Tag Archives: LS10

Day 10

Day 10 concludes Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood, and opens Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

Having last month repeated the Buddha’s remembrance of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence in gāthās, we learn of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence’s extended effort to acquire the Dharma of the Buddhas.

The Buddha said to the bhikṣus:

“The duration of the life of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha was five hundred and forty billion nayuta kalpas. [Before he attained Buddhahood,] he sat at the place of enlightenment and defeated the army of Mara. He wished to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, but could not because the Dharma of the Buddhas had not yet come into his mind. He sat cross-legged without moving his mind and body for one to ten small kalpas. During all that time the Dharma of the Buddhas did not come into his mind.

“[Before he sat at the place of enlightenment,] the Trāyastriṃs̒a Gods prepared him a lion-like seat a yojana high under the Bodhi tree so that he might be able to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi on that seat. When he sat on that seat, the Brahman-heavenly-kings rained heavenly flowers on the area extending a hundred yojanas in all directions from that seat. From time to time withered flowers were blown away by fragrant winds and new flowers were rained down. [The Brahman-heavenly-kings] continued this offering to him for fully ten small kalpas. [After he attained Buddhahood also,] they continued raining flowers until he passed away.

“[When he sat on that seat,] the four heavenly-kings beat heavenly drums, and the other gods made heavenly music and offered it to him. They continued these offerings also for fully ten small kalpas. [After he attained Buddhahood also,] they continued these offerings until he passed away.

See Three Methods of Expounding the Law

Three Methods of Expounding the Law

[Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City,] has two distinct parts. The first is a story of the previous existence of a Buddha called Great-Universally-Excelling-Wisdom. The second consists of the parable for which this chapter is named, “The Magic City.” The concept of previous existences is a fundamental teaching in Buddhism. Its rationale is that there must be some prior meaning or conditions before something else can come into existence. (Nothing comes from nothing, and nothing takes place without a cause.) The story of a previous life here refers to a particular incident in the past which has led to the emergence of a present situation—that is, the origin of things. In the Lotus Sutra, Sakyamuni is said to employ three methods of expounding the law: logical explanations, parables, and stories of previous lives.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 10

Day 10 concludes Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood, and opens Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

Having last month begun Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City, we repeat the Buddha’s remembrance of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence in gāthās:

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

According to my remembrance,
There lived a Buddha, an Honorable Biped,
Called Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence,
Countless kalpas ago.

Suppose someone smashed
All the earth-particles
Of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds
Into ink-powder.

He went, [carrying the ink-powder with him,]
And inked a dot as large as a particle of dust
On the world at a distance of one thousand worlds.
He repeated the inking until the ink-powder was exhausted.

Suppose the worlds
Through which he went,
Whether they were inked or not,
Were smashed into dust.

It is innumerable• kalpas,
More than the number
Of the particles of dust thus produced,
Since that Buddha passed away.

I remember the extinction of that Buddha
As vividly as if he had passed away just now,
By my unhindered wisdom; I also remember
The Śrāvakas and Bodhisattvas who lived [with him].

Bhikṣus, know this!
My wisdom is pure, wonderful,
Free from āsravas and from hindrance.
I know those who lived innumerable kalpas ago.

See Making Basic Lessons Easy to Understand

Making Basic Lessons Easy to Understand

Sakyamuni predicted the enlightenment of the four great disciples just as he had with Sariputra. Chapters Three (“A Parable”), Four (“Understanding by Faith”), and Five (“The Simile of Herbs”) had used parables to clarify the basic lesson from Chapter Two (“Expedients”) – namely, all teachings are only expedients leading to the One Buddha Vehicle. The parables were followed up with assurances of future Buddhahood. In the next chapter, “The Parable of the Magic City,” he employs a different teaching method, showing how events in the remote past can affect the present and the future. This is called teaching by affinities with the past. These three methods – doctrinal teaching, parables, and affinities – are known as the Three Stages of Preaching. All three are designed to make the basic lesson easy for us to understand.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 10

Day 10 concludes Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood, and opens Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

Having last month completed the prediction of future Buddhahood for Great Maudgalyāyana and concluded Chapter 6, we begin Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

The Buddha said to the Bhikṣus:

“A countless, limitless, inconceivable, asaṃkhya number of kalpas ago, there lived a Buddha called Great-Universal-Wisdom­-Excellence, 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. His world was called Well-Composed; and the kalpa in which he became that Buddha, Great-Form.

“Bhikṣus! It is a very long time since that Buddha passed away. Suppose someone smashed all the earth-particles of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds into ink-powder. Then he went to the east[, carrying the ink-powder with him]. He inked a dot as large as a particle of dust [with that ink-powder] on the world at a distance of one thousand worlds from his world. Then he went again and repeated the inking of a dot on the world at every distance of one thousand worlds until the ink-powder was exhausted. What do you think of this? Do you think that any mathematician or any disciple of a mathematician could count the number of the worlds [he went through]?”

“No, we do not, World-Honored One!”

“Bhikṣus! Now all the worlds he went through, whether they were inked or not, were smashed into dust. The number of the kalpas which have elapsed since that Buddha passed away is many hundreds of thousands of billions of asaṃkhyas larger than the number of the particles of the dust thus produced. Yet I remember [the extinction of] that Buddha by my power of insight as vividly as if he had passed away today.”

Of all the powers of the Buddha, his power of insight that allows him to remember details as if the events occurred today is truly supernatural. This whole website seeks to cover my failing memory with tools for recollecting what I once knew.

Day 10

Day 10 concludes Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood, and opens Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

Having last month begun the prediction of future Buddhahood for Great Maudgalyāyana, we complete the prediction in gāthās and conclude Chapter 6.

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

After he gives up his present existence,
This Great Maudgalyāyana, a disciple of mine,
Will see many Buddhas,
Many World-Honored Ones.
He will see eight thousand of them,
And then two hundred billions of them.

In order to attain
The enlightenment of the Buddha,
He will make offerings to them, and respect them.
He will perform brahma practices under those Buddhas,
And keep the teachings of those Buddhas
For innumerable kalpas.

After the extinction of each of those Buddhas,
He will erect a stūpa of the seven treasures.
There will be a long golden yasti
On the top of the stūpa.
He will offer flowers, incense and music
To the stūpa-mausoleum of the Buddha.

He will finally complete
The Way of Bodhisattvas,
And become a Buddha
Called Tamala [pattral-candana-Fragrance
In a world called
Mind-Happiness.

The duration of the life of that Buddha
Will be twenty-four [small] kalpas.
He will expound to gods and men
The enlightenment of the Buddha.

As many Śrāvakas as there are sands in the River Ganges
Will have the six supernatural powers,
Including the three major supernatural powers.
They will be exceedingly powerful and virtuous.

Innumerable Bodhisattvas also will live there.
They will be resolute in mind, and strenuous.
They will never falter
In seeking the wisdom of the Buddha.

After the extinction of that Buddha,
His right teachings
Will be preserved for forty small kalpas.
So will the counterfeit of them.

The five hundred disciples of mine
Are powerful and virtuous.
They also shall be assured
Of their future Buddhahood.
They will become Buddhas
In their future lives.

Now I will tell you
About my previous existence
And also about yours.
All of you, listen attentively!

At this point I want to attach some biographical information about Maudgalyayana, foremost in supernatural powers, from Lotus World:

Shariputra and his lifelong friend Maudgalyayana were born into brahmin families in neighboring villages near Rajagriha, the capital of the kingdom of Magadha, in ancient India. As young men they were both disillusioned with worldly life. Together they left home to find enlightenment and eventually became the leading disciples of the skeptical philosopher Sanjaya. This teaching did not satisfy them for long, however, so they both set out again to find the truth. The two friends made an agreement that whoever discovered it first would find and tell the other.

Shariputra traveled to Rajagriha. There he met Ashvajit. Ashvajit was one of the five ascetics who became the first disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha after he preached the sermon on the Middle Way and the Four Noble Truths at Deer park in Varanasi. Ashvajit’s calm demeanor so impressed Shariputra that he asked him who his teacher was and what teaching he had received. Ashvajit told Shariputra about Shakyamuni Buddha and gave him a summary of the Dharma as he understood it in the following verse:

Of those things that arise from a cause,
The Tathagata has told the cause,
And also what their cessation is:
This is the doctrine of the Great Recluse.

Upon hearing these words, Shariputra’s quick mind realized the profound implications of this seemingly simple verse and he became a stream-enterer, the first of four stages leading to complete liberation from birth and death. At that moment, he knew that Shakyamuni Buddha was the teacher he and his friend had been looking for.

Shariputra immediately found Maudgalyayana and shared Ashvajit’s verse with him. Maudgalyayana also became a stream-enterer; together the two agreed to see Shakyamuni Buddha. But first Shariputra insisted they go to their former teacher Sanjaya and try to convince him to join them. Sanjaya, however, was not willing to relinquish his position as a teacher in order to become the disciple of another. He even tried to convince Shariputra and Maudgalyayana to stay, offering them positions as co-leaders of his own movement. Shariputra and Maudgalyayana were not interested in mere leadership—they were determined to attain liberation under a true teacher, so they both left, taking half of Sanjaya’s 500 disciples with them.

When Shakyamuni Buddha saw the two friends coming to meet him, he announced to the assembly that they would become his chief disciples. The Buddha ordained the two as monks right away. After a week of intensive practice, Maudgalyayana attained the fourth stage of Hinayana enlightenment and became an arhat who would no longer have to be reborn.Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon

Day 10

Day 10 concludes Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood, and opens Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

Having last month covered the prediction of future Buddhahood for Great Kātyāyana in gāthās, we turn to the prediction for Great Maudgalyāyana.

Thereupon the World-Honored One said again to the great multitude:

“Now I will tell you. This Great Maudgalyāyana will make various offerings to eight thousand Buddhas, respect them, and honor them. After the extinction of each of those Buddhas, he will erect a stūpa-mausoleum a thousand yojanas high, and five hundred yojanas wide and deep. He will make it of the seven treasures: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, shell, agate, pearl and ruby. He will offer flowers, necklaces, incense applicable to the skin, incense powder, incense to burn, canopies, banners and streamers to the stūpa-mausoleum. After that he will make the same offerings to two hundred billions of Buddhas. Then he will become a Buddha called Tamālapattra-candana-Fragrance, 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. The kalpa in which he will become that Buddha will be called Joyfulness; and his world, Mind­Happiness. The ground [of his world] will be even, made of crystal, adorned with jeweled trees, and purified with strewn flowers of pearls. Anyone will rejoice at seeing it. Innumerable gods, men, Bodhisattvas and Śrāvakas will live there. The duration of the life of that Buddha will be twenty-four small kalpas. His right teachings will be preserved for forty small kalpas, and the counterfeit of his right teachings also will be preserved for forty small kalpas.”

Recently I’ve been reading “Buddha Seed: Understanding the Odaimoku Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” and this is a good place to insert a discussion of The Attainment of Buddhaood.

Click for full size

Most appropriate at this point is Side A.

The pre-Lotus Sūtra teachings and the theoretical section (Shakumon), chapters 1-14 of the Lotus Sutra are shown as Diagram I-A. In these teachings, Śākyamuni appeared as an historical person bound by the limitations of space and time. Cause and effect were also presented as separate and distinct. In addition to the common meaning of cause and effect, cause also derived from the nine realms {from the realm of hell, hunger (greed), anger, animality, human, heaven, Śrāvaka (learning), Pratyakabuddha (realization) to the realm of bodhisattva}. Effect also derived from the Buddha, the realm of Buddha, enlightenment of Buddha or circumstance of Buddha.

Of course what we have today is the Seven Character Practice illustrated on Side B.

Through the practice of the seven characters of the Odaimoku, people can unite with the Eternal Buddha as a part of his life. This is known as Sokushin Jōbutsu, attaining buddhahood with one’s present form. This is also referred to as Juji Jōbutsu, attaining buddhahood by upholding the Lotus Sutra and the Odaimoku and practicing the Sūtra in one’s daily life.

Day 10

Day 10 concludes Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood, and opens Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

Having last month covered the prediction of future Buddhahood for Great Kātyāyana in prose, we continue in gāthās.

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

Bhikṣus!
Listen with one mind!
What I say
Is true, not false.

This Kātyāyana
Will make
Wonderful offerings
To the Buddhas.

After the extinction of each of the Buddhas,
He will erect a stūpa of the seven treasures,
And offer flowers and incense to the śarīras
[Of the Buddha enshrined in the stūpa].

On the final stage of his physical existence,
He will obtain the wisdom of the Buddha
And attain perfect enlightenment.
His world will be pure.
He will save many billions of living beings.
All living beings
In the worlds of the ten quarters
Will make offerings to him.

No light will surpass
The light of that Buddha.
The name of that Buddha will be
Jambu[nada]-Gold-Light.

Innumerable Bodhisattvas and Śrāvakas
Will live in his world, and adorn that world.
They will have already eliminated
The bonds of existence.

My 32 Days of the Lotus Sūtra blogging has evolved from a daily effort to say something about the entire day’s reading to a forced march through the day, moving incrementally through the 32nd portion of the Sūtra. My original concept was to find something new each day, but that presupposed something new would appear. My current march offers an opportunity to comment on smaller segments. But even that has problems and today is a good example. I had little to say last month on this portion in prose and even less to say this month about the gāthās. When I started reading today’s portion I knew I would have this trouble. In fact, that some days I just don’t have something worth saying, is probably the reason I “forgot” to post this. Fortunately, I can back-date posts and make it appear that this fascinating contribution was originally published at 6:48 pm on June 24, rather than the reality of 9:10 am on June 25.

Day 10

Day 10 concludes Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood, and opens Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

Having last month covered the prediction of future Buddhahood for Subhuti in gāthās, we come to Great Kātyāyana.

Thereupon the World-Honored One said to the bhikṣus:

“Now I will tell you. This Great Kātyāyana will make many offerings to eight hundred thousand millions of Buddhas, attend on them, respect them, and honor them in his future life. After the extinction of each of those Buddhas, he will erect a stupa-mausoleum a thousand yojanas high, and five hundred yojanas wide and deep. He will make it of the seven treasures: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, shell, agate, pearl and ruby. He will offer flowers, necklaces, incense to apply to the skin, incense powder, incense to burn, canopies, banners and streamers to this stūpa-mausoleum. After that he will make the same offerings to two billions of Buddhas. Having made offerings to those Buddhas, he will complete the Way of Bodhisattvas, and become a Buddha called Jambunada-Gold-Light, 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. The ground [of his world] will be even, made of crystal, and adorned with jeweled trees. The roads will be marked off by ropes of gold, and wonderful flowers will cover the ground to purify it. Anyone will rejoice at seeing it. The four evil regions: hell, the region of hungry spirits, that of animals, and that of asuras, will not exist in that world. Many gods and men will live there. Śrāvakas and Bodhisattvas, many billions in number, also will live there to adorn that world. The duration of the life of that Buddha will be twelve small kalpas. His right teachings will be preserved for twenty small kalpas, and the counterfeit of his right teachings also will be preserved for twenty small kalpas.”

Eventually I will extract all of the predictions of future Buddhahood and collect them in a spreadsheet in which I can then compare each Buddha’s future. Here, for example, we learn that in the world of Jambunada-Gold-Light (a world that goes unnamed) “The four evil regions: hell, the region of hungry spirits, that of animals, and that of asuras, will not exist in that world.” Why bring up this detail? Granted it’s not as big a puzzle as why Śāriputra as the Buddha Flower-Light in the world called Free-From-Taint will expound the teaching of the Three Vehicles according to his original vow, but it makes me curious.

Day 10

Day 10 concludes Chapter 6, Assurance of Future Buddhahood, and opens Chapter 7, The Parable of a Magic City.

Having last month covered the prediction of future Buddhahood for Subhuti in prose, we come to the prediction for him in gāthās.

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

Bhikṣus!
Now I will tell you.
Listen to me
With one mind!

Subhūti, a disciple of mine,
Will be able
To become a Buddha
Called Beautiful-Form.

He will make offerings
To many billions of Buddhas, and practice
According to the practices of the Buddhas,
And finally attain great enlightenment.

On the final stage of his physical existence,
He will obtain the thirty-two physical marks,
And become as beautiful and as wonderful
As a mountain of treasures.

The world of that Buddha
Will be the purest.
Anyone will be happy to see it.
That Buddha will save
Innumerable living beings
Of that world.

Many Bodhisattvas
In the world of that Buddha
Will be clever.
They will turn
The irrevocable wheel of the Dharma,
And adorn that world.

The Śrāvakas in that world also
Will be countless.
They will have the six supernatural powers,
Including the three major supernatural powers.
They will have the eight emancipations.
They will be exceedingly powerful and virtuous.

The supernatural powers
Employed by that Buddha
For the expounding of the Dharma
Will be inconceivable.

As many gods and men
As there are sands in the River Ganges
Will join their hands together
And listen to the words of that Buddha.

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
Also will be preserved for twenty small kalpas.

My penchant for working piece by piece through the sūtra doesn’t always work well. Here’s a case where I struggle to add something specific to this section. But I do have a personal observation in general that applies to this.

We are told that Subhūti “will make offerings To many billions of Buddhas, and practice According to the practices of the Buddhas, And finally attain great enlightenment.” I’ve heard people use this sort of lengthy process as an example of an unattractive or less than ideal outcome, especially given the promises offered to those who keep, read, recite and copy this sūtra.

I have two problems with that. First, consider what it would mean to have the opportunity to make offerings to billions of Buddhas and to practice according to their teachings. Personally, I think that would be great. My practice today is not a burden. It is not something I do grudgingly. It is done with joy.

The other problem I have (underscore I have) with focusing exclusively on the get-enlightenment-quick talisman, is that it makes enlightenment only about me. Each day I vow to save all sentient beings. That could take some time.