Day 27

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

Last month concluded The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva, and now it’s time to start again.

Having sung this gatha, Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, ‘World-Honored One! You do not change, do you?

Sun-Moon-Pure-Bright-Virtue Buddha said to Gladly-Seen-­By-All-Beings Bodhisattva, ‘Good man! The time of my Nirvana is near at hand. The time of my extinction is coming. Prepare me a comfortable couch! I shall enter into Parinirvana tonight.’

Then he instructed Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva, saying, ‘Good man! I will transmit all my teachings to you. [I also will transmit] to you all the Bodhisattvas and all my great disciples. [I also will transmit] to you my teachings for Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. I also will transmit to you the one thousand Sumeru worlds made of the seven treasures, the jeweled trees, the jeweled platforms, and the gods attending on me. I also will transmit to you the sariras to be left after my extinction. Distribute my sariras far and wide and make offerings to them! Erect thousands of stupas [to enshrine them]!’

Having given these instructions to Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva, Sun-Moon-Pure-Bright-Virtue Buddha entered into Nirvana in the last watch of that night. Having seen the extinction of the Buddha, Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva was overcome with sorrow. He adored the Buddha all the more. He made a pyre of the candana grown on this shore of the sea, offered it to the body of the Buddha, and burned it. After it burned up, he collected the sariras. He made eighty-four thousand urns of treasures[, and put the sariras therein]. He erected eighty-four thousand stupas[, and enshrined the urns therein]. The stupas were higher than the Third Dhyana-Heaven. They were adorned with yastis. Many streamers and canopies were hanging down [from the stupas]. Many jeweled bells also were fixed [on the stupas].

The Daily Dharma from May 29, 2016, offers this insight:

Having sung this gāthā, Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, ‘World-Honored One! You do not change, do you?’

This description of the life of Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva comes from Chapter Twenty-Three of the Lotus Sūtra. In a previous existence, this Bodhisattva had given up his body and his life for the sake of teaching the Wonderful Dharma. He was then reborn into a world in which the Buddha he served previously was still alive and benefiting all beings. Recognizing this unchanging aspect of the Buddha despite his changing appearances helps us see into our own capacity for enlightenment.

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

The Wonderful Dharma

Generally, [Myoho,] the Wonderful Dharma, or “True Dharma,” refers to the true nature of life and reality. This true reality is that nothing exists independently; that is, everything is said to be “interdependent.” From the point of view of the Buddha’s enlightenment, everything that has being and every event that comes to pass only does so in relationship to every other thing and every other event. More specifically, the Wonderful Dharma is the Dharma that is taught in the Lotus Sutra itself.

Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon

Daily Dharma – Dec. 31, 2016

Anyone who expounds the Dharma, if he wishes,
Will be able to cause the living beings
Of the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds
To hear his wonderful voice.

The Buddha sings these verses to Constant-Endeavor Bodhisattva in Chapter Nineteen of the Lotus Sūtra, describing those who keep the Lotus Sūtra. When we learn to hear the voice of the Wonderful Dharma, we recognize it in everything that surrounds us. When we speak with the voice of the Wonderful Dharma, we are in accord with the reality of all things. There is no need to distinguish between our voice and the voice of the Ever-Present Buddha who is always thinking of how to lead all beings to enlightenment. The only thing that blocks this voice is the comfort of our own attachment and delusion.

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 begun the Transmission, it is time to complete the task.

In the future, when you see good men or women who believe in the wisdom of the Tathagata, you should expound this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to them, and cause them to hear and know [this sutra] so that they may he able to obtain the wisdom of the Buddha. When you see anyone who does not receive [this sutra] by faith, you should show him some other profound teachings of mine, teach him, benefit him, and cause him to rejoice. When you do all this, you will be able to repay the favors given to you by the Buddhas.

Having heard these words of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva­mahasattvas were filled with great joy. With more respect than ever, they bent forward, bowed, joined their hands together towards him, and said simultaneously. ‘We will do as you command. Certainly, World-Honored One! Do not worry!’

The Bodhisattva-mahasattvas said simultaneously twice more, ‘We will do as you command. Certainly, World-Honored One! Do not worry!’

Thereupon Sakyamuni Buddha, wishing to send back to their home worlds [Many-Treasures Buddha and] the Buddhas of his replicas, who had come from the worlds of the ten quarters, said, ‘May the Buddhas be where they wish to be! May the stupa of Many-Treasures Buddha be where it was!’

Having heard these words of the Buddha, not only the innumerable Buddhas of his replicas, who had come from the worlds of the ten quarters and were sitting on the lion-like seats under the jeweled trees, Many-Treasures Buddha, and the great multitude of the innumerable, asamkhya Bodhisattvas, including Superior-Practice, but also the four kinds of devotees including Sariputra and other Sravakas, and the gods, men and asuras of the world, had great joy.

The Daily Dharma from Oct. 24, 2015, offers this:

When you see anyone who does not receive [this sūtra] by faith, you should show him some other profound teachings of mine, teach him, benefit him, and cause him to rejoice. When you do all this, you will be able to repay the favors given to you by the Buddhas.

The Buddha gives these instructions in Chapter Twenty-Two of the Lotus Sūtra. They remind us to be patient with those whom we work to benefit. Even though they may not be ready to hear the Wonderful Dharma, we can use the Expedient Teachings to prepare them for the Buddha’s highest teaching. When we are assured that countless beings are helping us all to become enlightened, we are less likely to be disappointed in the progress that we see.

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

The Two Meanings of Myo

In 593 CE, the Great Master of the Dharma, T’ien-t’ai, stated in his Fahua Ichi (Jp. Hokke Gengi, The Profound Meanings of the Lotus Sutra), that the word Myo has two meanings. The first results from a comparative analysis that illustrates the superiority of the Lotus Sutra over the other teachings of the Buddha. The second meaning of Myo is in regards to the all-inclusiveness of the Lotus Sutra, as it includes simultaneously each of the many doctrines of Shakyamuni Buddha preached throughout his 50 years of teaching.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Daily Dharma – Dec. 30, 2016

Only I see clearly and without hindrance that they are at various stages [of enlightenment]. I know this, but they do not know just as the trees and grasses including herbs in the thickets and forests do not know whether they are superior or middle or inferior.

The Buddha makes this declaration in Chapter Five of the Lotus Sūtra, as he explains the simile of herbs. This is a good reminder for us on the Bodhisattva path of how important it is to have respect for all beings. We can believe we know whether someone else is less enlightened than we are, or even more enlightened than we are. But for Bodhisattvas, this belief is irrelevant. Only the Buddha knows who is where on the path. We do not need to know. We just need to find ways to benefit others, no matter how close they may be to enlightenment.

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 concluded the Day 25 portion of Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas, it is time to return to the tale of Never-Despising Bodhisattva.

Setting the stage:

Thereupon the Buddha said to Great-Power-Obtainer Bodhisattva-mahasattva:

Know this! Anyone who speaks ill of or abuses or slanders the bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas or upasikas who keep the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, will incur the retributions previously stated. (Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma.) Anyone [who keeps this sutra] will he able to have his eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind purified, that is to say, to obtain the merits as stated in the previous chapter.

Great-Power-Obtainer! Innumerable, limitless, inconceivable, asamkhya kalpas ago, there lived a Buddha called Powerful­-Voice-King, 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. The kalpa in which he lived was called Free-From­-Decay; and his world, Great-Achievement. Powerful-Voice-King Buddha expounded the Dharma to the gods, men and asuras of his world. To those who were seeking Sravakahood, he expounded the teaching suitable for them, that is, the teaching of the four truths, 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 suitable for them, that is, the teaching of the twelve causes. To the Bodhisattvas who were seeking Anuttara-­samyak-sambodhi, he expounded the teaching suitable for them, that is, the teaching of the six paramitas, and caused them to obtain the wisdom of the Buddha.

Great-Power-Obtainer! The duration of the life of Powerful-­Voice-King Buddha was forty billion nayuta kalpas, that is, as many kalpas as there are sands in the River Ganges. His right teachings were preserved for as many kalpas as the particles of dust of the Jambudvipa. The counterfeit of his right teachings was preserved for a many kalpas as the particles of dust of the four continents. The Buddha benefited all living being and then passed away. After [the two ages:] the age of his right teaching and the age of their counterfeit, there appeared in that world another Buddha also called Powerful-Voice-King, the Tathagata, the Deserver of Offerings, the Perfectly Enlightened One, the Man of Wisdom and Practice, the Well-Cone, the Knower of the World, the Unsurpassed Man, the Controller of Men, the Teacher of Gods and Men, the Buddha, the World-Honored One. After him, the Buddhas of the same name appeared one after another, two billion altogether.

This is one of many places where the rareness of hearing the Lotus Sutra rather than the three vehicles – the teaching of the four truths, the teaching of the twelve causes and the teaching of the six paramitas – is underlined.

The Universal Nexus Binding All Beings

When a deed or work is performed with the intention and pious desire of dedicating it to the soul of a certain person, its efficacy will establish a closer communion between the dedicator and the objective. If the soul to whom it is dedicated is travelling in the inferior resorts of transmigration, the piety and virtue of the dedication will help it along its way towards a better resort and finally to Buddhahood. If it has already attained a certain height of spiritual enlightenment, the dedicator himself will be led up more closely to the realm of bliss. Since the connection between the two is not merely based on their relationship during earthly existence but is in fact a partial manifestation of the universal nexus binding all beings, the dedication may, nay must, at the same time be directed to all fellow beings and the merit thereof will be participated in by them all.

History of Japanese Religion

Daily Dharma – Dec. 29, 2016

I led all living beings at first with the teaching of the Three Vehicles. Now I will save them by the Great Vehicle only. Why is that? It is because, if I had given them the teaching of the Great Vehicle at first directly from my store of the Dharma in which my immeasurable wisdom, powers and fearlessness are housed, they would not have received all of the Dharma.

The Buddha speaks these words to Śāriputra in Chapter Three of the Lotus Sūtra. This is part of his explanation of why he needed to use expedient teachings of the Three Vehicles prior to giving the Great Vehicle teaching of the Lotus Sūtra, and why expedient teachings need to be set aside. Since the earlier teachings were tailored to the limited capacity of the hearers, they could not hold all of the Buddha’s wisdom. In the Great Vehicle, the Buddha teaches us with his wisdom, and increases our capacity.

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

Day 24

Day 24 concludes Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma and closes the Sixth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having covered the merits of the nose and the tongue, it is time for the merits of the body.

Furthermore, Constant-Endeavor! The good men or women who keep, read, recite, expound or copy this sutra, will be able to obtain eight hundred merits of the body. Their bodies will become as pure as lapis lazuli. All living beings will wish to see them. Some of the living beings in the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds are just born or have just died. All living beings are either noble or humble. They are either handsome or ugly. They are destined to be reborn either in a better region or in a worse region. All of them will be reflected on the pure bodies [of the good men or women]. The Surrounding Iron Mountains, the Great Surrounding Iron Mountains, Mt. Meru, Mt. Maha-Meru, and the other great mountains, and the living beings in those mountains also will be reflected on their bodies. [All the six regions] down to the Avici Hell and up to the Highest Heaven and the living beings therein also will be reflected on their bodies. The Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas as well as the Buddhas who are expounding the Dharma, also will show their reflections on their bodies.

Thereupon the World-Honored One, wishing to repeat what he had said, sang in gathas:

Anyone who keeps
This Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Will be able to have his body purified like lapis lazuli
All living beings will wish to see him.

Just as a reflection is seen
In a clear mirror
All things in the world will be reflected
On the pure body of this [person, that is, of this] Bodhisattva.
No one but he
Will be able to see all things clearly.

The gods, men, asuras,
Hellish denizens,
Hungry spirits and animals,
That is, all living beings
Of the on thousand million Sumeru-world
Will be reflected on his body.

The palaces of the gods in the heavens
Up to the Highest Heaven,
The Surrounding iron Mountains,
Mt. Meru, Mt. Maha-Meru,
And the great oceans also
Will be reflected on his body.

The Buddhas, Sravakas, Bodhisattvas who are sons of the Buddhas
[That is, the saints] of whom some live a solitary life
While others are espounding the Dharma to the multitude, Also will be reflected on his body.

Although he has not yet obtained the wonderful body
[Of the Bodhisattva who knows] the nature of the Dharma-without-asravas,
He will be able to have all thes things
Reflected on his pure and natural body.

The Daily Dharma from Dec. 3, 2016, offers this:

Just as a reflection is seen
In a clear mirror,
All things in the world will be reflected
On the pure body of this [person, that is, of this] Bodhisattva.
No one but he
Will be able to see all things clearly.

The Buddha declares these lines to Constant-Endeavor Bodhisattva in Chapter Nineteen of the Lotus Sūtra, describing those who keep the Lotus Sūtra. When we encounter other beings in this world of conflict, we tend to filter our experience through our expectation. If it is a friend, we expect them to care about us and treat us well; an enemy, to harm us and treat us badly; a stranger, we compare them to other beings like them and expect them to be the same. When we use the Buddha Dharma to look for the complexity of all beings, and look for how we can bring out their ability to benefit and protect others, then we reflect back to them their true natures, rather than the clouds of their delusions.

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