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 task of transmitting the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to the Bodhisattvas who sprang up from underground, it’s time to discuss The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Thereupon Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva said to the Buddha:

World-Honored One! Why does Medicine-King Bodhisattva walk about this Saha-World? World-Honored One! This Medicine­King Bodhisattva will have to practice hundreds of thousands of billions of nayutas of austerities in this world. World-Honored One! Tell me why! Not only the gods, dragons, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kirnnaras, mahoragas, men and nonhuman beings but also the Bodhisattvas who have come from the other worlds and the Sravakas present here will be glad to hear the reason.

Before proceeding I want to underscore the purpose in discussing Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva austerities, I want to over this overview from Rev. Ryusho Jeffus’ Lecture on the Lotus Sutra:

In Chapter 23, the Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva, the Buddha tells Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva that there is no suffering that cannot be overcome through the practice of the Lotus Sutra. Just as a man who is thirsty is able to quench that thirst when he reaches a pond, so too can we overcome any tribulation. It is here that the Buddha talks about a torch dispelling darkness as well as eliminating the sufferings from diseases and breaking the bonds of birth and death.

When I am working in the hospital as a chaplain I carry an amulet that I dedicated solely for the purpose of healing for all the sick patients I visit. On that amulet I have the phrase “this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma saves all living beings from all sufferings, from all diseases.” It is my ongoing prayer for the health of all the people I visit in the hospital as well as the physicians and nurses who administer care to those patients.
Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Eightfold path

Right View is fully understanding life as revealed by the Four Noble Truths.

Right Intention is thinking clearly without the distortion of greed, hatred, or delusion. We are sincere and do not harbor ulterior motives.

Right Speech is the avoidance of deceit, gossip, slander, and other forms of verbal abuse and dishonesty. Instead, we speak only to benefit others and to reveal the truth.

Right Action is conducting oneself in an ethical manner and acting to benefit others. We refrain from killing, stealing, sexual deception or exploitation, and other activities harmful to ourselves and to others.

Right Livelihood is making a living without harming or exploiting others. Right livelihood precludes such activities as dealing in armaments, drug dealing, fraud, insider trading and any other means of living that involves the exploitation or harming of others. In other words, our work should be in accord with the rest of the Eightfold Path.

Right Effort is making every effort to develop good habits while curbing our bad habits.

Right Mindfulness is developing an ongoing awareness of all aspects of our life, including our physical condition and actions, our feelings, moods, ideas, our general enviroument, and our relations with others. Through such careful attention we are able to see more deeply into the true nature of our lives.

Right Concentration is making every effort to develop our Buddhist practice in order to acquire tranquility, insight into the true nature of life, and liberation from false views.

Lotus Seeds

Daily Dharma – Jan. 31, 2017

You have a grandson, Lord Jibu, who is a Buddhist priest. This priest is neither an upholder of precepts nor especially rich in wisdom. He neither observes even one of the 250 precepts nor maintains even one of the 3000 solemn rules of conduct. In wisdom he is like a horse or a cow while in dignity he is like a monkey. Nevertheless, what he reveres is Śākyamuni Buddha and what he believes in is the Lotus Sutra. This like a snake holding a gem or a dragon gratefully holding the relics of the Buddha in Dharma Body.

Nichiren wrote this passage in his Treatise on the Ullambana Service (Urabon Gosho) written to the Grandmother of Lord Jibu. While it may seem to us that Nichiren is criticizing Lord Jibu, he is praising the young man in the highest terms. Our ability to use the Wonderful Dharma to benefit others does not depend on our skill, dedication or wisdom. It depends only on our devotion to the Ever-Present Buddha Śākyamuni, and our confidence and faith in the Lotus Sūtra.

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 introduced Powerful­-Voice-King Buddha, we meet Never-Despising Bodhisattva.

There lived arrogant bhisus in the age of the counterfeit of the right teachings of the first Powerful-Voice-King Tathagata, that is, after the end of the age of his right teachings which had come immediately after his extinction. [Those arrogant bhiksus] were powerful. At that time there lived a Bodhisattva called Never­Despising. He took the form of a bhiksu.

Great-Power-Obtainer! Why was this bhiksu called Never­Despising? It was because, every time he saw bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas or upasikas, he bowed to them and praised them, saying, ‘I respect you deeply. I do not despise you. Why is that? lt is because you will be able to practice the Way of Bodhisattvas and become Buddhas.’

He did not read or recite sutras. He only bowed to the four kinds of devotees. When he saw them in the distance, he went to them on purpose, bowed to them, and praised them, saying, ‘I do not despise you because you can become Buddhas.’

A quote from Lotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra Volume 1, underlines the importance of Never-Despising Bodhisattva, who took the form of a bhiksu:

The Buddha, in a previous life as Never-Despising Bodhisattva, is frequently used as an inspiration for how we honor the lives of all beings, bowing to the Buddha in each life. Yet, this Bodhisattva also is an inspiration for the courage to practice in less than ideal circumstances.
Lotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra Volume 1

All the Buddhas of Past, Present, and Future

The Great Mandala shows all the sentient beings of the ten worlds illuminated by the Odaimoku. The buddhas of past, present, and future are included in this. Shakyamuni Buddha represents the Buddhas of the present, while Many Treasures Tathagata represents all the Buddhas of the past, and the sentient beings of the other nine worlds are the Buddhas of the future. This shows that all the Buddhas of past, present, and future are unified with the Odaimoku.

Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon

Daily Dharma – Jan. 30, 2017

I see all living beings equally.
I have no partiality for them.
There is not ‘this one’ or ‘that one’ to me.
I transcend love and hatred.

The Buddha makes this declaration in Chapter Five of the Lotus Sūtra. He compares himself to a rain shower that waters all plants equally. He uses this example to show us how we should approach all living beings. Our respect for them and wish that they become enlightened cannot depend on whatever personal feelings we have towards them.

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

New Year Party

20170129 service

Sunday’s service at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church included memorial prayers for deceased members of the church. The memorial tablet on the altar is for the church members.

Ven. Kenjo Igarashi offered another version of his lecture on the “suffering world” and the need to practice the Lotus Sutra and study. Last week he paired the Four Noble Truths with the Parable of the Magic City. This time around, he used the Parable of the Skillful Physician and His Sick Children to remind everyone of the medicine left for the people in the “suffering world.”

The quote today from Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo fits in well here:

By embracing the faith and practice of Myoho Renge Kyo, we can revitalize our lives. In other words, regardless of the state of life in which we find ourselves at any given moment, through faith and practice we can transform any life condition (no matter how negative) into enlightenment. In this way, we can develop wisdom and a life that is no longer a slave to pain, delusion and suffering.
Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Following the service was the annual New Year luncheon for members and those nonmembers who have helped the church in the past year.

Ven. Kenjo Igarashi pours tea during the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church annual New Year luncheon.

It was on this last service of January in 2015 that I first attended a Nichiren Shu service. This year I brought my wife along and we sat with another couple who are new members.

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 body, we come to the merits of the mind.

Furthermore, Constant-Endeavor! The good men or women who keep, read, recite expound or copy this sutra after my extinction, will be able to obtain twelve hundred merits of the mind. When they hear even a gatha or a phrase [of this sutra] with their pure minds, the will be able to understand the innumerable meanings [of this sutra]. When they understand the meanings [of this sutra] and expound even a phrase or a gatha [of this sutra] for a month, four months, or a year, their teachings will be consistent with the meanings [of this sutra], and not against the reality of all things. When they expound the scriptures of non-Buddhist schools, or give advice to the government, or teach the way to earn a livelihood, they will be able to be in accord with the right teachings of the Buddha. They will be able to know all the thoughts, deeds, and words, however meaningless, of the living beings of the on thousand million Sumeru-worlds each of which is composed of the six regions. Although they have not yet obtained the wisdom-without-asravas, they will be able to have their minds purified as previously stated. Whatever they think, measure or say will be all true, and consistent not only with my teachjngs but also with the teachings that the past Buddhas have already expounded in their sutras.

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

When they expound the scriptures of non-Buddhist schools, or give advice to the government, or teach the way to earn a livelihood, they will be able to be in accord with the right teachings of the Buddha.

The Buddha gives this explanation to Constant-Endeavor Bodhisattva in Chapter Nineteen of the Lotus Sūtra, describing those who keep the Lotus Sūtra. In this chapter, the Buddha shows that our practice of this Wonderful Dharma is not separate from our existence in this world. The purpose of the Buddha’s wisdom is not to escape to a better life, but to see our lives for what they are, and to use that clarity for the benefit of all beings.

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

Next month the final gathas.

Ending Slavery to Pain, Delusion and Suffering

By embracing the faith and practice of Myoho Renge Kyo, we can revitalize our lives. In other words, regardless of the state of life in which we find ourselves at any given moment, through faith and practice we can transform any life condition (no matter how negative) into enlightenment. In this way, we can develop wisdom and a life that is no longer a slave to pain, delusion and suffering.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Daily Dharma – Jan. 29, 2017

He should expound the Dharma to them,
Wishing only two things:
To attain the enlightenment of the Buddha
And also to cause them to do the same.
This is a peaceful offering to them.
This offering will bring them a great benefit.

The Buddha sings these verses to Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva in Chapter Fourteen of the Lotus Sūtra. In our desire to benefit others, we often have expectations for how they should change in response to what we give them. The Buddha reminds us to abandon these expectations. People will make changes and progress towards enlightenment based on their own capacities rather than what we want for them. When we stay focused on the goal of awakening, both for ourselves and others, then we can keep the perspective of the Buddha and see things for what they are.

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