Tag Archives: LS09

Day 9

Day 9 covers Chapter 5, The Simile of Herbs, and introduces Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood.

Having last month heard the rain of the Dharma falling, we compare Śākyamuni with the clouds.

I am like the cloud.
I appeared in this world
Just as the large cloud covered
Everything on the earth.

Since I appeared in this world,
I have been expounding
The reality of all things
To all living beings.

(The Great Saint,
The World-Honored One,
Said to the multitude
Of gods and men:)

I am the Tathāgata,
The Most Honorable Biped.
I have appeared in this world
Just as the large cloud rose.

All living beings are dying of thirst.
I will water them.
I will save them from suffering.
I will give them the pleasure of peace,
The pleasure of the world,
And the pleasure of Nirvana.

See Patiently and Compassionately

Patiently and Compassionately

These allegorical descriptions [in the Lotus Sutra] can be understood as the development of the concept of the One Vehicle. Chapter Four described how the Buddha leads all beings by faith until they reach the final stage of enlightenment. This chapter, on the other hand, tells us that living beings are now at various levels of understanding, and the Buddha patiently and compassionately expounds the law to all of them equally, although in different ways.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 9

Day 9 covers Chapter 5, The Simile of Herbs, and introduces Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood.

Having last month heard in gāthās of the Buddha’s expounding of the Dharma with various expedients, we hear the rain of the Dharma falling.

Kāśyapa, know this!
Suppose a large cloud rose in the sky,
And covered everything on the earth.
The cloud was so merciful
That it was about to send a rainfall.
Lightning flashed,
And thunder crashed in the distance,
Causing people to rejoice.

The cloud covered the sun,
And cooled the earth.
It hung down
As low as if we could reach it.

Now the rain came down
To all the quarters of the earth.
The rainwater was immeasurable.
It soaked all the earth.
There were many plants
In the retired and quiet places
Of the mountains, rivers and ravines.

They were herbs, cereal-plants, young rice-plants,
Vegetables, sugar canes, and other grasses;
Fruit-trees including vines,
And other trees, tall and short.
They were sufficiently watered by the rain.
So were all the dry lands.

The herbs and trees grew thick by the rain.
All the grasses and trees in thickets and forests
Were watered variously according to their species
By the rain water of the same taste
Coming down from the [same] cloud.

All the trees grew differently
According to their species.
They became superior or middle or inferior
Or tall or short trees.

The roots, trunks, branches, leaves,
Flowers and fruits of the various trees
Were given a fine and glossy luster
By the same rain.

Although watered by the same rain,
Some of them were tall, while others not,
Because they were different
In their entities, appearances and natures.

See The Universal Quality of the Buddha

The Universal Quality of the Buddha

This simile depicts the universal quality of the Buddha, who is like a large cloud that covers all the diverse beings of this world. Chapters Two and Three have introduced the teachings of the One Vehicle (the Truth), which unifies all kinds of philosophies and religions. The One Vehicle can also be understood as a manifestation of the Buddha’s personality, because he attained the Truth and manifested it in his very body. In the “Simile of Herbs,” the personality of the Buddha, the One Thus Come (Tathagata, the title by which he described himself after his enlightenment), is symbolized by the same kind of cloud, of rain, of content, or of taste.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 9

Day 9 covers Chapter 5, The Simile of Herbs, and introduces Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood.

Having last month considered the meaning of The Simile of Herbs, we repeat what he had said in gāthās.

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

As the destroyer of the bonds of existence,
I, the King of the Dharma, have appeared in this world.
Since then I have expounded the Dharma variously
According to the desires of all living beings.

I am honorable, and my wisdom is profound.
Therefore, I have been reticent on this truth[,]
[That is, the reality of all things,] for a long time.
I did not make haste to expound it to all living beings.

If they had heard it [without expedients],
Men of ignorance would have had doubts,
And lost their way [to enlightenment] forever,
Though men of wisdom would have understood it by faith.

Therefore, Kāśyapa, I expounded [the Dharma]
With various expedients to all living beings
According to their capacities
In order to cause them to have the right view.

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

As the destroyer of the bonds of existence,
I, the King of the Dharma, have appeared in this world.
Since then I have expounded the Dharma variously
According to the desires of all living beings.

The Buddha proclaims these verses in Chapter Five of the Lotus Sūtra. This is another explanation for why he uses expedients to teach those who are not ready for his highest teaching. When we set aside the cravings that lead to suffering, and cultivate our desire for enlightenment, both for ourselves and all beings, then we are ready to receive the Buddha’s highest teaching.

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

Day 9

Day 9 covers Chapter 5, The Simile of Herbs, and introduces Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood.

Having last month heard The Simile of Herbs, we now consider its meaning.

“The various teachings I expound are of the same content, of the same taste. Those who emancipate themselves [from the bonds of existence,] from illusions, and from birth and death, will finally obtain the knowledge of the equality and differences of all things. But those who hear or keep my teachings or read or recite the sutras in which my teachings are expounded, or act according to my teachings, do not know the merits that they will be able to obtain by these practices. Why is that? It is because only I know their capacities, appearances, entities and natures. Only I know what teachings they have in memory, what teachings they have in mind, what teachings they practice, how they memorize the teachings, how they think of the teachings, how they practice the teachings, for what purpose they memorize the teachings, for what purpose they think of the teachings, for what purpose they practice the teachings, and for what purpose they keep what teachings. Only I see clearly and without hindrance that they are at various stages [of enlightenment]. I know this, but they do not know just as the trees and grasses including herbs in the thickets and forests do not know whether they are superior or middle or inferior. My teachings are of the same content, of the same taste. Those who emancipate themselves [from the bonds of existence,] from illusions, and from birth and death, will finally attain Nirvana, that is, eternal tranquility or extinction. They will be able to return to the state of the Void.

“Although I knew the equality and differences of all things, I refrained from expounding it to them in order to protect them because I saw their [various] desires.

“Kāśyapa, and all of you present here! It is an extraordinarily rare thing to see that you have understood, believed and received the Dharma which I expounded variously according to the capacities of all living beings because it is difficult to understand the Dharma which the Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, expound according to the capacities of all living beings.”

The Daily Dharma from Dec. 30, 2016, offers this:

Only I see clearly and without hindrance that they are at various stages [of enlightenment]. I know this, but they do not know just as the trees and grasses including herbs in the thickets and forests do not know whether they are superior or middle or inferior.

The Buddha makes this declaration in Chapter Five of the Lotus Sūtra, as he explains the simile of herbs. This is a good reminder for us on the Bodhisattva path of how important it is to have respect for all beings. We can believe we know whether someone else is less enlightened than we are, or even more enlightened than we are. But for Bodhisattvas, this belief is irrelevant. Only the Buddha knows who is where on the path. We do not need to know. We just need to find ways to benefit others, no matter how close they may be to enlightenment.

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

Day 9

Day 9 covers Chapter 5, The Simile of Herbs, and introduces Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood.

Having last month begun Chapter 5, we begin The Simile of Herbs.

“Kāśyapa! Suppose the various trees and grasses of the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds including herbs growing in the thickets, forests, mountains, ravines and valleys, on the ground, and by the rivers, all these plants being different in names and forms, were covered with a dark cloud, and then watered by a rainfall at the same time. The small, middle and large roots, stems, branches and leaves of the trees and grasses including herbs growing in the thickets and forests were watered. So were the tall and short trees, whether they were superior or middle or inferior. Those plants were given more or less water by the same rain from the same cloud, and grew differently according to their species. They obtained different flowers and fruits although they grew on the same ground and received water from the same rain.

“Kāśyapa, know this! I, the Tathāgata, am like the cloud. I appeared in this world just as the large cloud rose. I expounded the Dharma to gods, men and asuras of the world with a loud voice just as the large cloud covered all the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds. I said to the great multitude, ‘I am 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. I will cause all living beings to cross [the ocean of birth and death] if they have not yet done so. I will cause them to emancipate themselves [from suffering] if they have not yet done so. I will cause them to have peace of mind if they have not yet done so. I will cause them to attain Nirvana if they have not yet done so. I know their present lives as they are, and also their future lives as they will be. I know all. I see all. I know the Way. I have opened the Way. I will expound the Way. Gods, men and asuras! Come and hear the Dharma!’

“Thereupon many thousands of billions of people came to hear the Dharma from me. Having seen them, I knew which were clever, which were dull, which were diligent, and which were lazy. Therefore, I expounded to them an innumerable variety of teachings according to their capacities in order to cause them to rejoice and receive benefits with pleasure. Having heard these teachings, they became peaceful in their present lives. In their future lives, they will have rebirths in good places, enjoy pleasures by practicing the Way, and hear these teachings again. After hearing these teachings again, they will emancipate themselves from all hindrances, practice the teachings according to their capacities, and finally enter the Way, just as the grasses and trees in the thickets and forests, which were watered by the rain from the same large cloud, grew differently according to their species.

Today, I was thinking about this simile and pondering the patience of the Buddha. He doesn’t expect instant enlightenment. “Having heard these teachings, they became peaceful in their present lives. In their future lives, they will have rebirths in good places, enjoy pleasures by practicing the Way, and hear these teachings again.” And it occurred to me that patience is the first thing needed when encouraging someone to admire the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma. When we get impatient, looking for a mighty oak tree to grow, we miss the meaning when the lowly sunflower blooms.

Day 9

Day 9 covers Chapter 5, The Simile of Herbs, and introduces Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood.

Having last month completed Day 9’s portion of the Assurance of Future Buddhahood, we return to The Simile of Herbs.

Thereupon the World-Honored One said to Mahā-Kāśyapa and other great disciples:

“Excellent, excellent! You spoke of my true merits very well. My true merits are just as you said. In reality, however, I have more merits. They are innumerable, asaṃkhya. You will not be able to describe all of them even if you try to do so for many hundreds of millions of kalpas.

“Kāśyapa, know this! I, the Tathāgata, am the King of the Dharma. Nothing I say is false. I expound all teachings with expedients by my wisdom in order to lead all living beings to the stage of knowing all things. I know what region a living being will be taken to by what teaching, and what a living being has deep in his mind. I am not hindered by anything in knowing all this. I know all things clearly, and show my knowledge of all things to all living beings.

This setup for the Simile of the Herbs underscores what we will learn: It is not the teaching that changes; it is the capacity of people. The fruits and flowers are different because of the species; all receive the same water of the Dharma.

Day 9

Day 9 covers Chapter 5, The Simile of Herbs, and introduces Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood.

Having last month given the Assurance of Future Buddhahood for Maha-Kasyapa, we come to the reaction of Great Maudgalyāyana, Subhūti and Mahā-Kātyāyana.

Thereupon Great Maudgalyāyana, Subhūti and Mahā-Kātyāyana trembled, joined their hands together with all their hearts, looked up at the World-Honored One with unblenching eyes, and sang in gāthās in unison:
Great Hero, World-Honored One!
King of the Dharma of the Śākyas!
Give us your voice
Out of your compassion towards us!
If you see what we have deep in our minds,
And assure us of our future Buddhahood,
We shall feel as cool and as refreshed
As if we were sprinkled with nectar.

Suppose a man came
From a country suffering from famine.
Now he saw the meal of a great king.
He did not partake of it in doubts and fears.
After he was told to take it by the king,
He took it at once.
We are like that man.
We know the defects of the Lesser Vehicle.
But we do not know how to obtain
The unsurpassed wisdom of the Buddha.

Although we hear you say [to us],
“You will become Buddhas,”
We are still in doubts and fears about it,
Just as that man was about the meal.
If you assure us of our future Buddhahood,
We shall be happy and peaceful.

You, the Great Hero, the World-Honored One,
Wish to give peace to all the people of the world.
If you assure us of our future Buddhahood, we shall be
Like the man who was permitted to take the meal.

The Daily Dharma from Aug. 28, 2016, offers this:

If you see what we have deep in our minds,
And assure us of our future Buddhahood,
We shall feel as cool and as refreshed
As if we were sprinkled with nectar.

Maudgalyāyana, Subhūti and Mahā-Kātyāyana sing these verses to the Buddha in Chapter Six of the Lotus Sūtra. The Buddha knows that our habits of thought and behavior have developed over many lifetimes. We cannot clear them away by ourselves. In the Lotus Sūtra, he assures many of his disciples personally of the certainty of their enlightenment. He shows that this universe has innumerable Buddhas, and tells all of us who hear this teaching that we too should be certain of our enlightenment. When we take the Buddha’s voice to heart, and release the grip we have on our fears, and open ourselves to the joy within ourselves and the world.

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

Day 9

Day 9 covers Chapter 5, The Simile of Herbs, and introduces Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood.

Having last month given the Assurance of Future Buddhahood for Maha-Kasyapa in prose, we repeat it in gathas:

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

I will tell you, bhiksus.
I see this Kasyapa
With the eyes of the Buddha.
He will become a Buddha
In his future life
After innumerable’ kalpas from now.

He will see in his future life
Three hundred billions
Of Buddhas, of World-Honored Ones.
He will make offerings to them,
And perform brahma practices
To obtain the wisdom of the Buddha.
Having made offerings
To the Most Honorable Bipeds,
He will study and practice
Unsurpassed wisdom,
And become a Buddha on the final stage
Of his physical existence.

The ground [of his world] will be pure.
It will be made of lapis lazuli.
Many jeweled trees
Will stand on the roadsides.
The roads will be marked off by ropes of gold.
Anyone will rejoice at seeing them.

Fragrance will be sent forth from the trees;
And beautiful flowers will be strewn
On the ground, which will be adorned
With various wonderful things.
The ground will be even,
And devoid of mounds and pits.

The number of the Bodhisattvas
Will be beyond calculation.
They will be gentle.
They will have great supernatural powers.
They will keep the sutras of the Great Vehicle
Expounded by the Buddhas.

The Sravakas will have already eliminated asravas,
And reached the final stage of their physical existence.
They will become sons of the King of the Dharma.
Their number also will be beyond calculation.
Even those who have heavenly eyes
Will not be able to count them.

The duration of the life of that Buddha
Will be twelve small kalpas.
His right teachings will be preserved
For twenty small kalpas.
The counterfeit of his right teachings
Will be preserved also for twenty small kalpas.
All this is my prophecy
About the World-Honored One called Light.

Lotus World offers this about the prediction for Buddhahood of Maya-Kasyapa, who is present in Nichiren’s Gohonzon:

In the Lotus Sutra, the voice-hearers fall into three groups of superior capacity, intermediate capacity, and lesser capacity, depending on the manner in which they are able to understand the One Vehicle. Mahakashyapa, Katyayana, and Subhuti comprise the intermediate category. They require the preaching of parables, such as the parable of the burning house in Chapter 3, in order to comprehend the One Vehicle.

In the Lotus Sutra, Mahakashyapa, along with Subhuti, Katyayana, and Maudgalyayana all express their joy at hearing the teaching of the One Vehicle in Chapter 4. These four disciples then tell the Buddhist version of the parable of the prodigal son in that same chapter. In chapter five, the Buddha addresses the parable of the herbs to these four. In Chapter 6, the Buddha predicts the future buddhahood of these four disciples beginning with Mahakashyapa, who he announces will become Light Tathagata of the world Light Virtue.
Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon