Tag Archives: LS21

Day 21

Day 21 covers all of Chapter 16, The Duration of the Life of the Tathāgata.

Having last month heard of the duration of the life of the Buddha, we learn of expedient teachings.

“Good men! During this time I gave various names to myself, for instance, the Burning-Light Buddha. I also said, ‘That Buddha entered into Nirvāṇa.’ I did all these things only as expedients.

“Good men! When some people came to me, I saw the strength of the power of their faith and of the other faculties of theirs with the eyes of the Buddha. Then I named myself differently, and told them of the duration of my life differently, according to their capacities. l also said to them, ‘I shall enter into Nirvāṇa.’ I expounded the Wonderful Dharma with these various expedients, and caused the living beings to rejoice.

“Good men! When I saw that some people of little virtue and of much defilement were seeking the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle, I told them, ‘I renounced my family when I was young, and attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi [forty and odd years ago].’ In reality I became the Buddha in the remotest past as I previously stated. I told them this as an expedient to teach them, to lead them into the Way to Buddhahood.

“Good men! All the sūtras that I expounded [hitherto] were for the purpose of saving all living beings. I told the stories of my previous lives [in some sūtras,] and the stories of the previous lives of other Buddhas [in other sūtras]. I showed my replicas [in some sūtras,] and my transformations [in other sūtras]. I described my deeds [in some sūtras,] and the deeds of others [in other sūtras]. All that I say is true, not false, because I see the triple world as it is. I see that the triple world is the world in which the living beings have neither birth nor death, that is to say, do not appear or disappear, that it is the world in which I do not appear or from which l do not disappear, that it is not real or unreal, and that it is not as it seems or as it does not seem. I do not see the triple world in the same way as [the living beings of] the triple world do. I see all this clearly and infallibly. The living beings are various in their natures, desires, deeds, thoughts and opinions. Therefore, I expounded the dharma with various stories of previous lives, with various parables, similes and discourses, in order to cause all living beings to plant the roots of good. l have never stopped doing what I should do. As I said before, it is very long since I became the Buddha. The duration of my life is innumerable, asaṃkhya kalpas. I am always here. I shall never pass away.

See The Pivotal Teaching of the Lotus Sutra

The Pivotal Teaching of the Lotus Sutra

“The Duration of the Life of the Tathagata” (pronounced Tut-HAH-gut-tuh), is the name of this chapter, which teaches that the Buddha is eternal. We ordinary people usually think that the Buddha had a limited existence, just as we have. It is commonly understood that Sakyamuni was born a prince in the kingdom of the Sakya clan in the Himalayan foothills about 2,500 years ago. When he was around thirty years old, he renounced the world, attained enlightenment after six years of training, and became the Buddha at the place of enlightenment, now known as Buddha-gaya. Afterwards, he expounded the Dharma throughout northern India, and entered Nirvana at the age of eighty. But this limited Sakyamuni, who is equivalent to Sakyamuni as a historical person age, is a provisional figure. This chapter of the “Duration of the Life of the Tathagata (the “One Thus Come”), reveals that he is an everlasting and immortal being, possessing eternal life. This assertion has always been considered the pivotal teaching of the Lotus Sutra.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 21

Day 21 covers all of Chapter 16, The Duration of the Life of the Tathāgata.

Having last month concluded the chapter, we start again at the top.

Thereupon the Buddha aid to the great multitude including Bodhisattvas and others, “Good men! Understand my sincere and infallible words by faith!”

He said to the great multitude again, “Understand my sincere and infallible words by faith!”

He said to them once again, “Understand my sincere and infallible words by faith!”

Thereupon the great multitude of Bodhisattvas, headed by Maitreya, joined their hands together and said to the Buddha, “World-Honor done, tell us! We will receive your words by faith.”

They said this three times. Then they said once again, “Tell us! We will receive your words by faith.”

Thereupon the World-Honored One, seeing that they repeated their appeal even after they repeated it three times, said to them:

“Listen to me attentively! I will tell you about my hidden core and supernatural powers. The gods, men and asuras in the world think that I, Śākyamuni Buddha, left the palace of the Śākyas, sat at the place of enlightenment not far from the City of Gayā, and attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi [forty and odd years ago]. To tell the truth, good men, it is many hundreds of thousands of billions of nayutas of kalpas since I became the Buddha. Suppose someone smashed into dust five hundred thousand billion nayuta asaṃkhya worlds, which were each composed of one thousand million Sumeru-worlds, and went to the east [carrying the dust with him). When he reached a world at a distance of five hundred thousand billion nayuta asaṃkhya worlds [from this world], he put a particle of dust on that world. Then he went on again to the east, and repeated the putting of a particle of the dust [on the world at every distance of five hundred thousand billion nayuta asaṃkhya worlds] until the particles of the dust were exhausted. Good men! What do you think of this? Do you think that the number of the world he went through is conceivable, countable, or not?”

Maitreya Bodhisattva and others said to the Buddha:

“World-Honored One! Those worlds are innumerable, uncountable, inconceivable. No Śrāvaka or Pratyekabuddha could count them even by his wisdom-without-āsravas. We are now in the state of avaivartika, but cannot, either. World-Honored One! Those worlds are innumerable.”

Thereupon the Buddha said to the great multitude of Bodhisattvas:

“Good Men! Now I will tell you clearly. Suppose those worlds, whether they were marked with the particles of the dust or not, were smashed into dust. The number of the kalpas which have elapsed since I became the Buddha is on hundred thousand billion nayuta asaṃkhyas larger than the number of the particles of the dust thus produced. All this time J have been living in this Sahā-World, and teaching [the living beings of this world] by expounding the Dharma to them. I also have been leading and benefiting the living beings of one hundred thousand billion nayuta asaṃkhya worlds outside this world.

See Five Hundred Dust-Atom Kalpas

Five Hundred Dust-Atom Kalpas

By means of these enormous numbers, numbers far beyond the ability of mathematics to conceive, Sakyamuni compares his life span to eternity. The simile which he uses is commonly called the “Five Hundred Dust-atom Kalpas.”

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 21

Day 21 covers all of Chapter 16, The Duration of the Life of the Tathāgata.

Having last month heard Śākyamuni explain this world is the pure land, we conclude the chapter.

I can do all this by the power of my wisdom.
The light of my wisdom knows no bound.
The duration of my life is innumerable kalpas.
I obtained this longevity by ages of practices.

All of you, wise men!
Have no doubts about this!
Remove your doubts, have no more!
My words are true, not false.

The physician, who sent a man expediently
To tell his perverted sons
Of the death of their father in order to cure them,
Was not accused of falsehood although he was still alive.

In the same manner, I am the father of the world.
I am saving all living beings from suffering.
Because they are perverted,
I say that I pass away even though I shall not.
If they always see me,
They will become arrogant and licentious,
And cling to the five desires
So much that they will fall into the evil regions.

I know who is practicing the Way and who is not.
Therefore I expound various teachings
To all living beings
According to their capacities.

I am always thinking:
“How shall I cause all living beings
To enter into the unsurpassed Way
And quickly become Buddhas?”

See The Deepest Desire of the Buddha

The Deepest Desire of the Buddha

I am always thinking:
How can I cause all living beings
To enter the supreme way
And quickly become Buddhas?

These are the final words of the verses of eternity. The verses themselves are a summary of the entire chapter. These final words represent the deepest desire of the Buddha: his innermost heart of compassion. Ordinary people see the world as a defiled land, but the Buddha leads such people and saves them from the agonies of defilement, transforming their concept of reality as a lotus rises above the muddy water. And just as the Buddha’s lifespan is eternal, so also is his yearning to save all beings from sufferings. “I am always thinking” is his eternal wish. “The supreme way” is perfect enlightenment, and that means the same enlightenment which he himself enjoys—the enlightenment of a Buddha, which is to say, omniscience and its accompanying omnipotence. He concludes by desiring that all of us “quickly become Buddhas,” and attain this highest state for ourselves.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 21

Day 21 covers all of Chapter 16, The Duration of the Life of the Tathāgata.

Having last month heard Śākyamuni explain why he disappears, we learn about the pure land.

I can do all this by my supernatural powers.
I live on Mt. Sacred Eagle
And also in the other abodes
For asaṃkhya kalpas.

The [perverted] people think:
“This world is in a great fire.
The end of the kalpa [of destruction] is coming.”
In reality this world of mine is peaceful.
It is filled with gods and men.
The gardens, forests and stately buildings
Are adorned with various treasures;
The jeweled trees have many flowers and fruits;
The living beings are enjoying themselves;
And the gods are beating heavenly drums,
Making various kinds of music,
And raining mandārava-flowers on the great multitude and me.

[This] pure world of mine is indestructible.
But the [perverted] people think:
“It is full of sorrow, fear, and other sufferings.
It will soon burn away.”

Because of their evil karmas,
These sinful people will not be able
To hear even the names of the Three Treasures
During asaṃkhya kalpas.

To those who have accumulated merits,
And who are gentle and upright,
And who see me living here,
Expounding the Dharma,
I say:
“The duration of my life is immeasurable.”
To those who see me after a long time,
I say, “It is difficult to see a Buddha.”

See This Pure Land

This Pure Land

[I]t is important that the Pure Land should not be thought of as some faraway place. It should be manifested right here. Ideas can be realized (made real) only by us, the people of this world. Here in the Lotus Sutra, it is taught that the Pure Land should be realized in this Saha-world. An important teaching of the Lotus Sutra is that “the World of Endurance is itself the Pure Land.”

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 21

Day 21 covers all of Chapter 16, The Duration of the Life of the Tathāgata.

Having last month heard Śākyamuni explain his longevity in gāthās, we consider why he disappears.

In order to save the [perverted] people,
I expediently show my Nirvāṇa to them.
In reality I shall never pass away.
I always live here and expound the Dharma.

Although I always live here
With the perverted people
I disappear from their eyes
By my supernatural powers.

When they see me seemingly pass away,
And make offerings to my śarīras,
And adore me, admire me,
And become devout, upright and gentle,
And wish to see me
With all their hearts
At the cost of their lives,
I reappear on Mt. Sacred Eagle
With my Saṃgha,
And say to them:
“I always live here.
I shall never be extinct.
I show my extinction to you expediently
Although I never pass away.
I also expound the unsurpassed Dharma
To the living beings of the other worlds
If they respect me, believe me,
And wish to see me.
You have never heard this
Therefore, you thought that I pass away.”

I see the [perverted] people sinking
In an ocean of suffering.
Therefore, I disappear from their eyes
And cause them to admire me.
When they adore me,
I appear and expound the Dharma to them.

The Daily Dharma from May 21, 2017, offers this:

In order to save the [perverted] people,
I expediently show my Nirvāṇa to them.
In reality I shall never pass away.
I always live here and expound the Dharma.

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Sixteen of the Lotus Sūtra. This is part of the explanation that his existence in the physical form of Śākyamuni was only one way that he leads all beings to enlightenment. The Buddha described his ever-present nature as the most difficult of his teachings to believe and understand. Recognizing the presence of the Buddha in the world is the same as recognizing Buddha nature in ourselves and all beings. Knowing that the Buddha is always available to help us in this difficult practice of the Wonderful Dharma means we do not need to rely on our own limited abilities. The store of the Dharma is always available to us. We just need to find it and use it.

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

Day 21

Day 21 covers all of Chapter 16, The Duration of the Life of the Tathāgata.

Having last month compared Śākyamuni to the Physician at the conclusion of the prose section, we repeat in gāthās.

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

It is many hundreds of thousands
Of billions of trillions
Of asaṃkhyas of kalpas
Since I became the Buddha.

For the past innumerable kalpas
I have always been expounding the Dharma
To many hundreds of millions of living beings
In order to lead them into the Way to Buddhahood.

In order to save the [perverted] people,
I expediently show my Nirvāṇa to them.
In reality I shall never pass away.
I always live here and expound the Dharma.

The Daily Dharma from May 21, 2017, offers this:

The Buddha sings these verses in Chapter Sixteen of the Lotus Sūtra. This is part of the explanation that his existence in the physical form of Śākyamuni was only one way that he leads all beings to enlightenment. The Buddha described his ever-present nature as the most difficult of his teachings to believe and understand. Recognizing the presence of the Buddha in the world is the same as recognizing Buddha nature in ourselves and all beings. Knowing that the Buddha is always available to help us in this difficult practice of the Wonderful Dharma means we do not need to rely on our own limited abilities. The store of the Dharma is always available to us. We just need to find it and use it.

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