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 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

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 tell Maitreya and the others “Listen to me with all your hearts,” we consider the Buddha’s explanation for all of these great Bodhisattvas who arose from under the Sahā World.

Thereupon the World-Honored One, having sung these gāthās, said to Maitreya Bodhisattva:

Now I will tell all of you in this great multitude, Ajita! [I know that] you have never seen these great, innumerable, asaṃkhya Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas who sprang up from underground. After I attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi in this Sahā-World, I taught these Bodhisattvas, led them, trained them, and caused them to aspire for enlightenment. They lived in the sky below this Sahā-World. When they were there, they read many sūtras, recited them, understood them, thought them over, evaluated them, and remembered them correctly. Ajita! These good men did not wish to talk much with others [about things other than the Dharma] but to live in a quiet place. They practiced the way strenuously without a rest. They did not live among gods and men. They had no hindrance in seeking profound wisdom. They always sought the teaching of the Buddha. They sought unsurpassed wisdom strenuously with all their hearts.”

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

Ajita, know this, these great Bodhisattvas
Have studied and practiced
The wisdom of the Buddha
For the past innumerable kalpas.

They are my sons because I taught them
And caused them to aspire for great enlightenment.
They have been living in this world
[For the past innumerable kalpas].

They always practiced the dhuta.
They wished to live in a quiet place.
They kept away from bustling crowds.
They did not wish to talk much.

These sons of mine studied my teachings
Strenuously day and night
In order to attain
The enlightenment of the Buddha.
They lived in the sky
Below this Sahā-World.

Resolute in mind,
They always sought wisdom,
And expounded
Various wonderful teachings without fear.

I once sat under the Bodhi-tree
In the City of Gaya,
Attained perfect enlightenment,
And turned the wheel of the unsurpassed Dharma.

Then I taught them,
And caused them to aspire £or enlightenment.
Now they do not falter [in seeking enlightenment].
They will be able to become Buddhas.

My words are true.
Believe me with all your hearts!
I have been teaching them
Since the remotest past.

The Daily Dharma from May 28, 2016, offers this in response to the final stanza:

The Buddha sings these verses to Maitreya Bodhisattva and others gathered to hear him teach in Chapter Fifteen of the Lotus Sūtra. Maitreya had never seen any of the other Bodhisattvas who sprang up from underground in this chapter, despite his memory of previous lives and other worlds. The Buddha explains that the beings who had just appeared are also his disciples and have come to spread this Wonderful Dharma in our world. Nichiren teaches that when he realized that he was an incarnation of Superior-Practice, the leader of the Bodhisattvas from underground, then all of us who follow Nichiren and continue to keep the Lotus Sūtra are the followers of Superior-Practice. We do not need to wait for someone to come to our world and lead us. The world does not need anyone other than those already here to teach the Dharma. We are the Bodhisattvas from underground.

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

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 reaction of Maitreya Bodhisattva to Śākyamuni’s explanation for the hoards of Bodhisattvas from underground, we hear Śākyamuni’s response to Maitreya’s request to “remove our doubts!”

At that time the Buddhas, who had come from many thousands of billions of worlds outside [this world], were sitting cross-legged on the lion-like seats under the jeweled trees in [this world and] the neighboring worlds of the eight quarters. Those Buddhas were the replicas of Śākyamuni Buddha. The attendant of each of those Buddhas saw that many Bodhisattvas had sprung up from under the four quarters of the [Sahā-World which was composed of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds and stayed in the sky. He said to the Buddha whom he was accompanying, “World-Honored One! Where did these innumerable, asaṃkhya Bodhisattvas come from?”

That Buddha said to his attendant:

“Good Man! Wait for a while! There is a Bodhisattva
mahāsattva called Maitreya [in this congregation]. Śākyamuni
Buddha assured him of his future attainment of Buddhahood,
saying, ‘You will become a Buddha immediately after me.’
Maitreya has already asked [Śākyamuni Buddha] about this
matter. [Śākyamuni] Buddha will answer him. You will be able
to hear his answer.”

Thereupon Śākyamuni Buddha said to Maitreya Bodhisattva:

“Excellent, excellent, Ajita! You asked me a very important question. All of you should concentrate your minds, wear the armor of endeavors, and be resolute. Now I will reveal, I will show, the wisdom of the Buddhas, their supernatural power without hindrance, their dauntless powers like a lion’s, and their great power of bravery.”
Thereupon the World-Honored One, wishing to repeat what he said, sang in gāthās:

Exert yourselves and concentrate your minds!
Now I will tell you about this matter.
Do not doubt me!
My wisdom is difficult to understand.

Arouse your power of faith,
And do good patiently!
You will be able to hear the Dharma
That you have never heard before.

Now [will relieve you.
Do not doubt me! Do not be afraid!
I do not tell a lie.
My wisdom is immeasurable.
The highest Dharma that I attained
Is profound and difficult to understand.
Now I will expound it.
Listen to me with all your hearts!

Putting aside Śākyamuni’s encouragement to “concentrate your minds” and “Arouse your power of faith, And do good patiently!” I’ll take this opportunity repeat the Lotus Seed’s explanation regarding the replicas of Śākyamuni Buddha:

The main point of the Lotus Sutra is this: all Buddhas, whatever names they may use, are temporary manifestations of this Eternal Buddha. He appears in other forms in order to lead people to enlightenment. However, these Buddhas are limited. They are provisional, only a reflection of the true form of the Eternal Buddha Sakyamuni in a given time and place.Lotus Seeds

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 greetings of the four great Bodhisattvas, we come to the reaction of Maitreya Bodhisattva.

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
Then the number of the sands of the River Ganges.

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!

The Daily Dharma from July 24, 2016, offers this:

We have never seen
These many thousands of billions
Of Bodhisattvas.
Tell me, Most Honorable Biped!
Where did they come from?

Maitreya Bodhisattva sings these verses to the Buddha in Chapter Fifteen of the Lotus Sūtra. In the story, the Buddha has asked who among those gathered to hear him teach will continue teaching this Wonderful Dharma in our world of suffering after the Buddha passes into his final extinction. Some Bodhisattvas say they will teach in other worlds, since the beings of this world are too defiled to hear the Buddha’s teaching. Other Bodhisattvas vow to remain in our world, but the Buddha tells them not to bother. At that moment, the ground cracks open, and innumerable Bodhisattvas spring up and vow to carry on the work of the Buddha. Maitreya and others had never seen these Bodhisattvas before. His asking the Buddha respectfully to explain what they do not understand. This example emphasizes that we must continue to question how the Buddha’s teaching applies to our lives rather than dogmatically accepting whatever happens.

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

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 finished Chapter 15, it time to start over with the Buddha’s response to the greetings of the four great Bodhisattvas.

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.”

The Daily Dharma from Oct. 18, 2016, offers this:

Truly, truly good men! I am peaceful. I 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.

The Buddha makes this proclamation to the leaders of the Bodhisattvas from Underground in Chapter Fifteen of the Lotus Sūtra. These Bodhisattvas appeared when the Buddha asked who would teach the Lotus Sūtra after the Buddha’s death, and asked about the Buddha’s health and whether those he was teaching could keep what he provided for them. The Buddha assures us not only of the certainty of our future enlightenment, but that for us to receive his teaching, there was an earlier time, which we may have forgotten, when we met him. This awareness of our future and our past helps us to see our place in the world and maintain our determination to benefit all beings.

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 pondered grey-haired sons and young fathers we come now to the question at hand and the conclusion of Chapter 15.

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 sutra
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?

In searching past posts on the subject of “doubt,” I was reminded of what Mañjuśrī promised Maitreya all the way back in Chapter 1:

The Buddha will remove
Any doubt of those who seek
The teaching of the Three Vehicles.
No question will be left unresolved.

And, so, we await tomorrow.

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 begun to review Maitreya Bodhisattva’s doubts in gathas, we come to the confusion of grey-haired sons and young fathers.

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 tbe 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 Bodhisattvas
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 quarters.
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.

The Daily Dharma from Sept. 24, 2016, 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 has just revealed that all of the Bodhisattvas who have appeared from underground to continue teaching the Wonderful Dharma after the extinction of the Buddha have been taught by the Buddha in the time since he became enlightened. Maitreya realizes that his doubts are no different from the doubts of those gathered to hear the Buddha teach and asks the Buddha to explain. The Buddha says later that he sees the world differently than other living beings. But this does not mean that when our experience does not match what the Buddha teaches, we must 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