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Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month witnessed Śākyamuni preparing for the arrival of his replicas, the Buddhas of the replicas arrive and send their representatives to greet Śākyamuni.

Thereupon the Buddhas of the replicas of Śākyamuni Buddha in the worlds of the east, who were expounding the Dharma in those worlds numbering hundreds of thousands of billions of nayutas, that is, as many as there are sands in the River Ganges, came [to this expanded world]. So did the Buddhas of the worlds of the nine other quarters. They sat on the seats [under the jeweled trees]. [The Sahā-World and] the four hundred billion nayuta worlds of each of the eight quarters[, which were amalgamated into one Buddha world,] were filled with those Buddhas, with those Tathāgatas.

Thereupon one of the Buddhas on the lion-like seats under the jeweled trees, wishing to inquire after Śākyamuni Buddha, gave a handful of jeweled flowers to his attendant, and said to him, [wishing to] dispatch him:

“Good man! Co to Śākyamuni Buddha who is now living on Mt. Gṛdhrakūṭa! Ask him on my behalf, ‘Are you in good health? Are you peaceful? Are the Bodhisattvas and Śrāvakas peaceful or not?’ Strew these jeweled flowers to him, offer them to him, and say, ‘That Buddha sent me to tell you that he wishes to see the stūpa of treasures opened.”‘

All the other Buddhas also dispatched their attendants in the same way.

See Unification of the One Buddha Śākyamuni

Unification of the One Buddha Śākyamuni

[T]he Sutra says that innumerable Buddhas or duplicates of Śākyamuni in the worlds of the ten directions were assembled in one place. Each of the duplicates can be seen as a manifestation of Śākyamuni himself, who took the forms of other Buddhas in order to expound the Dharma in other worlds. Now they were all assembled in one place, meaning that all the Buddhas throughout space were unified at that moment by the one Buddha Śākyamuni.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten quarters announcing their plans to visit the Sahā World, we witness Śākyamuni preparing for the arrival of his replicas.

At that time each of the Buddhas was accompanied by an attendant who was a great Bodhisattva. Some of the Buddhas came under the jeweled trees in the Sahā-World. The jeweled trees were five hundred yojanas tall, and adorned with branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. Under the jeweled trees were lion-like seats five yojanas tall, adorned with great treasures. The Buddhas sat cross-legged on the seats [under the jeweled trees]. The seats [under the jeweled trees] in the [Sahā-World composed of] one thousand million Sumeru-worlds were, however, too few to receive all the Buddhas of Śākyamuni Buddha’s replicas who were to come from the worlds even of one of the ten quarters. [Seeing this,] Śākyamuni Buddha purified two hundred billion nayuta worlds of each of the eight quarters [neighboring the Sahā-World] to receive all the Buddhas of his replicas. The hells, the regions of hungry spirit , the regions of animals, and the regions of asuras [of those worlds] were eliminated; and the gods and men [of those worlds] were removed to other worlds. The ground of those purified world became lapis lazuli. The worlds were adorned with jeweled trees five hundred yojanas tall. The trees were adorned with branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. Under the trees were lion-like seats of treasures five yojanas tall, adorned with various treasures. The great oceans, rivers, the Mucilinda Mountains, the Maha-Mucilinda Mountains, the Surrounding Iron Mountains, the Great Surrounding Iron Mountains, the Sumeru Mountains, and all the other great mountains [of those worlds] were eliminated, and all those worlds were amalgamated into one Buddha-world [that is, into the world of Śākyamuni Buddha). The jeweled ground of this [expanded] world was even. Jeweled curtains and canopies adorned with streamers were hung over this [expanded] world; the incense of great treasures, burned; and jeweled flowers of heaven, strewn over the ground.

Śākyamuni Buddha again purified two hundred billion nayuta more worlds of each of the eight quarters [neighboring the expanded world] to seat all the Buddhas of his replicas. The hells, the regions of hungry spirits, the regions of animals, and the regions of asuras [of those worlds] were eliminated; and the gods and men [of those worlds] were removed to other worlds. The ground of those purified worlds became lapis lazuli. The worlds were adorned with jeweled trees five hundred yojanas tall. The trees were adorned with branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. Under the trees were lion-like seats of treasures five yojanas tall, adorned with great treasures. The great oceans, rivers, the Mucilinda Mountains, the Maha-Mucilinda Mountains, the Surrounding lron Mountains, the Great Surrounding Iron Mountains, the Sumeru Mountains, and all the other great mountains [of those worlds] were eliminated, and all those worlds were amalgamated into one Buddha-world [that is, into the world of Śākyamuni Buddha]. The jeweled ground of this [expanded] world was even. Jeweled curtains and canopies adorned with streamers were hung over this [expanded] world; the incense of great treasures, burned; and jeweled flowers of heaven, strewn over the ground.

See Triple Purification of the Worlds

Triple Purification of the Worlds

Great-Eloquence Bodhisattva wants to see Many-Treasures for himself, and he makes his desire known to Sakyamuni. The Buddha replies:

Many-Treasures Buddha made another great vow: “If any Buddha wishes to show me to the people when my Stupa of treasures appears before him so that I may be able to hear the Lotus Sutra, all his duplicate Buddhas in the worlds of the ten directions must be recalled. Then I will show myself before the people.”

Then Sakyamuni emitted a ray of light from the white curls between his eyebrows. The ray of light illumined the east, where the people saw innumerable Buddhas of innumerable worlds. Illuminated by the ray of light, those Buddhas of the worlds of the ten directions came pouring into the World of Endurance (our world) to make offerings to Sakyamuni Buddha and Many-Treasures Tathagata. At that moment, the World of Endurance was purified. The ground of the world became lapis lazuli; the roads were marked off by golden ropes; all cities, rushing torrents, and mountains (barriers which divide people from each other) were eliminated. Each of the arriving Buddhas was accompanied by an attending Bodhisattva. They all came to the purified World of Endurance, and sat under jeweled trees on lion-like thrones. All the thrones in the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds (inhabited worlds) were too few to accommodate so many Buddhas, so Sakyamuni purified two hundred billion nayuta [one nayuta is one hundred thousand million] other worlds to receive them. Still there was not enough room for them all, so Sakyamuni purified two hundred billion nayuta more worlds in eight directions of space to receive them (p. 183-4).

This is called the “triple purification of the worlds.”

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month adjusted the split in Chapter 11 between Day 15 and Day 16, we begin with the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten quarters announcing their travel plans.

Thereupon each of the Buddhas of the [ worlds of the] ten quarters said to the Bodhisattvas under him, “Good men! Now I will go to Śākyamuni Buddha of the Sahā-World. I also will make offerings to the stūpa of treasures of Many-Treasures Tathāgata.”

At that instant the Sahā-World was purified. The ground of the world became lapis lazuli. The world was adorned with jeweled trees. The eight roads were marked off by ropes of gold. The towns, villages, cities, oceans, rivers, mountains, forests and thickets were eliminated. The incense of great treasures was burned; mandārava flowers, strewn over the ground; and jeweled nets and curtains with jeweled bells, hung over the world. The gods and men were removed to other worlds except those who were in the congregation.

Underscore At that instant the Sahā-World was purified.

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Last month I started Day 16’s portion of Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures, but I’ve decided to move where I make that break. As a result, last month’s portion, plus the portion below have been moved into the end of Day 15.

The Buddha said to him:

“The perfect body of a Tathāgata is in this stūpa of treasures. A long time ago there was a world called Treasure-Purity at the distance of many thousands of billions of asaṃkhyas of worlds to the east [of this world]. In that world lived a Buddha called Many-Treasures. When he was yet practicing the Way of Bodhisattvas, he made a great vow: ‘If anyone expounds a sūtra called the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in any of the worlds of the ten quarters after I become a Buddha and pass away, I will cause my stūpa-mausoleum to spring up before him so that 1 may be able to prove the truthfulness of the sūtra and say ‘excellent’ in praise of him because I wish to hear that sūtra [directly from him].”

“He attained enlightenment[, and became a Buddha]. When he was about to pass away, he said to the bhikṣus in the presence of the great multitude of gods and men, ‘If you wish to make offerings to my perfect body after my extinction, erect a great stūpa!’

“If anyone expounds the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in any of the worlds of the ten quarters, that Buddha, by his supernatural powers and by the power of his vow, will cause the stūpa of treasures enshrining his perfect body to spring up before the expounder of the sūtra. Then he will praise [the expounder of the sūtra], saying, ‘Excellent, excellent!’

“Great-Eloquence! Now Many-Treasures Tathāgata caused his stūpa to spring up from underground in order to hear the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma [directly from me]. Now he praised me, saying, ‘Excellent, excellent!’ ”

Thereupon Great-Eloquence Bodhisattva, resorting to the supernatural powers of [Śākyamuni] Tathāgata, said to him, “World-Honored One! We wish to see that Buddha.”

The Buddha said to Great-Eloquence Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas:

“Many-Treasures Buddha made another great vow: ‘If a Buddha wishes to show me to the four kinds of devotees when my stūpa of treasures appears before him in order that l may be able to hear the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma [directly from him], he must call back all the Buddhas of his replicas who will be expounding the Dharma in the worlds of the ten quarters at that time. Then I will show myself [to the four kinds of devotees].’ Great-Eloquence! Now I will collect the Buddhas of my replicas who are now expounding the Dharma in the worlds of the ten quarters.”

Great-Eloquence said to him, “World-Honored One! We also wish to see the Buddhas of your replicas, bow to them, and make offerings to them.”

Thereupon the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the white curls [between his eyebrows, and faced the east]. The congregation saw the Buddhas of five hundred billion nayuta worlds, that is, as many worlds as there are sands in the River Ganges, in the east. The ground of those worlds was made of crystal. Those worlds were adorned with jeweled trees and garments, and filled with many thousands of billions of Bodhisattvas. Jeweled curtains were stretched and jeweled nets were hung over those worlds, where the Buddhas were expounding the Dharma with loud and wonderful voices. The congregation also saw that many thousands of billions of Bodhisattvas, with whom those worlds were filled, were expounding the Dharma to the living beings of those worlds.

The Buddha also illumined the worlds of the south, west, north, the four intermediate quarters, zenith, and nadir, with rays of light emitted from the white curls [between his eyebrows]. The worlds of those quarters looked like those of the east.

Next month I’ll begin again with what is now the start of Day 16’s portion of Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures. Most breaks between days are clearly marked, e.g. the transition from prose to gāthās or the end of a chapter. But a few are more difficult for me to discern. In those cases I’ve used “logical” breaks, e.g. in Chapter 3, A Parable, between Day 5, which ends with Śāriputra asking Śākyamuni to remove the doubts of the four kinds of devotees, and the start of Day 6, where Śākyamuni responds.

The Day 15-Day 16 split is different in that there are several Shindoku words that I recognize such as “zen zai” which means excellent, “butsu” which means Buddha, “bo satsu” which is Bodhisattva and “shaka muni” which is Śākyamuni. For several months I’ve realized my Day 15-Day 16 split had been misplaced, but only this month did I sit down with both books.

The split in Myoho Renge Kyo Romanized occurs at: ni ji jip po sho butsu, kaku go shu bo satsu gon, zen nan shi, ga kon o o, sha ba se kai, shaka muni bus sho…

I’ve placed that split in Senchu Murano’s translation at: “Thereupon each of the Buddhas of the [ worlds of the] ten quarters said to the Bodhisattvas under him, “Good men! Now I will go to Śākyamuni Buddha of the Sahā-World. …”

Eventually I hope to verify all of the breaks.

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month concluded Chapter 11, we start again at the top of Day 16.

The Buddha said to him:

“The perfect body of a Tathāgata is in this stūpa of treasures. A long time ago there was a world called Treasure-Purity at the distance of many thousands of billions of asaṃkhyas of worlds to the east [of this world]. In that world lived a Buddha called Many-Treasures. When he was yet practicing the Way of Bodhisattvas, he made a great vow: ‘If anyone expounds a sūtra called the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in any of the worlds of the ten quarters after I become a Buddha and pass away, I will cause my stūpa-mausoleum to spring up before him so that 1 may be able to prove the truthfulness of the sūtra and say ‘excellent’ in praise of him because I wish to hear that sūtra [directly from him].”

“He attained enlightenment[, and became a Buddha]. When he was about to pass away, he said to the bhikṣus in the presence of the great multitude of gods and men, ‘If you wish to make offerings to my perfect body after my extinction, erect a great stūpa!’

“If anyone expounds the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma in any of the worlds of the ten quarters, that Buddha, by his supernatural powers and by the power of his vow, will cause the stūpa of treasures enshrining his perfect body to spring up before the expounder of the sūtra. Then he will praise [the expounder of the sūtra], saying, ‘Excellent, excellent!’

“Great-Eloquence! Now Many-Treasures Tathāgata caused his stūpa to spring up from underground in order to hear the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma [directly from me]. Now he praised me, saying, ‘Excellent, excellent!’ ”

Ryusho Jeffus Shonin in his Lecture on the Lotus Sutra offers an explanation of our connection to this stupa, Many Treasures Buddha and his vow:

There are two causes at work when the Stupa of Treasures appears that are stated in Many Treasures original vow. In other words there are two things that make the appearance of Many Treasures and his stupa possible. The first cause, or the first requirement was the original vow of Many Treasures. By making his vow originally he set into motion the actualization of it happening. In our own lives it would be comparable to making a determination to do something. Because of our promise or determination we put into motion the actualization of that thing we determined. This is one reason why I feel that when we take vows to practice Buddhism it is so important to really understand the significance of making that promise. We should become people of our word, doing what we promise to do, in all situations.

The second cause, which enabled Many Treasures Buddha to appear, was the supernatural powers he obtained as the result of his own practice of the Lotus Sutra. In other words Many Treasures Buddha made a vow, which he could carry out because of his accumulated benefit of practicing the Lotus Sutra. Many Treasures Buddha, wishing to repay his gratitude for the many benefits he had obtained, promised to appear whenever the Lotus Sutra was taught, and he was able to do this because he received the merit and made the promise.

In our own lives, we have the hidden treasure, the gem of Buddhahood, which we can ignore and let lay dormant. On the other hand we can choose to make a vow, or a determination, to manifest and then carry out the necessary activities to actualize the vow to manifest our Buddhahood. All this we can do through our faith in the Lotus Sutra.

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

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stūpa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard the difficult and easy tasks, we conclude Chapter 11.

Since I attained
The enlightenment of the Buddha,
I have expounded many sūtras
In innumerable worlds.

This sūtra is
The most excellent.
To keep this sūtra
Is to keep me.

Good men!
Who will receive and keep this sūtra,
And read and recite it
After my extinction?
Make a vow before me
[To do all this]!

It is difficult to keep this sūtra.
I shall be glad to see
Anyone keeping it even for a moment.
So will all the other Buddhas.
He will be praised by all the Buddhas.
He will be a man of valor,
A man of endeavor.
He should be considered
To have already observed the precepts,
And practised the dhuta.
He will quickly attain
The unsurpassed enlightenment of the Buddha.

Anyone who reads and recites this sūtra in the future
Is a true son of mine.
He shall be considered to live
On the stage of purity and good.

Anyone, after my extinction,
Who understands the meaning of this sūtra,
Will be the eye of the worlds
Of gods and men.

Anyone who expounds this sūtra
Even for a moment in this dreadful world,
Should be honored with offerings
By all gods and men.

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

The Daily Dharma from March 20, 2017, offers this:

It is difficult to keep this sūtra.
I shall be glad to see
Anyone keeping it even for a moment.
So will all the other Buddhas.

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Eleven of the Lotus Sūtra. He is well aware of how hard it is to move from expedient teachings to the Wonderful Dharma. We have habits and attachments built up over many lifetimes, and live in a world that does not always support our practice. Still, one cannot underestimate the importance of trying, even for the briefest amount of time, to hold on to this teaching and bring it to life in this world.

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

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stupa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard the Buddha’s request in gāthās for someone to step forward and protect and keep this sūtra, we come to the difficult and the easy tasks.

Many-Treasures Buddha vowed to go
About the worlds of the ten quarters,
Riding in the stūpa of treasures,
In order to hear this sūtra [directly from the expounder].

Anyone [who protects this sūtra] also
Should be considered to have already made offerings
To the Buddhas of my replicas, who have come here
And adorned the worlds with their light.

Anyone who expounds this sūtra
Will be able to see me,
To see Many-Treasures Tathāgata,
And to see the Buddhas of my replicas.

Good men! Think this over clearly!
It is difficult
[To expound this sūtra].
Make a great vow to do this!

It is not difficult
To expound all the other sūtras
As many as there are sands
In the River Ganges.

It is not difficult
To grasp Mt. Sumeru
And hurl it to a distance
Of countless Buddha-worlds.

It is not difficult to move [a world]
[Composed of] one thousand million Sumeru-worlds
With the tip of a toe
And hurl it to another world.

It is not difficult
To stand in the Highest Heaven
And expound innumerable other sūtras
To all living beings.

It is difficult
To expound this sūtra
In the evil world
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To grasp the sky,
And wander about with it
From place to place.

It is difficult
To copy and keep this sūtra
Or cause others to copy it
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To put the great earth
On the nail of a toe
And go up to the Heaven of Brahman.

It is difficult
To read this sūtra
Even for a while in the evil world
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To shoulder a load of hay
And stay unburned in the fire
At the end of the kalpa [of destruction].

It is difficult
To keep this sūtra
And expound it to even one person
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To keep the store
Of eighty-four thousand teachings
Expounded in the sūtras
Composed of the twelve elements,
And expound it to people,
And cause the hearers to obtain
The six supernatural powers.

It is difficult
To hear and receive this sūtra,
And ask the meanings of it
After my extinction.

It is not difficult
To expound the Dharma
To many thousands of billions of living beings
As many as there are sands
In the River Ganges
So that they may be able
To obtain the benefits:
Arhatship and the six supernatural powers.

It is difficult
To keep
This sūtra
After my extinction.

Rev. Ryusho JeffusPhysicians Good Medicine offers this:

The Six Difficult things are: 1) Expound this Sutra, 2) Copy and keep this Sutra, 3) Read this Sutra, 4) To keep this Sutra and expound to even one person, 5) To hear and receive this Sutra, and 6) Keep this Sutra after the death of the Buddha. In other words it is extremely difficult to keep, read, recite, copy, and teach the Lotus Sutra in this age so far removed from the historical Buddha. These things are more difficult than “putting the great earth on the nail of a toe and go up to the Heaven of Brahman.”Physician's Good Medicine

Day 16

Day 16 concludes Chapter 11, Beholding the Stupa of Treasures, and completes the Fourth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month begun the gāthās, we continue with the Buddha’s request.

(The Buddha said to the great multitude.)
Who will protect
And keep this sūtra,
And read and recite it
After my extinction?
Make a vow before me to do this!

Many-Treasures Buddha,
Who had passed away a long time ago,
Made a loud voice like the roar of a lion
According to his great vow.

Many-Treasures Tathāgata and I
And the Buddhas of my replicas,
Who have assembled here,
Wish to know who will do [all this].

My sons!
Who will protect the Dharma?
Make a great vow
To preserve the Dharma forever!

Anyone who protects this sūtra
Should be considered
To have already made offerings
To Many-Treasures and to me.

Rev. Ryusho Shonin’s Lecture on the Lotus Sutra offers this:

Following the arrival of the Stupa comes a very important point in this grand drama, one we can easily overlook as we are in awe and amazement of the events that have just happened. The Buddha inquires of the assembly who will teach the Lotus Sutra in this world, the Saha world after the he has died. The Buddha in these requests shows his shift from the present to the future. We have already seen that all of those who received predictions of future enlightenment will perform their practices in some other realm but not this world. None of the contemporaries of the Buddha will attain enlightenment by doing their activities in our world. The Buddha wants to know, however, who will ensure that the Lotus Sutra is taught to future practitioners.

The Buddha makes a promise and this is significant to those of us who practice and teach the Lotus Sutra in the world in this age some several thousand years after the Buddha. A promise is made that whoever protects the Lotus Sutra in the Saha world, our world, will be able to be in the presence of not just the Buddha Shakyamuni but also all of his replica Buddhas as well as Many Treasures Buddha.
Lecture on the Lotus Sutra