I expounded an expedient teaching
In order to eliminate their sufferings.
That was the teaching of Nirvāṇa.
The Nirvāṇa which I expounded to them
Was not true extinction.
All things are from the outset
In the state of tranquil extinction.
The Buddha provides this explanation to his disciple Śāriputra in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sūtra. In this part of the story, the Buddha has announced that everything he had taught up until then, including the teachings of suffering and Nirvāṇa, were merely preparation for his highest teaching: the realization of the same enlightenment he reached. With the teaching of Nirvāṇa, the Buddha helps us take responsibility for our own situation rather than relying on an external force to make us happy. One problem with Nirvāṇa is that we can believe that it is something we do not have now. When we extinguish the fires of our delusion, we see the world with the Buddha’s eyes. We see the world for what it is, right here and right now.
The Daily Dharma is produced by the Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community. To subscribe to the daily emails, visit zenzaizenzai.com