Daily Dharma – Feb. 14, 2015

Some children of mine are pure in heart, gentle and wise.
They have practiced the profound and wonderful teachings
Under innumerable Buddhas
[In their previous existence].
I will expound this sūtra of the Great Vehicle to them,
And assure them of their future Buddhahood, saying:
“You will attain the enlightenment of the Buddha
In your future lives.”

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sūtra. In the difficulties we face in this world of conflict and attachment, we can lose sight of our purpose to benefit all beings and try to avoid whatever is uncomfortable. When we hear the Buddha assure us of our inherent wisdom, and that our capacity to benefit others will continue to grow despite any obstacles we find, we learn to persevere through misfortunes, and increase our determination to lead all beings to enlightenment.

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

Daily Dharma – Feb. 13, 2015

Sometimes he chided him, saying:
“Work hard!”
At other times he coaxed him, saying:
“I will treat you as my son.”

These verses are part of the story of the Wayward Son told by Subhūti, Mahā-Kātyāyana, Mahā-Kāśyapa, and Mahā-Maudgalyāyana in Chapter Four of the Lotus Sūtra. The son in the story has become attached to his lowly existence. The father must teach him slowly with expedients to prepare him to come into his inheritance. The story explains the disciples’ understanding of how the Buddha uses expedients to prepare us to aspire for enlightenment. The Buddha leads each of us differently, and as we progress in our wisdom, he changes how he teaches us. All this is preparation for us to come into the Buddha’s own mind and enjoy his wisdom.

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

Daily Dharma – Feb. 12, 2015

Enemies find it difficult to attack when two people are together. Therefore, do not keep your brothers at a distance even for a brief period, regardless of what faults they may have; always be close to them. Whenever you get angry, it is clearly written on your face. Please remember that at no time do gods or deities protect those who are short tempered. It is true that you are destined to become a Buddha, but isn’t it regrettable for you to get hurt, pleasing your enemy and causing us grief?

Nichiren wrote this passage in his “Emperor Shushun” Letter (Sushun Tennō Gosho) addressed to his disciple Shijō Kingo. Nichiren knew the temperament of this Samurai warrior, and gave him detailed instructions for how to navigate the political hazards he faced. No matter how vindictive his Lord Ema became, Nichiren reminded him to persist in leading Ema by the Buddha Dharma and to rely on those who kept the Lotus Sūtra with him. As a result, Kingo outlived both Ema and Nichiren himself and is well known as one of Nichiren’s first followers.

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

Daily Dharma – Feb. 11, 2015

This sūtra opens the gate of expedients and reveals the seal of the truth. The store of this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma is sound and deep. No one can reach its core. Now I show it to the Bodhisattvas in order to teach them and cause them to attain [Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi].

The Buddha declares these lines to Medicine-King Bodhisattva in Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sūtra. At the beginning of the sūtra, the Buddha declared that he was no longer preparing those who hear him to receive his highest wisdom. The purpose of his instruction was always to lead all beings to unsurpassed enlightenment, even though it seemed that he was ending their suffering. When later the Buddha revealed his true existence as constantly present in our world, he showed that this teaching is not just something he did 2500 years ago. He is teaching this Wonderful Dharma for the benefit of all beings right now, today.

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

Daily Dharma – Feb. 9, 2015

My teaching is wonderful and inconceivable.
If arrogant people hear me,
They will not respect or believe me.

The Buddha sings these verses to Śāriputra in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sūtra. We sometimes think of arrogance as acting as if we know something that we really do not. These verses contrast arrogance with respect and faith. Faith does not mean blind belief. It is still important to ask questions when we don’t understand. Respect does not mean blind obedience, but it does mean that we have confidence in what the Buddha teaches, no matter how difficult it may seem. Arrogance blocks our ability to hear the Buddha. Respect and Faith open our hearts to his enlightenment.

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

Daily Dharma – Feb. 8, 2015

I see that all living beings are burned by the fires of birth, old age, disease, death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation. They undergo various sufferings because they have the five desires and the desire for gain…Notwithstanding all this, however, they are playing joyfully. They are not conscious of the sufferings. They are not frightened at the sufferings or afraid of them. They do not dislike them or try to get rid of them. They are running about this burning house of the triple world, and do not mind even when they undergo great sufferings.

The Buddha offers this explanation to his disciple Śāriputra in Chapter Three of the Lotus Sūtra. He compares his teaching of suffering and Nirvāṇa to a father luring his children from a dangerous house with a promise of better toys. The children were so preoccupied with their own entertainment that they could not hear their father’s warning. In this triple world of beautiful forms, fascinating ideas and consuming desires, it is easy to stay with our childish games and ignore the Buddha’s teaching. Our maturity as Bodhisattvas comes when we set these aside for the benefit of all beings.

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

Daily Dharma – Feb. 7, 2015

The son thought: “I was poor, base and mean.
Now I have obtained
The treasures, houses,
And all the other things
From my father.
Never before
Have I been so happy.”

These verses are part of the story of the Wayward Son told by Subhūti, Mahā-Kātyāyana, Mahā-Kāśyapa, and Mahā-Maudgalyāyana in Chapter Four of the Lotus Sūtra. The son in the story has come into his inheritance after years of training and preparation by his father. The story explains the disciples’ understanding of how the Buddha uses expedients over time to prepare us for enlightenment. When we are not ready for the Buddha’s wisdom, he teaches to the capacity of our own minds. Now that we are ready for his highest teaching, he reveals his own mind in the Lotus Sutra.

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

Daily Dharma – Feb. 6, 2015

These men and women are great Bodhisattvas. They should be considered to have appeared in this world by their vow to expound the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma out of their compassion towards all living beings, although they already attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi [in their previous existence].

The Buddha declares these lines to Medicine-King Bodhisattva at the beginning of Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sūtra. In the teachings of Nirvāṇa, the goal is to remove suffering so that we can be reborn in a peaceful realm. In this Sūtra, the Buddha reminds us that we who keep this Sūtra have given up the privilege of higher realms so that we can benefit beings where we find ourselves now. We do not fear rebirth in lower realms since our compassion takes us even there so we can benefit beings in those realms.

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

Daily Dharma – Feb. 5, 2015

Now you have awakened us, saying:
“What you attained was not true extinction.
When you have the unsurpassed wisdom of the Buddha,
You will attain true extinction.”

Five hundred of the Buddha’s monks give this explanation in Chapter Eight of the Lotus Sūtra. These monks believed that by extinguishing their desires and ending their suffering, they would reach the wisdom of the Buddha. They had not yet heard the teaching of the Lotus Sūtra in which the Buddha reveals his wisdom and the path to attain it. This is the path of the Bodhisattva: beings who resolve to work for the enlightenment of all beings and not just end their own suffering. We may start on the path towards enlightenment by wanting to be happy. Then as we progress, we find our happiness entwined with that of all beings.

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

Daily Dharma – Feb. 4, 2015

You should remember that the secret doctrine to save the evil, the stupid, women, and those without Buddha-nature is not revealed in sūtras other than the Lotus Sūtra. This is the very reason the Lotus Sūtra is superior to all other Buddhist scriptures.

Nichiren wrote this passage in his Treatise on Chanting the Great Title of the Lotus Sūtra (Shō Hokke Daimoku-shō). With so many proclaiming that their teaching is superior, it can be difficult to hear what Nichiren is telling us in this passage. Other teachings maintain that only some people can be saved. As a result, people who hear those teachings live in fear and uncertainty about their fate. The Lotus Sūtra proclaims that all who hear it will become enlightened, and that all who teach the Lotus Sūtra will create the conditions for others to be enlightened. Nichiren’s relentless determination to spread the Wonderful Dharma was not based on arrogance: merely wanting people to do as he said. It was based on compassion: the certainty that the Lotus Sūtra embodies the enlightenment of the Buddha and saves all beings.

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