Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month encountered the arrogant bhikṣus, Never-Despising Bodhisattva encounters the the twenty thousand billion gāthās of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

“Some of the four kinds of devotees had impure minds. They got angry, spoke ill of him and abused him, saying, ‘Where did this ignorant bhikṣu come from? He says that he does not despise us and assures us that we will become Buddhas. We do not need such a false assurance of our future Buddhahood.’ Although he was abused like this for many years, he did not get angry. He always said to them, ‘You will become Buddhas.’

“When he said this, people would strike him with a stick, a piece of wood, a piece of tile or a stone. He would run away to a distance, and say in a loud voice from afar, ‘I do not despise you. You will become Buddhas.’ Because he always said this, he was called Never-Despising by the arrogant bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās and upāsikās. When he was about to pass away, he heard [from a voice] in the sky the twenty thousand billion gāthās of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, which had been expounded by the Powerful-Voice-King Buddha. Having kept all these gāthās, he was able to have his eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind purified as previously stated. Having his six sense-organs purified, he was able to prolong his life for two hundred billion nayuta more years. He expounded this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to many people [in his prolonged life]. The arrogant bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās and upāsikās, that is, the four kinds of devotees who had abused him and caused him to be called Never-Despising, saw that he had obtained great supernatural powers, the power of eloquence, and the great power of good tranquility. Having seen all this, and having heard the Dharma from him, they took faith in him, and followed him.

“This Bodhisattva also taught thousands of billions of living beings, and led them into the Way to Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. After the end of his prolonged life, he was able to meet two hundred thousand million Buddhas, all of them being called Sun-Moon-Light. He also expounded the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma under them. After that, he was able to meet two hundred thousand million Buddhas, all of them being called Cloud-Freedom-Light-King. He also kept, read and recited this sūtra, and expounded it to the four kinds of devotees under those Buddhas so that he was able to have his natural eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind purified and to become fearless in expounding the Dharma to the four kinds of devotees.

See Purification of Never-Despising Bodhisattva

Purification of Never-Despising Bodhisattva

Purification of the six senses, which we discussed in the previous chapter, “Merits of the Teacher of the Law,” means purification of the bodily senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and mind. Once Never-Despising had purified his six senses, he was able to extend his lifetime for many years, and teach the Sutra to others. Thanks to his teaching, the same arrogant and conceited priests who had persecuted him before, now came to believe in the Lotus Sutra, themselves. In this way, he led many people to supreme enlightenment, and he himself became a Buddha.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

In the Buddha Land

Another thing we can learn from the Simile of the Herbs is the notion that the Dharma is present everywhere. There is not a special place to attain enlightenment. The plants did not have to move or change location to benefit from the nourishing rain from the cloud. So too, we do not need to be in a different location, have a different set of neighbors, change jobs, or have different families, or even government. None of those things are factors in determining our ability to practice and receive benefit from the Lotus Sutra. The only limiting factor in our attaining enlightenment is simply our own self. If when you look around your life and you see some place that is not the land of the Buddha, it is simply because you are not viewing your life with the eyes of the Buddha. In other words if where you are is not the Buddha land then there is no Buddha present.

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Self Respect

SENJI-SHO

Since we were born in this kingdom, our bodies must obey the ruler, but our mind and spirit never obey.

(Background : June 1275, 53 years old, at Minobu, Showa Teihon, p.1053)

Explanatory note

If you are to live each day without accomplishing anything, there is no need to think anything, and no need to be alert about anything. But if you are to ponder seriously about life, firmly ascertain the teachings of the true guidance, and to spread them to the world, then you must clearly be aware of the ground on which you stand.

“Senji-sho” is a tract in which Nichiren Daishonin showed his followers how to live in accordance with the faith in the Lotus Sutra. It was written at a time of crisis when the people of Japan lived in fear created by the imminent attack on Japan by the Mongolian Army which had conquered Turkey in the west and China and Korea in the east.

Nichiren’s words presented here tell us how the followers of the Lotus Sutra must behave. This world is governed by our original teacher, the Buddha Sakyamuni. But once we are born in a country, we must abide by the law of the land. However, no one can interfere with our faith that we are in the salvation of our original teacher, the Buddha Sakyamuni. Nichiren expresses the freedom of our mind and spirit. Therefore, the above quotation must be understood to be a cry from the heart of Nichiren. We, his followers, must act according to these words when circumstances push us to the very limit of our endurance.

Rev. Ikuta

Phrase A Day

Daily Dharma – Jan. 17, 2017

Anyone who protects this sūtra
Should be considered
To have already made offerings
To Many-Treasures and to me.

The Buddha makes this declaration to all those assembled to hear him teach the Dharma in Chapter Eleven of the Lotus Sūtra. In the story, Many-Treasures Buddha has just appeared to confirm the truth of the sūtra, and the Buddha has asked who will protect and preserve this sūtra after his extinction. By considering anyone who defends the meaning of the Lotus Sūtra to be one who has been personally present before these Buddhas, the Buddha invites us to consider not just our previous lives, but our current lives. We repay these Buddhas for this wonderful teaching by bringing it to life ourselves. As Nichiren wrote, “even if only a word or phrase, spread it to 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 considered eight hundred merits of the nose to be received by the Teacher of the Dharma, we repeat these in gāthās.

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

Their nose will be purified.
They will be able to know
The smells of all things,
Be they good or bad.

They will be able to recognize by smell
The sumanas-flowers and jātika-flowers;
Tamala[pattra] and candana;
Aloes and sappanwood;
Various flowers and fruits;
And all Jiving beings including men and women.

Anyone who expounds the Dharma will be able to locate
All living beings from afar by smell.
He will be able to locate by smell
The wheel-turning-kings of great [countries],
The wheel-turning-kings of small [countries],
And their sons, ministers and attendants.

He will be able to locate by smell
The wonderful treasures of personal ornaments,
The underground stores of treasures,
And the ladies of the wheel-turning-kings.

He will be able to recognize persons
By smelling their ornaments or garments
Or by smelling their necklaces
Or by smelling the incense applied to their skin.

Anyone who keeps
This Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Will be able to know by smell
Whether the gods are walking, sitting, playing or performing wonders.

Anyone who keeps this sūtra
Will be able to locate by smell, without moving about,
The flowers and fruits of trees,
And the oil taken from sumanas-flowers.

He will be able to recognize by smell
The flowers of the candana-trees
Blooming in steep mountains,
And the living beings in those mountains.

Anyone who keeps this sūtra
Will be able to locate by smell
The living beings in the Surrounding Iron Mountains,
In the oceans, and underground.

He will be able to know by smell
Whether asuras and their daughters
And their attendants are fighting
Or playing with each other.

He will be able to locate by smell
Lions, elephants, tigers,
Wolves, wild oxen and buffalos
In the wilderness and in steep places.

He will be able to know by smell
Whether an unborn child is a boy or a girl,
Or a child of ambiguous sex,
Or the embryo of a nonhuman being.

He will be able to know by smell
Whether a woman is an expectant mother,
Or whether she will give an easy birth
To a happy child or not.

He will be able to know by smell
What a man or a woman is thinking of,
Or whether he or she is greedy, ignorant or angry,
Or whether he or she is doing good.

He will be able to recognize by smell
The gold, silver, and other treasures
Deposited underground,
And the things enclosed in a copper box.

He will be able to know by smell
The values of various necklaces,
And the deposits of their materials,
And also to locate the necklaces [when they are lost].

He will be able to recognize by smell
The mandārava-flowers,
And the mañjūṣaka-flowers,
And the pārijātaka-trees in heaven.

He will be able to know by smell
Whether a heavenly palace
Adorned with jeweled flowers
Is superior, mean or inferior.

He will be able to recognize by smell
Gardens, forests, excellent palaces,
And the wonderful hall of the Dharma in heaven,
And other stately buildings where [the gods] enjoy themselves.

He will be able to know by smell
Whether the gods are hearing the Dharma
Or satisfying their five desires,
Or coming, going, walking, sitting or reclining.

He will be able to know by smell
Whether the goddesses, clad in the garments
Adorned with fragrant flowers,
Are playing as they are moving about.

He will be able to know by smell
Who has reached the Heaven of Brahman,
Who has entered into dhyāna,
And who has come out of it.

He will be able to know by smell
The person who has appeared for the first time in the Light-Sound Heaven
Or in the Universal-Pure Heaven or in the Highest Heaven,
And who has disappeared from there.

Anyone who keeps this sūtra
Will be able to locate by smell
The bhikṣus who are sitting or walking about
In seeking the Dharma strenuously,
And the bhikṣus who are reading or reciting [this] sūtra
Or devoting themselves
To sitting in dhyāna
Under the trees of forests.

He will be able to know by smell
The Bodhisattvas who are resolute in mind,
And who are sitting in dhyāna or reading [this] sūtra
Or reciting it or expounding it to others.

He will be able to locate by smell
The World-Honored One who is expounding the Dharma
Out of his compassion
Towards all living beings who respect him.

He will be able to know by smell
Those who rejoice at hearing [this] sūtra
From the Buddha,
And act according to the Dharma.

Anyone who keeps this sūtra
Will be able to have these merits of the nose
Although he has not yet obtained the nose
Of the Bodhisattva [who attained] the
Dharma-without-āsravas.

See Practitioners and Teachers

Practitioners and Teachers

In the previous chapter, “Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra,” the merits acquired by those who have just begun practicing the teaching are emphasized. This chapter, on the other hand, “Merits of the Teachers of the Law,” speaks about merits acquired by practitioners in general. It is assumed that a practitioner of the Sutra will also be a teacher of the Dharma.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

The Emptiness of Birth and Death

There is a deeper meaning to Emptiness than simply recognizing the impermanent nature of reality. Emptiness also means that things are without boundaries in terms of both time and space. Again, everything arises and ceases depending upon the coming together of many other elements or factors. But at what point can one say that something has begun or come to an end? For instance, do our lives begin at birth, or at conception, or at the time of our parent’s conception? At what point in the process that we call our lives can we definitely say that the process has begun? The same is true of our deaths. If our lives are carried on through our children or through the impact of our actions on the lives of others, at what point does our life really come to an end? In addition, the Buddha taught that some portion of our existence (composed of our intentions, habits, and to some extent an unconscious storehouse of memories) moves on from one life to another. So it is never entirely correct to say that someone has been born or has died. The reality of our lives defies such a simple description.

Lotus Seeds

Eternal Truth

RISSHO ANKOKU RON

You should promptly convert your wrong faith to the belief in the true and one vehicle faith at once. Then the triple world of the unenlightened will all become the land of the Buddha. Will the land of the Buddha decay? All the lands in ten directions will become the “treasure land.” Will the “treasure land” be destroyed? When the land does not decay and is not destroyed, your body is safe and your heart tranquil. Believe these words and revere them.

(Background : July 1260, 38 years old, at Kamakura, Showa Teihon, p.226)

(Explanatory note)
Presented to the ex-Regent of the Kamakura Shogunate, Hojo Tokiyori, the “Rissho Ankoku Ron” consists of questions and answers between a master of a house and his guest. The following is the master’s last advice to the guest to have the true faith:

“You must change your faith as soon as possible and convert yourself to the Lotus Sutra which is the supreme teaching of the Buddha. Then the Triple World * will all become the land of the Buddha. How can the land of the Buddha decay? Also the ten directions — all the lands will become the ‘treasure land.’ How can the ‘treasure land’ be destroyed?” ( * The Triple World is the world of unenlightened beings. It is divided into three: the world of desire, form, and formlessness.)

“If there is no decay or destruction of the land, the life of the inhabitants will be peaceful and their hearts will be tranquil and happy. This is not my arbitrary opinion, but it is based on Buddhist scriptures. It is as I explained it before, and you should have no objection. You should believe in my words open-mindedly and respect them from your heart. It is the road to the right religion and peace of society.”

The most important teaching in the Lotus Sutra is “This world is identical with the Buddha Land of Tranquil Light.” (The Buddha Land is the place where there is no birth and death, no disturbance by evil passion and delusion, but is shone by the rays of wisdom.) We are surely wandering in this puzzled world, but we are also able to become Buddhas. It is our duty to devote ourselves to this ideal stage. Thus, Nichiren insisted that we should believe in the teaching of the Lotus Sutra and do our best for peace and salvation of all mankind.

Rev. Hori

Phrase A Day

Daily Dharma – Jan. 16, 2018

Expound the Dharma, reveal the Dharma,
And cause us to obtain that wisdom!
If we attain Buddhahood,
Others also will do the same.

These verses are sung by the sixteen children of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha in a story told by the Buddha in Chapter Seven of the Lotus Sūtra. When the children learned of their father becoming enlightened, they gave up their toys and preoccupations and begged that Buddha to teach them. With this declaration they showed their father that they were ready to receive his wisdom and set off on the path to their own enlightenment.

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

On the Journey to a Place of Treasures