Tag Archives: LS17

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Having last month concluded today’s portion of Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra, we return to Chapter 12, Devadatta.

Thereupon the Buddha said to the Bodhisattvas, gods, men and the four kinds of devotees:

“When I was a Bodhisattva] in my previous existence, I sought the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma for innumerable kalpas without indolence. I became a king [and continued to be so] for many kalpas. [Although I was a king,] r made a vow to attain unsurpassed Bodhi. I never faltered in seeking it. I practiced alms-giving in order to complete the six pāramitās. I never grudged elephants, horses, the seven treasures, countries, cities, wives, children, menservants, maidservants or attendants. I did not spare my head, eyes, marrow, brain, flesh, hands or feet. I did not spare even my life.

“In those days the lives of the people of the world were immeasurably long. [One day] I abdicated from the throne in order to seek the Dharma[, but retained the title of king]. I entrusted the crown prince with the administration of my country. l beat a drum and sought the Dharma in all directions, saying with a loud voice, ‘Who will expound the Great Vehicle to me? If there is anyone, I will make offerings to him, and run errands for him for the rest of my life.’

See Sakyamuni and Devadatta

Sakyamuni and Devadatta

Political scandals have always been with us. But the politicians, themselves, rarely think of themselves as scandalous. They are only “back scratching,” they feel: repaying a favor for a favor. The country may not forgive them for putting selfish interests ahead of national interests, but we cannot say that they were entirely evil for helping their political friends. They put human relationships ahead of duty.

The relationship between Sakyamuni and Devadatta can be considered an example of human relationships. Devadatta was a traitor during Sakyamuni’s lifetime. However, in a previous life he had been an indispensable teacher of Sakyamuni.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Having last month considered the future of Maha-Prajapati Bhikṣunī, we conclude today’s portion of Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra, with Yaśodharā Bhikṣunī’s future.

Thereupon Yaśodharā Bhikṣunī, the mother of Rāhula, thought, “I am not among the persons whom the World-Honored One mentioned by name and assured of their future attainment of [Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi].”

The Buddha said to Yaśodharā:

“You will perform the Bodhisattva practices under hundreds of thousands of billions of Buddhas in the future. You will become a great teacher of the Dharma under those Buddhas. You will walk the Way to Buddhahood step by step, and finally become a Buddha in a good world. The name of that Buddha will be Emitting-Ten-Million-Rays-Of-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 duration of the life of that Buddha will be many asaṃkhyas of kalpas.”

Thereupon Mahā-Prajāpatī Bhikṣunī, Yaśodharā Bhikṣunī, and their attendants had the greatest joy that they had ever had. They sang in a gāthā before the Buddha:
You, the World-Honored One, are our leader.
You give peace to gods and men.
Hearing that you assured us of our future Buddhahood,
We are relieved and satisfied.

Having sung this gāthā, the bhikṣunīs said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One! We also will expound this sūtra in other worlds.”

See ‘Reading’ the Lotus Sutra

‘Reading’ the Lotus Sutra

Sakyamuni told us in the Lotus Sutra how we should live. We “read” the Sutra by comparing its teachings with our deeds. It was Nichiren (1220-1280) who completed the practice of “reading” the Lotus Sutra and fulfilling it in deeds throughout his lifetime. As you may know, Nichiren endured many persecutions, but he understood his troubles as having been foretold in the Lotus Sutra. Experiencing them, he realized that Sakyamuni’s prophecies had proven to be true. In stead of lamenting his fate, he derived spiritual joy at being allowed to fulfill the prophecies in his own body.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Having last month considered the vow of the Arhats, we consider the plight of Maha-Prajapati Bhikṣunī.

There were Maha-Prajapati Bhikṣunī, the sister of the mother of the Buddha, and six thousand bhikṣunīs, some of whom had something more to learn while others had nothing more to learn. They rose from their seats, joined their hands together with all their hearts, and looked up at the honorable face with unblenching eyes.

Thereupon the World-Honored One said to Gautamī:

“Why do you look at me so anxiously? You do not think that I assured you of your future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi because J did not mention you by name, do you? Gautamī! I have already said that I assured all the Śrāvakas of their future attainment [of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi]. Now you wish to know my assurance of your future attainment [of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi]. You will become a great teacher of the Dharma under six billion and eight hundred thousand million Buddhas in the future. The six thousand bhikṣunīs, some of whom have something more to learn while others have nothing more to learn, also will become teachers of the Dharma. [By becoming a great teacher of the Dharma,] you will complete the Way of Bodhisattvas in the course of time, and become a Buddha called Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings, 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. Gautamī! That Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Buddha will assure the six thousand [bhikṣunīs, that is,] Bodhisattvas of their future attainment of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi one after another.”

See Encouragement for Keeping This Sutra

Encouragement for Keeping This Sutra

“Encouragement for Keeping This Sutra” means encouraging people to uphold it in spite of certain difficulties. It also implies effort and patience. In Chapter Eleven, “Beholding the Stupa of Treasures,” Sakyamuni called out to the crowd from the Stupa of Treasures, “Is there anyone here who is willing to expound the Lotus Sutra in this Saha-world (“World of Endurance”) after my death, and overcome all difficulties? If there is, I will transmit the Sutra to that person.” Responding to his words, many bodhisattvas promised to spread the Sutra in the evil world after the Buddha’s extinction, and they spoke about their resolution. This is the theme of this chapter.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Having last month begun Chapter 13: Encouragement for Keeping This Sūtra, we consider the vow of the Arhats.

At that time there were five hundred Arhats in this congregation. They had already been assured of their future attainment [of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi]. They said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One! We also vow to expound this sūtra [but we will expound it] in some other worlds [rather than in this Sahā-World].”

There were also eight thousand Śrāvakas some of whom had something more to learn while others had nothing more to learn. They had already been assured of their future attainment [of Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi]. They rose from their seats, joined their hands together towards the Buddha and vowed:

“World-Honored One! We also will expound this sūtra in some other worlds because the people of this Sahā-World have many evils. They are arrogant. They have few merits. They are angry, defiled, ready to flatter others, and insincere.”

See The Age of Degeneration

The Age of Degeneration

The Age of Degeneration lies in the future after Sakyamunis earthly lifetime. It does not denote a specific era. Whenever we ordinary people reflect seriously on the quality of our lives, we realize that we live far from the spirit of the Buddha. Our minds are soiled with evil and illusions. This actual state of human beings is what is called the Age of Degeneratiom. The Lotus Sutra warns us that it will be our normal state once the Buddha has departed from among us.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Having last month meet the daughter of the dragon king and concluded the chapter, we begin Chapter 13: Encouragement for Keeping This Sūtra.

Thereupon Medicine-King Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas and Great-Eloquence Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas, together with their twenty-thousand attendants who were also Bodhisattvas, vowed to the Buddha:

“World-Honored One, do not worry! We will keep, read, recite and expound this sūtra after your extinction. The living beings in the evil world after [your extinction] will have less roots of good, more arrogance, more greed for offerings of worldly things, and more roots of evil. It will be difficult to teach them because they will go away from emancipation. But we will patiently read, recite, keep, expound and copy this sūtra, and make various offerings to it. We will not spare even our lives [in doing all this].”

The Daily Dharma from June 29, 2016, offers this:

Medicine-King Bodhisattva, his attendants and other Bodhisattvas make this vow to the Buddha in Chapter Thirteen of the Lotus Sūtra. Once we awaken to our Bodhisattva nature and resolve to benefit all beings, we may still hold on to the belief that those beings should gratefully receive the teaching and and keep progressing towards enlightenment. We may even become discouraged in our practice of the Wonderful Dharma when these beings do not live up to our expectations. The vow of these great Bodhisattvas reminds us of how difficult is is for us ordinary beings to keep the Lotus Sūtra, and of the determination it takes to create benefit in the world.

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

Day 17

Day 17 covers all of Chapter 12, Devadatta, and opens Chapter 13, Encouragement for Keeping this Sutra.

Having last month heard Śāriputra’s doubts about an 8-year-old female dragon becoming a Buddha, we meet the daughter of the dragon king.

At that time the daughter of the dragon-king had a gem. The gem was worth one thousand million Sumeru-worlds. She offered it to the Buddha. The Buddha received it immediately. She asked both Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva and Venerable Śāriputra, “I offered a gem to the World-Honored One. Did he receive it quickly or not?”

Both of them answered, “Very quickly.”

She said, “Look at me with your supernatural powers! I will become a Buddha more quickly. ”

Thereupon the congregation saw that the daughter of the dragon-king changed into a man all of a sudden, performed the Bodhisattva practices, went to the Spotless World in the south, sat on a jeweled lotus-flower, attained perfect enlightenment, obtained the thirty-two major marks and the eighty minor marks [of the Buddha], and [began to] expound the Wonderful Dharma to the living beings of the worlds of the ten quarters. Having seen from afar that [the man who had been] the daughter of the dragon-king had become a Buddha and [begun to] expound the Dharma to the men and gods in his congregation, all the living beings of the Sahā-World, including Bodhisattvas, Śrāvakas, gods, dragons, the [six other kinds, that is, in total] eight kinds of supernatural beings, men, and nonhuman beings, bowed [to that Buddha] with great joy. Having heard the Dharma [from that Buddha], [a group of] innumerable living beings [of that world] understood the Dharma, and reached the stage of irrevocability, and [another group of] innumerable living beings [of that world] obtained the assurance of their future attainment of enlightenment. At that time the Spotless World quaked in the six ways. Three thousand living beings of the Sahā World reached the stage of irrevocability, and another group of three thousand living beings [of the Sahā-World] aspired for Bodhi, and obtained the assurance of their future attainment of enlightenment. The Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva, Śāriputra, and all the other living beings in the congregation received the Dharma faithfully and in silence.

Excuse me while I digress here. I’ve been reading The Nichiren Mandala Study Workshop‘s three volume “The mandala in Nichiren Buddhism.” One of the tidbits I picked up is the name of the 8-year-old daughter of the Dragon-King Sāgara. Her name is Ryūnyo. (Ryū being the word for dragons.)

In a discussion concerning Tōkōzan Myōho-ji, the authors explain the relationship between the goddess Shichimen, the dragon girl Ryūnyo and Nichiren:

On the main altar a grouping of statues is enshrined … while a backside room is dedicated to the goddess Shichimen, a female protective deity adopted in the Minobu School quite early on. According to tradition, Nichiren’s disciples Nichirō and Nambu Sanenaga climbed mount Shichimen on the 19th day of the ninth month in 1297 in order to pray to the resident deity. In the Shintō pantheon, Shichimen is actually a celestial nymph and in Nichiren’s Buddhism she is considered to be a manifestation of the Dragon Girl Ryūnyo described in the Lotus Sūtra. Local legends describe an encounter with Nichiren in 1277, while he was preaching around Minobu. Disguised as a human female, she listened to the sermon and later revealed herself as the dragon girl Ryūnyo. … Shichimen is the protective deity of Kuon-ji and very dear to the Minobu School. Several Abbots of this tradition placed her on the mandala on the same spatial level of the other two Shintō deities Tenshō and Hachiman.

I also recently got my hands on a copy of the Japanese-English Buddhist Dictionary, which offers this on the dragon girl:

Ryūnyo-jōbutsu –’The nāga (ryū) girl attains Buddhahood.’ – This phrase alludes to the well-known story in the [Lotus Sutra] about an exceptionally intelligent eight-year-old nāga girl who, under the guidance of Mañjuśrī, grasps the concept of shohō-jissō [the real state of all elements]. When she appears before the Buddha, she is transformed into a boy, and attains Buddhahood in one of the worlds to the south of this one.