. Someday I want to go through Maitreya’s description of what he sees the Bodhisattvas doing and match those activities with the events described later in the Lotus Sutra. For now, I invite tomorrow’s confirmation with Maitrey’s plea:

Manjusri, Son of the Buddha!
Remove our doubts!
The four kinds of devotees
A.re looking up with joy at you and me,
Wishing to know why this ray of light is emitted
By the World-Honored One.

Son of the Buddha, answer me!
Remove our doubts and cause us to rejoice!
For what purpose is the Buddha
Emitting this ray of light?

Does he wish to expound the Wonderful Dharma
Which he attained when he was sitting
At the place of enlightenment?
Does he wish to assure us of our future Buddhahood?

He shows us the worlds of the Buddhas
Adorned with many treasures.
We can see the Buddhas of those worlds.
This cannot be for some insignificant reason.

Manjusri, know this!
The four kinds of devotees and the dragons
Are looking at you, thinking:
“What is he going to say?”

History of Japanese Religion

History of Japanese Religion bookcover
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From Amazon:

Masaharu Anesaki’s “History of Japanese Religion” continues to be a much-cited pillar of Japanese studies and is now available in digital format.

The original draft of the present book was an outcome of the author’s lectures at Harvard University during the years 1913-15, when he had the honor of occupying there the chair of Japanese Literature and Life. In response to the encouragement given by several friends at Harvard, the author tried to put the material of the lectures into book form and redrafted it from time to time. The book was eventually published in 1930.

See also, Masaharu Anesaki’s “Nichiren, The Buddhist Prophet

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Crossing to the Other Shore

The word paramita was originally translated into Chinese from two words param and ita. Param translated as “to the other shore” and ita as “reached.” It is believed that by observing the Paramitas one is able to cross the shore of birth and death and reach the shore of nirvana.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – Aug. 31, 2016

When we worship gods or Buddhas, we begin with the phrase of “namu.” Namu is an Indian word that has come to mean “offering of life to Buddhas and gods” in China and Japan. Our social standing is determined in part by possessing a spouse and children, retainers, fiefs, and gold and silver, though some people do not have those. Regardless of whether we possess these or not, no one possess treasure more precious than life. Accordingly, sages and wise men in the past have donated their lives to the Buddhas in order to attain Buddhahood.

Nichiren wrote this passage in his Treatise on Phenomenal and Noumenal Offering (Jiri Kuyō Gosho). We tend to judge ourselves and others by the outward aspects of their lives: where we live, what we wear, our position in society, and the company we keep. It is easy to lose sight of what will happen when we leave this life and give up all those things, even our precious bodies. Nichiren reminds us that our lives are all we have, and when we live them in gratitude for what the Buddha teaches us, and dedicate ourselves to benefitting others, then we exist as enlightened beings.

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 discussed this chapter’s rather unique use of women – either to be avoided (captivating) or as a reward (attended on by hundreds of thousands of billions of goddesses). This month I return to what I see as the principal point of Universal-Sage Bodhisattva’s visit: The answer to his question of “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 enlightenment], and 4. resolve to save all living beings. The good men or women will be able to obtain this sotra after my extinction if they do these four things.

The Daily Dharma from Jan. 29, 2016, comments on this:

For us who aspire to this difficult practice of the Wonderful Dharma, the Buddha gives this guide in Chapter Twenty-Eight of the Lotus Sūtra. For us to have even heard of this sūtra in this life we must have already done these four things. In order to maintain this practice, we need to use the Buddha’s protection for the benefit of all beings, not just for our benefit alone. We need to nourish the virtuous seeds we have already planted, remain steady and confident on the path to enlightenment, and sustain our determination to maintain our respect for everyone.

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

Lotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra Volume 1

Lotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra bookcover
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From Amazon

The practice of Buddhism is about changing our lives deep at the core. Buddhism calls on us to examine the causes of our suffering in brutal honesty. After making this self-assessment we then take the next step and make the necessary changes so we can free ourselves from the cycle of suffering in ignorance. The essays in the book are short; usually only several hundred words. It is possible to read them quite quickly. That however, is not what I intended and so I have concluded each essay with either some questions for you to consider or suggestions for actions you might decide would be beneficial. You will get the most value out of this book if you take your time and use the essays and the follow-up comments as tools. Use the book sparingly, sampling each essay as if it were a most delicious candy. This book will be of the most value to you if you actually try to use it as a tool for making changes in your life.

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The Paramita of Giving

The Six Paramitas are 1. Giving – Dana; 2. Discipline – Five Precepts; 3. Patience; 4. Effort; 5. Meditation; and 6. Wisdom. … Dana is the act of giving without ANY expectation of reward or benefit. Think about that for a moment. No reward, no thanks, no benefit, no tax deduction, no write off, no name recognition, perhaps no appreciation, no self congratulations, no quiet satisfaction of performance, perhaps even no warm fuzzy feeling. How hard is that? Just giving because you want to and in appreciation, giving as an expression of your gratitude.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – Aug. 30, 2016

Thus, what the people in the Latter Age of Degeneration should be afraid of are not swords and sticks, tigers and wolves, or the ten evil acts and the five rebellious sins but those monks who wear Buddhist robes and pretend to be high priests without knowing the true teaching and those people who regard monks of provisional teachings as venerable and hate the practicers of the True Dharma of the Lotus Sutra.

Nichiren wrote this passage in his Treatise on Chanting the Great Title of the Lotus Sūtra (Shō Hokke Daimoku-shō). In Nichiren’s time, Buddhist monks had a great influence on the leaders of Japan, and thus on the lives of ordinary people. Wars, taxes, disease and education were no less important in Nichiren’s time than they are now. Nichiren recognized that the greatest danger came not from external forces, but from those within the country who took positions of power to benefit themselves rather than others. Nichiren’s reliance on the Wonderful Dharma, and his refusal to be coerced by his persecutions, show us how to live in this degenerating age.

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

Day 31

Day 31 covers Chapter 27, King Wonderful-Adornment as the Previous Life of a Bodhisattva.

Last month, I discussed by longing to see young people who could emulate the sons of King Wonderful Adornment and inspire others to “to understand the Dharma by faith.” And yet I understand that it is not one’s age but one’s faith that matters.

I considered myself a Buddhist for more than a quarter century before I became a follower of Nichiren Shu and joined the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church. In that time I seldom talked about my faith outside my immediate family. Today, that has changed. I’m not sure I can explain how. It is just one of the things that I can see is different now. And apparently others can see this too. I am much more likely to discuss my practice and Buddhism with strangers today than I ever was before.

Rev. Ryusho Jeffus in his Lecture on the Lotus Sutra, writes:

I like this story of the two boys, Pure-Store and Pure-Eyes, who end up converting their parents to the Lotus Sutra not so much because of the phenomena the two sons performed but for the example that our actions speak more powerfully than our words. We can convince more people of the truth of the Lotus Sutra through the way we act in society than by merely talking theoretically about Buddhism. Getting through life and the day-to-day concerns we all face may seem ordinary, even hum-drum. However, the manner in which we face and ultimately overcome our problems can look supernatural to others around us who struggle and suffer so much. We don’t need to spout water or fire from our bodies; we merely need to show the joy of our practice in the face of life as human.
Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

The Physician’s Good Medicine

Studying The Lotus Stura, Volume 2

Physicians Good Medicine bookcover
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In December 2014 I was invited to Las Vegas by then Bishop Shokai Kanai of the Nichiren Order of North America. He suggested that I do a presentation on the Parable of the Skillful Physician and His Sick Children found in Chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra. On many occasions I have been asked to share my experiences as a hospital chaplain. It seemed like a good opportunity to combine both and so I began writing this book. This book is the second volume in my series “Studying the Lotus Sutra”. In this book as in all the books of this series I take one portion of the Lotus Sutra and examine it more deeply. This book focuses on the parable found in Chapter XVI of the Lotus Sutra; The Physician and His Ill Children. As I write about this parable I am tying to do so in a way that brings the stories told over 2500 years ago into our contemporary lives. I hope that through this little effort of mine a door will open for you to have a greater sense of connection to the Sutra.

Ryusho Jeffus

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