Ready for Riders

Jeweled Vehicle
(See construction)

This complements my earlier effort.

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 Rich Man’s expedient, we now see him put on rags and visit his son at his work.

The rich man saw him from the window.
He thought:
“He is ignorant.
He willingly does mean work.”
Thereupon the rich man
Put on old and dirty clothes,
Picked up a dirt-utensil,
And walked towards his son.
With this expedient he came to his son,
And told him to work on, saying:
“I will pay you more.
You can use twice as much oil for your feet.
You can take food and drink as you like.
You can use more matting to warm yourself with.”

Sometimes he chided him, saying:
“Work hard!”
At other times he coaxed him, saying:
“I will treat you as my son.”

See Understanding By Faith

Understanding By Faith

[W]hy is Chapter Four called “Understanding by Faith?” This refers to the mental attitude of accepting faith. Faith appears in an honest heart. Neither logic nor reason can awaken faith in us. Faith grows beyond reason when we encounter someone beyond our capacities, or when we unexpectedly touch something absolute in our lives or in the cosmos. In Chapter Three, the sutra maintains, “They will be able to follow this sutra only because they believe my words, not because of their own wisdom” (p. 80).

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – Dec. 31, 2017

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.”

These verses are part of the story of the Wayward Son told by Subhūti, Mahā-Kātyāyana, Mahā-Kāśyapa, and Mahā-Maudgalyāyana in Chapter Four of the Lotus Sūtra. The son in the story has forgotten who his father is. The father cannot just bring him into his inheritance while the son is still attached to his lowly life. The story explains the disciples’ understanding of why the Buddha cannot give his highest teaching without expedients.

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 considered some people to avoid when expounding the sūtra, we learn of some of the punishments for scowling at and doubting this sūtra.

Some will scowl at this sūtra
And doubt it.
Listen! I will tell you
How they will be punished.

In my lifetime or after my extinction
Some will slander this sūtra,
And despise the person
Who reads or recites
Or copies or keeps this sūtra.
They will hate him,
Look at him with jealousy,
And harbor enmity against him.
Listen! I will tell you
How they will be punished.

When their present lives end,
They will fall into the Avici Hell.
They will live there for a kalpa,
And have their rebirth in the same hell.
This rebirth of theirs will be repeated
For innumerable kalpas.

After that they will be reborn
In the world of animals.
Some of them will become dogs or small foxes.
They will be bald, thin and black.
They will suffer from mange and leprosy
Men will treat them mercilessly,
And hate and despise them.
They will always suffer from hunger and thirst.
Their bones will project; their flesh sag.
They will always suffer in their present existence.
After their death, they will be put
Under pieces of tile or stones.
Those who destroy the seeds of Buddhahood
Will be punished like this.

Some of them will become
Camels or asses.
They will always be heavily loaded,
And beaten with sticks or whips.
They will think of nothing
But water and hay.
Those who slander this sūtra
Will be punished like this.

Some of them will become small foxes.
They will suffer
From mange and leprosy.
They will have only one eye
When they come to a town,
They will be struck by boys.
Some of them
Will be beaten to death.
After they die
They will become boas.
Their bodies will be large,
Five hundred yojanas long.
They will be deaf and stupid.

They will wriggle along without legs.
They will be bitten
By many small vermin.
They will suffer day and night.
They will have no time to take a rest.
Those who slander this sūtra
Will be punished like this.

See Narratives of the Buddha in the Future

Narratives of the Buddha in the Future

The Lotus Sutra can be seen as a book of prophetic teachings. For this reason, Nichiren called these teachings “narratives of the Buddha in the future.” These narratives of the future, however, do not merely prophesy what will happen in coming generations. Their point is that Sakyamuni teaches living beings how to perform practices in an era when he does not physically exist. Since the words of the Buddha are true, we are expected to accept them as the Truth, and we are all required to follow the teaching

Nichiren actually put into practice what the Lotus Sutra had expounded concerning its propagation in the future. His determined efforts, however, raised opposition, which led to persecutions.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Records of the True Buddhist Life

Now Nichiren interpreted the “Consummation and Perpetuation” in a totally different manner. The inspiration he derived from these narratives was a spirit of emulation, instead of mere piety; the life of the true Buddhist was to be lived in emulating the courageous and compassionate spirit of the divine beings and the vows they uttered. This was due to Nichiren’s peculiar conception of the whole scripture, namely, that it was a book not to be read simply by the eyes, or merely understood by the mind, but to be “read by the body,” that is, by flesh and blood. The truths revealed therein were, for Nichiren, the records of the true Buddhist life, which was realized by the saints of the past, and therefore to be striven for by all Buddhists of the coming ages.

Nichiren, The Buddhist Prophet

Daily Dharma – Dec. 30, 2017

When the sun shines brightly in the sky, everything is made clearly visible on the earth. In the same manner, when one knows the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, one will understand the meaning of occurrences in the world.

Nichiren wrote this passage in his great work, Spiritual Contemplation and the Object of Devotion (Kanjin Honzon Shō). When we awaken to our nature as Bodhisattvas who have chosen our lives to benefit others and improve the world, we are freed from the confusion and anxiety around us. By keeping the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra, and following the guidance of Nichiren’s writings, we see what to do to make the world we live in now better for everyone.

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

Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month heard why the rich man gave each child the large cart, we repeat in gāthās.

Thereupon the Buddha, wishing to repeat what he had said, sang in gāthās:

I will tell you a parable.
A rich man had a manor house.
It was old, rotten,
Broken and ruined.
The house was about to collapse.
The lower parts of the pillars were rotten;
The beams and ridge-poles, tilting and slanted;
The foundation and steps, broken;
The fences and walls, corrupt;
The plaster of the walls, peeling;
The rush thatched on the roof, falling;
The rafters and eaves, slipping out of each other;
The hedges around the house, bent;
And refuse and debris, scattered all over.

In this house lived
Five hundred people.
Kites, owls, crested eagles,
Eagles, crows,
Magpies, doves, pigeons,
Lizards, snakes, vipers, scorpions,
Millipedes, wall lizards, centipedes,
Weasels, badgers, mice, rats,
And poisonous vermin
Were moving about.

Maggots and other vermin
Assembled on the excretions
Scattered all over
In the house.

Foxes, wolves, and small foxes
Were crawling on corpses,
Biting them, chewing them,
And dismembering them.

Many dogs were scrambling for their prey.
Weak and nervous from hunger,
They were seeking food here and there.
They were fighting with each other,
Snapping at each other,
And barking at each other.
The house was
So dreadful, so extraordinary.

Mountain spirits, water spirits,
Yakṣas and other demons
Lived here and there.
They fed on people and poisonous vermin.

Wild birds and beasts
Hatched their eggs,
Suckled or bred.
They protected their offspring.
Yakṣas scrambled for their young,
Took them, and ate them.
Having eaten to their hearts’ content,
They became more violent.
They fought with each other.
Their shrieks were dreadful.

The demons called kumbhandas
Crouched on the ground
Or jumped a foot or two above the ground.
They walked to and fro
And played at their will.
They seized dogs by the legs,
Or hit them
Until they lost their voices,
And held their feet against their necks.
They enjoyed seeing them frightened.

Some demons,
Tall, large,
Naked, black, and thin,
Lived in the house.
They were crying for food
With loud and evil voices.

The necks of some demons
Were as slender as needles.
The heads of some demons
Were like that of a cow.
They ate people or dogs.
Their hair was disheveled
Like mugworts.
They were cruel and dangerous.
Always hungry and thirsty,
They were running about, shrieking.

Yakṣas, hungry spirits,
And wild birds and beasts
Were unbearably hungry.
They were looking out of the windows
In all directions for food.
The house was so dangerous, so dreadful.

See The Remedy