Tag Archives: LS02

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.”

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month witnessed Sun-Moon-Light Buddha’s passing into Nirvāṇa, we consider Wonderful-Light’s expounding of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Wonderful-Light, the Teacher of the Dharma,
Kept the store of the Dharma of the Buddha, and expounded
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
For eighty small kalpas.

Led by Wonderful-Light, those eight princes resolved
To attain unsurpassed enlightenment.
[Wonderful-Light said to them:]
“You will be able to see countless Buddhas.”

Having made offerings to [countless] Buddhas,
Those princes followed them, practiced the Great Way,
And became Buddhas in succession.
Each of them assured another of his future Buddhahood.

The last God of Gods
Was called Burning-Light Buddha.
As the leader of seers,
He saved innumerable living beings.

This Introductory shows us just how full of wonder and power we will be when we hear and keep and expound the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month heard Sun-Moon-Light Buddha’s expounding of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, we come to his passing into Nirvāṇa.

Having expounded the Sūtra
Of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma,
And caused the multitude to rejoice,
The Buddha told the gods and men
At that moment on that day,
“[ have already expounded to you
The truth of the reality of all things.
I shall enter into Nirvāṇa at midnight tonight.
Make efforts with all your hearts!
Leave the life of license!
It is difficult to see a Buddha, who can be seen
Only once in hundreds of millions of kalpas.”

Having heard that the Buddha would enter into Nirvana,
Those sons of the World-Honored One
Were filled with sorrow.
They said, “How quickly the Buddha is gone!”

The Saintly Master, the King of the Dharma,
Consoled the countless living beings, saying:
“Although I shall pass away,
You must not worry.
This Virtue-Store Bodhisattva has already understood
The truth of the reality [of all things]
[To be attained by the wisdom] without asravas.
He will become a Buddha immediately after me.
He will be called Pure-Body.
He will save innumerable living beings.”

The Buddha passed away that night
Just as fire dies out when wood is gone.
His śarīras were distributed.
Countless stupas were erected to enshrine them.

As many bhikṣus and bhikṣunīs
As there are sands in the River Ganges
Redoubled their endeavors
In order to attain unsurpassed enlightenment.

Redoubling my endeavors in order to attain unsurpassed enlightenment.

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month heard what Mañjuśrī’s saw illumined by the ray of light, we come to the Buddha’s expounding of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

He who was honored by gods and men
Emerged from his samādhi,
And praised Wonderful-Light Bodhisattva, saying:
“You are the eyes of the world.

You are believed and relied on
By all living beings.
You are keeping the store of the Dharma.
Only you will understand the Dharma which I shall expound.”

Having praised Wonderful-Light
And caused him to rejoice,
That World-Honored One expounded
The Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.
He never rose from his seat for sixty small kalpas.
Wonderful-Light, the Teacher of the Dharma,
Kept the Wonderful Dharma
Expounded by that World-Honored One.

Of all the supernatural powers of the Tathāgatas, the talent to make it possible for his listeners to sit quietly and listen intently for “sixty small kalpas” is one I admire most.

Day 2

Day 2 completes Chapter 1, Introductory.

Having last month begun Mañjuśrī’s repetition of what he saw in gathas, we continue with what was illumined by the ray of light.

This ray of light illumined
Eighteen thousand Buddha-worlds in the east.
It showed the region
To which each living being was to go by his karmas.

The worlds of the Buddha were
Adorned with many treasures,
And given the colors of lapis lazuli and crystal.
I saw all this by the light of the Buddha.

l also saw the gods, men, dragons, yakṣas,
Gandharvas, and kiṃnaras of those worlds.
Each of them made offerings
To the Buddha by whom he was taught.

I also saw the Tathagatas of those worlds
Who had attained enlightenment by themselves.
The color of their bodies was as beautiful
And as wonderful as that of the golden mountains,
Or as that of a golden image
Put in a shrine of pure lapis lazuli.

Those World-Honored Ones explained to the great multitudes
The meaning of the profound teaching.
There were innumerable Śrāvakas
In the worlds of those Buddhas.
All those great multitudes were seen
By the light of the Buddha.

The bhikṣus were living in mountains and forests.
They made endeavors,
And observed the pure precepts
As carefully as one keeps brilliant gem·.

As many Bodhisattvas
As there are sands in the River Ganges
Performed almsgiving, patience, and other practices.
I saw all this by the light of the Buddha.

I also saw some Bodhisattvas
Who entered deep into dhyāna-concentrations,
And became tranquil and motionless in body and mind,
In order to attain unsurpassed enlightenment.

I also saw some Bodhisattvas,
Who realized the tranquil extinction of all things,
And expounded the Dharma to [the people of] their worlds
In order to attain the enlightenment of the Buddha.

The four kinds of devotees
Of the world of Sun-Moon-Light Buddha
Also saw the Buddha displaying this great wonder.
They had great joy.
They asked one another:
“Why is he doing this?”

By the light of the Buddha. On my list of topics for future blog posts is the role of light in the Lotus Sutra.