Day 16

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

Having last month heard the difficult and easy tasks, we conclude Chapter 11.

Since I attained
The enlightenment of the Buddha,
I have expounded many sūtras
In innumerable worlds.

This sūtra is
The most excellent.
To keep this sūtra
Is to keep me.

Good men!
Who will receive and keep this sūtra,
And read and recite it
After my extinction?
Make a vow before me
[To do all this]!

It is difficult to keep this sūtra.
I shall be glad to see
Anyone keeping it even for a moment.
So will all the other Buddhas.
He will be praised by all the Buddhas.
He will be a man of valor,
A man of endeavor.
He should be considered
To have already observed the precepts,
And practised the dhuta.
He will quickly attain
The unsurpassed enlightenment of the Buddha.

Anyone who reads and recites this sūtra in the future
Is a true son of mine.
He shall be considered to live
On the stage of purity and good.

Anyone, after my extinction,
Who understands the meaning of this sūtra,
Will be the eye of the worlds
Of gods and men.

Anyone who expounds this sūtra
Even for a moment in this dreadful world,
Should be honored with offerings
By all gods and men.

[Here ends] the Fourth Volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

The Daily Dharma from March 20, 2017, offers this:

It is difficult to keep this sūtra.
I shall be glad to see
Anyone keeping it even for a moment.
So will all the other Buddhas.

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Eleven of the Lotus Sūtra. He is well aware of how hard it is to move from expedient teachings to the Wonderful Dharma. We have habits and attachments built up over many lifetimes, and live in a world that does not always support our practice. Still, one cannot underestimate the importance of trying, even for the briefest amount of time, to hold on to this teaching and bring it to life in this world.

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

Three Seals of the Dharma

It is important to understand that the Mahayana sutras are not meant to be literal records of actual sermons by the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. Nevertheless, they are recognized by Mahayana Buddhists as the “word” of the Buddha. This is because they conform to the “Three Seals or the Dharma.” The Three Seals of the Dharma refer to impermanence, selflessness, and the perfect peace of Nirvana. Traditionally, these three seals summarize the core insight of Shakyamuni Buddha. Any teaching that is consistent with them can be considered an authentic teaching of the Buddha.

Lotus Seeds

Daily Dharma – June 30, 2017

Only you know that I [am qualified to] attain Bodhi
Because I heard [the Dharma].
I will expound the teachings of the Great Vehicle
And save all living beings from suffering.

These verses are sung to the Buddha by the six-year-old daughter of the dragon-king Sāgara in Chapter Twelve of the Lotus Sūtra. She appeared before the congregation when called by the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī from whom she had been taught the Wonderful Dharma of the Lotus Sūtra. Most of those gathered did not believe that such a young creature, much less a female, could reach the same enlightenment as the Buddha. But then before their eyes, she made all the transformations necessary and began to teach the Wonderful Dharma herself.

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 benefits of expounding the sūtra, I want to pause before continuing wit the gāthās and return this:

“Medicine-King! Suppose a man on a plateau felt thirsty and sought water. He dug a hole in order to get water. As long as he saw the dug-out lumps of earth were dry, he knew that water was still far off. He went on digging, and then found the dug-out lumps of earth wet. When he finally found mud, he was convinced that water was near. In the same manner, know this, the Bodhisattvas who have not yet heard, understood or practised this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, are still far from Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. [The Bodhisattvas] who hear, understand, think over and practice this sūtra, will approach Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. Why is that? It is because Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi which all the Bodhisattvas [should attain] is expounded only in this sūtra. This sūtra opens the gate of expedients and reveals the seal of the truth. The store of this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma is sound and deep. No one can reach its core. Now I show it to the Bodhisattvas in order to teach them and cause them to attain [Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi].

This simile of the thirsty man on a plateau has always puzzled me. I couldn’t see a way to apply this to my life. That is until today when it occurred to me that I was like the thirsty man on a plateau more than 28 years ago when, recently divorced, I felt a thirst for something spiritual that had been missing in my life. I dug in search of something to quench this thirst and eventually was introduced to Soka Gakkai. The ground was wet and for two decades I made do, extracting what water I could from the mud. Eventually I grew tired of the mud and decided to dig further, to explore more, to practice and study more. The effort led me to a clear spring of water within Nichiren Shu and the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma. Today I drink to my heart’s content.

Devadatta’s Instigation of a Schism in the Sangha

One of the most critical events in the life of the early Sangha was Devadatta’s instigation of a schism. Devadatta convinced 500 newly ordained monks to follow him instead of Shakyamuni Buddha. Out of compassion for those 500 monks, the Buddha sent Shariputra and Maudgalyayana to visit them. Devadatta was eager to have these two revered disciples join his group, so he invited them to join him and even to preach to the monks while he rested. Devadatta’s overconfidence was his undoing, however, for Shariputra and Maudgalyayana taught the true Dharma which the monks had not heard before. They were thereby convinced to return to the Sangha of Shakyamuni Buddha. Devadatta awakened to discover that all his followers had left him.

Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon

Daily Dharma – June 29, 2017

They will see the reality of all things.
Knowing the position [of this sūtra in the series of sūtras],
And the names and words [of this sūtra], according to the meanings of it,
They will expound [this sūtra] as they understand it.

The Buddha sings these verses to Constant-Endeavor Bodhisattva in Chapter Nineteen of the Lotus Sūtra, describing those who keep the Lotus Sūtra. In our practice of the Wonderful Dharma, we may be able to enjoy the circumstances of being able to spend lots of time studying the Lotus Sūtra and the guidance given by our leader in this age of degeneration, Nichiren Shonin. But even if we do not have that luxury of time, as long as we remember how the Lotus Sūtra uses expedients to lead all beings to enlightenment, that the goal of this sūtra is not just to end suffering, we can teach it using our own capacities, however limited those may be. Each word of the sūtra is an embodiment of the Buddha. When we share these words with others, we share the Buddha.

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

Day 14

Day 14 covers all of Chapter 9, The Assurance of Future Buddhahood of the Śrāvakas Who Have Something More to Learn and the Śrāvakas Who Have Nothing More to Learn, and opens Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month heard of Rāhula’s future, we hear the prediction for the two thousand Śrāvakas.

Thereupon the World-Honored One saw the two thousand Śrāvakas, of whom some had something more to learn while others had nothing more to learn. They were gentle, quiet and pure. They looked up at the Buddha with all their hearts.

The Buddha said to Ānanda, “Do you see these two thousand Śrāvakas, of whom some have something more to learn while others have nothing more to learn?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Ānanda! These people will make offerings to as many Buddhas, as many Tathāgatas, as the particles of dust of fifty worlds. They will respect those Buddhas, honor them, and protect the store of their teachings. They will finally go to the worlds of the ten quarters and become Buddhas at the same time. They will be equally called Treasure-Form, the Tathāgata, 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. They will live for a kalpa. They will be the same in regard to the adornments of their worlds, the number of the Śrāvakas and Bodhisattvas of their worlds, the duration of the preservation of their right teachings, and the duration of the preservation of the counterfeit of their right teachings.”

These Śrāvakas show that the Lotus Sutra leads all beings to the joy of enlightenment.

Bussho

In Nichiren Shu, the mantra of the Odaimoku is … considered a fundamental practice that facilitates transformation. The phrase Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is the heart of the Lotus Sutra and the Eternal Buddha’s enlightenment. Nichiren Shonin taught us that by chanting these enlightened words of the Buddha, we too are able to open the enlightenment that has slept within our lives since ages past, referred to in Buddhist terms as Bussho, or our Buddha-nature. Bussho can also be translated as the “life of the Buddha” within each and every one of us. Therefore, the more we chant, the closer we become to the Buddha and the more our own Buddha-nature begins to grow, develop and blossom in a very natural and day-to-day manner.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Daily Dharma – June 28, 2017

Do not doubt him even at a moment’s thought!
The Pure Saint World-Voice-Perceiver is reliable
When you suffer, and when you are confronted
With the calamity of death.

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Twenty-Five of the Lotus Sūtra. The calamity of death is something we all will face eventually, whether it our own or that of those we love. The other calamities in our lives are relatively minor losses which can prepare us for this great calamity. The Bodhisattva World-Voice-Perceiver is the embodiment of Compassion: the desire to benefit all beings. When we learn to use all of the suffering in our lives, especially the calamity of death, as a way to remove our delusions and benefit others, then we can see the world with the eyes of the Buddha and know the joy he declares is at the core of our being.

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

Day 13

Day 13 covers all of Chapter 8, The Assurance of Future Buddhahood of the Five Hundred Disciples.

Having last month heard the Parable of the Priceless Gem in prose, we finish the chapter in gāthās.

Thereupon Ājñāta-Kauṇḍinya and the others, wishing to repeat what they had said, sang in gāthās:

Your assurance of our future Buddhahood
Gives us unsurpassed peace.
Hearing your voice, we have the greatest joy that we have ever had.
We bow to you, to the Buddha of Immeasurable Wisdom.

Now in your presence,
We reproach ourselves for our faults.
The Nirvāṇa we attained was
Only part of the immeasurable treasures of yours.
We were like a foolish man with no wisdom.
We satisfied ourselves with what little we had attained.

Suppose a poor man visited
His good friend, who was very rich.
The friend feasted him
With delicacies.

He fastened a priceless gem
Inside the garment of the man as a gift to him,
And went out without leaving a word.
The sleeping man did not notice [the gift].

The man woke up, and went to another country.
He worked to get food and clothing.
He had much difficulty
In earning his livelihood.

He satisfied himself with what little he earned.
He did not wish to get anything more.
He did not notice the priceless gem
Fastened inside his garment.

The good friend who gave the gem to the poor man
Happened to see him later.
He blamed him severely,
And showed him the gem fastened [inside the garment].

Seeing the gem,
The poor man had great joy.
Now he satisfied his five desires
With many treasures.

We are like the poor man.
In the long night you taught us
Out of your compassion towards us,
And caused us to aspire for unsurpassed [enlightenment].

Because we had no wisdom, we did not notice that.
The Nirvāṇa we attained was only part [of your wisdom].
Satisfying ourselves with it,
We did not wish to attain anything more.

Now you have awakened us, saying:
“What you attained was not true extinction.
When you have the unsurpassed wisdom of the Buddha,
You will attain true extinction.”

Hearing from you that we are assured
Of becoming Buddhas one after another,
And that our worlds will be adorned,
We are joyful in body and mind.

The Daily Dharma from May 21, 2016, offers his:

He satisfied himself with what little he earned.
He did not wish to get anything more.
He did not notice the priceless gem
Fastened inside his garment.

These verses are part of a story told by Ājñāta-Kauṇḍinya and other disciples in Chapter Eight of the Lotus Sūtra. It is about a man whose friend gives him a jewel while he is asleep. Not realizing he has this treasure, the man returns to his ordinary life, desperate to make a living and satisfy his ordinary desires. The story shows how we live when we forget about the jewel of Buddha nature we carry with us.

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