Tag Archives: LS04

Day 5

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month learned that all Buddhas use expedients, we conclude Chapter 2, Expedients.

[The Buddha said to the great multitude:]

All of you, do not doubt me!
I am the King of the Dharma.
I say to you:
“I will expound the teaching of the One Vehicle
Only to Bodhisattvas.
There is no Śrāvaka among my disciples.”

Śāriputra, other Śrāvakas, and Bodhisattvas!
Know this!
This Wonderful Dharma is
The hidden core of the Buddhas.

The living beings
In the evil world of the five defilements
Are attached to many desires.
They do not seek the enlightenment of the Buddha.

Evil people in the future will doubt the One Vehicle
When they hear it from a Buddha.
They will not believe or receive it.
They will violate the Dharma, and fall into the evil regions.

Extol the teaching of the One Vehicle
In the presence of those who are modest,
Who are pure in heart,
And who are seeking enlightenment of the Buddha!

Śāriputra [and others], know this!
As a rule, the Buddhas expound the Dharma
With billions of expedients as stated above,
According to the capacities of all living beings.

Those who do not study the Dharma
Cannot understand it.
You have already realized
The fact that the Buddhas, the World-Teachers, employ expedients,
According to the capacities of all living beings.
Know that, when you remove your doubts,
And when you have great joy,
You will become Buddhas!
[Here ends] the First Volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

See The One Vehicle

The One Vehicle

Notwithstanding the Buddha’s efforts, people failed to realize that the expedients they had been taught were only part of the vast and profound truth attained by their master. Gradually they divided into different schools or sects clustered around a particular teaching which they believed to be the ultimate. During his fifty-year teaching Sakyamuni had employed a wide variety of expedients. His disciples, who scattered far and wide, noticed that they had received different teachings. They began to argue among each other about which teachings and practices were the more correct.

To solve these disputes, Sakyamuni introduced the Lotus Sutra—his ultimate teaching. Its first purpose was to break the attachments his disciples had formed to their own particular ideas. That is, Sakyamuni proclaimed that all he had previously taught were only expedients. They were partial truths, not the whole. They were separate “Vehicles.” Now they must be unified into One Vehicle, the Buddha Vehicle. This concept of the One Vehicle is the central thought of the Lotus Sutra and the chief idea presented in this chapter.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 4

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month learned of Śākyamuni’s decision to expound his wisdom, we learn that all Buddhas do the same.

All the Buddhas in the past, present, and future
Expounded, are expounding, and will expound
In the same manner the Dharma beyond comprehension.
I also will expound it in the same manner.

The Buddhas seldom appear in the worlds.
It is difficult to meet them.
Even when they do appear in the worlds,
They seldom expound the Dharma.

It is difficult to hear the Dharma
Even during innumerable kalpas.
It is also difficult to meet a person
Who listens to the Dharma attentively.
It is as difficult as seeing an udumbara-flower.
This flower, loved by all living beings,
And treasured by gods and men,
Blooms only once in a long time.

Anyone who rejoices at hearing the Dharma
And utters even a single word in praise of it
Should be considered to have already made offerings
To the past, present, and future Buddhas.
Such a person is rarely seen,
More rarely than the udumbara-flower.

See The Universal Truth

The Universal Truth

The Dharma which was attained and taught by Sakyamuni is the Universal Truth or Law, which must be acknowledged by every human being. There is only one Truth. However, so that people could understand it better, Sakyamuni expounded the one Truth in various ways, according to the capacities of his listeners. The varieties in Sakyamuni’s teaching show that the Truth is not rigid; rather it is flexible enough to be presented in different forms, according to the circumstances, despite its oneness. This is the reason Sakyamuni’s numerous sutras can be said to compose one and the same teaching. Unfortunately, sectarians, who did not understand the unity of Truth, began to turn these partial truths against each other and vie with each other for superiority. Their teachings, diverse as they may appear, are still united in the single teaching of the Buddha. The concept of the unification of doctrines is the very core of the teaching of the One Vehicle.

Day 4

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month witnessed Śākyamuni’s first turning of the wheel of the Dharma, we learn of Śākyamuni’s decision to expound his wisdom.

Śāriputra, know this!
Then I saw many sons of mine,
Thousands of billions in number,
Seeking the enlightenment of the Buddha.
They came to me respectfully.
They had already heard
Expedient teachings
From the past Buddhas.

I thought:
“I appeared in this world
In order to expound my wisdom.
Now is the time to do this.”

Śāriputra, know this!
Men of dull capacity and of little wisdom cannot believe the Dharma.
Those who are attached to the appearances of things are arrogant.
They cannot believe it, either.

I am now joyful and fearless.
I have laid aside all expedient teachings.
l will expound only unsurpassed enlightenment
To Bodhisattvas.

The Bodhisattvas who hear the Dharma
Will be able to remove the mesh of doubts.
The twelve hundred Arhats also
Will become Buddhas.

Śākyamuni’s explanation –

Then I saw many sons of mine,
Thousands of billions in number,
Seeking the enlightenment of the Buddha.

– is a graphic reminder of the love of our spiritual father.

Day 4

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month considered the suggestions of the gods and the past Buddhas of how to teach the Dharma, we witness Śākyamuni’s first turning of the wheel of the Dharma.

Śāriputra, know this!
Hearing the deep, pure, and wonderful voices
Of the Lion-Like Saints,
l joyfully called out, “Namo Buddhaya!”
I thought:
“I appeared in the defiled world.
Just like the other Buddhas,
I will expound the Dharma
According to the capacities of all living beings.”
Having thought this, I went to Varanasi,
And expounded the Dharma to the five bhikṣus
With expedients
Because the state of tranquil extinction of all things
Is inexplicable by words.
That was my first turning
Of the wheel of the Dharma.
Thus the words: Nirvana, Arhat, Dharma,
and Sangha
Came into existence.

I said to them:
“For the past innumerable kalpas
I have been extolling the teaching of Nirvana
In order to eliminate the sufferings of birth and death.”

See today’s blog post, Eclipse Protection.

Day 4

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month considered Śākyamuni’s initial reluctance to preach the Dharma, we now hear to suggestions of the gods and the past Buddhas.

On that occasion King Brahman,
Heavenly-King Śakra,
The four heavenly world-guardian kings,
Great-Freedom God, and other gods [of each world],
And thousands of millions of their attendants
Joined their hands together [towards me] respectfully,
Bowed to me,
And asked me to turn the wheel of the Dharma.

I thought:
“If I extol only the Buddha-Vehicle,
The living beings [of the six regions] will not believe it
Because they are too much enmeshed in sufferings to think of it.
If they do not believe but violate the Dharma,
They will fall into the three evil regions.
I would rather enter into Nirvana quickly
Than expound the Dharma to them.”

But, thinking of the past Buddhas who employed expedients,
I changed my mind and thought:
“I will expound the Dharma which l attained
By dividing it into the Three Vehicles.”

The Buddhas of the worlds of the ten quarters
Appeared before me when I had thought this.
They consoled me with their brahma voices:
“Good, Śākyamuni, Highest Leading Teacher!
You attained the unsurpassed Dharma.
You have decided to expound it with expedients
After the examples of the past Buddha
We also expound the Three Vehicles
To the Living beings
Although we attained
The most wonderful and excellent Dharma.
Men of little wisdom wish to hear
The teachings of the Lesser Vehicle.
They do not believe that they will become Buddhas.
Therefore, we show them
Various fruits of enlightenment.
Although we expound the Three Vehicles,
Our purpose is to teach only Bodhisattvas.”

I want to digress here after this mention of “men of little wisdom” who don’t believe they can become Buddhas. This Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma is the perfect vehicle to teach all living beings, especially in this Latter Age.

In Nichiren’s “Treatise on Protecting the Nation” he writes:

Miao-lé declared, “You may recite the Lotus Sutra inattentively; you don’t have to meditate or concentrate; with your whole heart pray to characters of the Lotus Sutra all the time whether sitting, standing or walking.”

The aim of this interpretation is solely to save the ignorant in the Latter Age. The “inattentive mind” meaning the mind of an ordinary person engaged in daily routines is contrasted to the “concentrated mind.” “Reciting the Lotus Sutra” means to recite either the whole eight fascicles or just one fascicle, one character, one phrase, one verse or the daimoku; it means also to rejoice upon hearing the Lotus Sutra even for a moment or the joy of the fiftieth person who hears the sutra transmitted from one person to the next. “Whether sitting, standing or walking” means regardless of what you are doing in daily life. “Whole heart” means neither spiritual concentration nor the rational faculty of even beginning practicers can have great merit; they insisted that the Lotus Sutra can be practiced only by those with advanced training, slighting those with little training. Thus, the 18th chapter shows the great merit of beginning practicers, revealing the excellent merit of this sutra.”

Day 4

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month reviewed of what all Buddhas teach, we come to Śākyamuni’s initial reluctance to preach the Dharma.

Śāriputra, know this!
Seeing with the eyes of the Buddha
The living beings of the six regions, I thought:
“They are poor, and devoid of merits and wisdom.
They incessantly suffer because they are taken
To the rough road of birth and death.
They cling to the five desires
Just as a yak loves its tail.
They are occupied with greed and cravings,
And blinded by them.
They do not seek the Buddha who has great power.
They do not seek the Way to eliminate sufferings.
They are deeply attached to wrong views.
They are trying to stop suffering by suffering.”

My great compassion was aroused towards them.
I for the first time sat at the place of enlightenment[,]
[And attained enlightenment].
For three weeks afterwards,
I gazed on the tree,
Or walked about, thinking:
“The wisdom I obtained is
The most wonderful and excellent.
The living beings [of the six regions]
Are dull, attached to pleasures,
And blinded by stupidity.
How shall I save them?”

Nothing better describes the problems of the world than Śākyamuni’s observation: “They are trying to stop suffering by suffering.” Imagine awakening to the truth of all things and realizing, “No one is going to believe this.”

Day 4

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month covered every Buddha’s vows to ” cause all living beings To attain the same enlightenment That I attained,” we continue the review of what all Buddhas teach.

They know the Highest Truth of Tranquil Extinction.
They have the power to employ expedients.
Although they expound various teachings,
Their purpose is to reveal the Buddha-Vehicle.

Knowing the deeds of all living beings,
And their thoughts deep in their minds,
And the karmas they have done in their previous existence,
And their desires, natures, and powers to make efforts,
And also knowing whether each of them is keen or dull,
The Buddhas expound the Dharma according to their capacities,
With various stories of previous lives, parables, similes and discourses,
That is to say, with various expedients.

I also do the same.
I show the enlightenment of the Buddha
With various teachings
In order to give peace to all living beings.

I know the natures and desires of all living beings
By the power of my wisdom.
Therefore, I expound various teachings expediently,
And cause all living beings to rejoice.

Before I became a Buddhist I first had to leave behind the family teachings about a supreme being who not only saw everything but had a plan for everything and fixed everything within that plan. Śākyamuni Buddha is no less omnipotent. Make no mistake. But Śākyamuni perceives my “natures and desires.” He knows my karmas, whether I am keen or dull. And with his teachings, causes me to rejoice.

Day 4

Day 4 finishes Chapter 2, Expedients, and completes the first volume of the Sutra of the Lotus flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month covered the power of intention – faith – in pursuit of enlightenment, we conclude Chapter 2.

The World-Honored Ones in the future
Will be countless in number.
Those Tathāgatas also
Will expound the Dharma with expedients.

The Tathāgatas save all living beings
With innumerable expedients.
They cause all living beings to enter the Way
To the wisdom-without-āsravas of the Buddha.
Anyone who hears the Dharma
Will not fail to become a Buddha.

Every Buddha vows at the outset:
“I will cause all living beings
To attain the same enlightenment
That I attained.”

The future Buddhas will expound many thousands
Of myriads of millions of teachings
For just one purpose,
That is, for the purpose of revealing the One Vehicle.

The Buddhas, the Most Honorable Bipeds,
Expound the One Vehicle because they know:
“All things are devoid of substantiality.
The seed of Buddhahood comes from dependent origination.”

The Leading Teachers expound the Dharma with expedients
After realizing at the place of enlightenment:
“This is the abode of the Dharma and the position of the Dharma.
The reality of the world is permanently as it is.”

Gods and men are making offerings
To the present Buddhas of the worlds of the ten quarters.
The Buddhas as many as there are sands in the River Ganges
Who appeared in these worlds,
Are expounding the Dharma
For the purpose of giving peace to all living beings.

Underscore Every Buddha vows at the outset:
“I will cause all living beings
To attain the same enlightenment
That I attained.”