Tag Archives: LS03

Day 3

Day 3 covers the first half of Chapter 2, Expedients.

Having last month been introduced to the idea of expedient teachings, we consider the depth of the insight of the Tathāgatas.

“Śāriputra! The insight of the Tathāgatas is wide and deep. [The Tathāgatas] have all the [states of mind towards] innumerable [living beings,] unhindered [eloquence,] powers, fearlessness, dhyāna-concentrations, emancipations, and samādhis. They entered deep into boundlessness, and attained the Dharma which you have never heard before.

“Śāriputra! The Tathāgatas divide [the Dharma] into various teachings, and expound those teachings to all living beings so skillfully and with such gentle voices that living beings are delighted. Śāriputra! In short, the Buddhas attained the innumerable teachings which you have never heard before. No more, Śāriputra, will I say because the Dharma attained by the Buddhas is the highest Truth, rare [to hear] and difficult to understand. Only the Buddhas attained [the highest Truth, that is,] the reality of all things’ in regard to their appearances as such, their natures as such, their entities as such, their powers as such, their activities as such, their primary causes as such, their environmental causes as such, their effects as such, their rewards and retributions as such, and their equality as such [despite these differences].

See The Reality of All Things

The Reality of All Things

[T]he “Ten Suchnesses” … form one of the Buddha’s best known teachings. Reality in the “reality of all things” means “substance” or “existence.” According to this teaching, the true nature of existence (the reality of all things) can be seen in nine aspects as such: (1) their objective appearances (attributes), (2) their subjective natures (inner natures), (3) their entities (forms), (4) their powers (inner potentials), (5) their functions and activities, (6) their primary or direct causes, (7) their environmental causes (indirect causes), (8) their effects upon others, and (9) their rewards and retributions upon themselves.

This is not a classification of existence, but an illustration of various viewpoints from which the true nature of existence may be understood. The viewer is the Buddha, these nine factors essentially make up a whole as a manifestation of his wisdom. From the first factor (appearances) through to the last (rewards and retributions), all are unified as one. Each is ultimately equal to the others, and so really only one “as such” exists. This one, the tenth factor, is called the “equality of the nine factors.’

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 3

Day 3 covers the first half of Chapter 2, Expedients.

Having last month concluded Day 3’s portion of Chapter 2, Expedients, we start again at the top.

Thereupon the World-Honored One emerged quietly from his samādhi, and said to Śāriputra:

“The wisdom of the [present] Buddhas is profound and immeasurable. The gate to it is difficult to understand and difficult to enter. [Their wisdom] cannot be understood by any Śrāvaka or Pratyekabuddha because the [present] Buddhas attended on many hundreds of thousands of billions of [past] Buddhas, and practiced the innumerable teachings of those Buddhas bravely and strenuously to their far-flung fame until they attained the profound Dharma which you have never heard before, [and became Buddhas,] and also because [since they became Buddhas] they have been expounding the Dharma according to the capacities of all living beings in such various ways that the true purpose of their [various] teachings is difficult to understand.

“Śāriputra! Since I became a Buddha, I [also] have been expounding various teachings with various stories of previous lives, with various parables, and with various similes. I have been leading all living beings with innumerable expedients in order to save them from various attachments, because I have the power to employ expedients and the power to perform the pāramitā of insight.

See Sariputra

Sariputra

In Chapter One, Sakyamuni entered into the samadhi (deep concentration) on the Innumerable Teachings, and his body and mind became motionless. Now at the beginning of this chapter, he emerges quietly from that samadhi and begins to speak to Sariputra, one of his disciples. “The wisdom of the Buddhas,” he says, “is profound and immeasurable. Their wisdom cannot be understood by any “hearer” or “private Buddha.”

Sakyamuni chose Sariputra deliberately. He was a good example of a “hearer” who had attained the highest rank and become an arhat. In addition, he was considered the wisest among the ten great disciples of the Buddha. The Buddha begins his sermon with a gentle but firm criticism of the “hearers” and “private Buddhas.” The wisdom of the real Buddhas, he says, is far beyond their comprehension. The disciples must break from any attachment to their own way. Its results are only partial, not complete.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 3

Day 3 covers the first half of Chapter 2, Expedients.

Having last month learned the goal of all Buddhas is to show the insight of the Buddha, we conclude Day 3’s portion of Chapter 2, Expedients.

“Śāriputra! The Buddhas appear in the evil worlds in which there are the five defilements. The worlds are defiled by the decay of the kalpa, by illusions, by the deterioration of the living beings, by wrong views, and by the shortening of lives. Śāriputra! When a kalpa is in decay, the living beings [in that kalpa] are so full of illusions, so greedy, and so jealous that they plant many roots of evil. Therefore, the Buddhas divide the One Buddha-Vehicle into three as an expedient.

“Śāriputra! Some disciples of mine, who think that they are Arhats or Pratyekabuddhas, will not be my disciples or Arhats or Pratyekabuddhas if they do not hear or know that the Buddhas, the Tathāgatas, teach only Bodhisattvas.

“Śāriputra! Some bhikṣus and bhikṣunīs do not seek Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi because they think that they have already attained Arhatship, that they have already reached the final stage of their physical existence, and that the Nirvāṇa attained by them is the final one. Know this! They are arrogant because it cannot be that the bhikṣus who attained Arhatship do not believe the Dharma. Some bhikṣus who live in a period in which no Buddha lives after my extinction may not believe the Dharma after they attain Arhatship because in that period it will be difficult to meet a person who keeps, reads, and recites this sūtra, and understands the meanings of it. They will be able to understand the Dharma when they meet another Buddha.

“Śāriputra and all of you present here! Understand the Dharma by faith with all your hearts! There is no vehicle other than the One Buddha-Vehicle.”

The Daily Dharma from March 12, 2017, offers this:

Śāriputra! Some disciples of mine, who think that they are Arhats or Pratyekabuddhas, will not be my disciples or Arhats or Pratyekabuddhas if they do not hear or know that the Buddhas, the Tathāgatas, teach only Bodhisattvas.

The Buddha makes this declaration to his disciple Śāriputra in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sutra. When the Buddha says he only teaches Bodhisattvas, he does not mean that he excludes anyone from his teaching. It is only when we realize and develop our capacities as Bodhisattvas, beings who exist to benefit all beings, rather than being preoccupied with our own suffering, can we hear, practice and appreciate the Buddha Dharma.

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

Day 3

Day 3 covers the first half of Chapter 2, Expedients.

Having last month learned that Buddhas teach only Bodhisattvas, we learn that their goal is to show the insight of the Buddha.

“Śāriputra! The present Buddhas, the present World-Honored Ones, of many hundreds of thousands of billions of Buddha-worlds of the ten quarters benefit all living beings, and give them peace. These Buddhas also expound various teachings with innumerable expedients, that is to say, with stories of previous lives, parables, similes and discourses, only for the purpose of revealing the One Buddha-Vehicle. The living beings who hear the teachings from these Buddhas will also finally obtain the knowledge of the equality and differences of all things.

“Śāriputra! These [present] Buddhas teach only Bodhisattvas because they wish to show the insight of the Buddha to all living beings, to cause them to obtain the insight of the Buddha, and to cause them to enter the Way to the insight of the Buddha.

“Śāriputra! So do I. I know that all living beings have various desires. I also know that they have attachments deep in their minds. Therefore, I expound various teachings to them with stories of previous lives, parables, similes and discourses, that is to say, with various expedients according to their natures.

“Śāriputra! I do all this for the purpose of causing them to realize the teaching of the One Buddha-Vehicle, that is, to obtain the knowledge of the equality and differences of all things. Śāriputra! There is not a second vehicle in the worlds of the ten quarters. How can there be a third?

Lotus Seeds” offers this on the topic of only teaching Bodhisattvas.

In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha states that he actually teaches only bodhisattvas. This means that even the voice-hearers who follow the Four Noble Truths or those who contemplate Dependent Origination are not authentic followers of the Buddha until they have the compassionate heart of a bodhisattva. Thus, it is not enough to simply follow the Eightfold Path. One must also follow it with the spirit of compassionate concern for others. The bodhisattvas do not practice only for their own benefit, they practice for the sake of all beings. This is because they are deeply aware of the interdependent nature of all things. That is, they realize that no one is disconnected from the whole. Therefore, the notion of a self-liberation apart from others is just another symptom of the delusion of a separate self.Lotus Seeds

Day 3

Day 3 covers the first half of Chapter 2, Expedients.

Having last month covered the purpose of the various teachings, we learn that past, present and future Buddhas do the same.

The Buddha said to Śāriputra:

“The Buddhas, the Tathāgatas, teach only Bodhisattvas. All they do is for one purpose, that is, to show the insight of the Buddha to all living beings, to cause them to obtain the insight of the Buddha.

“Śāriputra! I also expound various teachings to all living beings only for the purpose of revealing the One Buddha-Vehicle. There is no other vehicle, not a second or a third. Śāriputra! All the present Buddhas of the worlds of the ten quarters also do the same.

“Śāriputra! All the Buddhas in the past expounded various teachings to all living beings with innumerable expedients, that is to say, with stories of previous lives, parables, similes and discourses, only for the purpose of revealing the One Buddha-Vehicle. The living beings who heard those teachings from those Buddhas finally obtained the knowledge of the equality and differences of all things.

“Śāriputra! All the Buddhas who will appear in the future also will expound various teachings to all living beings with innumerable expedients, that is to say, with stories of previous lives, parables, similes and discourses, only for the purpose of revealing the One Buddha-Vehicle. The living beings who hear those teachings from those Buddhas also will finally obtain the knowledge of the equality and differences of all things.

The Daily Dharma from May 1, 2017, offers this:

The Buddhas, the Tathāgatas, teach only Bodhisattvas. All they do is for one purpose, that is, to show the insight of the Buddha to all living beings, to cause them to obtain the insight of the Buddha.

The Buddha speaks these words in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sutra. Here he emphasizes the importance of practice for reaching enlightenment. We may think that just hearing what the Buddha teaches is enough to reach his insight of seeing things for what they are. We also need to be actively engaged with the world, doing our best, making mistakes, and confident that we can continue to learn how to make things better. This is no different from the mistaken belief that one can learn how to cook by merely reading recipes. Only by going in the kitchen and making something can one gain the insight of whoever came up with the recipe.

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

Day 3

Day 3 covers the first half of Chapter 2, Expedients.

Having last month covered the departure of the twigs and leaves, Śākyamuni tells Śāriputra the purpose of the various teachings.

The Buddha said to him:

“The Buddhas, the Tathāgatas, expound this Wonderful Dharma as rarely as the udumbara-flower blooms. Śāriputra! Believe what I am going to say! My words are not false.

“Śāriputra! The purpose of the various teachings that the Buddhas expound according to the capacities of all living beings is difficult to understand. I also expound various teachings with innumerable expedients, that is to say, with stories of previous lives, parables, similes and discourses. [The purpose of the various teachings of the Buddhas is difficult to understand] because the Dharma cannot be understood by reasoning. Only the Buddhas know the Dharma because the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, appear in the worlds only for one great purpose.

“Śāriputra! What is the one great purpose for which the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, appear in the worlds? The Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, appear in the worlds in order to cause all living beings to open [the gate to] the insight of the Buddha, and to cause them to purify themselves. They appear in the worlds in order to show the insight of the Buddha to all living beings. They appear in the worlds in order to cause all living beings to obtain the insight of the Buddha. They appear in the worlds in order to cause all living beings to enter the Way to the insight of the Buddha. Śāriputra! This is the one great purpose for which the Buddhas appear in the worlds.”

It was only recently that I came to truly appreciate that purpose – the one great purpose – of the Buddha’s teaching is “to cause all living beings to obtain the insight of the Buddha.” We’re not just trying to get to heaven or escape from misery. “They appear in the worlds in order to cause all living beings to enter the Way to the insight of the Buddha.”

Day 3

Day 3 covers the first half of Chapter 2, Expedients.

Having last month covered Śāriputra’s request and Śākyamuni’s response, we come to the departure of the twigs and leaves.

Thereupon the World-Honored One said to him:

“You asked me three times with enthusiasm. How can I leave the Dharma unexpounded? Listen to me attentively, and think over my words! Now I will expound [the Dharma] to you.”

When he had said this, five thousand people among the bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās, and upāsikās of this congregation rose from their seats, bowed to the Buddha, and retired because they were so sinful and arrogant that they thought that they had already obtained what they had not yet, and that they had already understood what they had not yet. Because of these faults, they did not stay. The World-Honored One kept silence and did not check them.

Thereupon the World-Honored One said to Śāriputra:

“Now this congregation has been cleared of twigs and leaves, only sincere people being left. Śāriputra! Those arrogant people may go. Now listen to me attentively! I will expound [the Dharma] to you.”

Śāriputra said, “Certainly, World-Honored One! I wish to hear you.”

Of all of the scenes depicted in the Lotus Sūtra, this is one of the most realistic to me. I have no problem imagining 5,000 self-important people thinking they know everything and leaving before hearing what Śākyamuni has to say.

Day 3

Day 3 covers the first half of Chapter 2, Expedients.

Having last month covered Śāriputra’s question, we get Śākyamuni’s response.

Thereupon the Buddha said to him,
“No, no, I will not. If I do, all the gods and men in the world will be frightened and perplexed.”

Śāriputra said to him again:

“World-Honored One! Explain it, explain it! The many hundreds of thousands of billions of asaṃkhyas of living beings in this congregation have active functions of mind and clear wisdom because they have seen the [past] Buddhas in their previous existence. If they hear you, they will respect and believe you.”

Thereupon Śāriputra, wishing to repeat what he had said, sang in a gāthā:

King of the Dharma, Most Honorable One!
Explain it! Do not worry!
The innumerable living beings in this congregation
Will respect and believe you.

The Buddha checked him again, saying, “No. If I do, all the gods, men and asuras in the world will be frightened and perplexed, and arrogant bhikṣus will fall into a great pit.”

Thereupon the Buddha repeated this in a gāthā:

No, no, I will not say any more.
My teaching is wonderful and inconceivable.
If arrogant people hear me,
They will not respect or believe me.

Thereupon Śāriputra said to him again:

“World-Honored One! Expound the Dharma, expound the Dharma! The hundreds of thousands of billions of living beings in this congregation like me followed the [past] Buddhas and received their teachings in their consecutive previous existences. They will respect and believe you. They will be able to have peace after the long night and obtain many benefits.”

Thereupon Śāriputra, wishing to repeat what he had said, sang in gāthās:

Most Honorable Biped!
Expound the Highest Truth!
I am your eldest son.
Expound the Dharma!

The innumerable living beings in this congregation
Will respect and believe the Dharma.
They have been taught by the [past] Buddhas
In their consecutive previous existences.
They are joining their hands together [towards you],
Wishing with all their hearts to hear and receive your words.

Expound the Dharma
To us twelve hundred men,
And also to the other people
Who are seeking Buddhahood!
We shall be very glad to hear the Dharma.
The other people will also.

The Daily Dharma from July 3, 2016, offers this:

No, no, I will not say any more.
My teaching is wonderful and inconceivable.
If arrogant people hear me,
They will not respect or believe me.

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sūtra. This was his response the first time Śāriputra asked to receive the Buddha’s highest teaching. The Buddha knew we must be prepared for his wisdom. We must discern clearly the difference between what we know and what we do not know. Because all things are impermanent, the truths we cling to may no longer apply. The ignorance and confusion at the root of our suffering will disappear as we set aside what is no longer true and gain wisdom.

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