All posts by John Hughes

Daily Dharma – Dec. 11, 2017

Great-Power-Obtainer! What do you think of this? The Never-Despising Bodhisattva at that time was no one but myself. If I had not kept, read or recited this sūtra or expounded it to others in my previous existence, I should not have been able to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi so quickly. Because I kept, read and recited this sūtra, and expounded it to others under those past Buddhas, I attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi quickly.

The Buddha gives this explanation to Great-Power-Obtainer Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty of the Lotus Sūtra. The practice of Never-Despising Bodhisattva was to approach all beings and tell them, “I respect you deeply. I do not despise you. Why? Because you will be able to practice as a Bodhisattva and become a Buddha.” When the Buddha explains that Never-Despising Bodhisattva was one of his previous lives, he equates this respect for all beings with the practice of the Wonderful Dharma.

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

Day 19

Day 19 concludes Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices, and begins Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground.

Having last month considered the Parable of the Priceless Gem in the Topknot, we hear the merits of anyone who reads this sūtra.

This is the most honorable sūtra.
It is superior to all the other sūtras.
I kept it [in secret]
And refrained from expounding it.
Now is the time to do so.
Therefore, I expound it to you now.

Anyone who seeks
The enlightenment of the Buddha
And wishes to expound this sūtra
In peaceful ways after my extinction,
Should practice
These four sets of things.

Anyone who reads this sūtra
Will be free from grief,
Sorrow, disease or pain.
His complexion will be fair.
He will not be poor,
Humble or ugly.

All living beings
Will wish to see him
Just as they wish to see sages and saints.
Celestial pages will serve him.

He will not be struck with swords or sticks.
He will not be poisoned.
If anyone speaks ill of him,
The speaker’s mouth will be shut.
He will be able to go anywhere
As fearless as the lion king.
The light of his wisdom will be
As bright as that of the sun.

See Four Kinds of Peaceful Practices

Four Kinds of Peaceful Practices

“Peaceful practices” designates ways to preach and spread the Sutra while keeping your body and mind relaxed and peaceful. The chapter discusses four kinds of peaceful practices: those of body, mouth, mind, and resolution (vows).

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

The True Life

Neither is birth the beginning, nor death the end of life; the true life extends far beyond both of these commonly assumed limits. Things come and pass away, but truth abides; men are born and disappear, but life itself is imperishable. Buddhahood is neither a new acquisition nor a quality destined to destruction. The One who embodies the cosmic Truth, Buddha, the Tathagata, neither is born nor dies, but lives and works from eternity to eternity; his Buddhahood is primeval and his inspiration everlasting. How, then, can it be otherwise with any other beings, if only they realize this truth and live in full consciousness of it?

Nichiren, The Buddhist Prophet

Daily Dharma – Dec. 10, 2017

Good men! I think that the Buddha, the World-Honored One, wishes to expound a great teaching, to send the rain of a great teaching, to blow the conch-shell horn of a great teaching, to beat the drum of a great teaching, and to explain the meaning of a great teaching.

Mañjuśrī declares this to Maitreya and all others gathered to hear the Buddha teach in Chapter One of the Lotus Sūtra. The Buddha had just produced the light from between his eyebrows illuminating the worlds of the ten directions, a sight none but Mañjuśrī had experienced. The great teaching the Buddha was about to expound is the Lotus Sutra. This statement awakens our interest and shows us how to listen to this teaching, as if it were a great cooling rain or the loud call of a conch-shell or drum.

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

Day 18

Day 18 concludes Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra, and begins Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices.

Having last month begun the explanation of peaceful practices, we learn about the first practice.

“First, he should perform proper practices, approach proper things, and then e pound this sūtra to all living beings.

“Mañjuśrī! What are the proper practices the Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas should perform? He should be patient, mild and meek. He should not be rash, timorous, or attached t anything. He should see things as they are. He should not be attached to his nonattachment to anything. Nor should he be attached to his seeing thing as they are. These are the proper practices the Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas should perform.

“What are the proper things the Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas should approach? He should not approach kings, princes, ministers or other government directors. He should not approach heretics, aspirants for the teaching of Brahman, Nirgraṇṭhas, writer of worldly literature, writers of non-Buddhist songs of praise, Lokāyatas or Anti-Lokāyatas. He should not approach players of dangerous sports such as boxers or wrestlers. He should not approach naṭas or other various amusement-makers. He should not approach caṇḍālas, boar-keepers, shepherds, poulterers, dog-keepers, hunters, fishermen, or other people who do evils for their livelihood. When they come to him, he should expound the Dharma to them, but should not wish [to receive anything from them]. He should not approach those who seek Śrāvakahood, be they bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās or upāsikās. He should not exchange greeting with them. He should not . stay with them in the same monastery, promenade or lecture-hall. When they come to him, he should expound the Dharma to them according to their capacities, but should not wish [to receive anything from them]. Mañjuśrī! The Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas should not expound the Dharma to a woman with a desire for her. He should not wish to look at her. When he enters the house of others, he should not talk with a little girl, an unmarried woman or a widow. He should not approach or make friend with anyone of the five kinds of eunuchs. He should not enter the house of others alone. lf he must enter it alone for some rea on, he should think of the Buddha with all his heart. When he expounds the Dharma to a woman, he should not laugh with his teeth visible to her. He should not expose his breast to her. He should not be friendly with her even for the purpose of expounding the Dharma to her. Needless to say, he should not be so for other purposes. He should not wish to keep young disciples, śramaṇeras or children. He should not wish to have the same teacher with them.

See Peaceful Practices of the Body

Peaceful Practices of the Body

This means acting always with restraint. The Buddha divides these peaceful practices into two parts: “performing proper practices” and “approaching proper things. ”

The first means doing good deeds. Bodhisattvas should always practice the virtue of patience, be mild and gentle, and see things as they truly are.

The second, “approach proper things,” indicates how a Bodhisattva should relate to people—that is, his sphere of associations. The Sutra delineates ten points:

The Bodhisattva should always be willing to teach such people if they ask him, but he should not seek them out or ask for any payment from them. He or she should take pleasure in meditation and, in a quiet place, practice to control the mind (p. 211).

This is the first way to approach proper things. The Buddha also teaches a second way to approach proper things: the Bodhisattva should understand that all things are insubstantial, inexplicable, formless, not born, and without property. “Things can exist only by dependent origination” (p. 212).

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

A ‘Positive’ Religion

Nichiren Buddhism is called a “positive religion” because the Lotus Sutra instructs us to confront reality positively, and improve our lives by making efforts with faith. Generally, this world is spoken of negatively, and is called a degraded and disordered world. However, Nichiren Buddhism is different. Even though this world seems like it is degraded, and a world filled with deep desire, we are Buddha’s children. We all have Buddha’s nature, as a seed, waiting to become a Buddha and to construct an ideal world, the “Buddha’s world.” Unfortunately, it is difficult to recognize this nature by oneself, even if it is a part of our own mind.

Spring Writings

Daily Dharma – Dec. 9, 2017

Seeing that you have peacefully attained
The enlightenment of the Buddha,
We, too, have obtained benefits.
Congratulations! How glad we are!

The children of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha sing these verses to their father in Chapter Seven of the Lotus Sūtra. They realize that when one being reaches enlightenment, it is a benefit for all beings. In Chapter Ten, the Buddha teaches that many people will hate his Wonderful Dharma with jealousy during his lifetime, and many more will be jealous of it after his extinction. These people see the Buddha as different from themselves, and do not understand how they can become as enlightened as he is. They believe that for one person to gain, another must lose. The Buddha shows that all beings benefit from his teaching. Nothing is taken away from anyone.

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

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Having last month considered the vow of the Arhats, we consider the plight of Maha-Prajapati Bhikṣunī.

There were Maha-Prajapati Bhikṣunī, the sister of the mother of the Buddha, and six thousand bhikṣunīs, some of whom had something more to learn while others had nothing more to learn. They rose from their seats, joined their hands together with all their hearts, and looked up at the honorable face with unblenching eyes.

Thereupon the World-Honored One said to Gautamī:

“Why do you look at me so anxiously? You do not think that I assured you of your future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi because J did not mention you by name, do you? Gautamī! I have already said that I assured all the Śrāvakas of their future attainment [of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi]. Now you wish to know my assurance of your future attainment [of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi]. You will become a great teacher of the Dharma under six billion and eight hundred thousand million Buddhas in the future. The six thousand bhikṣunīs, some of whom have something more to learn while others have nothing more to learn, also will become teachers of the Dharma. [By becoming a great teacher of the Dharma,] you will complete the Way of Bodhisattvas in the course of time, and become a Buddha called Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings, 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. Gautamī! That Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Buddha will assure the six thousand [bhikṣunīs, that is,] Bodhisattvas of their future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi one after another.”

See Encouragement for Keeping This Sutra