Category Archives: Lotus Seeds

Lotus Seeds: The Essence of Nichiren Shu Buddhism

Lotus Seeds bookcoverFrom the NBIC website

Almost 2500 years ago, the Buddha taught a way to relieve the suffering of all beings in the universe. In the thirteenth century, a Japanese monk named Nichiren proposed a reform of Buddhism to make the Buddha’s teaching and enlightenment once again accessible to all mankind without discrimination. His efforts led to the founding of the Nichiren Shu School of Buddhism.

This book makes the Buddha’s and Nichiren’s teachings accessible for us today. Lotus Seeds fills the gap of information for those seeking an English-language explanation of the foundation and essential teachings of Nichiren Shu.

Find out how to apply the principles of Nichiren Shu within your own life and join the practitioners of this unique form of Buddhism worldwide on making the world a better place. Plant Lotus Seeds in your life today.

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Book List

The Perfection of Meditation

Of the Six Perfections – generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom – the perfection of meditation indicates that we should cultivate full awareness of all of our thoughts, words, and deeds in all places and at all times. Meditation enables us to focus our minds so that we an engage in self-reflection and direct our minds to the highest teaching of the Buddha. The practice of meditation ultimately allows us to abide in a stale of clear and spacious awareness in which we directly perceive the true nature of life for ourselves.

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The Perfection of Energy

Of the Six Perfections – generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom – the perfection of energy involves enthusiasm and unflagging dedication to the practice of Buddhism. We use our energy to make continuous efforts to weed out bad habits, avoid starting any new bad habits, cultivate good habits, and develop new good habits.

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Perfection of Patience with the Buddha’s Teachings

Of the Six Perfections – generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom – the perfection of patience also applies to our attitude toward the Buddha’s teachings. The teaching that all things are empty and selfless, for instance, can sound quite confusing and intimidating; but if we are patient and persistent in our practice we will come to a deeper understanding that will lead to our liberation from suffering and ultimately to Buddhahood.

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The Perfection of Patience with Ourselves

Of the Six Perfections – generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom – the perfection of patience also implies patience with oneself. Some people may even find this more difficult than being patient with others or with events in their lives. Patience toward ourselves includes not becoming frustrated when we do not progress as quickly as we might like, being willing to try again when we fall short of our expectation for ourselves, taking the time to nurture ourselves, and not fooling ourselves into believing that we have attained that which we have not.

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The Perfection of Patience

Of the Six Perfections – generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom – the perfection of patience refers to the ability to maintain one’s concern and compassion for others even in the face of persecution. We cannot give in to bitterness, hatred, or ideas of retaliation, even when we experience ridicule or persecution at the hands of others. This may be the most difficult of all the perfections. We have to develop deep insight into the pain and confusion of others so that we can understand and forgive those who lash out violently or act callously toward others.

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The Perfection of Discipline

Of the Six Perfections – generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom – the perfection of discipline means to live in accord with the precepts. As we have seen, the Five Precepts are: to not kill, to not steal, to not be involved in sexual misconduct, to not speak falsely, and to not use intoxicants that cloud the mind. Buddhism recognizes that until we are awakened it is very difficult to live in full accord with the precepts. It is difficult because the precepts are actually a description of awakened conduct. So as our practice enables us to receive the merits of the Buddha’s awakening, it also enables us to become loving, generous, faithful, truthful, and mindful. Until we are fully awakened, however, the precepts act as guidelines that keep our practice honest and point out how to avoid harming ourselves and others. They are tools for self-reflection and can show us how to maintain our integrity and bring about benefit for ourselves and others.

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Six Perfections and the Eightfold Path

The awakened qualities which we develop through our practice are known as the Six Perfections (in Sanskrit, paramitas). The Six Perfections enable us to do the work of a bodhisattva. They are generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom.

These Six Perfections are a restatement of the Eightfold Path.

Six Perfections and Eightfold Path

The real difference between the Six Perfections and the Eightfold Path is the addition of generosity and patience, although these are implied by right intentions. By including these two perfections as separate items, it makes explicit the fact that we are not really following the Eightfold Path unless we are generous and patient with others. In this way, the Six Perfections underscore the compassionate dimension that is integral to Mahayana Buddhism.

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Four Bodhisattva Vows

A bodhisattva is a person who has reached a high level of spiritual maturity and has realized that his or her awakening depends upon the awakening of others. Seeing the suffering of others, a bodhisattva works to assist them to free themselves from suffering and then attain awakening. This intention is expressed in the “Four Bodhisattva Vows.” These vows are a part of the Nichiren Shu daily practice.

Sentient beings are innumerable.
I vow to save them all.

Our defilements are inexhaustible.
I vow to quench them all.

The Buddha’s teachings are immeasurable.
I vow to know them all.

The Way of the Buddha is unexcelled.
I vow to attain the Path Sublime.

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We’re All in the Same Boat

The bodhisattvas are as concerned about relieving the suffering of others as they are about relieving their own. One might even say they know we are all in the same boat, the Great Vehicle of the Mahayana, which takes all people to the other shore of perfect and complete awakening. Thus, the advancement of the individual is impossible without the advancement of all.

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The Delusion of a Separate Self

In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha states that he actually teaches only bodhisattvas. This means that even the voice-hearers who follow the Four Noble Truths or those who contemplate Dependent Origination are not authentic followers of the Buddha until they have the compassionate heart of a bodhisattva. Thus, it is not enough to simply follow the Eightfold Path. One must also follow it with the spirit of compassionate concern for others. The bodhisattvas do not practice only for their own benefit, they practice for the sake of all beings. This is because they are deeply aware of the interdependent nature of all things. That is, they realize that no one is disconnected from the whole. Therefore, the notion of a self-liberation apart from others is just another symptom of the delusion of a separate self.

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