Day 7 concludes Chapter 3, A Parable, and begins Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith.
Last month considered the expedient lessons of the past from Chapter 3, A Parable. Before continuing I need to reset the end of Day 7. The following text is moved from Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith. This should be the last modification needed to bring the English breaks in line with the Shindoku.
“World-Honored One! Allow us to explain our understanding by telling a parable. Suppose there lived a man [in a certain country]. When he was a little boy, he ran away from his father. [The boy] lived in another country for a long time, say, for ten, twenty or fifty years. As time passed by, he became poorer. He wandered about all directions, seeking food and clothing.
“While wandering here and there, he happened to walk towards his home country. At that time his father stayed in a city [of that country]. He had been vainly looking for his son ever since. He was now very rich. He had innumerable treasures. His storehouses were filled with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, coral, amber and crystal. He had many servants, clerks, and secretaries. He also had countless elephants, horses, carts, cows, and sheep. He invested his money in all the other countries, and earned interest. He dealt with many merchants and customers.
“The poor son, having wandered from town to town, from country to country, from village to village, came to the city where his father was living. The father had been thinking of him for more than fifty years since he had lost him, but never told others [that he had a missing son]. He was alone, pining for his son. He thought, ‘I am old and decrepit. I have many treasures. My storehouses are filled with gold, silver, and other treasures. But I have no son [other than the missing one]. When I die, my treasures will be scattered and lost. I have no one to transfer my treasures to. Therefore, I am always yearning for my son.’ The father thought again, ‘If I can find my son and give him my treasures, I shall be happy and peaceful, and have nothing more to worry about.’
“World-Honored One! At that time the poor son, who had worked at various places as a day worker, happened to come to the house of his father. Standing by the gate of the house, he saw his father in the distance. His father was sitting on a lion-like seat, putting his feet on a jeweled footstool. Brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, and householders surrounded him respectfully. He was adorned with a necklace of pearls worth ten million. The secretaries and servants were standing on either side of him, holding insect-sweepers made of white hairs. Above him was a jeweled awning, from which streamers of flowers were hanging down. Perfume was sprayed and beautiful flowers were strewn on the ground. He was exhibiting treasures and engaging in trade. Adorned with these various things, he looked extraordinarily powerful and virtuous.
“Seeing the exceedingly powerful father, the poor son was frightened. He regretted that he had come there. He thought, ‘Is he a king or someone like a king? This is not the place where I can get something by labor. I had better go to a village of the poor, where I can work to get food and clothing easily. If I stay here any longer, I shall be forced to work.’
“Having thought this, the poor son ran away. The rich man, who was sitting on the lion-like seat, recognized him at first sight as his son. He was delighted. He thought, ‘Now I have found the person to whom I can transfer my treasures and storehouses. I have been thinking of my son all this time, but I have had no way to find him. Now he has come by himself all of a sudden. This is just what I wanted. I am old, but not too old to lose any attachment [to my treasures].’
“He immediately dispatched a man standing beside him to quickly bring back the poor son. The messenger ran up to the poor son and caught him. The poor son was frightened. He cried, ‘You Devil! I have done nothing wrong. Why do you catch me?’
“The messenger pulled him by force. The poor son thought, ‘I am caught though I am not guilty. I shall be killed.’ More and more frightened, the poor son fainted and fell to the ground. Seeing all this in the distance, the father said to the messenger, ‘I do not want him any more. Do not bring him forcibly! Pour cold water on his face and bring him to himself! Do not talk with him any more!’
“The father said this because he had realized that his son was too base and mean to meet a noble man [like his father]. He knew that the man was his son, but expediently refrained from telling to others that that was his son. [The messenger poured water on the son. The son was brought to himself.] The messenger said to him, ‘Now you are released. You can go anywhere you like.’
“The poor son had the greatest joy that he had ever had. He stood up and went to a village of the poor to get food and clothing.
Kanta Tsukamoto Shonin‘s Spring Writings offers this on this section:
Even if we meet the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, which makes us awaken our Buddha-nature, most of us do not study or understand it because it is a difficult teaching and is too noble, and we run away just like the son when he saw the rich man. After all, we alone are responsible for making our lives empty or fruitless, because we are unaware of our ability or potential. Even though we tend to be like this, the Eternal Buddha always wishes to lead and support all of us, as his children, with great compassion. In order to make us awaken the Buddha-nature, He leads us according to our natures, capacities and circumstances, and dispatches someone to us to give us various advice, even if it takes a long time. It is just like the rich man who approached his son wearing dirty clothing, to encourage him.Spring Writings