Day 11

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

Having last month heard from the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion worlds in the east whose palaces has been illumined, we hear from the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion worlds in the southeast.

“Thereupon Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata gave his tacit consent to their appeal.

“Bhikṣus! The great Brahman-[heavenly-]kings of the five hundred billion worlds in the southeast, who saw their palaces illumined more brightly than ever, danced with joy. They also wondered why [their palaces were so illumined]. They visited each other and discussed the reason. There was a great Brahman-heavenly-king called Great-Compassion among them. He said to the other Brahmans in gāthās:

Why is it
That we see this light?
Our palaces are illumined
More brightly than ever.

Did a god of great virtue or a Buddha
Appear somewhere in the universe?
We have never seen this [light] before.
Let us do our best to find [the reason].

Let us go even to the end of one thousand billion worlds,
And find the place from where this light has come.
A Buddha may have appeared somewhere in the universe
In order to save the suffering beings.

“Thereupon the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion [ worlds] went to the northwest, 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 Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata was sitting on the lion-like seat under the Bodhi tree of 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-heavenly-kings 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 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:

Saintly Master, God of Gods!
Your voice is as sweet as a kalavinka’s.
You have compassion towards all living beings.
We now bow before you.
You, the World-Honored One, are exceptional.
You appear only once in a very long time.

No Buddha has appeared
For the past one hundred and eighty kalpas.
The three evil regions are crowded;
And the living beings in heaven, decreasing.

Now you have appeared in this world
And become the eye of all living beings.
As their refuge, you are saving them.
As their father, you are benefiting them
Out of your compassion towards them.
We are now able to see you
Because we accumulated merits
In our previous existence.

“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 out of your compassion towards them!’ Then they simultaneously said in gāthās with all their hearts:

Great Saint, turn the wheel of the Dharma
And reveal the reality of all things!
Save the suffering beings
And cause them to have great joy!

If they hear the Dharma, some will attain enlightenment;
Others will be reborn in heaven.
The living beings in the evil regions will decrease;
And those who do good patiently will increase.

“Thereupon Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata gave his tacit consent to their appeal.

See The Merits Of Faith In And Veneration For The Buddha

The Merits Of Faith In And Veneration For The Buddha

The Brahman heavenly-kings were unanimous in praising the Buddha and offering him their most cherished possessions. Each praised the Buddha in his own way. The words spoken by one deity … are often quoted:

May the merits we have accumulated by this offering be distributed among all living beings, and may we and all living beings together attain the enlightenment of the Buddha! (p. 139)

The “merits” spoken of here refer to the benefits they will receive for offering their palaces. Needless to say, they also imply merits in general which we all can attain through our faith in and veneration for the Buddha.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Religion and Morality

Buddha, as he is represented as declaring himself in the chapter on Eternity, is the Tathagata from all eternity and has ever been working to lead all sentient beings to maturity in Buddhahood. He is the Lord of Truth and Father of all, and we are his disciples and children. Religion is nothing but the way to enlightenment in this eternal relationship, and morality, nothing but the method of realizing the same truth in our life.

Nichiren, The Buddhist Prophet

Daily Dharma – Oct. 31, 2017

When he keeps this sūtra, He will be able to reach a rare stage. He will be joyfully loved and respected By all living beings.

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Nineteen of the Lotus Sūtra. He describes those who put this sūtra in their lives, and dedicate their existence to liberating all beings from ignorance and delusion. When the Buddha became enlightened, he realized all beings can become enlightened. When we work for the benefit of all beings, we find the Buddha’s mind and bring harmony into our lives and the world.

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

Day 10

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

Having last month begun Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City, we repeat the Buddha’s remembrance of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence in gāthās:

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

According to my remembrance,
There lived a Buddha, an Honorable Biped,
Called Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence,
Countless kalpas ago.

Suppose someone smashed
All the earth-particles
Of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds
Into ink-powder.

He went, [carrying the ink-powder with him,]
And inked a dot as large as a particle of dust
On the world at a distance of one thousand worlds.
He repeated the inking until the ink-powder was exhausted.

Suppose the worlds
Through which he went,
Whether they were inked or not,
Were smashed into dust.

It is innumerable• kalpas,
More than the number
Of the particles of dust thus produced,
Since that Buddha passed away.

I remember the extinction of that Buddha
As vividly as if he had passed away just now,
By my unhindered wisdom; I also remember
The Śrāvakas and Bodhisattvas who lived [with him].

Bhikṣus, know this!
My wisdom is pure, wonderful,
Free from āsravas and from hindrance.
I know those who lived innumerable kalpas ago.

See Making Basic Lessons Easy to Understand

Making Basic Lessons Easy to Understand

Sakyamuni predicted the enlightenment of the four great disciples just as he had with Sariputra. Chapters Three (“A Parable”), Four (“Understanding by Faith”), and Five (“The Simile of Herbs”) had used parables to clarify the basic lesson from Chapter Two (“Expedients”) – namely, all teachings are only expedients leading to the One Buddha Vehicle. The parables were followed up with assurances of future Buddhahood. In the next chapter, “The Parable of the Magic City,” he employs a different teaching method, showing how events in the remote past can affect the present and the future. This is called teaching by affinities with the past. These three methods – doctrinal teaching, parables, and affinities – are known as the Three Stages of Preaching. All three are designed to make the basic lesson easy for us to understand.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

The Sun of the Lotus Sutra; the Fertilizer of Odaimoku

The Lotus Sutra teaches us that all living beings are originally born with a Buddha seed. It is possible for everyone to attain enlightenment, just as the Buddha did. In order to do so, it is essential to make efforts and have faith by oneself. From another perspective, it can be said that everyone is a Buddha. But in reality, we tend to frequently make mistakes. Therefore, we need practice and training. So even if we have the seed of Buddha, the seed has not sprouted or blossomed yet. To sprout and grow, the seed needs the Lotus Sutra as the sun, and Odaimoku as fertilizer. Keep this in your mind. It is very important that in order to become a Buddha, one must make the effort, and learn in daily life, based on the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. By obtaining good practice, we will find solutions for any troubles in our life.

Spring Writings

Daily Dharma – Oct. 30, 2017

As I contemplate my own life, I, Nichiren, have studied Buddhism ever since I was a child. Our life is uncertain, as exhaling one’s breath one moment does not guarantee drawing it the next; it is as transient as the dew before the wind and its end occurs suddenly to everyone, the wise and the ignorant, the aged and the young. I thought I should study the matter of the last moment of life first of all, before studying anything else.

Nichiren wrote this passage in his Reply to My Lady, the Nun Myōgō (Myōhō-ama Gozen Gohenji). The Buddha taught that everything that comes together falls apart. Everything that is born must die. Then in the Lotus Sūtra he taught that he sees the world differently. For him living beings have neither birth nor death, they do not appear nor disappear. For each of us, the death of our bodies is certain. As Nichiren instructs, it is beneficial to meditate on this fact and not live in denial of our mortality. At the same time, when we see with the Buddha’s mind, we realize that our lives are not the end of the story. Time and life are abundant, but it it still important to waste neither.

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

Oeshiki Service

Cherry blossom decorations symbolizing the flowers that bloomed out of season when Nichiren died
Banner saying Namu Nichiren Bosatsu outside temple.

Attended the annual Oeshiki service at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church. During Ven. Kenjo Igarashi’s sermon he explained that 735 years ago Nichiren “returned to his original place.” That orginal place is as Jogyo, Superior Practice Bodhisattva, one of four leaders of the Buddha’s original desciples.

We decorate with paper flowers on bamboo branches in remembrance of the cherry tree that bloomed out of season on Oct. 13. 1282, when Nichiren died.

In Japan, Nichiren’s memorial is treated like a festival, with crowds parading with lanterns drapped in flowers, beating drums and ringing bells and dancing.

Why is everyone happy? Nichiren Shonin was a desciple of the original Sakyamuni Buddha, the Eternal Buddha. He was already a Bodhisattva. He chose to be born into this suffering world. It was his intention to enter this world to save people.

Everyone has causes and conditions that bring them to this suffering world. Everyone has a Buddha seed within them. If you don’t practice, you can’t get a good condition. The seed needs condition – soil, water, sun – otherwise it never grows. Everybody has a Buddha nature, this seed. That is why when you chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo you can approach enlightenment.

The Lotus Sutra is the supreme teaching of Sakyamuni Buddha. Today we can study the Lotus Sutra and chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo because Nichiren Shonin chose to come back to this suffering world. That’s why today the memorial service for Nichiren Shonin expresses our gratitude to him for his gift to us.

Day 9

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

Having last month heard in gāthās of the Buddha’s expounding of the Dharma with various expedients, we hear the rain of the Dharma falling.

Kāśyapa, know this!
Suppose a large cloud rose in the sky,
And covered everything on the earth.
The cloud was so merciful
That it was about to send a rainfall.
Lightning flashed,
And thunder crashed in the distance,
Causing people to rejoice.

The cloud covered the sun,
And cooled the earth.
It hung down
As low as if we could reach it.

Now the rain came down
To all the quarters of the earth.
The rainwater was immeasurable.
It soaked all the earth.
There were many plants
In the retired and quiet places
Of the mountains, rivers and ravines.

They were herbs, cereal-plants, young rice-plants,
Vegetables, sugar canes, and other grasses;
Fruit-trees including vines,
And other trees, tall and short.
They were sufficiently watered by the rain.
So were all the dry lands.

The herbs and trees grew thick by the rain.
All the grasses and trees in thickets and forests
Were watered variously according to their species
By the rain water of the same taste
Coming down from the [same] cloud.

All the trees grew differently
According to their species.
They became superior or middle or inferior
Or tall or short trees.

The roots, trunks, branches, leaves,
Flowers and fruits of the various trees
Were given a fine and glossy luster
By the same rain.

Although watered by the same rain,
Some of them were tall, while others not,
Because they were different
In their entities, appearances and natures.

See The Universal Quality of the Buddha