Tag Archives: LS05

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month heard in gāthās Śāriputra’s realization, we hear Śāriputra’s acceptance of the Buddha’s explanation of his expedient teaching.

When I had heard this from you,
I was much frightened and perplexed; I thought:
“The Buddha troubles me.
Isn’t he Mara in the form of a Buddha?”

You skillfully expound the Dharma with various parables and similes,
And with various stories of previous lives.
Now my mind is as peaceful as the sea.
Hearing you, I have removed the mesh of doubts.

You said:
“The innumerable Buddhas in the past
Expounded the Dharma with expedients.
The numberless Buddhas at present
Also expound the Dharma
With expedients.
So will the countless Buddhas
In the future.”

You appeared in this world,
Left your home, attained enlightenment,
And now turn the wheel of the Dharma,
Also with expedients.

You expound the true teaching;
Papiyas does not.
Therefore, I know
That you are not a transformation of Mara.
I thought that the Dharma was expounded by Mara
Because I was in the mesh of doubts.

I hear your gentle voice.
Your voice is deep and wonderful.
You expound the Pure Dharma.
My heart is filled with great joy.
All my doubts are gone.
I have obtained true wisdom.

I shall become a Buddha without fail.
I shall be respected by gods and men.
I will turn the wheel of the unsurpassed Dharma,
And teach Bodhisattvas.

See The Expedient Process

The Expedient Process

[W]e all live in a world of relativity. We cannot ignore the fact that different opinions and different understandings of the world have always existed. According to the Lotus Sutra, this diversity of opinions should be appreciated and understood as valid steps we are taking on the road to the human ideal of the ultimate truth and ultimate value. For example, we often see conflicting theories in scientific research programs. Since each theory has good reasons behind it, it may be called a truth at that particular stage. But these various hypotheses must lie within the process leading to that truth.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month heard in gāthās Śāriputra’s understanding that the Buddha expounds the Dharma according to the capacities of all living beings, we hear Śāriputra’s realization.

I once was attached to wrong views,
And became a teacher of the aspirants for the teaching of Brahman.
You expounded to me the teaching of Nirvāṇa,
And removed my wrong views because you understood me.
I gave up all those wrong views,
And attained the truth that nothing is substantial.

At that time I thought
That I had attained extinction.’
But now I know
That the extinction I attained is not the true one.
When I become a Buddha in the future,
I shall be adorned with the thirty-two marks,
And respected
By gods, men, yakṣas, and dragons.
Only then I shall be able to say
That I have eliminated all [illusions].

In the midst of the great multitude,
You said to me, “You will become a Buddha.”
Hearing this truthful voice,
All my doubts are gone.

See Offering of Robes

Offering of Robes

Sariputra was the first among the Ten Great Disciples and the numerous other “hearers” and arhats who were personally assured by Sakyamuni of future Buddhahood. The congregation rejoiced to see that Sariputra was assured of his future Buddhahood, took off their outer robes, and offered them to the Buddha. (The monks, who had practically no possessions, were offering their only “luxury.” Wealthy followers made more costly offerings.) They venerated the Buddha and exalted him, saying, “The Buddha first turned the wheel of the law at Varanasi a long time ago. Now he turns the wheel of the unsurpassed and greatest law.”

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month heard Śāriputra’s joy at hearing he will become a Buddha and his realization that the Dharma had been expounded according to the capacities of the hearers, we repeat in gāthās.

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

Hearing this truthful voice,
I have the greatest joy
That I have ever had.
I have removed all the mesh of doubts.

You have taught us the Great Vehicle without a break from of old.
Your voice is rare to hear.
It dispels the sufferings of all living beings.
I once eliminated āsravas.
Hearing this voice of yours,
I have now removed all sorrows.

I walked about mountains and valleys,
Or sat under a tree in a forest, thinking this over.
I reproached myself with a deep sigh:
“Why was I deceived?
We also are sons of the Buddha
[Just as the Bodhisattvas are].
We entered the same [ world]
[Of the] Dharma-without-āsravas.
But we shall not be able to expound
Unsurpassed enlightenment in the future.
We are in the same [ world of the] Dharma.
But we shall not be given
The golden body with the thirty-two marks,
The ten powers, and the emancipations [of the Buddha].
We are deprived of the hope
To have the eighty wonderful marks,
The eighteen unique properties
And the other merits [of the Buddha].”

[Sitting] in the midst of the great multitude,
You benefited all living beings.
Your fame extended over the worlds of the ten quarters.
When I was walking alone,
I saw all this, and thought:
“I am not given this benefit. I have been deceived.”

I thought this over day and night,
And wished to ask you,
“Am I disqualified
[From having this benefit] or not?”

I always saw you praising the Bodhisattvas.
Therefore, I thought this over day and night.
Now hearing from you,
I understand that you expound the Dharma
According to the capacities of all living beings.
You lead all living beings
To the place of enlightenment
By the Dharma-without-āsravas, difficult to understand.

See Feeling Like Dancing

Feeling Like Dancing

Sariputra, who felt like dancing with joy stood up, pressed his palms together, looked up at the honorable face, and said to the Buddha, “Hearing this truthful voice of yours, I feel like dancing with joy. I have never felt like this before” (p. 51).

Why was he so delighted? He explains that previously, as one of the “hearers,” he had been satisfied with his accomplishments, but couldn’t help feeling that he was still missing something. Now at last he understood what had been bothering him, and realized that he was truly a child of the Buddha.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month concluded Day 5 (and shifted the end point), we return to the start of Chapter 3, A Parable.

Thereupon Śāriputra, who felt like dancing with joy, stood up, joined his hands together, looked up at the honorable face, and said to the Buddha:

“Hearing this truthful voice of yours, I feel like dancing [with joy]. I have never felt like this before. Why is that? We [Śrāvakas and the Bodhisattvas] heard this Dharma before. [At that time] we saw that the Bodhisattvas were assured of their future Buddhahood, but not that we were. We deeply regretted that we were not given the immeasurable insight of the Tathāgata.

“World-Honored One! I sat alone under a tree or walked about mountains and forests, thinking, ‘We [and the Bodhisattvas] entered the same world of the Dharma. Why does the Tathāgata save us only by the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle?’

“Now I understand that the fault was on our side, not on yours, because if we had waited for your expounding of the Way to Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, we would have been saved by the Great Vehicle. When we heard your first teaching, we did not know that that teaching was an expedient one expounded according to our capacities. Therefore, we believed and received that teaching at once, thought it over, and attained the enlightenment [to be attained by that teaching].

“World-Honored One! I reproached myself day and night [after I saw that the Bodhisattvas were assured of their future Buddhahood]. Now I have heard from you the Dharma that I had never heard before. I have removed all my doubts. I am now calm and peaceful in body and mind. Today I have realized that I am your son, that I was born from your mouth, that I was born in [the world of] the Dharma, and that I have obtained the Dharma of the Buddha.”

See Three Stages of Preaching

The Three Stages of Preaching

This chapter is named “A Parable” because it contains a well-known story called, “The Burning House and the Three Carts” or “The Burning House of the Triple World.” The Lotus Sutra contains seven parables, commonly called the Seven Great Parables, and this is the first of them.

The first half of the Lotus Sutra (“Shakumon” or the “Theoretical Section”) is characterized by three stages of preaching. That is, the same subject is presented in three different ways according to the capacities of the hearers: first by a theory, then by a parable, and finally by means of a story from some previous existence. The teaching of the One Vehicle, for instance, is first presented theoretically in Chapter Two. Then it is illustrated by parables in Chapters Three, Four, Five, and Six. Finally its reason and purpose is clarified in Chapter Seven by a story from a previous existence.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Last month concluded Day 5 with Śāriputra’s plea of behalf of others for the Buddha to explain this Dharma that they had never heard before. I’ve reconsidered where I’m dividing the end of Day 5, moving it to the conclusion of the first telling of the Parable of the Burning House.

Thereupon the Buddha said to Śāriputra:
“Did I not tell you, ‘The Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, expound the Dharma with expedients, that is, with various stories of previous lives, with various parables, with various similes, and with various discourses only for the purpose of causing all living beings to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi’? All these teachings of the Buddhas are for the purpose of teaching Bodhisattvas. Śāriputra! Now I will explain this with a parable. Those who have wisdom will be able to understand the reason if they hear the following parable.

“Śāriputra! Suppose there lived a very rich man in a certain country, in a certain village, in a certain town. He was old. His wealth was immeasurable. He had many paddy fields, houses, and servants. His manor house was large, but had only one gate. In that house lived many people, numbering a hundred or two hundred or five hundred. The buildings were in decay, the fences and walls corrupt, the bases of the pillars rotten, and the beams and ridgepoles tilting and slanted.

“All of a sudden fires broke out at the same time from all sides of the house, and it began to burn. In this house lived children of the rich man, numbering ten or twenty or thirty. The rich man was very frightened at the great fires breaking out from the four sides of the house. He thought, ‘I am able to get out of the gate of the burning house safely, but my children are still inside. They are engrossed in playing. They do not know that the fires are coming towards them. They are not frightened or afraid. They are about to suffer, but do not mind. They do not wish to get out.’ Śāriputra! He also thought, ‘I am strong-muscled. I will put them in a flower-plate or on a table and bring them out.’

“But he thought again, ‘This house has only one gate. Worse still, the gate is narrow and small. My children are too young to know this. They are attached to the place where they are playing. They may fall [out of the plate or table] and get burned. I had better tell them of the danger. This house is already burning. They must come out quickly so as not to be burned to death.’

“Having thought this, he said to his children as he had thought, ‘Come out quickly!’ He warned them with these good words out of his compassion towards them, but they were too much engrossed in playing to hear the words of their father. They were not frightened or afraid. They did not wish to come out. They did not know what a fire was, what a house was, and what they would lo e. They ran about happily. They only glanced at their father occasionally.

“Thereupon the rich man thought, ‘This house will be burned down soon by this great fire. If they and I do not get out at once, we shall be burned. I will save them from this danger with an expedient.

“An idea came to his mind that his children would be attracted by the various toys which they wished to have. He said to them, ‘The toys you wish to have are rare and difficult to obtain. You will be sorry if you do not get them now. There are sheep-carts, deer carts, and bullock-carts outside the gate. You can play with them. Come out of this burning house quickly! I will give you any of them according to your wishes.’

“Hearing of the toys from their father, the children rushed quickly out of the burning house, pushing one another, and striving to be first, because they thought that they could get what they each wished to have. The rich man, who saw them having come out safely and sitting in the open on the crossroad with no more hindrance, felt relieved and danced with joy. They said to their father, ‘Father! Give us the toys! Give us the sheep-carts, deer-cart and bullock-carts you promised us!’

“Śāriputra! Then the rich man gave each of them a large cart of the same size. The cart was tall, wide and deep, adorned with many treasures, surrounded by railings, and having bells hanging on the four sides. A canopy adorned with rare treasures was fixed on the top of it. Garlands of flowers, tied with jeweled ropes, were hanging from the canopy. In the cart were quilts spread one on another, and a red pillow. The cart was yoked with white bullocks. The color of the skin of the white bullocks was bright; their build, beautiful and stout; and their pace, regular. They could run as swift as the wind. The cart was guarded by many attendants. [This great rich man gave one of these carts to each of his children] because his wealth was so immeasurable that his various storehouses were full [of treasures]. He thought, ‘My treasures are limitless. I should not give inferior, smaller carts to them. They are all my children. Therefore, I love them without partiality. I have a countless number of these large carts of the seven treasures. I gave one of these to each of my children equally. There should be no discrimination. The large carts are numerous enough to be given to all the people of this country. Needless to say, I can give them to my sons. [Therefore, I did.]’

I’ll be reconsidering both Day 6 and Day 7, which do not appear at natural breaks.

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month witnessed the reaction of the great multitude to the news that Śāriputra was assured of his future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, we conclude Day 5 with Śāriputra’s plea of behalf of others for the Buddha to explain this Dharma that they had never heard before.

Thereupon Śāriputra said to the Buddha:

“World-Honored One! Now my doubts are gone. You assured me of my future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. These twelve hundred people now have freedom of mind. When they had something more to learn, [that is to say, when they had not yet completed their study for Arhatship,] you taught them, saying, ‘My teaching is for the purpose of causing you to emancipate yourselves from birth, old age, disease, and death, and to attain Nirvāṇa.’ The [two thousand] people, including those who have something more to learn and those who have nothing more to learn, also think that they attained Nirvāṇa because they emancipated themselves from such a view as ‘I exist,’ or ‘I shall exist forever,’ or ‘I shall cease to exist.’ But [both the twelve hundred people and the two thousand people] are now quite perplexed because they have heard from you [the Dharma] which they had never heard before. World-Honored One! In order to cause the four kinds of devotees to remove their doubts, explain why you said all this to them!”

It’s a measure of Śāriputra wisdom that even before Śākyamuni explicitly said he would become a Buddha he understood the meaning of Śākyamuni’s explanation of his use of expedients. It’s a measure of the remaining Śrāvakas that they remain in a web of doubts. They don’t smell the smoke or fear the beasts with them in the house.