Category Archives: LS32

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard Maitreya’s puzzlement over the Bodhisattvas from Underground, we continue Maitreya’s questions.

These Bodhisattvas have
Great powers, virtues and energy.
Who expounded the Dharma to them? Who taught them?
Who qualified them to attain [perfect enlightenment]?

Under whom did they begin to aspire for enlightenment?
What teaching of the Buddha did they extol?
What sūtra did they keep and practice?
What teaching of the Buddha did they study?

These Bodhisattvas have supernatural powers
And the great power of wisdom.
The ground of this world quaked and cracked.
They sprang up from under the four quarters of this world.

World-Honored One!
I have never seen them before.
I do not know
Any of them.

They appeared suddenly from underground.
Tell me why!
Many thousands of myriads
Of millions of Bodhisattvas
In this great congregation
Also want to know this.

There must be some reason.
Possessor of Immeasurable Virtues!
World-Honored One!
Remove our doubts!

See The Ideal Bodhisattvas

The Ideal Bodhisattvas

Here it is revealed that the Bodhisattvas who sprang up from beneath the earth are the exemplary Bodhisattvas of the Lotus Sutra. Many other Bodhisattvas have appeared before this chapter, but these are the only ones who fully live up to the Sutra’s teachings. Thus they symbolize the ideal, the models for dynamic activity. Their sphere of action is summarized in the lines, “They are no more defiled by worldly desires than a lotus flower is by the water in which it grows.”

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 19

Day 19 concludes Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices, and begins Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground.

Having last month concluded Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices, with a dream sequence, with begin Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground.

Thereupon the Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas, more than eight times the number of the sands of the River Ganges, who had come from the other worlds, rose from among the great multitude, joined their hands together towards the Buddha, bowed to him, and said:

“World-Honored One! If you permit us to protect, keep, read, recite and copy this sūtra, and make offerings to it strenuously in this Sahā-World after your-extinction, we will [do so, and] expound it in this world.”

Thereupon the Buddha said to those Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas:

“No, good men! I do not want you to protect or keep this sūtra because there are Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas sixty thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges in this Sahā-World. They are each accompanied by attendants also numbering sixty thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges. They will protect, keep, read, recite and expound this sūtra after my extinction.”

See The Bodhisattvas from Underground

The Bodhisattvas from Underground

We recall that in Chapter Eleven, “Beholding the Stupa of Treasures,” Sakyamuni had appealed from within the Stupa to the congregation. “Is there anyone here,” he asked, “who is willing to expound the Lotus Sutra in the world after my extinction? I wish to hand it on to someone so that it can be perpetuated.” In Chapter Thirteen, “Encouragement for Keeping the Sutra,” eighty thousand Bodhisattvas of superior quality, such as Medicine-King Bodhisattva, and eighty thousand billion other great Bodhisattvas respond to his appeal and offer to keep and spread the Sutra in our world. But Sakyamuni did not answer them. Instead, he went on to expound Chapter Fourteen, “Peaceful Practices.” As Chapter Fifteen begins, countless Bodhisattvas, “more than eight times the number of sands in the River Ganges,” stand up before the Buddha and reiterate their offer to spread the Sutra. “We are the ones,” they promise, “who will disseminate the Lotus Sutra in this World of Endurance.” But Sakyamuni gives them an unexpected answer:

“No,” he said, “You don’t need to protect or uphold this sutra, because there are (already) Bodhisattvas in this World of Endurance, as many as sixty thousand times the number of sands in the River Ganges, and they are the ones who will assume the responsibility for disseminating the Sutra in this Saha-world.”

No sooner had he spoken these words, when the ground quaked and cracked, and countless Bodhisattvas emerged from beneath the earth like clouds, and sprang up into the air. All of these extraordinary beings were golden colored. They emitted brilliant rays of light, and displayed the “thirty-two marks of Buddhas.”

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 18

Day 18 concludes Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra, and begins Chapter 14, Peaceful Practices.

Having last month learned the second thing the Bodhisattva should approach, we repeat in gāthās.

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

A Bodhisattva who wishes
To expound this sūtra without fear
In the evil world
After [my extinction]
Should perform proper practices
And approach proper things.

He should keep away
From kings, princes and ministers,
From other government officials,
From players of dangerous sports,
From caṇḍālas, from heretics,
And from aspirants for the teaching of Brahman.

He should not approach arrogant people,
Or the scholars who are deeply attached
To the Three Stores of the Lesser Vehicle,
Or the bhikṣus
Who violate the precepts,
Or self-appointed Arhats,
Or the bhikṣunīs/
Who like to laugh playfully.

He should not approach the upāsikās
Who are attached to the five desires
Or who seek in their present life
The extinction[-without-remainder].

When they come to him
With good intent
In order to hear
About the enlightenment of the Buddha,
He should expound the Dharma to them
Without fear,
But should not wish to receive
Anything from them.

He should not approach
Or make friends with a widow
Or with an unmarried woman
Or with a eunuch.

He should not approach
Slaughterers or cooks
Or those who kill for profit,
Such as hunters or fishermen.

He should not approach
Butchers
Or procurers
Of prostitutes.

He should not approach
Dangerous wrestlers
Or makers of various amusements
Or immoral women.

He should not expound the Dharma
To a woman in an enclosed place.
When he expounds the Dharma to her,
He should not laugh playfully.

When he goes to a village to beg for food,
He should take a Bhikṣu with him.
If he cannot find a Bhikṣu [to take with him],
He should think of the Buddha with all his heart.

These are the proper practices he should perform
And the proper things he should approach.
He should expound the Dharma peacefully
Only after doing all this!

See Peaceful Practices of the Mouth

Peaceful Practices of the Mouth

Bodhisattvas are to choose words carefully and make no mistakes in expounding the Dharma. There are four points:

  1. A Bodhisattva should not point out the faults of other sutras or their adherents.
  2. He or she should not despise other preachers of the Dharma.
  3. He or she should not speak of either the merits or the demerits of other preachers, and should not mention “hearers” by name when criticizing their teachings or even when prais ing them.
  4. He or she should not feel hostile toward anybody, and should freely answer any questions put to him. When asked difficult questions, the Bodhisattva should not answer by the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle, but always refer to the Great Vehicle, and so lead people to the “knowledge of the equality and differences of all things” (p. 216).
Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Having last month concluded today’s portion of Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra, we return to Chapter 12, Devadatta.

Thereupon the Buddha said to the Bodhisattvas, gods, men and the four kinds of devotees:

“When I was a Bodhisattva] in my previous existence, I sought the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma for innumerable kalpas without indolence. I became a king [and continued to be so] for many kalpas. [Although I was a king,] r made a vow to attain unsurpassed Bodhi. I never faltered in seeking it. I practiced alms-giving in order to complete the six pāramitās. I never grudged elephants, horses, the seven treasures, countries, cities, wives, children, menservants, maidservants or attendants. I did not spare my head, eyes, marrow, brain, flesh, hands or feet. I did not spare even my life.

“In those days the lives of the people of the world were immeasurably long. [One day] I abdicated from the throne in order to seek the Dharma[, but retained the title of king]. I entrusted the crown prince with the administration of my country. l beat a drum and sought the Dharma in all directions, saying with a loud voice, ‘Who will expound the Great Vehicle to me? If there is anyone, I will make offerings to him, and run errands for him for the rest of my life.’

See Sakyamuni and Devadatta

Sakyamuni and Devadatta

Political scandals have always been with us. But the politicians, themselves, rarely think of themselves as scandalous. They are only “back scratching,” they feel: repaying a favor for a favor. The country may not forgive them for putting selfish interests ahead of national interests, but we cannot say that they were entirely evil for helping their political friends. They put human relationships ahead of duty.

The relationship between Sakyamuni and Devadatta can be considered an example of human relationships. Devadatta was a traitor during Sakyamuni’s lifetime. However, in a previous life he had been an indispensable teacher of Sakyamuni.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month witnessed the stūpa of treasures opened, we see Many Treasures offer half of his seat to Śākyamuni.

Having seen that the Buddha, who had passed away many thousands of billions of kalpas before, had said this, the four kinds of devotees praised him, saying, “We have never seen [such a Buddha as] you before.” They strewed heaps of jeweled flowers of heaven to Many-Treasures Buddha and also to Śākyamuni Buddha.

Thereupon Many-Treasures Buddha in the stūpa of treasures offered a half of his seat to Śākyamuni Buddha, saying, “Śākyamuni Buddha, sit here!”

Śākyamuni Buddha entered the stūpa and sat on the half-seat with his legs crossed. The great multitude, having seen the two Tathāgatas sitting cross-legged on the lion-like seat in the stūpa of the seven treasures, thought, “The seat of the Buddhas is too high. Tathāgata! Raise us up by your supernatural powers so that we may be able to be with you in the sky!”

See The Difficulty

The Difficulty

Many-Treasures then calls Sakyamuni to join him inside the stupa, offering him half of his seat. Thus Many-Treasures and Sakyamuni sit side by side, sharing the same seat.

Since the seat of the two Buddhas is too high for the congregation to see, Sakyamuni raises them up into the sky by his supernatural powers. Then he says to them, “I shall soon enter into Nirvana. Is there anyone here who is willing to expound the Lotus Sutra in the world after my extinction? I wish to hand it on to someone so that it can be perpetuated” (p. 187).

This statement is followed by verses explaining how difficult it will be to expound the Lotus Sutra after his extinction.

He lists nine examples of unimaginable difficulty, and then stresses in six articles that those hardships are nothing compared to the demanding mission of his followers. The first part of the teaching is as follows:

It is not difficult to expound all the other sutras, as many as there are sands in the River Ganges. It is not difficult to grasp Mount Sumeru and hurl it to a distance of countless Buddha worlds. It is not difficult to move a world composed of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds with the tip of a toe and hurl it to another world. It is difficult to expound this Sutra in the evil world after my extinction (p. 190-1).