Day 31

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

It’s time to start over on this story of two children whose efforts purify their father so that he can understand the Dharma by faith. These kids, Pure-Store and Pure-­Eyes by name, had many merits before any of this started.

The two sons had great supernatural powers, merit , virtues and wisdom. A long time ago, they had already practiced the Way which Bodhisattva should practice. They had already practiced the dana-paramita, the sila-paramita, the ksanti-pararnita, the virya-paramita, the dhyana-paramita, the prajna-paramita, and the paramita of expediency. They also had already obtained [the four states of mind towards all living beings:] compassion, loving-­kindness, joy and impartiality. They also had already practiced the thirty-seven ways to enlightenment. They had done all this perfectly and clearly. They also had already obtained the samadhis of Bodhisattvas: that is, the samadhi for purity, the samadhi for the sun and the stars, the samadhi for pure light, the samadhi for pure form, the samadhi for pure brightness, the samadhi for permanent adornment, and the samadhi for the great treasury of powers and virtues. They had already practiced all these samadhis.

On the topic of the four states of mind, the Daily Dharma from July 26, 2015, offers this:

They also had already obtained [the four states of mind towards all living beings:] compassion, loving-kindness, joy and impartiality.

The Buddha gives this description in Chapter Twenty-Seven of the Lotus Sutra of two boys who had been the previous lives of Medicine-King and Medicine-Superior Bodhisattvas. These four states of mind are those which allow to see the world for what it is and bring true benefit for all beings. Any living being is capable of them. Their opposites: cruelty, indifference, misery and prejudice, are never what we aspire to, even though we find ourselves in them far too often. But even these states can be used as an indication that we are not seeing things for what they are, and lead us back to a true curiosity and appreciation for what we have.

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


In the Beginning

“In the beginning” men and animals were gods, and plants and rocks had speech; but even now, according to the Shinto conception, it is not entirely otherwise.

History of Japanese Religion

Daily Dharma – Sept. 30, 2016

Those who, without concentrating their minds,
Offered nothing but a flower to the picture of the Buddha,
Became able to see
Innumerable Buddhas one after another.

We can read these words of the Buddha from Chapter Two of the Lotus Sūtra as if we had to wait until another life to see Buddhas. But by making offerings to an image of the Buddha, by practicing respect towards a representation of the Buddha, we start to look for and recognize the Buddha in ourselves and in all of the beings who share the world with us. When we see this world of conflict and suffering as the Buddha’s Pure Land, then we see all beings as our enlightened teachers. We see innumerable Buddhas.

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

Day 30

Day 30 covers all of Chapter 26, Dhāraṇīs

In my attempt to limit myself to a single topic on each day I have to resist the temptation to talk only about my favorite topic each time. In Chapter 26, Dharanis, what I always want to discuss are the ten rakshasis and their mother, Hariti.

After offering their dharanis, they explain:

Anyone who does not keep our spells
But troubles the expounder of the Dharma
Shall have his head split into seven pieces
Just as the branches of the arjaka-tree [are split].

Anyone who attacks this teacher of the Dharma
Will receive the same retribution
As to be received by the person who kills his parents,
Or who makes [sesame] oil without taking out worms [from the sesame],
Or who deceives others by using wrong measures and scales,
Or by Devadatta who split the Samgha.

Rev. Ryuei Michael McCormick’s Lotus World offers this explanation of the rakshasis and their mother, Hariti.

Rakshasas are a kind of flesh eating, blood drinking, or spirit draining demon or spirit. The tamer ones are known as yakshas and are the spirits of the trees, forests, and villages. They are considered a powerful type of hungry ghost. They appear as beautiful women (though they are sometimes shown with fangs) in courtly attire bearing various weapons or other symbolic objects.

10 Rakshasas Daughters from book Lotus World
10 Rakshasas Daughters from book Lotus World
Hariti, also known as Kishimojin
Hariti, also known as Kishimojin

  • Kunti carries a spear.
  • Insatiable carries a curved scepter in her right hand, while her left hand holds a flower vase.
  • Black Teeth carries a banner in her left hand.
  • Crooked Teeth carries a tray of flowers.
  • Lamba holds a sword in her right hand and a sutra in her left.
  • Plunderer of Energy of All Beings holds a staff with rings.
  • Necklace Holding holds a garland in both hands.
  • Many Hairs carries a banner in both hands.
  • Flower Teeth carries the cintamani, or “wish-fulfilling gem.”
  • Vilamba carries cymbals.

The ten rakshasis and their mother, Hariti, appear in Chapter 26 of the Lotus Sutra and together offer dharanis for the protection of the teacher of the Lotus Sutra.

The Greater Goal

Approaching Buddhism as a practice of ‘self-improvement’ only, that is as a way to do self-help, is like being satisfied by the small bronze coin. While it is true that we do gain self-improvement by our practice, it is the greater goal of complete liberation from suffering and the attainment of Enlightenment that is the spiritual goal of our Buddhist practice.

Lotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra Volume 1

Daily Dharma – Sept. 29, 2016

Seeing [these wonders displayed by] the supernatural powers of his sons, the father had the greatest joy that he had ever had. He joined his hands together towards his sons [staying in the sky], and said, ‘Who is your teacher? Whose disciples are you?’

King Wonderful-Adornment makes this declaration to his sons in Chapter Twenty-Seven of the Lotus Sūtra. His sons had been asked by their mother to display their supernatural powers to their father and awaken the desire in him to hear the Buddha Dharma. We all have abilities of which we are not aware, and can cultivate those abilities so that they may seem miraculous to those who do not understand them. But it is important for us not to fall in the trap of using these abilities to strengthen our ego delusion. Instead we should dedicate our talents towards awakening the joy of the Wonderful Dharma in all beings.

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

Day 29

Day 29 covers all of Chapter 25, The Universal Gate of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva.

Having last month touched on World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva’s helpful offerings, I’ll focus this month on his wisdom:

He sees the truth of all things and their purity.
He sees all things with his great wisdom.
He sees all things with loving-kindness and compassion. Think of him constantly! Look up at him constantly!

All darkness is dispelled by the light of his wisdom
As spotless and as pure as the light of the sun.
The light destroys the dangers of wind and fire,
And illumines the whole world brightly.

His precepts out of his loving-kindness brace us up as thunderbolts.
His wishes out of his compassion are as wonderful as large clouds.
He pours the rain of the Dharma as sweet as nectar,
And extinguishes the fire of illusions.

The Daily Dharma from Feb. 16, 2016, offers this perspective:

His precepts out of his loving-kindness brace us up as thunderbolts.
His wishes out of his compassion are as wonderful as large clouds.
He pours the rain of the Dharma as sweet as nectar,
And extinguishes the fire of illusions.

The Buddha gives this description of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva (Kannon, Kanzeon, Kuan Yin, Avalokitesvara) to Endless-Intent Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty-Five of the Lotus Sūtra. This Bodhisattva is the embodiment of compassion. As we cultivate our own nature as Bodhisattvas, we find that the only thing that separates us from the happiness of others is our attachment and delusion. When we allow our compassion to grow, we come to see the world as it is.

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

Being Your Own Physician

Being our own physician to our own lives and seeking the medicine to cure our sufferings and attain enlightenment, we use the prescription of oratio divina by listening to what the Buddha tells us, by considering that in relation to our lives in the moment and then taking appropriate action.

Physician's Good Medicine

Daily Dharma – Sept. 28, 2016

“Who will expound the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in this Sahā-World? Now is the time to do this. I shall enter into Nirvāṇa before long. I wish to transmit this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to someone so that this sūtra may be preserved.”

The Buddha asks this of those gathered to hear him teach in Chapter Eleven of the Lotus Sūtra. If there had been no one among those listening who was able to expound the Sūtra, he would not have asked this question. Our ability to benefit others with the Buddha Dharma is not based on our eloquence, our intelligence or our position in life. It is based only on our faith in the Buddha’s teachings and our determination to benefit others. When we read, recite, and copy the Lotus Sūtra, the Buddha is transmitting it to us. We preserve the Sūtra through our practice.

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

Day 28

Day 28 covers all of Chapter 24, Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva, and concludes the Seventh Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month reviewed the traveling tips offered by All-Pure-Light-Adornment Buddha to Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva before he traveled to the Saha world, I want to touch on the greeting Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva delivers.

World-Honored One! I bring you a message from Pure­Flower-Star-King-Wisdom Buddha. [He wishes to say this.] Are you in good health? Are you happy and peaceful or not? Are the four elements of your body working in harmony or not? Are the worldly affairs bearable or not? Are the living beings easy to save or not? Do they not have much greed, anger, ignorance, jealousy, stinginess and arrogance, or do they? Are they not undutiful to their parents, or are they? Are they not disrespectful to sramanas, or are they? Do they not have wrong views, or do they? Are they not evil, or are they? Do they not fail to control their five desires, or do they? World-Honored One! Did they defeat the Maras, who are their enemies, or not. Is Many-Treasures Tathagata, who passed away a long time ago and has now come here riding in the stupa of the seven treasures, hearing the Dharma or not? [Pure-Flower-Star-King Wisdom Buddha] also wishes to know whether Many-Treasure! Tathagata is peaceful and healthy, and able to stay long or not World-Honored One! Now I wish to see Many-Treasures Buddha World-Honored One! Show him to me!

This is the same line of questioning that the replicas of Sakyamuni pursued after they took their place on the lion-like seats under the jeweled trees prior to the Stupa of Treasures being opened and again by the Bodhisattvas from Underground after their arrival.