Tag Archives: LS06

Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month heard Śākyamuni explain the Śrāvaka, Pratyekabuddha and Bodhisattva carts, we hear why the rich man gave each child the large cart.

“Śāriputra! Seeing that all his children had come out of the burning house safely and reached a carefree place, the rich man remembered that he had immeasurable wealth. So without partiality, he gave them each a large cart. I am also a father, the father of all living beings. Seeing that many hundreds of thousands of millions of living beings have come out of the painful, fearful and rough road of the triple world through the gate of the teachings of the Buddha, and obtained the pleasure of Nirvāṇa, I thought, ‘I have the store of the Dharma in which the immeasurable wisdom, powers and fearlessness of the Buddhas are housed. These living beings are all my children. I will give them the Great Vehicle. I will not cause them to attain extinction by their own ways. I will cause them to attain the extinction of the Tathāgata.’

“To those who have left the triple world, I will give the dhyāna concentrations and emancipations of the Buddhas for their pleasure. These things are of the same nature and of the same species. These things are extolled by the saints• because these things bring the purest and most wonderful pleasure.

“Śāriputra! The rich man persuaded his children to come out at first by promising them the gifts of the three kinds of carts. But the carts which he gave them later were the largest and most comfortable carts adorned with treasures. In spite of this, the rich man was not accused of falsehood. Neither am I. I led all living beings at first with the teaching of the Three Vehicles. Now I will save them by the Great Vehicle only. Why is that? It is because, if I had given them the teaching of the Great Vehicle at first directly from my store of the Dharma in which my immeasurable wisdom, powers and fearlessness are housed, they would not have received all of the Dharma. Śāriputra! Therefore, know this! The Buddhas divide the One Buddha-Vehicle into three by their power to employ expedients.”

See The Universal Saviour

The Universal Saviour

In [The Parable of the Burning House], the rich father symbolizes the Buddha, while the children represent all of us living beings. In other words, the relationship between the Buddha and living beings is compared to the relationship of a father and his children. That the father saves his children out of compassion for them implies that the Buddha does the same thing. In short, the parable proclaims the Buddha to be nothing less than the universal Savior.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month adjusted the split between Day 6 and Day 7 occurs in Chapter 3, A Parable, we return to where Śākyamuni is explaining the Śrāvaka, Pratyekabuddha and Bodhisattva carts.

“Śāriputra! Those who have intelligence, who receive the Dharma by faith after hearing it from the Buddha, from the World Honored One, and who seek Nirvāṇa with strenuous efforts in order to get out of the triple world, are called Śrāvakas. They may be likened to the children who left the burning house in order to get the sheep-carts. Those who receive the Dharma by faith after hearing it from the Buddha, from the World-Honored One, who seek the self-originating wisdom with strenuous efforts, who wish to have good tranquility in seclusion, and who perfectly understand the causes of all things, are called Pratyekabuddhas. They may be likened to the children who left the burning house in order to get the deer-carts. Those who receive the Dharma by faith after hearing it from the Buddha, from the World-Honored One, who strenuously seek the knowledge of all things, the wisdom of the Buddha, the self-originating wisdom, the wisdom to be obtained without teachers, and the insight and powers and fearlessness of the Tathāgata, who give peace to innumerable living beings out of their compassion towards them, and who benefit gods and men, that is to say, who save all living beings, are called men of the Great Vehicle. Bodhisattvas are called Mahasattvas because they seek this vehicle. They may be likened to the children who left the burning house in order to get the bullock-carts.

See Three Carts

Three Carts

From the theoretical standpoint, [The Parable of the Burning House] explains the relationship between the Three Vehicles and the One Vehicle. The three toy carts – the sheep-cart, deer-cart, and bullock-cart – respectively represent the Sravaka-Vehicle of the “hearers,” the Pratyekabuddha-Vehicle of the “private Buddhas,” and the Bodhisattva-Vehicle of those who serve and enlighten others. The large white bullock cart which is given to each of the children symbolizes the One Buddha Vehicle. The rich man first offered his children three kinds of carts as expedients, but in the end he gave each of them an identical large white bullock-cart. Obviously the Buddha told this parable to illustrate that the One Vehicle is true and the three are mere expedients. The differences between the One Vehicle and the Three Vehicles, which were discussed theoretically in Chapter Two, are now explained in a graphic story that anyone can understand and remember.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Last month considered the reason Śākyamuni felt the expedient was needed. Before moving on I need to adjust where the split between Day 6 and Day 7 occurs in Chapter 3, A Parable. The following gāthās shift from Day 7 back to Day 6.

(The Buddha said to Śāriputra:)
I am like the father.
I am the Saint of Saints.
I am the father of the world.

All living beings are my children.
They are deeply attached
To the pleasures of the world.
They have no wisdom.

The triple world is not peaceful.
It is like the burning house.
It is full of sufferings.
It is dreadful.

There are always the sufferings
Of birth, old age, disease and death.
They are like flames
Raging endlessly.

I have already left
The burning house of the triple world.
I am tranquil and peaceful
In a bower in a forest.

Underscore All living beings are my children. They are deeply attached To the pleasures of the world. They have no wisdom.

Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month considered whether the expedient used to get children to leave the burning house constituted a falsehood, we consider the reason Śākyamuni felt the expedient was needed.

“Śāriputra! Seeing all this, I [also] thought, ‘I am the father of all living beings. I will eliminate their sufferings, give them the pleasure of the immeasurable wisdom of the Buddha, and cause them to enjoy it.’

“Śāriputra! I also thought, ‘If I extol my insight, powers, and fearlessness in the presence of those living beings only by my supernatural powers and by the power of my wisdom, that is to say, without any expedient, they will not be saved because they have not yet been saved from birth, old age, disease, death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation, but are burning up in the burning house of the triple world. How can they understand the wisdom of the Buddha?’

“Śāriputra! The rich man did not save his children by his muscular power although he was strong enough. He saved them from the burning house with a skillful expedient and later gave them each a large cart of treasures.

“In the same manner, I save all living beings from the burning house of the triple world, not by my powers or fearlessness, but with a skillful expedient. I expounded the teaching of the Three Vehicles: the Śrāvaka-Vehicle, Pratyekabuddha-Vehicle, and Buddha-Vehicle, as an expedient. I said, ‘Do not wish to live in the burning house of the triple world! Do not crave for inferior forms, sounds, smells, tastes or things tangible! If you cling to them and crave for them, you will be burned by them. Get out of the triple world quickly and obtain the teaching of the Three Vehicles: the Śrāvaka-Vehicle, Pratyekabuddha-Vehicle, and Buddha-Vehicle! I now assure you that you will never fail [to obtain those vehicles]. Exert yourselves, make efforts!’

“With this expedient, I caused them to advance. I said to them again, ‘Know this! This teaching of the Three Vehicles is extolled by the saints. This teaching saves you from any attachment or bond or desire. Ride in these Three Vehicles, eliminate āsravas, obtain the [five] faculties, the [five] powers, the [seven] ways to enlightenment, and the [eight right] ways, and practice dhyāna concentrations, emancipations, and samadhis so that you may be able to enjoy immeasurable peace and pleasure!’

For me one of the most important aspects of Buddhism in general and the Lotus Sutra in particular is this idea that “The rich man did not save his children by his muscular power although he was strong enough.” We are encouraged to advance but we are not carried out of the suffering world by anyone’s strength but our own.

Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month considered the expedient used to save the children, we now consider whether this constituted a falsehood.

“The children rode in the large carts, and had the greatest joy that they had ever had because they had never expected to get them. Śāriputra! What do you think of this? Do you think that the rich man was guilty of falsehood when he gave his children the large carts of treasures?”

Śāriputra said:

“No, World-Honored One! He saved his children from the fire and caused them to survive. [Even if he had not given them anything,] he should not have been accused of falsehood because the children should be considered to have already been given the toys [they had wished to have] when they survived. He saved them from the burning house with the expedient. World-Honored One! Even if he had not given them the smallest cart, he should not have been accused of falsehood because he thought at first, ‘I will cause them to get out with an expedient.’ Because of this, he should not. Needless to say, he was not guilty of falsehood when he remembered his immeasurable wealth and gave them the large carts in order to benefit them.”

The Buddha said to Śāriputra:

“So it is, so it is. It is just as you say. Śāriputra! The same can be said of me. [I thought, ‘] I am the father of the world. I eliminated fear, despondency, grief, ignorance and darkness. I obtained immeasurable insight, powers and fearlessness. I have great supernatural powers, the power of wisdom, the paramita of expedients, the paramita of wisdom, great compassion, and great loving-kindness. I am not tired of seeking good things or of benefiting all living beings. I have appeared in the triple world, which can be likened to the rotten and burning house, in order to save all living beings from the fires of birth, old age, disease, death, grief, sorrow, suffering, lamentation, stupidity, darkness, and the three poisons, to teach all living beings, and to cause them to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. I see that all living beings are burned by the fires of birth, old age, disease, death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation. They undergo various sufferings because they have the five desires and the desire for gain. Because they have attachments and pursuits, they have many sufferings in their present existence, and will suffer in hell or in the world of animals or in the world of hungry spirits in their future lives. Even when they are reborn in heaven or in the world of humans, they will still have many sufferings such as poverty or parting from their beloved ones or meeting with those whom they hate. Notwithstanding all this, however, they are playing joyfully. They are not conscious of the sufferings. They are not frightened at the sufferings or afraid of them. They do not dislike them or try to get rid of them. They are running about this burning house of the triple world, and do not mind even when they undergo great sufferings.[‘]

The Daily Dharma from April 25, 2017, offers this:

The Buddha offers this explanation to his disciple Śāriputra in Chapter Three of the Lotus Sūtra. He compares his teaching of suffering and Nirvāṇa to a father luring his children from a dangerous house with a promise of better toys. The children were so preoccupied with their own entertainment that they could not hear their father’s warning. In this triple world of beautiful forms, fascinating ideas and consuming desires, it is easy to stay with our childish games and ignore the Buddha’s teaching. Our maturity as Bodhisattvas comes when we set these aside for the benefit of all beings.

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

Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month begun The Parable of the Burning House, we come to the expedient used to save the children.

“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.]’

As a child of the 1950s, steeped in the fear of spoiling children, I find it a measure of the Buddha’s enlightenment that he proclaims: “They are all my children. Therefore, I love them without partiality.”

Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month concluded Day 6’s portion of Chapter 3, A Parable, we return to the top of the day and 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.

The Daily Dharma from Aug. 20, 2016, offers this:

This passage is part of the Parable of the Burning House, told by the Buddha in Chapter Three of the Lotus Sūtra. In this story, he compares us living in this world of conflict to children playing in a dangerous house. As the children in the story were too distracted by their games to hear their father’s warnings, we are often too distracted by the attachments of our world to hear the voice of the Buddha.

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

Day 6

Day 6 continues Chapter 3, A Parable

Having last month covered the expedient used to save the children in the gāthās, we conclude Day 6’s portion of the gāthās.

Seeing them come out
Of the burning house
To the safe crossroad,
He sat on the lion-like seat,
And said to others with joy:
“I am happy.
These children are difficult to bring up.
They are young and ignorant.
They entered the dangerous house.
In that house were
Many poisonous vermin
And many dangerous mountain spirits.
Raging flames of big fires rose
From the four sides of the house
At the same time.
But my children were
Engrossed in playing.
Now I saved them
From the dangers.
Therefore, I am happy.”

The children saw their father
Sitting in peace.
They came to him,
And said:
“Give us
The three kinds of jeweled carts
That you promised us!
You said:
“Come out, and I will give you
The three kinds of carts as you like.”
Now is the time for that.
Give them to us now!”

He was a very rich man.
He had many storehouses.
He made many large carts
Adorned with treasures,
Such as gold, silver,
Lapis lazuli, shell and agate.

[The carts] were beautifully adorned.
Railings were put around them.
Bells were hanging on the four sides
With ropes of gold.

[The carts] were roofed
With nets of pearls.
Garlands of golden flowers
Were hanging on all sides.

Other ornaments of fabrics
Of divers colors
Encircled the bodies of the carts.
Bedding was made of soft cloth.
[The bedding] was covered
With the most wonderful woolen fabrics.
They were bright, white, pure and clean,
Worth hundreds of thousands of millions.

Large white bullocks,
Fat, stout, powerful,
And beautiful in their build,
Were yoked to the jeweled carts.
The carts were also guarded
By many attendants.

[The rich man] gave to each of his children
One of these wonderful carts.
The children
Danced with joy.

They drove these jeweled carts
In all directions.
They were happy and delighted.
Nothing could stop their joy.

Ah, yes. Difficult children, engrossed in playing, young and ignorant of the dangers of the world. The problems of parenting are certainly universal.