Day 18

Day 18 concludes Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra, and begins Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices.

Having last month completed the second set of peaceful practices, we begin the third set:

“Again, Mañjuśrī! A Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas who wishes to keep, read and recite this sūtra in the latter days after [my extinction] when the teachings are about to be destroyed, should not nurse jealousy against others, or flatter or deceive them. He should not despise those who study the Way to Buddhahood in any way. He should not speak ill of them or try to point out their faults. Some bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās or upāsikās will seek Śrāvakahood or Pratyekabuddhahood or the Way of Bodhisattvas. He should not disturb or perplex them by saying to them, ‘You are far from enlightenment. You cannot obtain the knowledge of the equality and differences of all things because you are licentious and lazy in seeking enlightenment.’ He should not have fruitless disputes or quarrels about the teachings with others. He should have great compassion towards all living beings. He should look upon all the Tathāgatas as his loving fathers, and upon all the Bodhisattvas as his great teachers. He should bow to all the great Bodhisattvas of the worlds of the ten quarters respectfully and from the bottom of his heart. He should expound the Dharma to all living beings without partiality. He should be obedient to the Dharma. He should not add anything to the Dharma or take away anything from the Dharma. He should not expound more teachings to those who love the Dharma more [than others do].

“Mañjuśrī! A Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas who performs this third set of peaceful practices in the latter days after [my extinction] when the teachings are about to be destroyed, will be able to expound the Dharma without disturbance. He will be able to have good friends when he reads and recites this sūtra. A great multitude will come to him, hear and receive this sūtra from him, keep it after hearing it, recite it after keeping it, expound it after reciting it, copy it or cause others to copy it after expounding it, make offerings to the copy of this sūtra, honor it, respect it, and praise it.”

Daily Dharma from Dec. 6, 2016, offers this:

The Buddha gives this explanation to Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva in Chapter Fourteen of the Lotus Sūtra in which he describes the peaceful practices of a Bodhisattva. The third set of practices involves not despising those who practice the Wonderful Dharma in any way, or hindering their practice by telling them that they are lazy and can never become enlightened. Such treatment goes against the true nature we all share, and can only create conflict.

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

Compassionate Buddhists

In Mahayana Buddhism, compassion for others is considered to be just as important as attaining wisdom. In fact, wisdom and compassion are considered to be inseparable aspects of the Buddha’s awakening, like two sides of the same coin. Mahayana Buddhism insists that the Buddha’s true intention is for us to follow the way of the Bodhisattva, who voluntarily postpones his or her Nirvana in order to help all sentient beings achieve awakening.

Lotus Seeds

Daily Dharma – May 31, 2017

Whoever for as long as a kalpa,
With evil intent and flushed face,
Speaks ill of me,
Will incur immeasurable retributions. Whoever for even a moment
Reproaches those who read, recite and keep
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Will incur even more retributions.

The Buddha declares these lines to Medicine-King Bodhisattva in Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sūtra. Why is it worse to criticize someone who is even beginning to practice the Wonderful Dharma than it is to criticize the Buddha who is fully enlightened? It is like the difference between kicking a full-grown tree and kicking a young sapling. The Buddha knows how to handle criticism. One who has just started with the Buddha Dharma could be discouraged from this practice through criticism. We should encourage anyone who wants to practice with us.

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

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Having last month covered the story of Mañjuśrī’s students, we come to the 8-year-old daughter of the dragon king.

Mañjuśrī said, “In the sea I expounded only the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.”

Accumulated-Wisdom asked Mañjuśrī:

“The sūtra is exceedingly profound and wonderful. This is the treasure of all the sūtras. It is rare in the world. Do you know anyone who acted according to this sūtra so strenuously that he has already been qualified to become a Buddha quickly?”

Mañjuśrī answered:

“Yes. There is a daughter of Dragon-King Sagara [among those whom I taught]. She is eight years old. She is clever. She knows the karmas of all living beings. She obtained dhārāṇis. She keeps all the treasury of the profound and hidden core expounded by the Buddhas. She entered deep into dhyāna-concentration, and understood all teachings. She aspired for Bodhi in a ksana, and reached the stage of irrevocability. She is eloquent without hindrance. She is compassionate towards all living beings just as a mother is towards her babe. She obtained all merits. Her thoughts and words are wonderful and great. She is compassionate, humble, gentle and graceful. She [has already been qualified to] attain Bodhi[, and to become a Buddha quickly].”

The Daily Dharma from May 19, 2017, offers this:

The Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī gives this description in Chapter Twelve of the Lotus Sūtra. This is his response to the question of whether any of the beings in the sea whom he taught will become a Buddha quickly. Those hearing his answer did not expect that a woman, much less a girl, much less a nonhuman being such as a dragon could reach the same enlightenment as the Buddha. Mañjuśrī’s response shows that all beings have within us the capability of developing the qualities that allow us to see things as they are and benefit all beings.

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


The Two Vidyarajas

The two Vidyarajas represented on the Great Mandala – Achalanatha [Fudo Myo-o (Japanese) Immovable Lord Knowledge King] and Ragaraja [Aizen Myo-o (Japanese) Desire King Knowledge King], have also been viewed as the representatives of the teachings that “birth and death are themselves nirvana” (Japanese, shoji soku nehan) and “the afflictions are themselves enlightenment” (Japanese, bonno soku bodai) respectively. The first principle means that nirvana does not exist in another realm but is actually the true reality of this realm, the world of birth and death. The second principle means that enlightenment is not the eradication of the afflictions, like greed and anger, but their liberation and trans­formation, via the wholesome energy of the enlightened mind, into positive qualities like devotion and discernment.

Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon

Daily Dharma – May 30, 2017

Provisional teachings today are enemies of the True Dharma. If provisional teachings stand in your way as you try to spread the One Vehicle teaching of the Lotus Sutra, you should thoroughly refute them. Of the two ways of propagation, this is the aggressive way of the Lotus Sutra.

Nichiren wrote this passage in his Treatise on the True Way of Practicing the Teaching of the Buddha (Nyosetsu Shugyō-shō). We notice in this passage that his instruction is to refute the provisional teachings and not attack those who are attached to them. Even if those whose teachings we challenge become angry and violent, we can understand that we did not cause this reaction. This is one reason the Lotus Sūtra is so difficult. By keeping a mind of compassion we can maintain our respect for others even when we disagree with them. They too are going to become Buddhas, and we are benefiting them, even if they reject our help.

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

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stupa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard the Buddha’s request in gāthās for someone to step forward and protect and keep this sūtra, we come to the difficult and the easy tasks.

Many-Treasures Buddha vowed to go
About the worlds of the ten quarters,
Riding in the stūpa of treasures,
In order to hear this sūtra [directly from the expounder].

Anyone [who protects this sūtra] also
Should be considered to have already made offerings
To the Buddhas of my replicas, who have come here
And adorned the worlds with their light.

Anyone who expounds this sūtra
Will be able to see me,
To see Many-Treasures Tathāgata,
And to see the Buddhas of my replicas.

Good men! Think this over clearly!
It is difficult
[To expound this sūtra].
Make a great vow to do this!

It is not difficult
To expound all the other sūtras
As many as there are sands
In the River Ganges.

It is not difficult
To grasp Mt. Sumeru
And hurl it to a distance
Of countless Buddha-worlds.

It is not difficult to move [a world]
[Composed of] one thousand million Sumeru-worlds
With the tip of a toe
And hurl it to another world.

It is not difficult
To stand in the Highest Heaven
And expound innumerable other sūtras
To all living beings.

It is difficult
To expound this sūtra
In the evil world
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To grasp the sky,
And wander about with it
From place to place.

It is difficult
To copy and keep this sūtra
Or cause others to copy it
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To put the great earth
On the nail of a toe
And go up to the Heaven of Brahman.

It is difficult
To read this sūtra
Even for a while in the evil world
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To shoulder a load of hay
And stay unburned in the fire
At the end of the kalpa [of destruction].

It is difficult
To keep this sūtra
And expound it to even one person
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To keep the store
Of eighty-four thousand teachings
Expounded in the sūtras
Composed of the twelve elements,
And expound it to people,
And cause the hearers to obtain
The six supernatural powers.

It is difficult
To hear and receive this sūtra,
And ask the meanings of it
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To expound the Dharma
To many thousands of billions of living beings
As many as there are sands
In the River Ganges
So that they may be able
To obtain the benefits:
Arhatship and the six supernatural powers.

It is difficult
To keep
This sūtra
After my extinction.

Rev. Ryusho JeffusPhysicians Good Medicine offers this:

The Six Difficult things are: 1) Expound this Sutra, 2) Copy and keep this Sutra, 3) Read this Sutra, 4) To keep this Sutra and expound to even one person, 5) To hear and receive this Sutra, and 6) Keep this Sutra after the death of the Buddha. In other words it is extremely difficult to keep, read, recite, copy, and teach the Lotus Sutra in this age so far removed from the historical Buddha. These things are more difficult than “putting the great earth on the nail of a toe and go up to the Heaven of Brahman.”Physician's Good Medicine

Why We Chant

Chanting the Odaimoku in Nichiren Shu is done to become closer to the Buddha and Nichiren Shonin. We chant to grow in spirituality, faith, character, and in understanding. We chant so that we may develop an enlightened and pure quality of life, just as that of the Buddha himself. We strive to identify and eliminate within our own lives the negative forces and tendencies that wreck havoc on our happiness and of those around us, such as greed, anger, egocentrism, arrogance, jealousy, impatience, worry, a complaining nature, ignorance and others. These destructive elements only bring about suffering to ourselves and to all those around us.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Daily Dharma – May 29, 2017

The Buddha said to Universal-Sage Bodhisattva: “The good men or women will be able to obtain this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma after my extinction if they do the following four things: (1) secure the protection of the Buddhas, (2) plant the roots of virtue, (3) reach the stage of steadiness [in proceeding to enlightenment], and (4) resolve to save all living beings. The good men or women will be able to obtain this sūtra after my extinction if they do these four things.”

For us who aspire to this difficult practice of the Wonderful Dharma, the Buddha gives this guide in Chapter Twenty-Eight of the Lotus Sūtra. For us to have even heard of this sūtra in this life we must have already done these four things. In order to maintain this practice, we need to use the Buddha’s protection for the benefit of all beings, not just for our benefit alone. We need to nourish the virtuous seeds we have already planted, remain steady and confident on the path to enlightenment, and sustain our determination to maintain our respect for everyone.

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

Day 15

Day 15 concludes Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma, and opens Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures.

Having last month learned of the necessity of hearing the sūtra, we now hear the benefits of expounding the sūtra.

“Medicine-King! The Bodhisattvas who, having been surprised at hearing this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, doubt and fear it, know this, are beginners in Bodhisattvahood. The Śrāvakas who, having been surprised at hearing this sūtra, doubt and fear it, know this, are men of arrogance.

“Medicine-King! How should the good men or women who live after my extinction expound this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to the four kinds of devotees when they wish to? They should enter the room of the Tathāgata, wear the robe of the Tathāgata, sit on the seat of the Tathāgata, and then expound this sūtra to the four kinds of devotees. To enter the room of the Tathāgata means to have great compassion towards all living beings. To wear the robe of the Tathāgata means to be gentle and patient. To sit on the seat of the Tathāgata means to see the voidness of all things. They should do these [three] things and then without indolence expound this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to Bodhisattvas and the four kinds of devotees.

“Medicine-King! Although I shall be in another world [after my extinction], I will manifest men and women [by my supernatural powers], dispatch them [to the expounder of the Dharma], and have them collect people to hear the Dharma from him. I also will manifest monks, nuns and men or women of faith [by my supernatural powers], dispatch them, and have them hear the Dharma from them. These people manifested [by my supernatural powers] will hear the Dharma [from him], receive it by faith, follow it, and not oppose it. If he lives in a retired place, I will dispatch gods, dragons, demigods, gandharvas, asuras, and others to him, and have them hear the Dharma from him. Although I shall be in another world, l will cause him to see me from time to time. If he forgets a phrase of this sūtra, I will tell it to him for his complete [understanding].”

The Daily Dharma from Aug. 23, 2016, offers this:

To enter the room of the Tathāgata means to have great compassion towards all living beings. To wear the robe of the Tathāgata means to be gentle and patient. To sit on the seat of the Tathāgata means to see the voidness of all things. They should do these [three] things and then without indolence expound this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to Bodhisattvas and the four kinds of devotees.

The Buddha, the Tathāgata, gives this description to Medicine-King Bodhisattva in Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sūtra. When we awaken to our nature as Bodhisattvas and resolve to benefit other beings, we often find we do not know how to accomplish this. In the Lotus Sūtra, the Buddha gives instructions for reaching others and helping them let go of their delusions. By voidness the Buddha does not mean that nothing exists, rather that nothing has an inherent existence. Nobody is innately ignorant or innately wise. When we maintain our resolve to improve the world, maintain our patience and increase our capacities, and see the possibility of enlightenment for everyone, then are we truly living the Buddha’s teachings.

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