Tag Archives: LS02

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month considered the teachings of the last Sun-Moon-Light Buddha, we see what happens when Sun-Moon-Light Buddha emerged from his samādhi.

“Maitreya, know this! There were two thousand million Bodhisattvas in that congregation. They wished to hear the Dharma. They were astonished at seeing the Buddha-worlds illumined by this ray of light. They wished to know why the Buddha was emitting this ray of light.

“At that time there was a Bodhisattva called Wonderful-Light. He had eight hundred disciples. Sun-Moon-Light Buddha emerged from his samādhi, and expounded the sūtra of the Great Vehicle to Wonderful-Light Bodhisattva and others without rising from his seat for sixty small kalpas. It was called the ‘Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas.’ The hearers in the congregation also sat in the same place for sixty small kalpas, and their bodies and minds were motionless. They thought that they had heard the Buddha expounding the Dharma for only a mealtime. None of them felt tired in body or mind. Having completed the expounding of this sūtra at the end of the period of sixty small kalpas, Sun-Moon-Light Buddha said to the Brahmans, Maras, śramaṇas, brahmanas, gods, men, and asuras, ‘I shall enter into the Nirvāṇa-without-remainder at midnight tonight.’

See The Great Vehicle

The Great Vehicle

The Great Vehicle … teaches that there is only one true and perfect enlightenment, that of the Buddha. Anyone who achieves it becomes a Buddha, too. The Lotus Sutra teaches that everyone—whether they be “hearers,” “private Buddhas,” or Bodhisattvas—can attain true perfect enlightenment and become Buddhas. This perfect enlightenment of the Buddha is called anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.

A key idea of the Lotus Sutra is that the three separate vehicles of “hearers,” “private Buddhas,” and Bodhisattvas are united in One Vehicle, the Buddha Vehicle.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month met the seventy thousand successive Sun-Moon-Light Buddhas, we consider the teachings of the last Sun-Moon-Light Buddha.

“Thereupon the last Sun-Moon-Light Buddha expounded a Sūtra of the Great Vehicle called the ‘Innumerable Teachings, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas.’ Having expounded this sūtra, he sat cross-legged [facing the east] in the midst of the great multitude, and entered into the samādhi for the purport of the innumerable teachings. His body and mind became motionless.

“Thereupon the gods rained mandarava-flowers, maha­mandarava-flowers, manjusaka-flowers, and maha-manjusaka­flowers upon the Buddha and the great multitude. The world of the Buddha quaked in the six ways. The great multitude of the congregation, which included bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās, upāsikās, gods, dragons, yak􀁳as, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṃnaras, mahoragas, men, nonhuman beings, the kings of small countries, and the wheel turning-holy kings, were astonished. They rejoiced, joined their hands together [towards the Buddha], and looked up at him with one mind.

‘Thereupon the Tathagata emitted a ray of light from the white curls between his eyebrows, and illumined all the corners of eighteen thousand Buddha-worlds in the east just as this Buddha is illumining the Buddha-worlds as we see now.

See Glimpsing the ‘Infinite Absolute Buddha’

Glimpsing the ‘Infinite Absolute Buddha’

Manjusri’s narrative on Sun-Moon-Light Buddha illustrates that the Lotus Sutra was expounded in the past just as it is in the present. It is the universal teaching transcending even the concept of time. It is not some recent invention. The subsequent appearance of twenty thousand Buddhas with the same name suggests that the personalities of all Buddhas originate in the spirit of the very first One. Here we get the first glimpse of the “infinite absolute Buddha,” or Original Buddha, who will fully reveal himself in Chapter Sixteen, “The Duration of the Life of the Tathagata.”

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month started Day 2’s portion of Chapter 1, Introductory, we continue with the seventy thousand successive Sun-Moon-Light Buddhas.

“After his extinction there appeared a Buddha also called Sun­-Moon-Light. After his extinction there appeared another Buddha also called Sun-Moon-Light. In the same manner, seventy thousand Buddhas appeared in succession, all of them being called Sun­Moon-Light with the surname Bharadvaja.

“Maitreya, know this! All those Buddhas were called Sun-Moon­light with the ten epithets. Their expounding of the Dharma was good at the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end. The last Sun-Moon-Light Buddha was once a king. He had eight sons born to him before he renounced the world. The first son was called Having-Intention; the second, Good-Intention; the third, Infinite­Intention; the fourth, Treasure-Intention; the fifth, Increasing­Intention; the sixth, Doubts-Removing-Intention; the seventh, Resounding-Intention; and the eighth, Dharma-Intention. These eight princes had unhindered powers and virtues. Each of them was the ruler of the four continents [of a Sumeru-world]. Having heard that their father had renounced the world and attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, they abdicated from their thrones, and followed their father. They renounced the world, aspired for the Great Vehicle, performed brahma practices, and became teachers of the Dharma. They had already planted the roots of good under ten million Buddhas in their previous existence.

See The Prelude

The Prelude

Sun-Moon-Light Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra prior to entering nirvana, and then assured one of his disciples of his future Buddhahood. The same can be said about Sakyamuni. The Lotus Sutra is the written teachings of Sakyamuni that were expounded prior to his death. In them, he too assured disciples of their future Buddhahood.

Sun-Moon-Light Buddha assigned one of his followers, Wonderful-Light Bodhisattva, to preserve and spread his teachings after he was gone. Likewise, Sakyamuni assigned his followers the task of spreading his teachings in this world after he should enter nirvana. This theme will be developed later, beginning in Chapter Ten, “The Teacher of the Law,” and continuing for many chapters after.

Thus this chapter introduces ideas which serve as a prelude to or foreshadowing of the philosophy of the Lotus Sutra, presenting themes which will gradually unfold in the chapters which follow.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month concluded Chapter 1, Introductory, we return to the start of Day 2’s portion of the chapter.

Thereupon Mañjuśrī said to Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahasattva and the other great men:

“Good men! I think that the Buddha, the World-Honored One, wishes to expound a great teaching, to send the rain of a great teaching, to blow the conch-shell horn of a great teaching, to beat the drum of a great teaching, and to explain the meaning of a great teaching.

“Good men! I met many Buddhas in my previous existence. At that time I saw the same good omen as this. Those Buddhas emitted the same ray of light as this, and then expounded a great teaching. Therefore, know this! I think that this Buddha also is emitting this ray of light, and showing this good omen, wishing to cause all living beings to hear and understand the most difficult teaching in the world to believe.

“Good men! Innumerable, inconceivable, asamkya kalpas ago, there lived a Buddha called Sun-Moon-Light, the Tathagata, the Deserver of Offerings, the Perfectly Enlightened One, the Man of Wisdom and Practice, the Well-Gone, the Knower of the World, the Unsurpassed Man, the Controller of Men, the Teacher of Gods and Men, the Buddha, the World-Honored One. He expounded the right teachings. His expounding of the right teachings was good at the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end. The meanings of those teachings were profound. The words were skillful, pure, unpolluted, perfect, clean, and suitable for the explanation of brahma practices. To those who were seeking Śrāvakahood, he expounded the teaching of the four truths, a teaching suitable for them, saved them from birth, old age, disease, and death, and caused them to attain Nirvāṇa. To those who were seeking Pratyekabuddhahood, he expounded the teaching of the twelve causes, a teaching suitable for them. To Bodhisattvas, he expounded the teaching of the six paramitas, a teaching suitable for them, and caused them to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, that is, to obtain the knowledge of the equality and differences of all things.

See Maitreya and Manjusri

Maitreya and Manjusri

The reader should bear in mind that at this point Sakyamuni’s preaching has not yet begun. In fact, the speakers here are not Sakyamuni but Maitreya and Manjusri, with the former asking the questions and the latter answering them. Sakyamuni takes no part at all in the conversation. His teachings will begin in the next chapter, “Expedients.” The two major elements of this chapter are: (1) Maitreya Bodhisattva’s description of the scene of various living beings illuminated by the ray of light emitted from the white curl between the Buddha’s eyebrows (in the present), and (2) Manjusri’s narrative on Wonderful-Light Bodhisattva (in the past).

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month considered the life of the lazy man, we conclude Chapter 1, Introductory.

The ray of light of [Sun-Moon-] Light Buddha,
That is, the good omen, was the same as what I see now.
Judging from this, the present Buddha also will expound
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

The good omen I see now is like that of old.
This is an expedient employed by the Buddhas.
The present Buddha is also emitting a ray of light
In order to reveal the truth of the reality [of all things].

[Mañjuśrī said to the multitude:]

All of you, know this, join your hands together,
And wait with one mind!
The Buddha will send the rain of the Dharma
And satisfy those who seek enlightenment.

The Buddha will remove
Any doubt of those who seek
The teaching of the Three Vehicles.
No question will be left unresolved.

The light of the Buddha’s wisdom reveals the truth of the reality of all things. Pay attention. Wait with one mind.

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month considered Wonderful-Light’s expounding of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, we consider the life of the lazy man.

There was a lazy man
Among the disciples
Of Wonderful-Light, the Teacher of the Dharma.
[The lazy man] was attached to fame and gain.

Always seeking fame and gain,
He often visited noble families.
He did not understand what he had recited,
Gave it up, and forgot it.
Because of this,
He was called Fame-Seeking.

But he [later] did many good karmas,
And became able to see innumerable Buddhas.
He made offerings to them,
Followed them, practiced the Great Way,
And performed the six paramitas.
Now he sees the Lion-Like One of the Sakyas.

He will become a Buddha
In his future life.
He will be called Maitreya.
He will save innumerable living beings.

The lazy man who lived after the extinction
Of [Sun-Moon-] Light Buddha was
No one but you.
Wonderful-Light, the Teacher of the Dharma, was I.

I always smile when I consider that the next Buddha in the Sahā World was a slackard in a previous life. Then there is this from Lotus World: an Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon:

A particularly popular manifestation of Maitreya is the jovial monk whose statue is often mistaken for the Buddha. Taigen Daniel Leighton relates the following about this well-known but misunderstood figure:

“In China Maitreya is nearly synonymous with his supposed incarnation as the historical tenth-century Chinese Zen monk Budai, whose Japanese name, Hotei, may be more familiar in the West. Chinese images of Budai, or Hotei, are frequently labeled simply “Maitreya” (Milo in Chinese) such that in popular Chinese awareness they are virtually identical. Hotei is legendary as a wandering sage with supernatural powers who spent his time in village streets rather than in the security of temples. His image is recognizable as the disheveled, fat, jolly “laughing buddha” whose statue is seen in many Chinese restaurants and in all Chinese Buddhist temples.

“Hotei’s name means “cloth bag,” as he carried a sack full of candies and toys to give to children, with whom he is often depicted in play. This scruffy Buddhist Santa Claus expands our view of Maitreya’s warmth and loving-kindness. Hotei’s fat belly and affinity with children reflects yet another aspect of Maitreya in popular folk religion, that of a fertility deity. Maitreya was sometimes prayed to by those who wanted children, especially in Korea.”