Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month witnessed how the sixteen śramaṇeras practiced the Way to Buddhahood and taught the Dharma, we consider the dangerous road to the place of treasures.

Suppose there was a bad and dangerous road.
Many wild animals lived in the neighborhood.
No man was there; no water nor grass there.
The road was so fearful.

Many tens of millions of people
Wished to pass through this dangerous road.
The road was very long.
It was five hundred yojanas long.

The people had a leader.
He had a good memory.
He was wise and resolute in mind.
He could save people from dangers.

Getting tired,
The people said to him:
“We are tired.
We wish to go back.”

He thought:
‘How pitiful they are!
Why do they wish to return
Without getting great treasures?’

Thinking of an expedient, he said to himself:
‘I will use my supernatural powers.’
He made a great city by magic,
And adorned it with houses.

The city was surrounded by gardens, forests,
And by ponds and pools for bathing.
Many-storied gates and tall buildings [in that city]
Were filled with men and women.

Having made all this by magic,
He consoled the people, saying:
“Do not be afraid! Enter that city!
And do anything you like!”

They entered that city,
And had great joy.
They felt peaceful,
And thought that they had already passed [through the road].

Seeing that they had already had a rest,
The leader collected them, and said:
“Go on ahead now! This is a magic city.
You were tired out halfway.
You wished to go back.
Therefore, I made this city by magic As an expedient.
Make efforts!
Let us go to the place of treasures!”


Teaching Through Example

Transmitting Buddhist faith is just like telling your children the experiences you’ve had throughout your life, along with your idea of faith. It is a natural thing, just as one usually teaches one’s children at home. On the other hand your faith will be tested, because any discipline you give your children does not carry good fruits without action. Teaching faith without action does not communicate any emotion, and others will not adopt a new faith. In order to transmit your faith to your children or others, you must show a good example for them through your actions if they are to have faith.

Spring Writings

Daily Dharma – Sept. 30, 2017

Make offerings to World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva with all your hearts! This World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva-mahāsattva gives fearlessness [to those who are] in fearful emergencies. Therefore, he is called the ‘Giver of Fearlessness’ in this Sahā-World.

The Buddha gives this description of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva (Kannon, Kanzeon, Avalokitesvara) to Endless-Intent Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty-Five of the Lotus Sūtra. World-Voice-Perceiver is the embodiment of compassion. When we make offerings to compassion, we show how much we value it. In this world of conflict, we are taught to value aggression and violence rather than compassion. Those who do not dominate others are judged as targets for domination. If we clear away the delusion of our self-importance, and see other beings as worthy of happiness just as we are, we find ways for everyone to benefit together.

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

Day 11

Day 11 continues Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City

Having last month witnessed five hundred billion Buddha-worlds in each of the ten quarters quake in the six ways, we hear from the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion worlds in the east.

“The palaces of the Brahman-heavenly[-kings] of the five hundred billion worlds in the east were illumined twice as brightly as ever. The Brahman-heavenly-kings [of those worlds] each thought, ‘My palace has never been illumined so brightly before. Why is that?’ They visited each other and discussed the reason. There was a great Brahman-heavenly-king called All-Saving among them. He said to the other Brahmans in gāthās:

Why are our palaces illumined
More brightly than ever?
Let us find [the place]
[From where this light has come].
Did a god of great virtue or a Buddha
Appear somewhere in the universe?
This great light illumines
The worlds of the ten quarters.

“Thereupon the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion worlds went to the west, carrying flower-plates filled with heavenly flowers, in order to find [the place from where the light had come]. Their palaces also moved as they went. They [reached the Well-Composed World and] saw that Great­Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata was sitting on the lion­like seat under the Bodhi-tree at the place of enlightenment, surrounded respectfully by gods, dragon-kings, gandharvas, kiṃnaras, mahoragas, men and nonhuman beings. They also saw that the sixteen princes were begging the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma. Thereupon the Brahman-heavenly­kings worshipped the Buddha with their heads, walked around him a hundred thousand times, and strewed heavenly flowers to him. The strewn flowers were heaped up to the height of Mt. Sumeru. The Brahman-heavenly-kings offered flowers also to the ten-yojana-tall Bodhi-tree of the Buddha. Having offered flowers, they offered their palaces to the Buddha, saying, ‘We offer these palaces to you. Receive them and benefit us out of your compassion towards us!’ In the presence of the Buddha, they simultaneously praised him in gāthās with all their hearts:

You, the World-Honored One, are exceptional.
It is difficult to meet you.
You have innumerable merits.
You are saving all living beings.

As the great teacher of gods and men,
You are benefiting all living beings
Of the worlds of the ten quarters
Out of your compassion towards them.

We have come here from five hundred billion worlds.
We gave up the pleasure
Of deep dhyāna-concentration
Because we wished to make offerings to you.
Our palaces are beautifully adorned
Because we accumulated merits in our previous existence.
We offer [these palaces] to you.
Receive them out of your compassion towards us!

“Thereupon the Brahman-heavenly-kings, having praised the Buddha with these gāthās, said, ‘World-Honored One! Turn the wheel of the Dharma and save all living beings! Open the Way to Nirvāṇa!’ They simultaneously said in a gāthā with all their hearts:

Hero of the World,
Most Honorable Biped!
Expound the Dharma!
Save the suffering beings
By the power of your great compassion!

The Daily Dharma from April 22, 2017, offers this:

Did a god of great virtue or a Buddha
Appear somewhere in the universe?
This great light illumines
The worlds of the ten quarters.

The Brahma Heavenly Kings of the East sing these verses as part of a story the Buddha tells in Chapter Seven of the Lotus Sūtra. Long ago there was another Buddha named Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence. When he became enlightened, the entire universe was illuminated. Beings who had never seen each other could recognize each other clearly. We can see this story as a metaphor for what happens when the Buddha’s wisdom comes into our lives. We leave the darkness of our ego attachment and come into the light of the world as it is.

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

Preparing for the Lotus Sutra

The Buddha is saying in the Simile of Herbs that all along – even as he was teaching appropriate to Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas – he was in essence teaching in a way that was preparing for the Lotus Sutra. These initial teachings are all part of the Lotus Sutra. That is why it is important that people not come to a conclusion that the Lotus Sutra replaces or does away with the previous teachings of the Buddha. We have to think of the teachings as being on a continuum that is leading to the ultimate truth revealed by the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra.

The Buddha all along was teaching the same Dharma but he did so according to the capacity of the people he was teaching.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – Sept. 29, 2017

Mañjuśrī! A Bodhisattva-mahāsattva who keeps this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in the latter days after [my extinction] when the teachings are about to be destroyed, should have great loving-kindness towards laymen and monks, and great compassion towards those who are not Bodhisattvas. He should think: ‘They do not know that the Tathāgata expounded expedient teachings according to the capacities of all living beings. They do not hear, know or notice it, or ask a question about it or believe or understand it. Although they do not ask a question about this sūtra, or believe or understand it, I will lead them and cause them, wherever they may be, to understand the Dharma by my supernatural powers and by the power of my wisdom when I attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.

The Buddha gives this explanation to Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva in Chapter Fourteen of the Lotus Sūtra. Until we reach enlightenment, we may not be able to reach all beings. Rather than blaming them for not having the capacity to learn from us, or blaming ourselves for not being skillful enough to reach them, the Buddha reminds us to be patient and realize there is no hurry to being free from our delusions.

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

Day 10

Day 10 concludes Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood, and opens Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

Having last month completed the prediction of future Buddhahood for Great Maudgalyāyana and concluded Chapter 6, we begin Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

The Buddha said to the Bhikṣus:

“A countless, limitless, inconceivable, asaṃkhya number of kalpas ago, there lived a Buddha called Great-Universal-Wisdom­-Excellence, 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. His world was called Well-Composed; and the kalpa in which he became that Buddha, Great-Form.

“Bhikṣus! It is a very long time since that Buddha passed away. Suppose someone smashed all the earth-particles of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds into ink-powder. Then he went to the east[, carrying the ink-powder with him]. He inked a dot as large as a particle of dust [with that ink-powder] on the world at a distance of one thousand worlds from his world. Then he went again and repeated the inking of a dot on the world at every distance of one thousand worlds until the ink-powder was exhausted. What do you think of this? Do you think that any mathematician or any disciple of a mathematician could count the number of the worlds [he went through]?”

“No, we do not, World-Honored One!”

“Bhikṣus! Now all the worlds he went through, whether they were inked or not, were smashed into dust. The number of the kalpas which have elapsed since that Buddha passed away is many hundreds of thousands of billions of asaṃkhyas larger than the number of the particles of the dust thus produced. Yet I remember [the extinction of] that Buddha by my power of insight as vividly as if he had passed away today.”

Of all the powers of the Buddha, his power of insight that allows him to remember details as if the events occurred today is truly supernatural. This whole website seeks to cover my failing memory with tools for recollecting what I once knew.

The Perfection of Discipline

Of the Six Perfections – generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom – the perfection of discipline means to live in accord with the precepts. As we have seen, the Five Precepts are: to not kill, to not steal, to not be involved in sexual misconduct, to not speak falsely, and to not use intoxicants that cloud the mind. Buddhism recognizes that until we are awakened it is very difficult to live in full accord with the precepts. It is difficult because the precepts are actually a description of awakened conduct. So as our practice enables us to receive the merits of the Buddha’s awakening, it also enables us to become loving, generous, faithful, truthful, and mindful. Until we are fully awakened, however, the precepts act as guidelines that keep our practice honest and point out how to avoid harming ourselves and others. They are tools for self-reflection and can show us how to maintain our integrity and bring about benefit for ourselves and others.

Lotus Seeds

Daily Dharma – Sept. 28, 2017

Mind is called the spiritual aspect while voice is the physical aspect. Therefore the spiritual aspect reveals the physical aspect. But it is also possible to perceive the mind by listening to the voice. In this case, the physical aspect (voice) reveals the spiritual aspect (mind).

Nichiren wrote this passage in his Treatise on Opening the Eyes of Buddhist Images, Wooden Statues or Portraits (Mokue Nizō Kaigen no Koto). This is one of the many instructions Nichiren gives us for how to read the Lotus Sūtra and find the wisdom of the Buddha within it. It is easy to understand how the intentions we have in our minds guide our words and actions. By cultivating the intention to benefit all beings, rather than just focusing on making ourselves happy, we mold our speech and actions to accord with that intention. Finding the mind behind the voice is more difficult. When we look for the Buddha speaking to us in all situations, especially those which are demanding, we bring ourselves closer to the Buddha’s own mind. We bring our speech and actions into harmony with the world as it is.

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

Day 9

Day 9 covers Chapter 5, The Simile of Herbs, and introduces Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood.

Having last month considered the meaning of The Simile of Herbs, we repeat what he had said in gāthās.

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

As the destroyer of the bonds of existence,
I, the King of the Dharma, have appeared in this world.
Since then I have expounded the Dharma variously
According to the desires of all living beings.

I am honorable, and my wisdom is profound.
Therefore, I have been reticent on this truth[,]
[That is, the reality of all things,] for a long time.
I did not make haste to expound it to all living beings.

If they had heard it [without expedients],
Men of ignorance would have had doubts,
And lost their way [to enlightenment] forever,
Though men of wisdom would have understood it by faith.

Therefore, Kāśyapa, I expounded [the Dharma]
With various expedients to all living beings
According to their capacities
In order to cause them to have the right view.

The Daily Dharma from June 24, 2016, offers this:

As the destroyer of the bonds of existence,
I, the King of the Dharma, have appeared in this world.
Since then I have expounded the Dharma variously
According to the desires of all living beings.

The Buddha proclaims these verses in Chapter Five of the Lotus Sūtra. This is another explanation for why he uses expedients to teach those who are not ready for his highest teaching. When we set aside the cravings that lead to suffering, and cultivate our desire for enlightenment, both for ourselves and all beings, then we are ready to receive the Buddha’s highest teaching.

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