Day 9

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

Having last month heard the rain of the Dharma falling, we compare Śākyamuni with the clouds.

I am like the cloud.
I appeared in this world
Just as the large cloud covered
Everything on the earth.

Since I appeared in this world,
I have been expounding
The reality of all things
To all living beings.

(The Great Saint,
The World-Honored One,
Said to the multitude
Of gods and men:)

I am the Tathāgata,
The Most Honorable Biped.
I have appeared in this world
Just as the large cloud rose.

All living beings are dying of thirst.
I will water them.
I will save them from suffering.
I will give them the pleasure of peace,
The pleasure of the world,
And the pleasure of Nirvana.

See Patiently and Compassionately

Patiently and Compassionately

These allegorical descriptions [in the Lotus Sutra] can be understood as the development of the concept of the One Vehicle. Chapter Four described how the Buddha leads all beings by faith until they reach the final stage of enlightenment. This chapter, on the other hand, tells us that living beings are now at various levels of understanding, and the Buddha patiently and compassionately expounds the law to all of them equally, although in different ways.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

The Tathagata’s Messenger

The Truth abides eternally, but it is an abstraction, a dead law, without the person who perpetuates the life of the Truth. The Buddha Sakyamuni, in his human manifestation, was the one, the Tathagata par excellence; but who shall be the one in the future, nay in the present, in these days of degeneration and vice? This was the question of Nichiren, who at last, as the result of his hard experience and perilous life, arrived at the conclusion that he himself was the man destined to achieve the task of the Tathagata’s messenger.

Nichiren, The Buddhist Prophet

Daily Dharma – Nov. 30, 2017

The Buddhas of my replicas
As innumerable
As there are sands in the River Ganges
Also came here
From their wonderful worlds,
Parting from their disciples,
And giving up the offerings made to them
By gods, men and dragons,
In order to hear the Dharma,
See Many-Treasures Tathāgata,
Who passed away [a long time ago],
And have the Dharma preserved forever.

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Eleven of the Lotus Sūtra. The Buddhas of his replicas inhabit countless other worlds in the universe, and enjoy the status and benefit of being enlightened in those worlds. Despite the honor they receive in those worlds, they happily come to hear the Buddha teach the Wonderful Dharma. As our pleasures seem small compared to those of a Buddha, so a Buddha’s pleasures seem small compared to the Wonderful Dharma.

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

Day 8

Day 8 concludes Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith, and closes the second volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard the first half of the Parable of Rich Man and His Poor Son in gāthās, we continue with the Rich Man’s expedient.

From his lion-like seat,
The rich man saw the poor son in the distance,
And recognized him as his son.
But he did not tell this to the others.

He immediately dispatched a messenger
To chase, catch, and bring him back.
The poor son cried out with fright,
And fell to the ground in agony, thinking:
“He caught me. I shall be killed.
What use was it coming here
For food and clothing?”

The rich man thought:
“He is ignorant, narrow-minded, and mean.
If I tell him that I am his father,
He will not believe me.”

He thought of an expedient.
He called
Some squint-eyed, short, ugly, powerless and virtueless men,
And said to them:
“Go and tell him:
‘You will be employed
To clear away dirt and dust.
You can get a double day’s pay.”‘

Hearing this from them,
The poor son came joyfully with them.
He cleared away dirt and dust,
And cleaned the buildings.

See Presenting the Truth in Stages

Presenting the Truth in Stages

[T]he son improved his mental attitude by stages. As Great Master Chih-i put it, the parable illustrates how Sakyamuni presented the truth in stages, giving us (1) the Garland Sutra [Avatamsaka-sutra, wherein the Buddha’s enlightenment is seen as too dazzling for most people to understand], (2) the Agama sutras of the Lesser Vehicle, wherein we enter the path of labor and discipline, (3) expanded sutras according to people’s capacities [Vaipulya], (4) the Wisdom sutras [Prajna-paramita], and finally (5) the Lotus Sutra, which makes us all children and heirs of the Buddha. Buddhism as a whole consists of these five stages of teachings. It could be said that the son’s fainting dead away upon first seeing his wealthy father suggests the ignorance of the “hearers,” who, according to the Garland Sutra, were unable to appreciate this highest and most difficult teaching among the five.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

With Devoted Faith to the Eternal Buddha

The Buddha is said to have passed away about two thousand five hundred years ago, but really He lives here as the Eternal Buddha, and is saving people everywhere in different forms. This story is expounded for the first time in the final teaching, the Lotus Sutra.

“Since I became the Buddha, I have been expounding the teachings to hundreds of millions of living beings for many hundreds of innumerable aeons to lead them into the Way to Buddhahood. In order to save the people, I expediently showed them my passing away. In reality I shall never be extinct. I always live here, and expound the teaching according to people’s capacities. I am always thinking: ‘How shall I cause all living beings to enter into the unsurpassed Way and quickly become Buddhas?’ ”
– The Lotus Sutra, Chapter XVI

With devoted faith to the Eternal Buddha, we will naturally be endowed with Buddha’s wisdom, be lead to approach Buddhahood and have a good life.

Spring Writings

Daily Dharma – Nov. 29, 2017

World-Honored One, do not worry! We will keep, read, recite and expound this sūtra after your extinction. The living beings in the evil world after [your extinction] will have less roots of good, more arrogance, more greed for offerings of worldly things, and more roots of evil. It will be difficult to teach them because they will go away from emancipation. But we will patiently read, recite, keep, expound and copy this sūtra, and make various offerings to it. We will not spare even our lives [in doing all this].

Medicine-King Bodhisattva, his attendants and other Bodhisattvas make this vow to the Buddha in Chapter Thirteen of the Lotus Sūtra. Once we awaken to our Bodhisattva nature and resolve to benefit all beings, we may still hold on to the belief that those beings should gratefully receive the teaching and and keep progressing towards enlightenment. We may even become discouraged in our practice of the Wonderful Dharma when these beings do not live up to our expectations. The vow of these great Bodhisattvas reminds us of how difficult is is for us ordinary beings to keep the Lotus Sūtra, and of the determination it takes to create benefit in the world.

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

Day 7

Day 7 concludes Chapter 3, A Parable, and begins Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith.

Having last month heard the merits of rejoicing and believing this Sūtra, we consider some people to avoid when expounding the sūtra.

Śāriputra
Do not expound this sūtra
To those who are arrogant and idle,
And who think that the self exists!

Do not expound it to men of little wisdom!
They would not be able to understand it
Even if they heard it
Because they are deeply attached to the five desires.

Those who do not believe this sūtra
But slander it,
Will destroy the seeds of Buddhahood
Of all living beings of the world.

See All Existence Is Suffering

All Existence Is Suffering

Another important point of the parable [of the Burning House] is that we humans are allegorically illustrated as living in a burning house. The burning, of course, symbolizes our suffering. From the Buddhist viewpoint, suffering is an inescapable fact of life, as illustrated in the dictum, “All existence is suffering.” Many people think this view is too pessimistic, but that is not the case. The dictum is presented as a bare fact, neither good or bad. Biological suffering is a part of life. The question is, What can we do about it?

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra