Tag Archives: LS05

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.

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month sung in gāthās of Śāriputra’s future Buddhahood, we witness the reaction of the great multitude to the news.

At that time the great multitude included bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās and upāsikās, that is, the four kinds of devotees; and gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṃnaras and mahoragas. When they saw that Śāriputra was assured of his future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi by the Buddha, they danced with great joy. They took off their garments and offered them to the Buddha. Śakra-Devanam-Indra, the Brahman Heavenly-King, and innumerable other gods also offered their wonderful heavenly garments and the heavenly flowers of mandāravas and mahā-mandāravas to the Buddha. The heavenly garments, which had been released from the hands of the gods, whirled in the sky. The gods simultaneously made many thousands of millions of kinds of music in the sky, and caused many heavenly flowers to rain down.

They said, “The Buddha turned the first wheel of the Dharma at Varanasi a long time ago. Now he turns the wheel of the unsurpassed and greatest Dharma.”

Thereupon the gods, wishing to repeat what they had said, sang in gāthās:

The Buddha turned the wheel of the teaching of the Four Truths
At Varanasi a long time ago.
He taught that all things are composed of the five aggregates
And that they are subject to rise and extinction.

Now he turns the wheel of the Dharma,
The most wonderful, unsurpassed, and greatest.
The Dharma is profound.
Few believe it.
So far we have heard
Many teachings of the World-Honored One.
But we have never heard
Such a profound, wonderful, and excellent teaching as this.
We are very glad to hear this
From the World-Honored One.

Śāriputra, a man of great wisdom,
Was assured of his future Buddhahood.
We also shall be able
To become Buddhas,
And to receive
The highest and unsurpassed honor in the world.

The Buddha expounds his enlightenment, difficult to understand,
With expedients according to the capacities of all living beings.
We obtained merits by the good karmas which we did
In this life of ours and in our previous existence.
We also obtained merits by seeing the Buddha.
May we attain the enlightenment of the Buddha by these merits!

Yes, such a profound, wonderful, and excellent teaching.

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month learned about Śāriputra’s future Buddhahood, we begin again in gāthās.

Thereupon the World-Honored One, wishing to repeat what he had said, sang in gāthās:

Śāriputra! In your future life you will become
A Buddha, an Honorable One of Universal Wisdom,
Called Flower-Light,
And save innumerable living beings.

You will make offerings to innumerable Buddhas.
You will perform the Bodhisattva practices.
You will obtain the ten powers and the other merits,
And attain unsurpassed enlightenment.

The kalpa [of that Buddha] will come
after innumerable kalpas from now.
It will be called Great-Treasure-Adornment.
The world [of that Buddha] will be called Free-From-Taint.
It will be pure and undefiled.
Its ground will be made of lapis lazuli.
Its roads will be marked off by ropes of gold.
Its trees of the various colors of the seven treasures
Will always bear flowers and fruit.

The Bodhisattvas of that world
Will always be resolute in mind.
They will have already obtained
The supernatural powers and the paramitas.
They will have already studied the Way of Bodhisattvas
Under innumerable Buddhas.
Those great people will be taught
By the Flower-Light Buddha.

That Buddha will appear in his world at first as a prince.
The prince will give up his princeship and worldly fame.
He will renounce the world at the end of his life as a layman,
And attain the enlightenment of the Buddha.

The duration of the life of Flower-Light Buddha
Will be twelve small kalpas.
The duration of the life of the people of his world
Will be eight small kalpas.

After the extinction of that Buddha,
His right teachings will be preserved
For thirty-two small kalpas.
All living beings will be saved [by his right teachings].

After the end of the period of his right teachings,
The counterfeit of them will last for thirty-two [small kalpas].
His śarīras will be distributed far and wide.
Gods and men will make offerings to them.

These will be the deeds
Of Flower-Light Buddha.
That Honorable Biped will be
The most excellent one without a parallel.
You will be he.
Rejoice!

Last month I pondered why Śākyamuni specifies that Śāriputra will teach only the Three Vehicles, and this time I ponder the role of princes, beginning with the young Siddhartha, prince of the Shakya clan. Princes abandoning princeships occurs over and over in the Lotus Sutra. It is almost as if one must first attain the life of a prince in order to have enough elevation to step into the Buddha’s wisdom.

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month covered Śākyamuni’s response to Śāriputra’s mesh of doubts, we learn more about Śāriputra’s future Buddhahood.

“Śāriputra! After a countless, inconceivable number of kalpas from now, you will be able to make offerings to many thousands of billions of Buddhas, to keep their right teachings, to practice the Way which Bodhisattvas should practice, and to become a Buddha called Flower-Light, the Tathāgata, 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. The world of that Buddha will be called Free-From-Taint. That world will be even, pure, adorned, peaceful, and fertile, where gods and men will prosper. The ground of that world will be made of lapis lazuli; the roads will fan out from the center to the eight directions. Those roads will be marked off by ropes of gold, and the trees of the seven treasures on the roadsides will always bear flowers and fruit. Flower-Light Tathāgata will also lead the living beings [of his world] by the teaching of the Three Vehicles.

“Śāriputra! Although the world in which he appears will not be an evil one, that Buddha will expound the teaching of the Three Vehicles according to his original vow. The kalpa in which he appears will be called Great-Treasure-Adornment. Why will it be called Great-Treasure-Adornment? It is because in that world Bodhisattvas will be regarded as great treasures. The number of the Bodhisattvas [in that world] will be countless, inconceivable, beyond any mathematical calculation, beyond inference by any parable or simile. No one will know the number except the Buddha who has the power of wisdom. When those Bodhisattvas wish to go somewhere, jeweled flowers will receive their feet and carry them. Those Bodhisattvas will not have just begun to aspire for enlightenment. A long time before that they will have already planted the roots of virtue, performed the brahma practices under many hundreds of thousands of billions of Buddhas, received the praises of the Buddhas, studied the wisdom of the Buddhas, obtained great supernatural powers, and understood all the teachings of the Buddhas. They will be upright, honest, and resolute in mind. The world of that Buddha will be filled with such Bodhisattvas.

“Śāriputra! The duration of the life of Flower-Light Buddha will be twelve small kalpas excluding the period in which he was a prince and had not yet attained Buddhahood. The duration of the life of the people of his world will be eight small kalpas. At the end of his life of twelve small kalpas, Flower-Light Tathāgata will assure Resolution-Fulfillment Bodhisattva of his future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, saying to the bhikṣus, ‘This Resolution-Fulfillment Bodhisattva will become a Buddha immediately after me. He will be called Flower-Foot-Easy-Walking, the Tathāgata, the Arhat, the Samyak-sambuddha. His world will be like mine.’

“Śāriputra! After the extinction of Flower-Light Buddha, his right teachings will be preserved for thirty-two small kalpas. After that the counterfeit of his right teachings will be preserved also for thirty-two small kalpas.”

The last gāthās before Śākyamuni’s response has Śāriputra singing:

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.

And yet Śākyamuni says to Śāriputra about his future Buddhahood:

Although the world in which he appears will not be an evil one, that Buddha will expound the teaching of the Three Vehicles according to his original vow.

Why does Śākyamuni specify that Śāriputra will teach only the Three Vehicles? Each time through I ponder this.

Day 5

Day 5 begins Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month covered Śāriputra’s mesh of doubts, we now come to Śākyamuni’s response.

Thereupon the Buddha said to Śāriputra:

“Now I will tell you in the presence of this great multitude including gods, men, śramaṇas, and brahmanas. Under two billion Buddhas in the past, I always taught you in order to cause you to attain unsurpassed enlightenment. You studied under me in the long night. I led you with expedients. Therefore, you have your present life under me.

“Śāriputra! I caused you to aspire for the enlightenment of the Buddha in your previous existence. You forgot all this, and thought that you had already attained extinction. In order to cause you to remember the Way you practiced under your original vow, I now expound to the Śrāvakas this sutra of the Great Vehicle called the ‘Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas.’

Under two billion Buddhas Śāriputra was taught, but he retained nothing. Not a clue. And Śāriputra is foremost in wisdom among the voice hearers. It gives extra meaning to the gāthā (Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith), “The Buddhas practice patience / In order to save inferior people.”

And makes me wonder, What have I forgotten?