Tag Archives: LS12

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month concluded Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, we begin Day 12’s portion.

“Thereupon the Brahman-heavenly-kings of the five hundred billion [worlds], having praised the Buddha with these gāthās, said to him, ‘World-Honored One! Turn the wheel of the Dharma so that
all living beings may be peaceful, and that they may be saved!’ They said in gāthās:

World-Honored One, turn the wheel of the Dharma,
Beat the drum of the Dharma as sweet as nectar,
Save the suffering beings,
And show them the way to Nirvāṇa!

Assent to our appeal!
You studied the Dharma for innumerable kalpas.
Expound it with your exceedingly wonderful voice
Out of your compassion towards us!

“Thereupon Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Tathāgata, having assented to the appeals made by the Brahman-heavenly­kings of the words of the ten quarters and also by the sixteen princes, turned the wheel of the teaching [of the four truths] three times, making twelve proclamations altogether. The wheel of this teaching could not be turned by any other one in the world, be he a śramaṇas, a brahmana, a god, Mara or Brahman. The Buddha said, ‘This is suffering. This is the cause of suffering. This is extinction of suffering. This is the Way to extinction of suffering.’

“Then he expounded the teaching of the twelve causes, saying, ‘Ignorance causes predisposition. Predisposition causes consciousness. Consciousness causes name-and-form. Name­and-form causes the six sense organs. The six sense organs cause impression. Impression causes feeling. Feeling causes craving. Craving causes grasping. Grasping causes existence. Existence causes birth. Birth causes aging-and-death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation. When ignorance is eliminated, predisposition is eliminated. When predisposition is eliminated, consciousness is eliminated. When consciousness is eliminated, name-and-form is eliminated. When name-and-form is eliminated, the six sense organs are eliminated. When the six sense organs are eliminated, impression is eliminated. When impression is eliminated, feeling is eliminated. When feeling is eliminated, craving is eliminated. When craving is eliminated, grasping is eliminated. When grasping is eliminated, existence is eliminated. When existence is eliminated, birth is eliminated. When birth is eliminated, aging-and-death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation are eliminated.’

See Teachings for Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas

Teachings for Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas

The First Noble Truth is, “All is suffering.” Suffering here refers to the situation in which we cannot meet our desires or wishes. This truth implies that all life is suffering as long as we are dominated by greed, ignorance of the law, and hostility towards others. Our desires can never be fully satisfied.

The Second Noble Truth states, “The cause of sufferings is ignorance.” This means that suffering in life is caused by ignorance arising from our instincts, such as thirst, hunger, sex, and fear.

The Third Noble Truth states, “The extinction of ignorance is nirvana.” The sravakas took this to mean that ignorance could be extinguished only by quenching human desires.

The Fourth Noble Truth maintains, “The Way to Nirvana is by practicing the Eightfold Path.” The Eightfold Path consists of (1) right views (a correct understanding of the Four Noble Truths), (2) right thoughts (the ability to reflect on the Four Truths), (3) right speech (speaking only the truth and words of kindness), (4) right deeds (proper acts—that is, morality), (5) right livelihood (making a living without harming others), (6) right effort (or exertion), (7) right memory (memory of things beneficial to enlightenment), and (8) right concentration of mind (correct meditation).

The Twelve Interdependent Causes are: (1) ignorance, (2) predisposition, (3) consciousness, (4) “name and form” (an entity of mind and body), (5) the six sense-organs, (6) contact (touch), (7) sensation, (8) craving, (9) grasping, (10) existence, (11) birth, and (12) aging and death. (Since death results in “ignorance,” the whole cycle begins all over again.) Each cause is dependent on its predecessor. For instance, the first cause, ignorance, is the origin of all illusions. At the same time, it generates the second action of predisposition, which induces the third factor of consciousness (the first consciousness after conception takes place), which further produces the fourth cause of “name and form,” and so on. Since the world of illusions is gradually formed through this chain of actions, we will be able to attain enlightenment by eliminating these causes one by one, starting with the last cause.

It is generally said that the teaching of the Four Noble Truths is for sravakas, and that of the Twelve Causes is for Pratyekabuddhas.

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month paused along the road to the place of treasures, we conclude Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City.

I am like the leader.
I am the leader of all living beings.
I saw that halfway some got tired
With the seeking of enlightenment,
And that they could not pass through the dangerous road
Of birth-and-death and illusions.
Therefore, I expounded to them the teaching of Nirvāṇa
As an expedient to give them a rest, saying:
“You have already eliminated sufferings.
You have done everything you should do.”

Now I see that they have already attained Nirvāṇa
And that they have become Arhats.
Therefore, I now collect the great multitude,
And expound to them the true teaching.

The Buddhas expound the teaching of the Three Vehicles
Only as an expedient.
There is only the One Buddha-Vehicle.
The two [vehicles] were taught only as resting places.

Now I will tell you the truth.
What you attained is not [true] extinction.
Make great efforts in order to obtain
The Buddha’s knowledge of all things.
When you obtain the knowledge of all things
And the ten powers of the Buddha,
And the thirty-two physical marks,
You will be able to say that you attained true extinction.
The Buddhas, the Leaders, expound the teaching of Nirvāṇa
In order to give a rest [to all living beings].
When they see them having already had a rest,
They lead them to the wisdom of the Buddha.

[Here ends] the Third Volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

See Sharing the Heart of the Buddha

Sharing the Heart of the Buddha

In the chapters which follow, the Lotus Sutra will affirm that: (1) faith in Sakyamuni Buddha of this our World of Endurance and (2) practices based on that faith should be the core of Buddhism, even though many subsidiary teachings may exist.

Meanwhile, the story of the sixteen princes is intended to teach that the Bodhisattvas (the princes) must do what Sakyamuni did – save all living beings by teaching the truth. Although the profound wisdom of the Buddha is beyond the reach of Bodhisattvas, they nevertheless share the heart of the Buddha. That heart is a commitment to universal salvation – the act of benefiting others.

In the chapters which follow, we shall see some examples of such acts performed by some of the Bodhisattvas, and the story of the sixteen princes here serves as an introduction to those practices.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month witnessed how the sixteen śramaṇeras practiced the Way to Buddhahood and taught the Dharma, we consider the dangerous road to the place of treasures.

Suppose there was a bad and dangerous road.
Many wild animals lived in the neighborhood.
No man was there; no water nor grass there.
The road was so fearful.

Many tens of millions of people
Wished to pass through this dangerous road.
The road was very long.
It was five hundred yojanas long.

The people had a leader.
He had a good memory.
He was wise and resolute in mind.
He could save people from dangers.

Getting tired,
The people said to him:
“We are tired.
We wish to go back.”

He thought:
‘How pitiful they are!
Why do they wish to return
Without getting great treasures?’

Thinking of an expedient, he said to himself:
‘I will use my supernatural powers.’
He made a great city by magic,
And adorned it with houses.

The city was surrounded by gardens, forests,
And by ponds and pools for bathing.
Many-storied gates and tall buildings [in that city]
Were filled with men and women.

Having made all this by magic,
He consoled the people, saying:
“Do not be afraid! Enter that city!
And do anything you like!”

They entered that city,
And had great joy.
They felt peaceful,
And thought that they had already passed [through the road].

Seeing that they had already had a rest,
The leader collected them, and said:
“Go on ahead now! This is a magic city.
You were tired out halfway.
You wished to go back.
Therefore, I made this city by magic As an expedient.
Make efforts!
Let us go to the place of treasures!”

Onward!

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month witnessed the sixteen princes renouncing the world and becoming śramaṇeras, we continue in gāthās with how those sixteen śramaṇeras practiced the Way to Buddhahood and taught the Dharma.

Those sixteen śramaṇeras practiced the Way to Buddhahood.
They are now in the worlds of the ten quarters.
They have already attained
Perfect enlightenment [and become Buddhas].

Those who heard the Dharma from those śramaṇeras
Are now living under those Buddhas.
To those who are still in Śrāvakahood
[The Buddhas] teach the Way to Buddhahood.

I was one of the sixteen śramaṇeras.
You were among those to whom I expounded the Dharma.
Therefore, I now lead you with expedients
To the wisdom of the Buddha.

Because I taught you in my previous existence,
I expound the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
In order to lead you into the Way to Buddhahood.
Think it over! Do not be surprised! Do not be afraid!

“Because I taught you in my previous existence…” I am able to hear today the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma. Imagine that.

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month witnessed in gāthās the turning of the wheel of the Dharma by the Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha, we watch as the sixteen princes renounce the world and become śramaṇeras.

The sixteen princes renounced the world,
And became śramaṇeras.
They begged the Buddha to expound the teaching
Of the Great Vehicle, saying:
“We and our attendants wish to attain
The enlightenment of the Buddha.
May we have the purest eyes of wisdom
Just as yours!”

Knowing the wishes of the [princes who were] young boys
And the practices they performed in their previous existence,
The Buddha taught them the six paramitas
And many supernatural things
With innumerable stories of previous lives
And with various parables and similes.

The gāthās of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Were sung [by the Buddha] to expound the true teaching,
That is, [to expound] the Way which Bodhisattvas should practice.
The gāthās were as many as there are sands in the River Ganges.

Having expounded this sūtra, the Buddha entered a quiet room,
And practiced dhyāna-concentration.
Concentrating his mind, he sat at the same place
For eighty-four thousand kalpas.

Seeing him still in dhyāna,
The śramaṇeras wished to expound
The unsurpassed wisdom of the Buddha
To many hundreds of millions of living beings.

They each sat on a seat of the Dharma
And expounded this sūtra of the Great Vehicle.
Also after the peaceful extinction of that Buddha,
They proclaimed this sūtra, and helped propagate it.

They each saved
Six hundred billions of living beings,
That is, as many living beings
As there are sands in the River Ganges.

After the extinction of that Buddha,
Some heard the Dharma [from one of the śramaṇeras].
They were reborn in the world of a Buddha,
Accompanied by [the śramaṇera, that is,] their teacher.

See yesterday’s note for where I am and why I’m not adding any comment to these posts.

Evening service

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard in gāthās of the long-delayed awakening of Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha, we witness in gāthās the turning of the wheel of the Dharma by the Buddha.

The palaces of the Brahmans
Of five hundred billion worlds in the east
Were illumined
More brightly than ever.

Traveling to find [the place from where the light had come],
The Brahmans of those worlds came to that Buddha.
They strewed flowers and offered them to him.
They also offered their palaces.

They praised him with gāthās,
And begged him to turn the wheel of the Dharma.
The Buddha sat in silence although he was begged
Because he knew that the time was not yet ripe for that.

The Brahmans came also from the three other quarters,
From the four intermediate quarters, zenith, and nadir.
They strewed flowers, offered their palaces,
And begged the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Dharma, saying:

“It is difficult to meet you.
Open the gate of the teachings as sweet as nectar
Out of your great compassion towards us,
And turn the wheel of the unsurpassed Dharma!”

Assenting to their appeal,
The World-Honored One of Immeasurable Wisdom
Expounded the various teachings, that is,
The four truths and the twelve causes, saying:
“All the causes, from ignorance to aging-and-death,
Rise one after another.
You should know
All these illusions.”

When he expounded these teachings,
Sixty quadrillions of living beings
Eliminated sufferings,
And became Arhats.

At his second expounding of these teachings also,
Tens of millions of living beings, that is,
As many living beings as there are sands in the River Ganges,
Became Arhats because they gave up wrong views.

Those who attained the enlightenment [of Arhats] afterwards
Were also innumerable.
No one would be able to count them
Even if he tried to do so for a billion kalpas.

Recently I’ve been reading books on the fundamentals of Buddhism, those points that transcend sectarian differences. Those fundamentals are contained in the Lotus Sutra as shown in this section:

Assenting to their appeal,
The World-Honored One of Immeasurable Wisdom
Expounded the various teachings, that is,
The four truths and the twelve causes, saying:
“All the causes, from ignorance to aging-and-death,
Rise one after another.
You should know
All these illusions.”

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard the explanation of the parable, we start the tale again in gāthās.

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

Great-Universal-Wisdom-Excellence Buddha sat
At the place of enlightenment for ten [small] kalpas.
He could not attain the enlightenment of the Buddha
Because the Dharma of the Buddhas had not yet come into his mind.

The gods, dragon-kings,
And asuras rained down
Heavenly flowers,
And offered them to him.

The gods beat heavenly drums,
And made many kinds of music.
Withered flowers were swept away by fragrant winds;
And fresh and beautiful flowers were rained down.

After the ten small kalpas elapsed,
He attained the enlightenment of the Buddha.
The gods and men of the world
Felt like dancing with joy.

Surrounded by their followers,
Thousands of billions in number,
The sixteen sons of that Buddha
Came to him.

Worshipping the feet of the Buddha with their heads,
They begged him to turn the wheel of the Dharma, saying:
“Lion-like Saint! Send the rain of the Dharma
On us and on all others also!”

It is difficult to meet a World-Honored One.
He appears only once in a very long time.
When he appears, he causes all the worlds to quake
In order to awaken all living beings.

This concept – He could not attain the enlightenment of the Buddha
Because the Dharma of the Buddhas had not yet come into his mind – always inspires. This time through, though, I’m struck by the cheering section:

After the ten small kalpas elapsed,
He attained the enlightenment of the Buddha.
The gods and men of the world
Felt like dancing with joy.

Worlds quake to alert everyone. Bring on the rain!

Day 12

Day 12 concludes Chapter 7, The Parable of the Magic City, and completes the Third Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month reviewed the parable, we hear the explanation of the parable.

“Bhikṣus! I, the Tathāgata, am like the leader. I am your great leader. I know that the bad road, which is made of birth-and-death and illusions, is dangerous and long, and that we should pass through it and get off it. If you had heard only of the One Vehicle of the Buddha, you would not have wished to see or approach the Buddha, but would have thought, ‘The Way to Buddhahood is too long for us to pass through unless we make painstaking efforts for a long time.’

“I knew that you were mean and timid. In order to give you a rest halfway, I expounded expediently to you the teaching of Nirvana by the two vehicles.• To those who attained the two [ vehicles], I say, ‘You have not yet done all that you should do. You are near the wisdom of the Buddha. Think it over and consider it! The Nirvana you attained is not true. I divided the One Vehicle of the Buddha into three only expediently.’

“I say this just as the leader, who saw that his party had had a rest in the great city which he had made by magic in order to give them a rest, said to them, ‘The place of treasures is near. This city was not true. I made it by magic.”‘

The Daily Dharma from Dec. 15, 2016, offers this:

I knew that you were mean and timid. In order to give you a rest halfway, I expounded expediently to you the teaching of Nirvāṇa by the two vehicles. To those who attained the two [vehicles], I say, ‘You have not yet done all that you should do. You are near the wisdom of the Buddha. Think it over and consider it! The Nirvāṇa you attained is not true. I divided the One Vehicle of the Buddha into three only expediently.

The Buddha gives this explanation in Chapter Seven of the Lotus Sūtra after he tells the parable of the magic city. In that parable he compares himself, leading all beings to enlightenment, to a guide leading a group of travelers through a dangerous wilderness. The Buddha knows how frightening this world of conflict can be, so he uses teachings about ending suffering to keep us moving on the path. But then as the guide in the parable made the magic city disappear so that the travelers would continue to the real city, the Buddha tells us to abandon preoccupations with our own suffering so that we can enjoy his enlightenment.

Today’s quote from Spring Writings offers a practical example of preoccupations with our own suffering:

[P]racticing a teaching is not easy. It is hard work to struggle against your own ego and laziness. The human being’s mind can be tempted with laziness, and we lose faith easily when it should be firm. Laziness and ego are strong rivals against faith. In fact, it is harder to defeat our own mind than to defeat others. An example is a person who is determined to chant every morning. Somehow they manage to keep their determination for a couple of weeks. Then, one morning, they have a headache and think, “Today is special, I will rest.” Before long, the special days turn into regular days. Usually the battle between laziness and faith results in the laziness achieving “victory.” At that time we need to have firm faith to brush off the whisper of laziness, and should think: “This is a trial to test my weakness and my faith.”