Category Archives: Lecture on Lotus Sutra

Religious Belief in Daily Life

There are some who may come to activities, perhaps frequently, but then the rest of their life is preoccupied with other things and so do not practice or follow Buddhism. There may be religious experience, but there is not fundamental embracing and manifesting in life of religious action. We could say they only have a nominal belief in Buddhism. It is worth our while to frequently reflect on our day-to-day actions and see how deeply our religious belief extends into our lives. Perhaps it is deep or perhaps it is shallow; honesty is the place where it can begin to change.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Our Inherent Capability

What the Buddha is trying to teach us in the Parable of the Rich Man and His Poor Son is that we all are inherently capable and endowed with the capacity to become enlightened and inherit the great fortune of all Buddhas. It isn’t about standing along side and comparing our life to the life of some other, but about being awakened to our own potential and recognizing the potential in others as being unique and yet the same.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Comparisons in Alienation

In the Parable of the Rich Man and His Poor Son the son and the father are disconnected from each other. The son does not realize connection is possible and so does not seek it. The father though, does realize alienation or disconnection or separation from his son. The alienation becomes most strong when the poor son is directly confronted by the great wealth of the father. We may find this occurs in our own lives, we may feel most distant from enlightenment when we compare our lives to the lives of others.

In a way comparisons are a form of ensuring alienation endures.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

This Personal Odyssey

Buddhism is in many ways constantly repeating this personal Odyssey, our Buddhist Odyssey, over and over again but with an ever-upward spiral. Sometimes we may be tempted to stop or slack off, or to run and hide, or to only sample briefly the joy of enlightenment. But the Buddha is always there, as we learn later on in Chapter XVI. The Buddha, through the teachings of the Lotus Sutra is ever present guiding and encouraging us until we are able to fully inherit the great metaphorical wealth of enlightenment. Because of the ever existing eternal and universal nature of Buddha and the fact of our inherent Buddha nature, our journey is not from one point in time such as past to present on to future, but a journey out of time or one that really transcends time and space.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Walking the Path

It is our practice of chanting the Sacred Title, or Odaimoku, that slowly allows us to build up our lives. We begin to walk a path; we begin to take our journey towards the possibility of attaining the enlightened life promised to us by the Buddha.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

The Journey to Our Destination

Each of us is making a journey through life from birth to death, which is a fact of our existence. We are not sure of the length of that journey or the path it will take, but we do know for a fact the destination. We are unable to change the ultimate destination, and we may only be able to minimally impact the length of the journey. Buddhism gives us a way to take control of the single remaining element in this journey we can change and that is the path our journey takes us.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

The Importance of Connection, Elevation and Transfer

The wealth of the man in the Parable of the Rich Man and His Poor Son may be presented in terms of money, gems, and land – in other words material possessions – but remember the wealthy man was not happy until he was able to reconnect with his son, was able to raise his son’s life condition, and finally was able to pass on his fortune. The idea of connection, elevation, and transfer are important concepts for us to keep in mind more so than focusing on the accumulation of material possessions.

If what we do in life does not encourage or enhance connections then it is doubtful we could effectively carry out the mission of being a Bodhisattva. Without connections with others we will not be able to cause them to elevate their life conditions nor will we really be able to teach them Buddhism. The treasure that we really gain from practicing Buddhism is the indestructible joy that arises from the depth of our life and is not dependent upon outside circumstances. Our greatest joy though I believe ultimately comes from “sharing that wealth” with others through establishing a bond with them and then showing through the example of our own life how to practice Buddhism and make the necessary changes.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

One Candle

It says in the sutra, and Nichiren repeats it in his letters, it only takes one candle to instantly eliminate the darkness that has filled a cave for thousands of years. Chanting Odaimoku is like that candle. No matter how small or feeble, that one candle does begin to light up your life. That spark of hope can be the foundation of faith in your life that anything is possible to change if you follow the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Sleeping in the House of the Buddha

This Parable of the Rich Man and His Poor Son teaches us that we should have confidence in not only the truth of the Buddha’s words, but also in the truth that we are already inherently completely endowed with the basic fundamental enlightened life condition equal to that of all Buddhas. … It may be easier for you to think, not this lifetime but perhaps I can do it next lifetime. The end of the tunnel in your life may seem so far off that you feel it will never become light again. This may sound like some empty promise. It may sound like some feeble attempt at encouraging you to have positive thoughts, when it may be just a struggle to have any thought. You may think it has been so hard that nothing could possibly make it better. I know those feelings and thoughts. I can only tell you that in my experience the Lotus Sutra was the one thing that did give me hope. When I thought my world could never get better, that nothing would change, little by little as my life began to change through the practice of the Lotus Sutra, I began to see other options, other ways of being. It wasn’t easy, it didn’t happen overnight. Slowly I began to change my way of being in the world, in a sense I become more comfortable sleeping in the house of the Buddha.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

The Potential in Yourself

Even if you are not sure of the truth or the reality of Buddhahood inherent in your life, if you chant Odaimoku, Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, if you carry out the practice and study of the Lotus Sutra, it is possible to awaken within you that spark which will allow you to see the reality of your own enlightened nature. Just as the arhats thought it not possible and so they chose not to try, and just as this son in the Parable of the Rich Man and His Poor Son did not in the beginning think he was worthy of staying in the house, eventually through the compassion of the Buddha and the compassion of the father each of those people were able to elevate their life conditions to enable them to see a potential in themselves they had not seen before.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra