Tag Archives: LS07

Day 7

Day 7 concludes Chapter 3, A Parable, and begins Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith.

Having last month heard the merits of rejoicing and believing this Sūtra, we consider some people to avoid when expounding the sūtra.

Śāriputra
Do not expound this sūtra
To those who are arrogant and idle,
And who think that the self exists!

Do not expound it to men of little wisdom!
They would not be able to understand it
Even if they heard it
Because they are deeply attached to the five desires.

Those who do not believe this sūtra
But slander it,
Will destroy the seeds of Buddhahood
Of all living beings of the world.

See All Existence Is Suffering

All Existence Is Suffering

Another important point of the parable [of the Burning House] is that we humans are allegorically illustrated as living in a burning house. The burning, of course, symbolizes our suffering. From the Buddhist viewpoint, suffering is an inescapable fact of life, as illustrated in the dictum, “All existence is suffering.” Many people think this view is too pessimistic, but that is not the case. The dictum is presented as a bare fact, neither good or bad. Biological suffering is a part of life. The question is, What can we do about it?

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 7

Day 7 concludes Chapter 3, A Parable, and begins Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith.

Having last month adjusted the end break for Day 7’s portion of Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith, we return to our regularly scheduled broadcast and the merits of rejoicing and believing this Sūtra.

I am the King of the Dharma.
I expound the Dharma without hindrance.
l appeared in this world
In order to give peace to all living beings.

Śāriputra!
I expound this seal of the Dharma
In order to benefit
[All living beings] of the world.
Do not propagate it carelessly
At the place where you are!

Anyone who rejoices at hearing this sūtra,
And who receives it respectfully,
Know this, has already reached
The stage of avaivartika.

Anyone who believes and receives this sūtra
Should be considered
To have already seen the past Buddhas,
Respected them, made offerings to them,
And heard the Dharma from them
In his previous existence.

Anyone who believes what you expound
Should be considered
To have already seen all of us,
That is, you and me,
And the Saṃgha of bhikṣus,
And the Bodhisattvas.

I expound only to people of profound wisdom
This Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Because men of little wisdom would doubt this sūtra,
And not understand it even if they heard it.
No Śrāvaka
Or Pratyekabuddha
Can understand
This sūtra.

Even you, Śāriputra,
Have understood this sūtra
Only by faith.
Needless to say,
The other Śrāvakas cannot do otherwise.
They will be able to follow this sūtra
Only because they believe my words,
Not because they have wisdom.

See Doctrines in the Lotus Sutra

Doctrines in the Lotus Sutra

The Buddhist faith often expounds difficult doctrines consisting of abstract philosophical ideas. When it comes to the Lotus Sutra, however, such complicated dogmas do not appear on the surface. For this reason, some critics have argued that there are no doctrines in the Lotus Sutra. But this is not true. The Lotus Sutra does contain profound philosophical thoughts. Instead of using tortuous logic, however, the Sutra explains its philosophy in the simplified form of stories, drawing on examples familiar to us from everyday life. This is why we find many parables in the text.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 7

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

Day 7

Day 7 concludes Chapter 3, A Parable, and begins Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith.

Having last month considered that Buddha is our father and we are all Bodhisattvas, we consider the expedient lessons of the past.

[I said:]
“To those who have little wisdom,
And who are deeply attached to sensual desires,
The Buddhas expound the truth that all is suffering.
Those [who hear this truth]
Will have the greatest joy that they have ever had.
The statement of the Buddhas that all is suffering
Is true, not false.
To those who are ignorant
Of the cause of all sufferings,
And who are too deeply attached
To the cause of suffering
To give it up even for a moment,
The Buddhas expound
The [eight right] ways as expedients.

The cause of suffering is greed.
When greed is eliminated,
There is nothing to be attached to.
The extinction of suffering
Is called the third truth.
In order to attain this extinction,
The [eight right] ways must be practiced.
Freedom from the bonds of suffering[,]
[That is, from illusions] is called emancipation.”

From what illusions can one be emancipated, however,
[By the practice of the eight right ways]?
He can be emancipated only from unreal things
[That is, from the five desires] thereby.
He cannot be emancipated from all illusions.
The Buddhas say
That he has not yet attained
The true extinction
Because he has not yet attained
Unsurpassed enlightenment.
I also do not think that I have led him
To the [true] extinction thereby.

I recently finished Basic Buddhist Concepts by Kogen Mizuno. As one would expect from a book that seeks to offer the foundations for all Buddhism, a lot of time is spent on Four Noble Truths. Reading that left me to recall (as we see in today’s portion of the Lotus Sūtra):

From what illusions can one be emancipated, however,
[By the practice of the eight right ways]?
He can be emancipated only from unreal things
[That is, from the five desires] thereby.
He cannot be emancipated from all illusions.

Day 7

Day 7 concludes Chapter 3, A Parable, and begins Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith.

Having last month considered the teaching of the One Buddha Vehicle, we are reminded that the Buddha is our father and we are all Bodhisattvas.

(The Buddha said to Śāriputra:)
All of you
All Are of my you children.
I am your father.

You were under the fires of many sufferings
For the past innumerable kalpas.
Therefore, I saved you
From the triple world [with expedients].

I once told you that you had attained extinction.
But you eliminated only birth and death
[By that extinction].
The extinction you attained was not the true one.
What you should do now is
Obtain the wisdom of the Buddha.

The Bodhisattvas in this multitude
Should hear
With one mind
The true teaching of the Buddhas.

The Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones,
Say only expediently [that some are not Bodhisattvas]
To tell the truth,
All living beings taught by them are Bodhisattvas.

The Daily Dharma from March 24, 2016, offers this:

This verse comes from Chapter Three of the Lotus Sūtra. In Chapter Two, the Buddha declared that he only teaches Bodhisattvas. If we believe that we are not Bodhisattvas, we could conclude that the Buddha does not teach us. Part of what the Buddha is explaining here is that we are all Bodhisattvas. The way to reach the Buddha’s enlightenment is by living as Bodhisattvas: beings whose every breath is intended to improve our world.

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

Day 7

Day 7 concludes Chapter 3, A Parable, and begins Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith.

Having last month heard Śākyamuni’s expedient explanation, we now consider the teaching of the One Buddha Vehicle.

Śāriputra!
With this parable I expounded
The teaching of the One Buddha-Vehicle
To all living beings.
All of you will be able to attain
The enlightenment of the Buddha
If you believe and receive
These words of mine.

This vehicle is
The purest and most wonderful.
This is unsurpassed by any other vehicle
In all the worlds.
This vehicle is approved with joy by the Buddhas.
All living beings should extol it.
They should make offerings to it,
And bow to it.

The powers, emancipations,
dhyāna-concentrations, wisdom,
And all the other merits [of the Buddhas],
Many hundreds of thousands of millions in number,
Are loaded in this vehicle.

I will cause all my children
To ride in this vehicle
And to enjoy themselves
Day and night for kalpas.

The Bodhisattvas and Śrāvakas
Will be able to go immediately
To the place of enlightenment
If they ride in this jeweled vehicle.

Therefore, even if you try to find another vehicle
Throughout the worlds of the ten quarters,
You will not be able to find any other one
Except those given by the Buddhas expediently.

Normally when I get to this point I enjoy imagining the Buddha as a late-night TV car salesman extolling the virtues of a vehicle “approved with joy by the Buddhas.” Instead, this time I want to underline:

All of you will be able to attain
The enlightenment of the Buddha
If you believe and receive
These words of mine.

Day 7

Day 7 concludes Chapter 3, A Parable, and begins Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith.

Having last month begun Day’s 7’s portion of Chapter 3, A Parable, we continue with Śākyamuni’s expedient explanation.

This triple world
Is my property.
All living beings therein
Are my children.

There are many sufferings
In this world.
Only I can save
[All living beings].

I told this to all living beings.
But they did not believe me
Because they were too much attached
To desires and defilements.

Therefore, I expediently expounded to them
The teaching of the Three Vehicles,
And caused them to know
The sufferings of the triple world.
I opened, showed, and expounded
The Way out of the world.

Those children who were resolute in mind
Were able to obtain
The six supernatural powers
Including the three major supernatural powers,
And to become cause-knowers
Or never-faltering Bodhisattvas.

After the Parable of the Burning House, it’s important underscore that Śākyamuni’s expedient teachings were necessary in order to cause people “to know The sufferings of the triple world.” Once they appreciated the danger, Śākyamuni “opened, showed, and expounded The Way out of the world.

Fire? What’s a fire? I’m doing just fine here, thank you.

Day 7

Day 7 concludes Chapter 3, A Parable, and begins Chapter 4, Understanding by Faith.

Having last month covered Day’s 7’s portion of Understanding by Faith, it’s time to return to the start of Day 7’s portion of Chapter 3, A Parable.

(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.

I’m going to pause here and recall what Ryusho Shonin says about the burning house in his Lecture on the Lotus Sutra:

The story of the Burning House is a way of retelling the important teaching of the Buddha of this single Buddha way which sets aside various other paths which before were seen as unique. The Buddha wishes for all people to leave the life of suffering and attain enlightenment equal to that of all Buddhas. That is the one great purpose for the appearance of any Buddha in any realm of any time. The Buddha, being a skillful teacher, realized at the beginning that people would not be able to grasp the very complex teaching of enlightenment equal to that of all Buddhas. He also realized people would doubt they had such a capacity. Even today, many people still cling to the notion they are not good enough, or they are not worthy of attaining such an indestructible life of true joy and cessation of suffering.
Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Imaging myself tranquil and peaceful in a bower in a forest.