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Daily Dharma – Feb. 2, 2018

There are thousands of fish eggs, but few become fish. Hundreds of mango blossoms bloom, but few become fruit. It is the same with human beings, because most people are turned aside by evil distractions. There is an army of warriors wearing armor, but few are able to fight bravely. Many people search for truth, but few attain Buddhahood.

Nichiren wrote this passage in his Letter to Lord Matsuno. In Nichiren’s lifetime he saw many of his followers charmed by his teaching, but lacking the resolve to practice. This letter was one of many Nichiren used to encourage us not to waste our precious human life with frivolous pursuits, destructive actions, and selfish desires. It reminds us that we all carry the seed of Buddha nature, and to look for ways to nourish that seed.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Day 29

Day 29 covers all of Chapter 25, The Universal Gate of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva.

Having last month heard the benefit for those who call his name, we , we hear more benefits.

“Those who have much lust will be saved from lust if they constantly think of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva and respect him. Those who have much anger will be saved from anger if they constantly think of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva and respect him. Those who have much stupidity will be saved from stupidity if they constantly think of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva and respect him. Endless-Intent! World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva has these great supernatural powers. He gives many benefits to all living beings. Therefore, they should constantly think of him.

“A woman who, wishing to have a boy, bows and makes offerings to World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva, will be able to give birth to a boy endowed with merits, virtues and wisdom. [A woman] who, wishing to have a girl, [does the same,] will be able to give birth to a beautiful girl who will be loved and respected by many people because of the roots of virtue which the [newly-born] girl planted in her previous existence. Endless-Intent! Because World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva has these powers, the merits of those who respect him and bow to him will not be fruitless. Therefore, all living beings should keep the name of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva.

See Showing Our Sincerity

Daily Dharma – Jan. 18, 2018

Anyone who keeps this sūtra
In the latter days after my extinction
Should have compassion towards laymen and monks
And towards those who are not Bodhisattvas.
He should think:
‘They do not hear this sūtra.
They do not believe it.
This is their great fault.
When I attain the enlightenment of the Buddha,
I will expound the Dharma to them
With expedients
And cause them to dwell in it.’

The Buddha sings these verses to Mañjuśrī in Chapter Fourteen of the Lotus Sūtra. In our zeal to help other beings, we may create expectations of how they will receive our efforts, or how they will change themselves after hearing the Buddha Dharma. We may even blame them for not improving as quickly as we might want. These verses remind us that there is no shortage of time available for our efforts to benefit others.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

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 completed the merits of the tongue in gāthās, we review the eight hundred merits of the body.

“Furthermore, Constant-Endeavor! The good men or women who keep, read, recite, expound or copy this sūtra, will be able to obtain eight hundred merits of the body. Their bodies will become as pure as lapis lazuli. All living beings will wish to see them. Some of the living beings in the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds are just born or have just died. All living beings are either noble or humble. They are either handsome or ugly. They are destined to be reborn either in a better region or in a worse region. All of them will be reflected on the pure bodies [of the good men or women]. The Surrounding Iron Mountains, the Great Surrounding Iron Mountains, Mt. Meru, Mt. Maha-Meru, and the other great mountains, and the living beings in those mountains also will be reflected on their bodies. [All the six regions] down to the Avici Hell and up to the Highest Heaven and the living beings therein also will be reflected on their bodies. The Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas as well as the Buddhas who are expounding the Dharma, also will show their reflections on their bodies.”

The Daily Dharma from April 24, 2017, offers this:

All living beings are either noble or humble. They are either handsome or ugly. They are destined to be reborn either in a better region or in a worse region. All of them will be reflected on the pure bodies [of the good men or women].

The Buddha makes this declaration to Constant-Endeavor Bodhisattva in Chapter Nineteen of the Lotus Sūtra, describing those who keep the Lotus Sūtra. Much of what we see in the world is a projection of our own biases and ignorance. We see things for what we want them to be rather than what they are. We classify the people in our lives as friends, enemies or strangers not because of their inherent qualities, but because of how they treat us. When we act for the benefit of others rather than our own gratification, we are showing them their true qualities. We let them see themselves for what they are.

The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com

Funeral Service

Ven. Kenjo Igarashi
Ven. Kenjo Igarashi
I first heard about Nichiren Buddhism and the power of chanting devotion to the Lotus Sutra in August of 1989. In all of the years between then and now, I’ve never attended a Nichiren Buddhist funeral service. (I don’t consider the post-split Soka Gakkai services for members who pass away formal funeral services.)

Today I participated in my first funeral service. I even had a small role. Ven. Kenjo Igarashi asked me to be the person who lights the candles on the altar and makes the first incense offering before the service begins.

The day before the service I helped set up tables and shade awnings where people could eat refreshments after the service and I helped put everything away at the end of the day.

The funeral was for a Toyoko Nakatogawa, who was a member of one of eight families that founded the church in the 1930s. She had been an active member of the church all of her life. More than 200 people attended her funeral service.

For those of you outside California, you may not be aware that in 1942 all of the Americans of Japanese descent were rounded up and sent to camps for the duration of World War II. Toyoko, who was born in Sacramento in 1924, was a Sacramento High School student in 1942. When her classmates graduated she was in a camp. While she eventually received a diploma from the school district, she never received a document saying she had graduated from Sacramento High School.

I can’t pass up recounting the story told by a Chinese gentleman who was a classmate of Toyoko. Before the Japanese were trucked Tule Lake, Californa, they were forced into a temporary camp outside of town. This Chinese gentlemen and several others went out to see their classmates in the camp outside town. Everything was fine until they attempted to go home. The guards wouldn’t let them leave. “We all look alike apparently,” he said.

He did get out and eventually Toyoko returned to Sacramento. Since the class had been unable to graduate together they would celebrate instead their graduation from middle school, which they’d all attended together. He was the last of those classmates at the funeral service today.