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 Śākyamuni’s purpose – To reveal the Great Vehicle, we learn of his impartiality.

I see all living beings equally.
I have no partiality for them.
There is not ‘this one’ or ‘that one’ to me.
I transcend love and hatred.

I am attached to nothing.
I am hindered by nothing.
I always expound the Dharma
To all living beings equally.
I expound the Dharma to many
In the same way as to one.

I always expound the Dharma.
I do nothing else.
I am not tired of expounding the Dharma
While I go or come or sit or stand.
I expound the Dharma to all living beings
Just as the rain waters all the earth.

I am not tired of giving
The rain of the Dharma to all living beings.
I have no partiality for them,
Whether they are noble or mean,
Whether they observe or violate the precepts,
Whether they live a monastic life or not,
Whether they have right or wrong views,
Whether they are clever or dull .

Those who hear the Dharma from me
Will reach various stages
[Of enlightenment]
According to their capacities.

See Three Blades of Grass and the Two Trees

Three Blades of Grass and the Two Trees

This chapter opens with Sakyamuni praising the four great “hearers” who told the parable of the rich man and his poor son. By their story, they demonstrated that they understood what the Buddha had been teaching. The Buddha said:

Excellent, excellent! You spoke very well about my true merits. They are just as you said. They are innumerable, asamkhya. You could not describe them all even if you tried for many hundreds of millions of eons. I am the King of the Law. I expound all teachings expediently by my wisdom in order to lead all living beings to the stage of knowing all things. I know how far a living being can be led by a particular teaching, and what each living being has deep in his mind (in his subconscious). Nothing hinders me from knowing all this. I know all things clearly, and show my knowledge of all things to all living beings (p. 105).

Sakyamuni then told them the following simile, which is called the “Simile of Herbs” or the “Three Blades of Grass and the Two Trees.”

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 Śākyamuni vow to water all living beings with the Dharma, Śākyamuni reveals his purpose: To reveal the Great Vehicle.

All gods and men!
Listen to me with one mind!
Come here and see me,
Who am the Most Honorable One!

I am the World-Honored One.
I am not surpassed by anyone.
I have appeared in this world
To give peace to all living beings.

I will expound the Dharma as pure as nectar
To you all in this great multitude.
My teachings are of the same taste.
They are for emancipation, that is, for Nirvana.

I will expound these teachings [of mine]
With a wonderful voice.
My purpose is
To reveal the Great Vehicle.

See The Vast Compassion of Sakyamuni

The Vast Compassion of Sakyamuni

Traditionally, the small herbs are interpreted as humans and deities, the middle-sized herbs as “hearers” and “private Buddhas,” and the large herbs, stems, and branches as Bodhisattvas. The latter can be divided into three levels of accomplishment. The vast compassion of Sakyamuni is distributed equally to all living beings in order to lead them all to the enlightenment of the Buddha.

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 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