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.

Last month covered the road traveled by Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva. This month, we get to a special skill of Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva.

Flower-Virtue! Now you see Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva here and nowhere else. But formerly he transformed himself into various living beings and expounded this sutra to other in various places. He became King Brahman, King Sakra, Freedon God, Great-Freedom God, a great general in heaven, Vaisravana Heavenly-King, a wheel-turning-holy-king, the king of a small country, a rich man, a householder, a prime minister, a brahmana, a bhiksu, a bhiksuni, an upasaka, an upasika, the wife of a rich man, that of a householder, that of a prime minister, that of a brahmana, a boy, a girl, a god, a dragon, a yaksa, a gandharva, an asura, a garuDa, a kimnara, a mahoraga, a human being or a nonhuman being. [After he transformed himself into one or another of these living beings,] he expounded this sutra, and saved the hellish denizens, hungry spirits, animals, and all the other living beings in the places of difficulties. When he entered an imperial harem, he became a woman and expounded this sutra.

Rev. Ryusho JeffusLecture on the Lotus Sutra offers this observation:

Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva is able to change his shape and transform himself into any being he wishes. We, too, as we develop our Buddha potential are better able to communicate with various people taking on their lives and understanding the nature of their problems. Just as the Buddha was able to communicate with people of all the different Ten Worlds so too we can transcend the differences that frequently cause divisions and reach out to the many various people in our environment.
Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Myoho

Myoho is the translation of the Sanskrit term Saddharma. Myoho is often translated as “Wonderful Dharma” or sometimes as “Mystic Law”. As suggested by the translation itself, its meaning is broad and profound.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Daily Dharma – Nov. 30, 2016

If after my extinction anyone rejoices, even on a moment’s thought, at hearing even a gāthā or a phrase of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, I also will assure him of his future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.

The Buddha declares these lines to Medicine-King Bodhisattva at the beginning of Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sūtra. Other teachings had described beings becoming enlightened after making exorbitant offerings or strenuous practices over many lifetimes. In the teaching of the Wonderful Dharma, a single moment of joy at hearing the Dharma is enough to assure us that we will become enlightened.

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

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Last month covered the “innumerable merits” of those who hear The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva. Now we reach the end of the chapter.

“Therefore, Star-King-Flower! I will transmit this chapter of the Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva to you. Propagate this chapter throughout the Jambudvipa in the later five hundred years after my extinction lest it should be lost, and lest Mara the Evil One, the followers of Mara, gods, dragons, yaksas, and kumbhandas should take advantage [of the weak points of the people of the Jambudvipa].

“Star-King-Flower! Protect this sutra by your supernatural powers! Why is that? It is because this sutra is a good medicine for the diseases of the people of the Jambudvipa. The patient who hears this sutra will be cured of his disease at once. He will not grow old or die.

Star-King-Flower! Strew blue lotus flower and a bowlful of powdered incense to the person who keep this sutra when you see him! After strewing these things [to him], you should think, ‘Before long he will collect grass [for his seat], sit at the place of enlightenment, and defeat the army of Mara. He will blow the conch-shell horn of the Dharma, beat the drum of the great Dharma, and save all living beings from the ocean of old age, disease and death.’

In this way, those who seek the enlightenment of the Buddha should respect the keeper of this sutra whenever they see him.

When the Buddha expounded this chapter of the Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva, eighty-four thousand Bodhisattvas obtained the dharanis by which they could understand the words of all living beings. Many-Treasures Tathagata in the stupa of treasures praised Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva, saying:

Excellent, excellent, Star-King-Flower! You obtained inconceivable merits. You asked this question to Sakyamuni Buddha, and benefited innumerable living beings.

The Daily Dhara from Nov. 21, 2016, offered this about our daily war with Mara:

Star-King-Flower! Strew blue lotus flowers and a bowlful of powdered incense to the person who keeps this sūtra when you see him! After strewing these things [to him], you should think, ‘Before long he will collect grass [for his seat], sit at the place of enlightenment, and defeat the army of Māra. He will blow the conch-shell horn of the Dharma, beat the drum of the great Dharma, and save all living beings from the ocean of old age, disease and death.’

The Buddha gives this explanation to Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty-Three of the Lotus Sūtra. Māra is the deity who creates confusion and delusion in the world. His army consists of those who reinforce these delusions and reward those who share them. Such rewards do not benefit those who receive them. They only serve to produce fear and attachment which creates misery in the world. With our practice of this Lotus Sūtra, we learn to recognize delusion for what it is, and reject the superficial benefits that come with it.

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

The Gospel of Universal Salvation

The central idea in Buddhist teaching is the gospel of universal salvation based on the idea of the fundamental oneness of all beings. There are in the world, Buddhism teaches, manifold existences and innumerable beings, and each of these individuals deems himself to be a separate being and behaves accordingly. But in reality they make up one family, there is one continuity throughout, and this oneness is to be realized in the attainment of Buddhahood on the part of each and all, in the full realization of the universal communion. Individuals may purify themselves and thereby escape the miseries of sinful existence, yet our salvation is imperfect so long as and so far as there remain any who have not realized the universal spiritual communion, i.e., who are not saved. To save oneself by saving others is the gospel of universal salvation taught by Buddhism.

History of Japanese Religion

Daily Dharma – Nov. 29, 2016

To those who have accumulated merits,
And who are gentle and upright,
And who see me living here,
Expounding the Dharma,
I say:
“The duration of my life is immeasurable.”

The Buddha declares these verses in Chapter Sixteen of the Lotus Sūtra. This chapter is where the Buddha reveals for the first time his ever-present nature. He became enlightened in the remotest past, and will continue teaching all beings far into the future. There is a view that to see a Buddha in our time requires a supernatural way of seeing, even a personal vision or a revelation not available to ordinary people. What the Buddha teaches here is that he is always visible to anyone, anywhere. It is when we look for him to teach us and are compassionate and disciplined in our desires that he appears to us.

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

Day 26

Day 26 concludes Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas, includes Chapter 22, Transmission, and introduces Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month completed the Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas, it is time for the Transmission.

Thereupon Sakyamuni Buddha rose from the seat of the Dharma, and by his great supernatural powers, put his right hand on the heads of the innumerable Bodhisattva-mahasattvas, and said:

For many hundreds of thousands of billions of asamkhyas of kalpas, I studied and practiced the Dharma diffcult to obtain, and [finally attained] Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Now I will transmit the Dharma to you. Propagate it with all your hearts, and make it known far and wide!

He put his [right] hand on their heads twice more, and said:

For many hundreds of thousands of billions of asamkhyas of kalpas, I studied and practiced the Dharma difficult to obtain, and [finally attained] Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Now I will transmit [the Dharma] to you. Keep, read, recite and expound [this sutra in which the Dharma is given], and cause all living beings to hear it and know it! Why is that? It is because I have great compassion. I do not begrudge anything. I am fearless. I wish to give the wisdom of the Buddha, the wisdom of the Tathagata, the wisdom of the Self-Existing One, to all living beings. I am the great almsgiver to all living beings. Follow me, and study my teachings without begrudging efforts!

The Daily Dharma of Aug. 24, 2016, offers this:

For many hundreds of thousands of billions of asaṃkhyas of kalpas, I studied and practiced the Dharma difficult to obtain, and [finally attained] Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. Now I will transmit the Dharma to you. Propagate it with all your hearts, and make it known far and wide!

The Buddha entrusts his highest teaching to all those gathered to see him in Chapter Twenty-Two of the Lotus Sūtra. He had already explained how difficult it is to believe and practice this highest teaching, and all the trouble it took for him to reach it. He also realizes that this teaching is not something he can keep for himself, and is meaningful only when it was shared with others. This is yet another example of the Buddha showing us how to live with the beings we want to benefit. We realize that our treasure is not what we keep for ourselves, but what we have in common with others. We are diminished not by what we lose, but by attempting to hold on to our delusions.

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

The Ocean of Many Small Efforts

The great oceans are made up of many single drops of water, which come together to form one body of water. This is much like both our individual practice as well as the assembly of the Sangha and makeup of a temple.

We each have our part to play and the success of the whole depends upon each person.

In our individual lives, it is the accumulating of many small efforts on a day-to-day basis that results in the accumulation of an enlightened life manifesting Buddhahood. When we look at our small efforts we may not see the potential of the accumulation of those efforts, just as we don’t see the ocean in the single drop of water.

Lotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra Volume 1

Daily Dharma – Nov. 28, 2016

Medicine-King! This sūtra is the store of the hidden core of all the Buddhas. Do not give it to others carelessly! It is protected by the Buddhas, by the World-Honored Ones. It has not been expounded explicitly. Many people hate it with jealousy even in my lifetime. Needless to say, more people will do so after my extinction.

The Buddha makes this declaration to Medicine-King Bodhisattva in Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sūtra. For us who recognize how the Buddha’s teaching transforms our lives and the world, it can be hard to imagine that anyone would reject it. However, there are beings who are so filled with fear and delusion that they mistake the Buddha’s good medicine for poison. While we are committed to leading all beings to enlightenment, we realize that we are not alone in our efforts. The protective deities and the Buddha himself are always working to benefit all beings. In our current capacities, we may not be able to reach everybody immediately. We should not let this discourage us. The least we can do is hope in our hearts for the happiness of all beings, even if they are not accessible to us.

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

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month covered the demonstration of the Buddhas’ supernatural powers, it is time to finish up with the response from the gods outside the gathering on the Saha World:

At that time the gods in the skies [of the worlds of the ten quarters] said loudly:

There is a world called Saha beyond a distance of many hundreds of thousands of billions of asamkhyas of worlds. In that world lives a Buddha called Sakyamuni. He is now expounding to Bodhisattva-mahasattvas a sutra of the Great Vehicle, called the ‘Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas.’ Rejoice from the bottom of your hearts! Bow and make offerings to Sakyamuni Buddha!

Having heard their voice from the skies, the living beings of those worlds joined their hands together toward the Saha­World, and said, “Namah Sakyamunaye Buddhaya, namah Sakyamunaye Buddhaya.” Then they strewed various flowers, various kinds of incense, various necklaces, streamers, canopies, personal ornaments, treasures, and other wonderful things to the Saha-World from afar.

The strewn things came from the worlds of the ten quarters like gathering clouds and changed into a jeweled awning over the Saha-World. The awning extended over the Buddhas staying in this world. At that time the worlds of the ten quarters became passable through each other without hindrance as if they had been a single Buddha-world.

When I read that the offerings gathered like clouds and changed into a jeweled awning, I’m reminded on the decorations that frame the altar at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church.

Decorations framing the altar at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church