Category Archives: LS32

Day 15

Day 15 concludes Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma, and opens Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures.

Having last month heard Great Eloquence Bodhisattava ask about the loud voice that came from within the Stupa, he hear the Buddha’s reply.

The Buddha said to him:

“The perfect body of a Tathāgata is in this stūpa of treasures. A long time ago there was a world called Treasure-Purity at the distance of many thousands of billions of asaṃkhyas of worlds to the east [of this world]. In that world lived a Buddha called Many-Treasures. When he was yet practicing the Way of Bodhisattvas, he made a great vow: ‘If anyone expounds a sūtra called the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in any of the worlds of the ten quarters after I become a Buddha and pass away, I will cause my stūpa-mausoleum to spring up before him so that 1 may be able to prove the truthfulness of the sūtra and say ‘excellent’ in praise of him because I wish to hear that sūtra [directly from him].”

“He attained enlightenment[, and became a Buddha]. When he was about to pass away, he said to the bhikṣus in the presence of the great multitude of gods and men, ‘If you wish to make offerings to my perfect body after my extinction, erect a great stūpa!’

“If anyone expounds the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in any of the worlds of the ten quarters, that Buddha, by his supernatural powers and by the power of his vow, will cause the stūpa of treasures enshrining his perfect body to spring up before the expounder of the sūtra. Then he will praise [the expounder of the sūtra], saying, ‘Excellent, excellent!’

“Great-Eloquence! Now Many-Treasures Tathāgata caused his stūpa to spring up from underground in order to hear the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma [directly from me]. Now he praised me, saying, ‘Excellent, excellent!’ ”

See One Single Entity

One Single Entity

Let us go back for a moment to the Stupa of Treasures. Ordinarily a Stupa is a mausoleum where the relics (ashes) of Sakyamuni are enshrined. Once Sakyamuni is extinct, living beings can worship him only in his relics. The Sutra says that Many-Treasures Buddha will appear whenever and wherever the Lotus Sutra is expounded. This means that the living Sakyamuni, represented by his relics, and the Lotus Sutra are united as one single entity.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 14

Day 14 covers all of Chapter 9, The Assurance of Future Buddhahood of the Śrāvakas Who Have Something More to Learn and the Śrāvakas Who Have Nothing More to Learn, and opens Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month heard the warning against disparaging those who uphold the Lotus Sūtra and learned adornments of those who practice, we repeat in gāthās.

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

If you wish to dwell in the enlightenment of the Buddha,
And to obtain the self-originating wisdom,
Make offerings strenuously to the keeper
Of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma!

If you wish to obtain quickly the knowledge
Of the equality and differences of all things,
Keep this sūtra, and also make offerings
To the keeper of this sūtra!

Anyone who keeps
The sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma,
Know this, has compassion towards all living beings
Because he is my messenger.
Anyone who keeps
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Should be considered to have given up his pure world and come here
Out of his compassion towards all living beings.

Know that he can appear wherever he wishes!
He should be considered
To have appeared in this evil world
In order to expound the unsurpassed Dharma.

Offer flowers and incense of heaven,
Jeweled garments of heaven,
And heaps of wonderful treasures of heaven
To the expounder of the Dharma!

Join your hands together and bow
To the person who keeps this sūtra
In the evil world after my extinction,
Just as you do to me!

Offer delicious food and drink,
And various garments to this son of mine,
And yearn to hear the Dharma [from him]
Even if for only a moment!

See The Most Profound of All Sutras

The Most Profound of All Sutras

Sakyamuni’s words about the teachers of the Dharma being “messengers of the Buddha” clearly state the significance of their roles. He now goes on to explain this matter in more detail:

I have expounded many sutras (in the past). I am now expounding this Sutra (in the present). I will also expound many more sutras (in the future). The total number of these sutras is countless. This Lotus Sutra is the most difficult of all of them to understand and believe. This Sutra is the store of the hidden core of all the Buddhas; it is the greatest sutra ever expounded. Because it is so difficult to understand, many people despise it even now during my lifetime. Needless to say, many other people will hate it all the more after my extinction

The Lotus Sutra is now declared to be the most profound of all the sutras. Because of its profundity, it is difficult for ordinary people to believe and understand. If after the Buddha’s extinction, the teachers of the Dharma expound this most profound of all sutras, they are sure to be misunderstood and resented. They may even be persecuted by jealous opponents (for preaching universal salvation and abolishing distinctions between religions). The Sutra will go on to state plainly that teachers of the Dharma can expect the worst from their future audiences.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 13

Day 13 covers all of Chapter 8, The Assurance of Future Buddhahood of the Five Hundred Disciples.

Having last month learned of Pūrṇa’s current practices in gāthās, we learn of his past practices.

Under hundreds of thousands of millions of past Buddhas,
This Pūrṇa practiced strenuously what he should do.
He expounded and protected
The teachings of those Buddhas.

In order to obtain unsurpassed wisdom,
He became the most excellent disciple
Of those Buddhas.
He was learned and wise.
He expounded the Dharma without fear,
And made his listeners rejoice.
He was never tired
Of helping those Buddhas do their work.

He obtained great supernatural powers
And the four kinds of unhindered eloquence.
Seeing who was clever, and who was dull,
He always expounded the Pure Dharma.

He expounded the dharma of the Great Vehicle
To hundreds of thousands of millions of living beings,
And caused them to dwell in the Dharma
So that the worlds of those Buddhas might be purified.

See The Best Preacher

The Best Preacher

Among the Buddha’s many followers, ten were outstanding. Each was famous for possessing a particular talent which excelled all others. For example, Sariputra was the wisest; Maha-Kasyapa was known for his good practices; Maha-Maudgalyayana was famed for his supernatural powers; Purna was the best preacher, distinguished for his eloquence. This meant that he was more than just a master of rhetoric and silvery words; he could preach with such clarity that through him people could understand the Buddha’s deep teachings, and free themselves from sufferings.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month concluded Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, we begin Day 12’s portion.

“Thereupon the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion [worlds], having praised the Buddha with these gāthās, said to him, ‘World-Honored One! Turn the wheel of the Dharma so that
all living beings may be peaceful, and that they may be saved!’ They said in gāthās:

World-Honored One, turn the wheel of the Dharma,
Beat the drum of the Dharma as sweet as nectar,
Save the suffering beings,
And show them the way to Nirvāṇa!

Assent to our appeal!
You studied the Dharma for innumerable kalpas.
Expound it with your exceedingly wonderful voice
Out of your compassion towards us!

“Thereupon Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata, having assented to the appeals made by the Brahman-heavenly­kings of the words of the ten quarters and also by the sixteen princes, turned the wheel of the teaching [of the four truths] three times, making twelve proclamations altogether. The wheel of this teaching could not be turned by any other one in the world, be he a śramaṇas, a brahmana, a god, Mara or Brahman. The Buddha said, ‘This is suffering. This is the cause of suffering. This is extinction of suffering. This is the Way to extinction of suffering.’

“Then he expounded the teaching of the twelve causes, saying, ‘Ignorance causes predisposition. Predisposition causes consciousness. Consciousness causes name-and-form. Name­and-form causes the six sense organs. The six sense organs cause impression. Impression causes feeling. Feeling causes craving. Craving causes grasping. Grasping causes existence. Existence causes birth. Birth causes aging-and-death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation. When ignorance is eliminated, predisposition is eliminated. When predisposition is eliminated, consciousness is eliminated. When consciousness is eliminated, name-and-form is eliminated. When name-and-form is eliminated, the six sense organs are eliminated. When the six sense organs are eliminated, impression is eliminated. When impression is eliminated, feeling is eliminated. When feeling is eliminated, craving is eliminated. When craving is eliminated, grasping is eliminated. When grasping is eliminated, existence is eliminated. When existence is eliminated, birth is eliminated. When birth is eliminated, aging-and-death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation are eliminated.’

See Teachings for Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas

Teachings for Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas

The First Noble Truth is, “All is suffering.” Suffering here refers to the situation in which we cannot meet our desires or wishes. This truth implies that all life is suffering as long as we are dominated by greed, ignorance of the law, and hostility towards others. Our desires can never be fully satisfied.

The Second Noble Truth states, “The cause of sufferings is ignorance.” This means that suffering in life is caused by ignorance arising from our instincts, such as thirst, hunger, sex, and fear.

The Third Noble Truth states, “The extinction of ignorance is nirvana.” The sravakas took this to mean that ignorance could be extinguished only by quenching human desires.

The Fourth Noble Truth maintains, “The Way to Nirvana is by practicing the Eightfold Path.” The Eightfold Path consists of (1) right views (a correct understanding of the Four Noble Truths), (2) right thoughts (the ability to reflect on the Four Truths), (3) right speech (speaking only the truth and words of kindness), (4) right deeds (proper acts—that is, morality), (5) right livelihood (making a living without harming others), (6) right effort (or exertion), (7) right memory (memory of things beneficial to enlightenment), and (8) right concentration of mind (correct meditation).

The Twelve Interdependent Causes are: (1) ignorance, (2) predisposition, (3) consciousness, (4) “name and form” (an entity of mind and body), (5) the six sense-organs, (6) contact (touch), (7) sensation, (8) craving, (9) grasping, (10) existence, (11) birth, and (12) aging and death. (Since death results in “ignorance,” the whole cycle begins all over again.) Each cause is dependent on its predecessor. For instance, the first cause, ignorance, is the origin of all illusions. At the same time, it generates the second action of predisposition, which induces the third factor of consciousness (the first consciousness after conception takes place), which further produces the fourth cause of “name and form,” and so on. Since the world of illusions is gradually formed through this chain of actions, we will be able to attain enlightenment by eliminating these causes one by one, starting with the last cause.

It is generally said that the teaching of the Four Noble Truths is for sravakas, and that of the Twelve Causes is for Pratyekabuddhas.

Day 11

Day 11 continues Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City

Having last month heard from the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion worlds in the southeast, he hear from Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion worlds in the south.

“Bhikṣus! The great Brahman-[heavenly-]kings of the five hundred billion worlds in the south, who saw their palaces illumined more brightly than ever, also danced with joy. They wondered why [their palaces were so illumined]. They visited each other and discussed the reason, saying, ‘Why are our palaces illumined so brightly?’ There was a great Brahman-heavenly­king called Wonderful-Dharma among them. He said to the other Brahmans in gāthās:

Our palaces are illumined so brightly.
There must be some reason.
Let us find [the place]
[From where the light has come].

We have never seen this [light]
For the past one hundred thousand kalpas.
Did a god of great virtue or a Buddha appear
Somewhere in the universe?

“Thereupon the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion [worlds] went to the north, carrying flower-plates filled with heavenly flowers, in order to find [the place from where the light had come]. Their palaces also moved as they went. They [reached the Well-Composed World and] saw that Great­Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata was sitting on the lion­like seat under the Bodhi-tree of the place of enlightenment, surrounded respectfully by gods, dragon-kings, gandharvas, kiṃnaras, mahoragas, men and nonhuman beings. They also saw that the sixteen princes were begging the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma. They worshipped the Buddha with their heads, walked around him a hundred thousand times, and strewed heavenly flowers to him. The strewn flowers were heaped up to the height of Mt. Sumeru. The Brahman-heavenly-king offered flowers also to the Bodhi-tree of the Buddha. Having offered flowers, they offered their palaces to the Buddha, saying, ‘We offer these palaces to you. Receive them and benefit us out of your compassion towards us!’ In the presence of the Buddha, they simultaneously praised him in gāthās with all their hearts:

It is difficult to see a World-Honored One.
You, the World-Honored One, eliminated all illusions.
We have not seen a World-Honored One
For the past one hundred and thirty kalpas.

Send the rain of the Dharma
On the hungry and thirsty beings!
Possessor of immeasurable wisdom,
We have never seen anyone wiser than you.
You are as rare as an udumbara-flower.
Now we have met you today.

Our palaces are beautifully adorned
With your light.
World-Honored One, receive them
Out of your great compassion towards us!

“Thereupon the Brahman-heavenly-kings, having praised the Buddha with these gāthās, said, ‘World-Honored One! Turn the wheel of the Dharma so that Mara, Brahman, the other gods, śramaṇas, and brahmanas of the world may be peaceful, and that they may be saved!’ They simultaneously praised the Buddha in gāthās with all their hearts:

Most Honorable of Gods and Men!
Turn the wheel of the unsurpassed Dharma,
Beat the drum of the Great Dharma,
Blow the conch-shell horn of the Great Dharma,
Send the rain of the Great Dharma,
And save innumerable living beings!
Devoting ourselves to you, we beg you.
Resound your profound teaching!

“Thereupon Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata gave his tacit consent to their appeal.

See The Spirit of the Great Vehicle

The Spirit of the Great Vehicle

“May the merits we have accumulated by this offering be distributed among all living beings, and may we and all living beings togethere attain the enlightenment of the Buddha.”

Kenji Miyazawa, the Japanese poet and author of children’s stories, once said, “Individual happiness is impossible unless the world as a whole becomes happy.” The altruistic spirit of the Great Vehicle is summarized here in these words of the Brahman heavenly-king.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra