The Focus of Devotion

[The Gohonzon,] the physical form of such a focus of devotion, also serves as a reminder that the Buddha Dharma is not about abstract principles and theories. Instead, the Dharma is a living reality. It awakens us through the vast network of interrelationships within the real world that affects the unfathomable inner workings of our own minds and hearts. The focus of devotion, therefore, is not to be worshiped as an idol, something outside of ourselves and separate from daily reality. Rather, it is an expression of enlightenment, presented in such a way that it warmly and intimately engages our whole being with the living reality of Buddhahood.

Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon

Daily Dharma – Feb. 18, 2018

Some children of mine are pure in heart, gentle and wise.
They have practiced the profound and wonderful teachings
Under innumerable Buddhas
[In their previous existence].
I will expound this sūtra of the Great Vehicle to them,
And assure them of their future Buddhahood, saying:
“You will attain the enlightenment of the Buddha
In your future lives.”

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sūtra. In the difficulties we face in this world of conflict and attachment, we can lose sight of our purpose to benefit all beings and try to avoid whatever is uncomfortable. When we hear the Buddha assure us of our inherent wisdom, and that our capacity to benefit others will continue to grow despite any obstacles we find, we learn to persevere through misfortunes, and increase our determination to lead all beings to enlightenment.

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

Day 24

Day 24 concludes Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma and closes the Sixth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month considered eight hundred merits of the nose to be received by the Teacher of the Dharma in gāthās, we consider the twelve hundred merit of the tongue.

“Furthermore, Constant-Endeavor! The good men or women who keep, read, recite, expound or copy this sūtra, will be able to obtain twelve hundred merit of the tongue. Anything which tastes good, bad, delicious, distasteful, bitter or astringent, will become as delicious as the nectar of heaven and not distasteful when it is put on their tongues. When they expound the Dharma to the great multitude with their tongues, they will be able to raise deep and wonderful voices, to cause their voices to reach the hearts of the great multitude so that the great multitude may be joyful and cheerful. Hearing their speeches given in good order by their deep and wonderful voices, Śakra, Brahman, and the other gods and goddesses will come and listen to them. In order to hear the Dharma, dragons, dragons’ daughters, gandharvas, gandharvas’ daughters, asuras, asuras’ daughters, garuḍas, garuḍas’ daughters, kiṃnaras, kiṃnaras’ daughters, mahoragas, and mahoragas’ daughters also will come to them, respect them, and make offerings to them. Bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās, and upāsikās; and kings, princes, ministers, and their attendants [also will come and hear the Dharma]. The wheel-turning[holy-]kings of small [countries], and the wheel-turning-[holy-]kings of great [countries, each of whom has the] seven treasures and one thousand children, also will come with their [treasures, children and] internal and external retinues, riding in their [movable] palaces, and hear the Dharma. These [good men or women, that is,] Bodhisattvas will expound the Dharma so well that the brahmanas, householders, and people of their country will, throughout their lives, attend on them, and make offering to them. The Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas also will wish to them. [These good men or women] will expound the Dharma in the places which the Buddhas will face. They will keep all the teaching of the Buddhas and raise deep and wonderful voices of the Dharma.”

See Being In Accord with Cosmic Law

Being In Accord with Cosmic Law

In Chapter Nineteen, “Merits of a Teacher of the Dharma,” we read, “When they expound the scriptures of non-Buddhist schools, or give advice to the government, or teach the way to earn a livelihood, they will be able to be in accord with the right teachings of the Buddha” (p. 282). This means that any study of secular issues, such as politics and economics, must be in accord with the cosmic law, which is to say, the Truth expounded in the Sutra. Conversely, the teachings of the Lotus Sutra (The Truth) are applicable to secular studies, such as politics or economics, whose prime objectives are the betterment of everyday life.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Wondrous

“Myo” basically has two meanings: “A wondrous function, too microscopic to discern” and “Mysterious circumstance.” Originally, “Myo” comes from the Sanskrit “Sat,” which means “Right, virtuous and true.” When “Sat” connects to the next word, “Dharma” (Ho), it becomes “Saddharma.” Then, all of a sudden, “Myo” has an amazing meaning. It means to “open all mysterious gates in the universe, and awaken hidden power; to develop and resuscitate life.” This implies that the teaching of the Lotus Sutra has wonderful mysterious powers to engender a life from sterile land, cause growth and regenerate all, just like the sun. “Myo is to resuscitate life,” said Nichiren Shonin, in one of his letters.

Spring Writings

Daily Dharma – Feb. 17, 2018

The merits of the Buddha are beyond the expression of our words. Only the Buddha, only the World-Honored One, knows the wishes we have deep in our minds.

In Chapter Eight of the Lotus Sutra, Pūrṇa has these words in mind while looking at the face of the Buddha. The thoughts we have are mostly words, and the words are about the things we want. Words can help us make sense of the world around us, especially the words the Buddha uses to teach us. But words can also confuse us when we mistake our expectations for the reality of the world. When the Buddha calls us to become Bodhisattvas, to realize that our happiness is linked to that of all beings, his words open a part of our mind with which we are not familiar. He asks us to set aside the habits we have learned from this world of conflict and see his world in a new way.

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

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month concluded Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, we open Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Thereupon the Buddha said to Constant-Endeavor Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva:

“The good men or women who keep, read, recite, expound or copy this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, will be able to obtain eight hundred merits of the eye, twelve hundred merits of the ear, eight hundred merits of the nose, twelve hundred merits of the tongue, eight hundred merits of the body, and twelve hundred merits of the mind. They will be able to adorn and purify their six sense-organs with these merits.

See Purification of the Six Sense-Organs

Purification of the Six Sense-Organs

The six sense-organs mean all the functions of body and mind. Practitioners of the Lotus Sutra will be able to purify their body and mind by this five-fold practice and enter into a state close to enlightenment. It is called the “purification of the six sense-organs.”

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

All Together Now

Concerning the Simile of the Herbs, it should be pointed out that all the plants live in harmony with each other. They are grouped together, even as they each grew according to their unique nature. Some would grow near mountains, some near the river, some in between. Yet they all grew together. Over and over in the Lotus Sutra the Buddha either refers to groups of people, alludes to groups of people or addresses groups of people. Even when he addresses specific individuals he does so as representatives for people of similar capacities. We each are important to the greater whole that makes up the entire universe as well as our local Sangha. Every person brings a unique perspective and understanding to the practice of Buddhism. The entire Sangha grows stronger by the contributions of each person, just as society is made stronger when all people actively participate.

It takes the combined efforts of many people to ensure that our society reflects the ideas and beliefs of Buddhism, which in turn will help eliminate the suffering that is around us in the world today.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Daily Dharma – Feb. 16, 2018

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