Day 22

Day 22 covers all of Chapter 17, The Variety of Merits.

Having last month finished Chapter 17, it’s time to begin again with
The Variety of Merits.

Thereupon the innumerable, asamkhya living beings in the great congregation, who had heard from the Buddha that the duration of his life was so many kalpas as previously stated, obtained great benefits.

At that time the World-Honored One said to Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahasattva:

Ajita! When I said that the duration of my life was so long, six hundred and eighty billion nayuta living beings, that is, the living beings as many as there are sands in the River Ganges, obtained the truth of birthlessness. Bodhisattva-mahasattvas numbering one thousand times the number of these living beings obtained the dharanis by which they could memorize all that they had heard. Bodhisattva-mahasattvas as many as the particles of earth of a Sumeru-world obtained eloquence without hindrance. Another group of Bodhisattva-mahasattvas as many as the particles of earth of a Sumeru world obtained the dharanis by which they could memorize many hundreds of thousands of billions of repetitions of teachings. Bodhisattva-mahasattvas as many as the particles of earth of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds obtained the faculty of turning the irrevocable wheel of the Dharma. Bodhisattva-mahasaltvas as many as the particles of earth of one million Sumeru-worlds obtained the faculty of turning the wheel of the pure Dharma. Bodhisattva-mahasattvas as many as the particles of earth of one thousand Sumeru-worlds obtained the faculty of attaining Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi after eight rebirths. Bodhisattva-mahasattvas four times the number of the particles of earth of the four continents obtained the faculty of attaining Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi after four rebirths. Bodhisattva­-mahasattvas three times the number of the particles of earth of the four continents obtained the faculty of attaining Anuttara-samyak-­sambodhi after three rebirths. Bodhisattva-mahasattvas twice the number of the particles of earth of the four continents obtained the faculty of attaining Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi after two rebirths. Bodhisattva-mahasattvas as many as the particles of earth of the four continents obtained the faculty of attaining Anuttara-samyak­-sambodhi immediately after this life. Living beings as many as the particles of earth of eight Sumeru-worlds aspired for Anuttara-­samyak-sambodhi.

When the Buddha said that these Bodhisattva-mahasattvas had obtained the great benefits of the Dharma, [the gods] in heaven rained mandarava-flowers and maha-mandarava-flowers on the many hundreds of thousands of billions of Buddhas sitting on the lion-like seats under the jeweled trees. They also rained those flowers on [the two Buddhas:] Many-Treasures Tathagata, who had passed away a long time ago, and Sakyamuni Buddha, both of whom were sitting on the lion-like seat in the stupa of the seven treasures. They also rained those flowers on the great Bodhisattvas’ and the four kinds of devotees. They also rained the fine powder of the incense of candana and aloes [on them). Heavenly drums automatically sounded wonderful and deep in the sky. [The gods] also rained thousands of heavenly garments and hung many necklaces made of pearls, mani gems or free-at-will gems over the nine quarters. They also burned priceless incense which was put in incense-burners of many treasures. The incense-burners automatically went around the great congregation, and the odor of the incense was offered to all the members of the congregation. Above each of the Buddhas [sitting under the trees], Bodhisattvas lined up vertically one upon another to the Heaven of Brahman, holding canopies and streamers. They praised the Buddhas, singing innumerable verses with their wonderful voices.

Someday I want to try to illustrate Bodhisattvas lined up vertically one upon another to the Heaven of Brahman, holding canopies and streamers.

Mutually Inherent Cause and Effect

In Buddhism, the lotus flower and its simultaneous seed pods, symbolically demonstrate the cause of the plant (the seed) and the end result (its flower). In Buddhist terminology, this relationship is called Inga Guji – both cause and effect are mutually possessed. This principle of mutually inherent cause and effect is one of the most important concepts and principles of Buddhist philosophy, especially in regards to our inherent Buddha potential and manifesting enlightenment within our own life.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Daily Dharma – Feb. 28, 2017

World-Honored One! Now we see that we are Bodhisattvas in reality, and that we are assured of our future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. Therefore, we have the greatest joy that we have ever had.

Ājñāta-Kauṇḍinya and the others gathered to hear the Buddha teach make this declaration in Chapter Eight of the Lotus Sūtra. He and the others thought that their existence was merely to hear and preserve what the Buddha taught them, and to transmit it to others. They believed they were incapable of becoming as enlightened as the Buddha, because the Buddha’s earlier teachings had only led them so far. With the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha reminds all of us of our decision to come to this world of conflict to benefit all beings. He awakens us to our capacity to see the world with his eyes and experience the joy of reality.

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

Day 21

Day 21 covers all of Chapter 16, The Duration of the Life of the Tathāgata.

Having last month considered how old is really, really old, we come to the expedients of the Eternal Buddha.

Good men! During this time I gave various names to myself, for instance, the Burning-Light Buddha. I also said, ‘That Buddha entered into Nirvana.’ I did all these things only as expedients.

Good men! When some people came to me, I saw the strength of the power of their faith and of the other faculties of theirs with the eyes of the Buddha. Then I named myself differently, and told them of the duration of my life differently, according to their capacities. I also said to them, ‘I shall enter into Nirvana.’ I expounded the Wonderful Dharma with these various expedients, and caused the living beings to rejoice.

Good men! When I saw that some people of little virtue and of much defilement were seeking the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle, I told them, ‘I renounced my family when I was young, and attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi [forty and odd years ago].’ In reality I became the Buddha in the remotest past as I previously stated. I told them this as an expedient to teach them, to lead them into the Way to Buddhahood.

Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon offers a view on this:

This view of Shakyamuni Buddha, specifically in the sixteenth chapter of the Lotus Sutra [as the original and eternal Buddha], is the key to the true nature of enlightenment according to Nichiren Buddhism.

Shinjo Suguro explains that the original and eternal Shakyamuni Buddha provides Buddhism with a united faith:

“In Buddhism, various Buddhas have been established as objects of devotion for different pious believers. Since each Buddha has a good reason for being venerated, Buddhism permits us to worship any or all of them. Nevertheless, the Most-Venerable-One should be One, just as the Truth is One. The second half of the Lotus Sutra (Hammon) emphasizes such a Buddhist position regarding the unity of faith. As the object of faith is absolute, it must relate to the realm of eternity. Generally we think of Shakyamuni as a historical figure, bound by the limitations of time and space, and only a provisional manifestation of the infinite, eternal Buddha. According to the Lotus Sutra, however, every Buddha, including the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, is a representation of the eternal original being of Shakyamuni.”
Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon

The Ideal Aim of Buddhist Perfection

Thus the whole realm of existence is nothing but a stage of “mutual participation” of beings and their conditions, a grand harmony of all possible instruments glorifying in unison the fundamental oneness of existence.

In the light of this world-view, the ideal aim of Buddhist perfection consists in the full realization, on the part of every one, of the Buddha-nature, or in the participation of our life in Buddha’s purpose and work. For Buddha-nature is universally and primordially inherent even in existences of the utmost viciousness, and all of them can be elevated to Buddhahood. Indeed, mankind stands midway between Buddha, the Supreme Enlightened, and the most degraded infernal being, and, therefore, has the possibility of advancing further on the way to Buddhahood or of descending to the beasts or to the nethermost purgatories or hells. Hence the task of man consists in comprehending the truth of the all-pervading Buddha-nature and of mutual participation working throughout the realms of existence, especially the truth of the interaction and interdependence of different beings and their qualities, functions, and so on.

History of Japanese Religion

Daily Dharma – Feb. 27, 2017

I am always thinking:
“How shall I cause all living beings
To enter into the unsurpassed Way
And quickly become Buddhas?”

The Buddha sings these verses at the end of Chapter Sixteen of the Lotus Sūtra. In this chapter he revealed his existence as the Buddha who lives throughout time and space rather than in the limited human body in which we recognize him. When we realize that all the moments of our lives, all the joys and grief we face, all the people and other beings we encounter are in truth the Buddha leading us towards his own enlightenment, we see the Buddha in his true form, and we see the world for what it is.

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

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month begun to review Maitreya Bodhisattva’s doubts in gathas, we come to the confusion of grey-haired sons and young fathers.

Suppose a man twenty-five years old
Points to grey-haired and wrinkle-faced men
A hundred years old,
And says, ‘They are my sons.’
Suppose old men point to a young man
And say, ‘He is our father.’
No one in tbe world will believe
That a father is younger than his sons.

You are like the father.
You attained enlightenment quite recently.
These Bodhisattvas are resolute in mind.
They are not timid.
They have practiced the Way of Bodhisattvas
For the past innumerable kalpas.

They are good at answering difficult questions.
They are fearless and patient.
They are handsome, powerful and virtuous.
They are praised by the Buddhas
Of the worlds of the ten quarters.
They expound [the Dharma] clearly.

They did not wish to live among men.
They preferred dwelling in dhyana-concentration.
They lived in the sky below
In order to attain the enlightenment of the Buddha.

The Daily Dharma from Sept. 24, 2016, offers this:

World-Honored One! It is difficult for anyone in the world to believe this. It is as difficult as to believe a handsome, black-haired man twenty-five years old who points to men a hundred years old and says, ‘They are my sons,’ or as to believe men a hundred years old who point to a young man and say, ‘This is our father. He brought us up.’

Maitreya Bodhisattva explains his perplexity to the Buddha in Chapter Fifteen of the Lotus Sūtra. The Buddha has just revealed that all of the Bodhisattvas who have appeared from underground to continue teaching the Wonderful Dharma after the extinction of the Buddha have been taught by the Buddha in the time since he became enlightened. Maitreya realizes that his doubts are no different from the doubts of those gathered to hear the Buddha teach and asks the Buddha to explain. The Buddha says later that he sees the world differently than other living beings. But this does not mean that when our experience does not match what the Buddha teaches, we must keep silence and just accept what he tells us. It is only through sincere questioning that we find the Buddha’s mind and make it our own.

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

The Gem Resident Inside Us

Enlightenment is the only indestructible condition of life, the gem resident inside us that allows us to exist in a constant state of happiness free from the illusions of suffering, and the illusions of birth and death.

Lotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra Volume 1

Daily Dharma – Feb. 26, 2017

Ignorant people will speak ill of us,
Abuse us, and threaten us
With swords or sticks.
But we will endure all this.

Medicine-King Bodhisattva and Great-Eloquence Bodhisattva, along with their attendants, declare these verses to the Buddha in Chapter Thirteen of the Lotus Sūtra. The Buddha had asked previously who would teach the Lotus Sūtra after the Buddha’s death. These Bodhisattvas realize the difficulty of teaching and keeping this sūtra. They know that some who come to hear the Buddha Dharma are strongly attached to their anger. These Bodhisattvas vow to look beyond the violence and suffering of these people and promise to lead even them to enlightenment.

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

Day 19

Day 19 concludes Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices, and begins Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground.

Having last month wonderful things in a dream, it’s time to resolve who will be responsible for protecting, keeping, reading, reciting and copying this sutra

Thereupon the Bodhisattva-mahasattvas, more than eight times the number of the sands of the River Ganges, who had come from the other worlds, rose from among the great multitude, joined their hands together towards the Buddha, bowed to him, and said:

World-Honored One! If you permit us to protect, keep, read, recite and copy this sutra, and make offerings to it strenuously in this Saha-World after your extinction, we will [do so, and] expound it in this world.

Thereupon the Buddha said to those Bodhisattva-mahasattvas:

No, good men! I do not want you to protect or keep this sutra because there are Bodhisattva-mahasattvas sixty thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges in this Saha-World. They are each accompanied by attendants also numbering sixty thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges. They will protect, keep, read, recite and expound this sutra after my extinction.

The Daily Dharma from July 29, 2016, offers this:

The Buddha makes this declaration to the uncountable number of Bodhisattvas who came from other worlds to hear him teach in Chapter Fifteen of the Lotus Sūtra. These Bodhisattvas had responded to the Buddha’s question of who would keep and expound the Buddha’s highest teaching after his death. They promised that they would remain in this world of conflict and fulfill the Buddha’s request. After the Buddha spoke these words, an unimaginable number of Bodhisattvas came up from underground and paid their respects to the Buddha. We can understand this story, and this image, as showing that our capacity for enlightenment, and our ability to benefit all beings, is already within us. We do not need an outside agent to give these to us.

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