Day 4

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sutra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Last month, I focused on the Buddha’s vow that “any Sravaka or Bodhisattva who hears even a gatha of this sutra which I am to expound will undoubtedly become a Buddha.”

This time through I want to focus on those who know too much and on those who do not know enough.

First, is that group of 5,000 who refused to believe there was anything more to learn:

Some bhiksus and bhiksunis
Were arrogant.
Some upasakas were self-conceited.
Some upasikas were unfaithful.
Those four kinds of devotees
Were five thousand in number.

They could not see their own faults.
They could not observe all the precepts.
They were reluctant to heal their own wounds.
Those people of little wisdom are gone.
They were the dregs of this congregation.
They were driven away by my powers and virtues.

They had too few merits and virtues
To receive the Dharma.
Now there are only sincere people here.
All twigs and leaves are gone.

Underscore: They were reluctant to heal their own wounds.

Those limitations of the 5,000 who walked out are a subset of the reasons why expedient teachings were needed at all:

Seeing people of no wisdom, I thought:
If I teach them only the Way to Buddhahood,
They will be distracted.
They will doubt my teaching, and not receive it.
I know that they did not plant
The roots of good in their previous existence.
They are deeply attached to the five desires.
They suffer because of stupidity and cravings.
Because they have many desires,
They will fall into the three evil regions,
Or go from one to another of the six regions
Only to undergo many sufferings.
Through their consecutive previous existences,
Their small embryos have continued to grow up
To become men of few virtues and merits.
They are now troubled by many sufferings.
They are in the thick forests of wrong views.
They say “Things exist,”
Or “Things do not exist.”
They are attached to sixty-two wrong views.
They are deeply attached to unreal things.
They hold them firmly, and do not give them up.
They are arrogant, self-conceited,
Liable to flatter others, and insincere.
They have never heard of the name of a Buddha
Or of his right teachings
For thousands of billions of kalpas.
It is difficult to save them.

Therefore, Sariputra!
I expounded an expedient teaching
In order to eliminate their sufferings.
That was the teaching of Nirvana.
40 Tire Sntra of the Lotus Flower of the Wo11derf11l Dlinrma
The Nirvana which I expounded to them
Was not true extinction.

And again:

Sariputra, know this!
Seeing with the eyes of the Buddha
The living beings of the six regions, I thought:
‘They are poor, and devoid of merits and wisdom.
They incessantly suffer because they are taken
To the rough road of birth and death.
They cling to the five desires
Just as a yak loves its tail.
They are occupied with greed and cravings,
And blinded by them.
They do not seek the Buddha who has great power.
They do not seek the Way to eliminate sufferings.
They are deeply attached to wrong views.
They are trying to stop suffering by suffering.’