Category Archives: LS32

Day 28

Day 28 covers all of Chapter 24, Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva, and concludes the Seventh Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month considered Flower-Virtue Bodhisattva’s question and Śākyamuni Buddha’s answer, we consider Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattvas transformations.

“Flower-Virtue! Now you see Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva here and nowhere else. But formerly he transformed himself into various living beings and expounded this sūtra to others in various places. He became King Brahman, King Sakra, Freedom God, Great-Freedom God, a great general in heaven, Vaisravana Heavenly-King, a wheel-turning-holy-king, the king of a small country, a rich man, a householder, a prime minister, a brahmana, a bhikṣu, a bhikṣunī, an upāsakā, an upāsikā, the wife of a rich man, that of a householder, that of a prime minister, that of a brahmana, a boy, a girl, a god, a dragon, a yakṣa, a gandharva, an asura, a garuda, a kiṃnara, a mahoraga, a human being or a nonhuman being. [After he transformed himself into one or another of these living beings,] he expounded this sūtra, and saved the hellish denizens, hungry spirits, animals, and all the other living beings in the places of difficulties. When he entered an imperial harem, he became a woman and expounded this sūtra.

See Devoting Ourselves to Service and Welfare of Others

Devoting Ourselves to Service and Welfare of Others

The samadhi by which one can transform himself into other living beings is a power of concentration acquired by practice. Such a miraculous phenomenon may sound impossible. However, when we sincerely devote ourselves to the service and welfare of others, we can reach a stage of nonself—real selflessness—and become one with them. In appearance, we may even look like one of them. An adult playing happily with children may look like a child himself. He may feel like a child, too. The children may even consider him to be one of them. Such “transformations” are far from impossible, but they do require a special state of mind. The samadhi by which one can transform himself into other living things is an expression of the Bodhisattva-spirit of devoting one’s self to others. Wonderful-Voice can transform himself into thirty-four bodies. In the next chapter, we meet a famous Bodhisattva with similar abilities.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month considered what happened after Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings burned his arms, we learn that Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva was no one but Medicine-King Bodhisattva of today.

The Buddha said to Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva:

“What do you think of this? Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva was no one but Medicine-King Bodhisattva of today. He gave up his body in this way, offered it [to the Buddha], and repeated this offering many hundreds of thousands of billions of nayutas of times [in his previous existence]. [He knows that he can practice any austerity in this Sahā-World. Therefore, he does not mind walking about this world.]

“Star-King-Flower! Anyone who aspires for, and wishes to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, should offer a light to the stupa of the Buddha by burning a finger or a toe. Then he will be given more merits than the person who offers not only countries, cities, wives and children, but also the mountains, forests, rivers and ponds of the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds, and various kinds of treasures. But the merits to be given to the person who fills the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds with the seven treasures and offers that amount of the seven treasures to the Buddhas, to the Great Bodhisattvas, to the Pratyekabuddhas, and to the Arhats, are less than the merits to be given to the person who keeps even a single gāthā of four lines of this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

See The Spirit of Giving One’s Whole Self

The Spirit of Giving One’s Whole Self

The offering of burning the body, which plays such a prominent part of this chapter, should not be taken literally. It symbolizes the spirit of giving one’s whole self, believing wholeheartedly, embracing the Most-Venerable-One, and offering to serve the truth with all one’s body and soul.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 26

Day 26 concludes Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas, includes Chapter 22, Transmission, and introduces Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month begun Chapter 22, Transmission, we conclude the chapter today.

Having heard these words of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas were filled with great joy. With more respect than ever, they bent forward, bowed, joined their hands together towards him, and said simultaneously. “We will do as you command. Certainly, World-Honored One! Do not worry!”

The Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas said simultaneously twice more, “We will do as you command. Certainly, World-Honored One! Do not worry!”

Thereupon Śākyamuni Buddha, wishing to send back to their home worlds [Many-Treasures Buddha and] the Buddhas of his replicas, who had come from the worlds of the ten quarters, said, “May the Buddhas be where they wish to be! May the stupa of Many-Treasures Buddha be where it was!”

Having heard these words of the Buddha, not only the innumerable Buddhas of his replicas, who had come from the worlds of the ten quarters and were sitting on the lion-like seats under the jeweled trees, Many-Treasures Buddha, and the great multitude of the innumerable, asaṃkhya Bodhisattvas, including Superior-Practice, but also the four kinds of devotees including Śāriputra and other Śrāvakas, and the gods, men and asuras of the world, had great joy.

See Kanjin Honzon Sho

Kanjin Honzon Sho

Nichiren compared his own position to that of Superb-Action Bodhisattva. After he was sent into exile on the Island of Sado, Nichiren began to make this comparison with increasing frequency. He stated it explicitly in his writing, Kanjin Honzon Sho (“A Treatise Revealing the Spiritual Contemplation of the Most-Venerable-One”). This essay is considered the most important of his many writings. Although its logical arguments resist condensation into a few words, here is a brief summary of what he said.

According to the teachings of Great Master Chih-i, the practical side of the Lotus Sutra is the doctrine of “one thought is the three thousand worlds” (ichinen-sanzen). However, if this doctrine is left in its original form, it is not a suitable practice for unenlightened people in this Age of Degeneration. If the theory of “one thought is the three thousand worlds” is followed through to its logical conclusion, it will be seen that the perfect Buddha resides in the hearts of unenlightened people. Then its realistic practice is clear. The effect attained by the Buddha’s practice and all the virtues of his enlightenment are summed up and put into the five [Chinese] letters of the Sacred Title, MYO-HO-REN-GE-KYO (“The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law”). Sakyamuni transmitted it to everyone, the enlightened and the unenlightened, so that they might uphold and practice this Sacred Title (Daimoku).

According to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, our World of Endurance is itself the eternal and everlasting Pure Land and this ever-existing and unchanging world of the Buddha exists in our own minds. This is taught in the Lotus Sutra especially in the eight chapters, from Chapter Fifteen, the “Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground,” to Chapter Twenty-two, “Transmission.” It says in these eight chapters that Sakyamuni, who was seated in the Stupa of Treasures, summoned from beneath the earth countless Great Bodhisattvas headed by Superb-Action Bodhisattva. He transmitted to them the five letters of MYO-HO-REN-GE-KYO, which is the essence of the Lotus Sutra, and assigned them to disseminate it. The meaning of this decisive event is of fundamental significance. The scene of this transmission is the Most-Venerable-One (Honzon) and everyone should recognize it as such. All living beings should chant the Sacred Title of NAMU-MYO-HO-REN-GE-KYO and direct their veneration toward what is depicted here.

This Most-Venerable-One was revealed only in the Age of Degeneration. The Bodhisattvas from Underground did not appear during the Ages of Right Teaching and Counterfeit Teaching. They were assigned to appear here in our country, now in this Age of Degeneration. The Four Great Bodhisattvas, Superb-Action, Limitless-Action, Pure-Action, and Steadily-Established-Action, are the representatives of the Bodhisattvas who welled up from beneath the earth. They were told to come now, during the Age of Degeneration, disseminate the Sacred Title, and lead unenlightened living beings to Buddhahood.

Thus Nichiren maintains that the Bodhisattvas from Underground and their leaders’ the Four Great Bodhisattvas, will appear in Japan during the Age of Degeneration. He discusses this in his essay, Shoho Sho, “The Reality of All Things,” saying that Bodhisattva Superb-Action, who was instructecl by Sakyamuni to disseminate the Sutra in the future, has already come in the person of Nichiren himself:

I, Nichiren, a man born in the Age of Degeneration, have nearly achieved the task of pioneering the propagation of the Wonderful Law, the task assigned to the Bodhisattva SuperbAction. . . It is indeed too high an honor for me, a common mortal … I, Nichiren, am the one who takes the lead of the Bodhisattvas from Underground. Then may I not be one of them? If I am one of them, why may not all my disciples and followers be their kinsmen? If you are one in faith with Nichiren, you too are one of the Bodhisattvas from Underground.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month concluded Day 25’s portion of Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas, we return to the top and the opening of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva.

Thereupon the Buddha said to Great-Power-Obtainer Bodhisattva-mahāsattva:

“Know this! Anyone who speaks ill of or abuses or slanders the bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās or upāsikās who keep the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, will incur the retributions previously stated. Anyone [who keeps this sūtra] will be able to have his eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind purified, that is to say, to obtain the merits as stated in the previous chapter.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! Innumerable, limitless, inconceivable, asaṃkhya kalpas ago, there lived a Buddha called Powerful-Voice-King, 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. The kalpa in which he lived was called Free-From-Decay; and his world, Great-Achievement. Powerful-Voice-King Buddha expounded the Dharma to the gods, men and asuras of his world. To those who were seeking Śrāvakahood, he expounded the teaching suitable for them, that is, the teaching of the four truths, saved them from birth, old age, disease and death, and caused them to attain Nirvana. To those who were seeking Pratyekabuddhahood, he expounded the teaching suitable for them, that is, the teaching of the twelve causes. To the Bodhisattvas who were seeking Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, he expounded the teaching suitable for them, that is, the teaching of the six paramitas, and caused them to obtain the wisdom of the Buddha.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! The duration of the life of Powerful-Voice-King Buddha was forty billion nayuta kalpas, that is, as many kalpas as there are sands in the River Ganges. His right teachings were preserved for as many kalpas as the particles of dust of the Jambudvipa. The counterfeit of his right teachings was preserved for as many kalpas as the particles of dust of the four continents. The Buddha benefited all living being and then passed away. After [the two ages:] the age of his right teaching and the age of their counterfeit, there appeared in that world another Buddha also called Powerful-Voice-King, 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. After him, the Buddhas of the same name appeared one after another, two billion altogether.

See Respect for All Human Beings

Respect for All Human Beings

This story of Never-Despising Bodhisattva shows the spirit which lies at the heart of the Lotus Sutra: respect for all human beings.

Human history and culture have long sought an ideal society composed of ideal persons. The Buddha, who is revealed in Buddhism, expresses this image of an ideal human being—omniscient, omnipotent, and magnanimous to all. The ideal society is his Pure Land. Not only Buddhism, but all religions seek such an ideal.

In our modern age, however, many people think that revolutions in politics and economics, instead of religion, are the best ways to realize such an ideal. “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” acclaimed in the French Revolution, express this spirit, although it soon came to mean liberty, equality, and fraternity for us, but not for you. In the twentieth century, the Communist Revolution tried to realize the same ideal, also by brute force.

However, no such attempt can succeed without the spirit of Never-Despising Bodhisattva—venerating all living beings just as they are. This has been demonstrated by the recent collapse of communist countries in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Although they had high ideals, their revolution, which ignored the value of human beings, was doomed to fail. Never-Despising Bodhisattva teaches the most basic revolution of all: profound respect for each and every living person.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

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 heard the 1200 merits of the mind, we repeat those merits in gāthās and conclude the Sixth Volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Thereupon the World-Honored One, wishing to repeat what he had said, sang in gāthās:

Their minds will become pure, clear, keen and undefiled.
They will be able to recognize with their wonderful minds
The superior, mean and inferior teachings.
When they hear even a gāthā [of this sūtra],
They will be able to understand
The innumerable meanings of [this sūtra].

When they expound [this sūtra]
In good order according to the Dharma
For a month, four month or a year,
They will be able to understand at once
The thoughts of gods, dragons, men, yakṣas, demigods,
And of all the other living beings
Inside and outside this world
Composed of the six regions
Because they keep
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

They also will be able to hear and keep
The Dharma expounded to all living beings
By the innumerable Buddhas of the worlds of the ten quarters
Who are adorned with the marks of one hundred merits.

When they think over the innumerable meanings [of this sūtra],
And endlessly repeat the expounding of those meanings,
They will not forget or mistake the beginnings and ends [of quotations]
Because they keep the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

They will see the reality of all things.
Knowing the position [of this sūtra in the series of sūtras],
And the names and words [of this sūtra], according to the meanings of it,
They will expound [this sūtra] as they understand it.

They will expound the Dharma
Already taught by the past Buddhas.
Therefore, they will be fearless
Before the multitude.

Anyone who keeps the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Will have his mind purified as previously stated.
Although he has not yet obtained the [wisdom-]without-āsravas,
He will be able to obtain [these merits of the mind].

When he keeps this sūtra,
He will be able to reach a rare stage.
He will be joyfully loved and respected
By all living beings.

He will be able to expound the Dharma
With tens of millions of skillful words
Because he keeps
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

[Here ends] the Sixth Volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

See The Basic Law of the Universe

The Basic Law of the Universe

[Among] the teachings of the purification of the six sense-organs, especially important are the words in the section on purification of the mind: “When they expound the scriptures of non-Buddhists, or give advice to the government, or teach ways to earn a livelihood, they will always be in accord with the right teachings of the Buddha.” “To give advice to the government” means to enter into the realm of politics and administration. “To teach ways to earn a livelihood” refers to the realms of industry, economics, and our daily work. Theories of politics and economics belong to the ever-changing secular world. Buddhism, on the other hand, belongs to the eternal world, which lies beneath the transitory. Buddhist teachings and the common law (social rules) are distinct and should not be confused with each other. However, in the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, the Dharma cannot ignore the rules of society. On the contrary, the Dharma (truth) is the basis for social rules. Human society cannot function properly, even in politics or economics, unless it is in accord with the basic law of the universe. This law is what is meant by Dharma.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra