Category Archives: Lecture on Lotus Sutra


The unification of the spirit of the Buddha, the mind of the Buddha, and the teachings of the Buddha are clearly stated when he says that he knows all, and he knows the Way. He states that he has opened the path up to us based upon his wisdom and skill. Even when the Buddha seemed to be teaching different paths to enlightenment he was in fact teaching the true single way to eliminate suffering. He has experienced the truth of the equality of all Buddhas through his own life, he is teaching this to us through his many teachings leading up to the ultimate of the Lotus Sutra, and because of these he has made it possible for all beings to attain what he himself has attained.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Eliminating Suffering

Buddhism is not about prosperity practice. Our goal should be to eliminate suffering, and attachment to material gain is an attachment and bound to eventually lead to more suffering. No thing is immune to decay, even wealth and if not the wealth then certainly the body. The goal of our practice is to become enlightened, to manifest our inherent Buddha potential, and thereby convert our lands into the Buddha’s pure land.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

The Buddha’s Promise

There is a passage from the Simile of Herbs chapter that is read at the Segaki, Feeding Hungry Ghosts, service, which is performed for the deceased. … During this service we read the passage where the Buddha states he will cause all beings to cross the ocean of birth and death. He goes on and states he will cause them to break free of suffering, have peace of mind, and attain Nirvana. The intent of the Buddha is clear; every thing he does and has done, has been for the sole purpose of benefiting living beings enabling the release from suffering. It is important to note here that there is no specific promise of material gain or benefit.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

The One Rain Falling from a Single Cloud

There are not different rains there is only the one rain falling from the single cloud. The Buddha in his skillful wisdom knew what each of his disciples was capable of understanding. He taught according to that capacity with the objective of eventually leading them deeper so they could partake of the complete Dharma. This is one reason why we say that previous to the Lotus Sutra the Buddha taught according to the minds of those he was teaching, and in the Lotus Sutra the Buddha teaches according to his own mind.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Preparing for the Lotus Sutra

The Buddha is saying in the Simile of Herbs that all along – even as he was teaching appropriate to Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas – he was in essence teaching in a way that was preparing for the Lotus Sutra. These initial teachings are all part of the Lotus Sutra. That is why it is important that people not come to a conclusion that the Lotus Sutra replaces or does away with the previous teachings of the Buddha. We have to think of the teachings as being on a continuum that is leading to the ultimate truth revealed by the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra.

The Buddha all along was teaching the same Dharma but he did so according to the capacity of the people he was teaching.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Our Growing Capacity

As people take faith in the Lotus Sutra initially there is limited capacity for understanding. As time goes on and our capacity for understanding and incorporating the teachings in our lives increases, then we are able to see even deeper into the Dharma.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

The Rain of the Dharma

There is little that is obscured to us in interpreting The Simile of Herbs. The Buddha is pretty straightforward in saying that he is like the cloud. It seems simple enought to then think the rain represents the Dharma. The interesting thing is the Buddha, while explaining the Dharma is like the rain that falls evenly over all the plants, compares his different teachings to the different capacities of the people who have heard the Dharma.

In other words, the difference in Dharma is only as it applies to the person who takes nourishment from it. Fundamentally, there are not different Dharma teachings. There is only one teaching which appears to be different because of the capacity of the person hearing it.

Lecture on the 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