Tag Archives: LS20

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard Maitreya’s puzzlement over the Bodhisattvas from Underground, we continue Maitreya’s questions.

These Bodhisattvas have
Great powers, virtues and energy.
Who expounded the Dharma to them? Who taught them?
Who qualified them to attain [perfect enlightenment]?

Under whom did they begin to aspire for enlightenment?
What teaching of the Buddha did they extol?
What sūtra did they keep and practice?
What teaching of the Buddha did they study?

These Bodhisattvas have supernatural powers
And the great power of wisdom.
The ground of this world quaked and cracked.
They sprang up from under the four quarters of this world.

World-Honored One!
I have never seen them before.
I do not know
Any of them.

They appeared suddenly from underground.
Tell me why!
Many thousands of myriads
Of millions of Bodhisattvas
In this great congregation
Also want to know this.

There must be some reason.
Possessor of Immeasurable Virtues!
World-Honored One!
Remove our doubts!

See The Ideal Bodhisattvas

The Ideal Bodhisattvas

Here it is revealed that the Bodhisattvas who sprang up from beneath the earth are the exemplary Bodhisattvas of the Lotus Sutra. Many other Bodhisattvas have appeared before this chapter, but these are the only ones who fully live up to the Sutra’s teachings. Thus they symbolize the ideal, the models for dynamic activity. Their sphere of action is summarized in the lines, “They are no more defiled by worldly desires than a lotus flower is by the water in which it grows.”

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard Śākyamuni’s response to the questions posed by the Bodhisattvas from Underground, we consider Maitreya’s puzzlement.

Thereupon Maitreya Bodhisattva and the [other] Bodhisattvas [who had already been present in the congregation before the arrival of the Bodhisattvas from underground], eight thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges in number, thought:

‘We have never before seen these great Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas who sprang up from underground, stood before [Śākyamuni,] the World-Honored One, joined their hands together towards him, and made offerings to him. [Now we see that their leaders] inquire after him.’

Thereupon Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahāsattva, seeing what the Bodhisattvas numbering eight thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges had in their minds, and also wishing to remove his own doubts, joined his hands together towards the Buddha, and asked him in gāthās:

We have never seen
These many thousands of billions
Of Bodhisattvas.
Tell me, Most Honorable Biped!
Where did they come from?
They have gigantic bodies,
Great supernatural powers, and inconceivable wisdom.
They are resolute in mind.
They have a great power of patience.
All living beings are glad to see them.
Where did they come from?

They are each accompanied
By as many attendants
As there are sands
In the River Ganges.

Some great Bodhisattvas are each accompanied by attendants
Sixty thousand times as many as the sands of the River Ganges.
They are seeking the enlightenment of the Buddha
With all their hearts.

The number of these great teachers is sixty thousand times
The number of the sands of the River Ganges.
They came together and made offerings to you.
Now they protect and keep this sūtra.
The attendants or disciples accompanying
Each [of the other great Bodhisattvas] number
Fifty thousand times or forty thousand times
Or thirty thousand times or twenty thousand times
Or ten thousand times or a thousand times
Or a hundred times as many as the sands of the River Ganges,
Or a half, a third, or a quarter
Of the number of the sands of the River Ganges,
Or as many as the sands of the River Ganges Divided by a billion;
Or ten million nayuta, a billion or fifty million,
Or a million, ten thousand, a thousand or a hundred,
Or fifty, ten, three, two or one.
[The great Bodhisattvas] who are accompanied
By less attendants are even more numerous.
Some [great Bodhisattvas] have no attendants
Because they prefer a solitary life.
They are the most numerous.
They came together to you.

No one will be able to count
All [these great Bodhisattvas] even if he uses
A counting wand for more kalpas
Than the number of the sands of the River Ganges.

See The Void Beneath the World of Endurance

The Void Beneath the World of Endurance

These Bodhisattvas had existed in the void beneath the World of Endurance. They had emerged because they heard the voice of Sakyamuni. Each of them was the leader of a great multitude, and was accompanied by as many attendants as sixty times the number of sands in the River Ganges.

Each of the Bodhisattvas who had sprung up soared into the sky, approached Many-Treasures Buddha and Sakyamuni in the Stupa of Treasures, and bowed before them. They also venerated each of the manifestations of Sakyamuni Buddha who had come from the ten directions in space, and praised them all as only Bodhisattvas know how to praise Buddhas. During this time, Sakyamuni and all the assembly remained silent. A long time passed—about fifty small kalpas—but the supernatural powers of Sakyamuni made the congregation feel as if it were only half a day.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month concluded the chapter, we start at the top of Day 20’s portion of Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground.

Thereupon the World-Honored One said to them in the presence of the great multitude of Bodhisattvas:

“Truly, truly good men! I am peaceful. l am in good health. The living beings are ready to be saved. They do not fatigue me because I already taught them in their consecutive previous existences, and also because they have already honored the past Buddhas respectfully and planted the roots of good. As soon as they saw me and heard my teachings, they received my teachings by faith and entered into the wisdom of the Tathāgata, except those who had previously studied and practiced the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle. Now I am causing [the followers of the Lesser Vehicle] to hear this sūtra and to enter into the wisdom of the Buddha.”

Thereupon the [four] great Bodhisattvas sang in gāthās:

Excellent, excellent, Great Hero!
World-Honored One!
The living beings are ready to be saved
Because in their previous existence
They already asked the [past] Buddhas
About their profound wisdom,
And having heard about it, understood it by faith.
We rejoice at seeing you.

Thereupon the World-Honored One praised the leading great Bodhisattvas, saying, “Excellent, excellent, good men! [l am glad that] you rejoice at seeing me.”

See Qualifications Necessary

Qualifications Necessary

It is important to note that the Bodhisattvas who sprang up from beneath the earth, who first appear in this chapter, are not recognized by anyone in the congregation, not even by Maitreya, who is destined to be our next Buddha. These great Bodhisattvas appear only in this sutra and not in any other. Only these Bodhisattvas, who sprang up from beneath the earth, have the qualifications necessary to spread the Lotus Sutra in the evil and degenerate World of Endurance. Later on, in Chapter Twenty-one, “Supernatural Powers of the Tathagata,” Sakyamuni will transmit the Lotus Sutra directly to them.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard Maitreya repeat his questions in gāthās, we continue with the examples of young fathers and old sons and old sons and young fathers and conclude the chapter.

You attained enlightenment quite recently.
But you have done so many things.
Remove our doubts!
Explain all this as it is!

Suppose a man twenty-five years old
Points to grey-haired and wrinkle-faced men
A hundred years old,
And says, “They are my sons.”
Suppose old men point to a young man
And say, “He is our father.”
No one in the world will believe
That a father is younger than his sons.

You are like the father.
You attained enlightenment quite recently.
These Bodhisattvas are resolute in mind.
They are not timid.
They have practiced the Way of Bodhisattva
For the past innumerable kalpas.

They are good at answering difficult questions.
They are fearless and patient.
They are handsome, powerful and virtuous.
They are praised by the Buddhas
Of the worlds of the ten quarter .
They expound [the Dharma] clearly.

They did not wish to live among men.
They preferred dwelling in dhyana-concentration.
They lived in the sky below
In order to attain the enlightenment of the Buddha.

We do not doubt your words
Because we heard them direct from you.
Explain all this so that the living beings in the future
May be able to understand your words, Buddha!

Those who doubt this sūtra
And do not believe it
Will fall into the evil regions.
Explain all this to us now!

How did you teach these innumerable Bodhisattvas
In such a short time,
And cause them to aspire for enlightenment
And not falter in seeking enlightenment?

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

See One Chapter and Two Halves

One Chapter and Two Halves

[T]he Lotus Sutra can be divided into two sections: the first half (Shakumon) and the second half Honmon). Nichiren concluded that the fundamental idea of the Lotus Sutra is manifested more clearly in the latter half than the first half, Furthermore, the central idea of the second half is elaborated in Chapter Sixteen, “The Duration of the Life of the Buddha.” The account in Chapter Sixteen is actually a continuation of the latter half of the previous chapter, “Bodhisattvas from Underground,” and is continued through the first half of the next Chapter, “The Variety of Merits.”

The three parts are closely enough related to form one single chain of thought. In his Kanjin-honzon-sho, Nichiren argues that the quintessence of the teachings of the Primal Mystery lies in this chain of three parts, which he specifically calls the “one chapter and two halves.” In addition, he declares that in our present Age of Degeneration, the teaching of the “one chapter and two halves” should be propagated in the abbreviated form of five Chinese characters, the title MYO-HO-REN-GE-KYO, meaning “The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.”

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard Maitreya question Śākyamuni, we now repeat in gāthās.

Thereupon Maitreya Bodhisattva, wishing to repeat what he had said, sang in gāthās:

It is not long
Since you renounced the family of the Śākyas
And sat under the Bodhi-tree
Near Gaya.

These sons of yours are innumerable.
They have practiced
The way to Buddhahood for a long time.
They have supernatural powers and the power of wisdom.

They have studied the Way of Bodhisattvas well.
They are not defiled by worldliness
Just as the lotus-flower
Is not defiled by water.

They sprang up from underground,
And are now standing before you respectfully.
This is difficult to understand.
How can we believe this?

Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon offers this on the relationship of a Lotus Flower and its muddy lifesource.

The lotus flower is rich in symbolism within Buddhism. In Nichiren Buddhism, two aspects are particularly emphasized. The first is the unification of cause and effect, the simultaneous nature of the aspiration for enlightenment and its realization. The lotus flower symbolizes this because it produces flowers and seeds at the same time. By chanting the Odaimoku, we express both the aspiration for enlightenment – the seed of awakening to the Wonderful Dharma – and also our awakened devotion to the Wonderful Dharma – the flowering of enlightenment. The second aspect is the undefiled flowering of enlightenment arising out of the defilements of ordinary life that are transformed by the power of Buddhist practice. In the same way, lotus flowers blossom untainted above the mud and water from which they draw their nourishment. Because it illustrates these two key principles, the lotus flower is a particularly important symbol for Nichiren Buddhists.Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon

Day 20

Day 20 completes Chapter 15, The Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground, and concludes the Fifth Volume of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Having last month heard Śākyamuni explain that he has been teaching these great Bodhisattvas who arose from under the Sahā World since the remotest past, we listen to Maitreya question Śākyamuni.

Thereupon Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahāsattva and the innumerable Bodhisattvas in the congregation doubted the Buddha’s words which they had never heard before. They thought:

‘How did the World-Honored One teach these great, innumerable, asaṃkhya Bodhisattvas, and qualify them to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi in such a short time?’

[Maitreya Bodhisattva] said to the Buddha:

“World-Honored One! When you, the Tathāgata, were a crown prince, you left the palace of the Śākyas, sat at the place of enlightenment not far from the City of Gaya, and attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. It is only forty and odd years since then.

“World-Honored One! How did you do these great deeds of the Buddha in such a short time? Did you teach these great, innumerable Bodhisattvas, and qualify them to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi by your powers or by your merits?

“World-Honored One! No one can count the number of these great Bodhisattvas even if he goes on counting them for thousands of billions of kalpas. They have already planted roots of good, practiced the way, and performed brahma practices under innumerable Buddhas from the remotest past.

“World-Honored One! It is difficult for anyone in the world to believe this. It is as difficult as to believe a handsome, black-haired man twenty-five years old who points to men a hundred years old and says, ‘They are my sons,’ or as to believe men a hundred years old who point to a young man and say, ‘This is our father. He brought us up.’ You are like the young man. It is not long since you attained enlightenment. But it is many thousands of billions of kalpas since the great multitude of these Bodhisattvas began to practice the Way strenuously in order to attain the enlightenment of the Buddha. During that time they entered into, stayed in, and came out of many hundreds of thousands of billions of samadhis, and obtained great supernatural powers. They performed brahma practices for a long time. They learned good teachings one by one, and obtained the ability to answer questions skillfully. They are regarded as the treasures of the world of men by all the people of the world because they are rare. Today you say that, after you attained the enlightenment of the Buddha, you caused them to aspire for enlightenment, taught them, and led them into the Way to Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.

“World-Honored One! You did these deeds of great merit although it is not long since you attained Buddhahood. We believe that your words given according to the capacities of all living beings are infallible, and that we understand all that you know. But the beginners in Bodhisattvahood after your extinction, if they hear these words of yours, will not receive them by faith but commit the sin of violating the Dharma. Therefore, World-Honored One! Explain all this so that we may be able to remove our doubts and that the good men in the future may have no doubts when they hear these words of yours!”

The Daily Dharam from July 23, 2017, offers this:

World-Honored One! It is difficult for anyone in the world to believe this. It is as difficult as to believe a handsome, black-haired man twenty-five years old who points to men a hundred years old and says, ‘They are my sons,’ or as to believe men a hundred years old who point to a young man and say, ‘This is our father. He brought us up.’

Maitreya Bodhisattva explains his perplexity to the Buddha in Chapter Fifteen of the Lotus Sūtra. The Buddha had just revealed that he was who taught all the Bodhisattvas who have appeared from underground to continue teaching the Wonderful Dharma after the extinction of the Buddha. Maitreya realizes that his doubts are no different from those of those gathered to hear the Buddha teach and asks the Buddha to explain. When our experience does not match what the Buddha teaches, we should not keep silence and just accept what he tells us. It is only through sincere questioning that we find the Buddha’s mind and make it our own.

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