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 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.

Day 17

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

Having last month heard the doubts of Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva at the idea of an 8-year-old female dragon becoming a Buddha, we hear Śāriputra’s doubts.

Thereupon Śāriputra said to the daughter of the dragon-king:

“You think that you will be able to attain unsurpassed enlightenment [and become a Buddha] before long. This is difficult to believe because the body of a woman is too defiled to be a recipient of the teachings of the Buddha. How can you attain unsurpassed Bodhi? The enlightenment of the Buddha is far off. It can be attained only by those who perform the [Bodhisattva] practices with strenuous efforts for innumerable kalpas. A woman has five impossibilities. She cannot become 1. the Brahman-Heavenly-King, 2. King Sakra, 3. King Mara, 4. a wheel-turning-holy-king, and 5. a Buddha. How can it be that you, being a woman, will become a Buddha, quickly [or not]?”

Ryusho Jeffus Shonin in his Lecture on the Lotus Sutra has this to say about prejudice:

In the example of the dragon girl, it is worthy of considering how prejudices can enter our way of thinking and influence us in negative ways. Because a woman bleeds, which is the result of giving birth, she was considered impure, and yet giving birth, bringing new life into the world is one of the purest things. I once heard someone say that women bleed giving birth and men bleed killing. Perhaps we should give this some thought. Nichiren wrote a response to a woman believer saying that because a woman bleeds she is considered impure by society, but in the eyes of the Buddha that distinction does not apply.
Lecture on 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 the story of the 8-year-old daughter of the dragon king, we hear the doubts of Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva.

Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva said:

“As far as I know, [when he was a Bodhisattva,] Śākyamuni Buddha sought Bodhi, that is, enlightenment incessantly for innumerable kalpas. He accumulated merits by practicing austerities. Even the smallest part, even the part as large as a poppy-seed of this world-this world being composed of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds-is not outside the places where the Bodhisattva made efforts to save all living beings at the cost of his life. It was after doing all this that he attained Bodhi, that is, enlightenment. I do not believe that this girl will be able to attain perfect enlightenment[, that is, to become a Buddha] in a moment.”

No sooner had he said this than the daughter of the dragon king came to [Śākyamuni] Buddha. She worshipped [his feet] with her head, retired, stood to one side, and praised him with gāthās:

You know the sins and merits
Of all living beings.
You illumine the worlds of the ten quarters.
Your wonderful, pure and sacred body
Is adorned with the thirty-two major marks
And with the eighty minor marks.

Gods and men are looking up at you.
Dragons also respect you.
None of the living beings
Sees you without adoration.

Only you know that I [am qualified to] attain Bodhi
Because I heard [the Dharma].
I will expound the teachings of the Great Vehicle
And save all living beings from suffering.

In the face of overwhelming doubts, the 8-year-old girl’s faith is resolute: “Only you know that I [am qualified to] attain Bodhi Because I heard [the Dharma].”

Day 17

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

Having last month covered the story of Mañjuśrī’s students, we come to the 8-year-old daughter of the dragon king.

Mañjuśrī said, “In the sea I expounded only the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.”

Accumulated-Wisdom asked Mañjuśrī:

“The sūtra is exceedingly profound and wonderful. This is the treasure of all the sūtras. It is rare in the world. Do you know anyone who acted according to this sūtra so strenuously that he has already been qualified to become a Buddha quickly?”

Mañjuśrī answered:

“Yes. There is a daughter of Dragon-King Sagara [among those whom I taught]. She is eight years old. She is clever. She knows the karmas of all living beings. She obtained dhārāṇis. She keeps all the treasury of the profound and hidden core expounded by the Buddhas. She entered deep into dhyāna-concentration, and understood all teachings. She aspired for Bodhi in a ksana, and reached the stage of irrevocability. She is eloquent without hindrance. She is compassionate towards all living beings just as a mother is towards her babe. She obtained all merits. Her thoughts and words are wonderful and great. She is compassionate, humble, gentle and graceful. She [has already been qualified to] attain Bodhi[, and to become a Buddha quickly].”

The Daily Dharma from May 19, 2017, offers this:

The Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī gives this description in Chapter Twelve of the Lotus Sūtra. This is his response to the question of whether any of the beings in the sea whom he taught will become a Buddha quickly. Those hearing his answer did not expect that a woman, much less a girl, much less a nonhuman being such as a dragon could reach the same enlightenment as the Buddha. Mañjuśrī’s response shows that all beings have within us the capability of developing the qualities that allow us to see things as they are and benefit all beings.

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 covered the promise made to those who take this chapter to heart, we come to the story of Mañjuśrī’s students.

At that time Many-Treasures, the World-Honored One, who had come from the nadir,’ was accompanied by a Bodhisattva called Accumulated-Wisdom. The Bodhisattva said to Many-Treasures Buddha, “Shall we go back to our home world?”

Śākyamuni Buddha said to Accumulated-Wisdom:

“Good man, wait for a while! A Bodhisattva called Mañjuśrī is coming. See him, talk about the Wonderful Dharma with him, and then go back to your home world!”

Thereupon Mañjuśrī came sitting on a one-thousand-petaled lotus-flower as large as the wheel of a chariot. He was accompanied by other Bodhisattvas who were also sitting on jeweled lotus-flowers. Mañjuśrī had sprung up from the palace of Dragon-King Sagara in the great ocean, gone up to the sky[, and traveled through the sky towards Mt. Sacred Eagle]. Having reached Mt. Sacred Eagle, he descended from the lotus flower, came to the two World-Honored Ones,” and worshiped their feet with his head. Having completed the worship, he came to Accumulated-Wisdom, exchanged greetings with him, retired and sat to one side.

Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva asked Mañjuśrī, “You went to the palace of the dragon-king. How many living beings did you lead into the Way to Bodhi there?”

Mañjuśrī answered, “Their number is immeasurable, incalculable, inexplicable, unthinkable. Wait for a while! You will be able to see them.”

No sooner had he said this than innumerable Bodhisattvas, who were sitting on jeweled lotus-flowers, sprang up from the sea, came to Mt. Sacred Eagle, went up to the sky, and stayed there. All these Bodhisattvas had been led [into the Way to Bodhi] by Mañjuśrī. They had already performed the Bodhisattva practices. [Up in the sky] they [began to] expound the six pāramitās. Some of them were formerly Śrāvakas. When they were Śrāvakas, they expounded the Śrāvaka practices in the sky. Now they were acting according to the truth of the Void of the Great Vehicle.

Mañjuśrī said to Accumulated-Wisdom, “Now you see the living beings whom I taught in the sea.”

Thereupon Accumulated-Wisdom Bodhisattva praised him with gāthās:

Possessor of Great Wisdom and Virtue!
You were brave in saving innumerable living beings.
This great congregation and I understand
That you expounded
The truth of the reality of all things,
Revealed the teaching of the One Vehicle,
And led those innumerable living beings
[Into the Way] to Bodhi quickly.

We are supposed to adopt the Bodhisattva practice, which seeks to save all living beings. Mañjuśrī is my favorite example of this practice, especially his role in teaching an 8-year-old dragon princess.