Tag Archives: LS23

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month considered the 50th person’s reward for rejoicing at hearing the Sūtra, we consider rewards for other acts.

“Ajita! The merits of the fiftieth person who rejoices at hearing this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma are immeasurable, limitless, asaṃkhya. Needless to say, so are the merits of the first person who rejoices at hearing [this sūtra] in the congregation. His merits are immeasurable, limitless, asaṃkhya and incomparable.

“Furthermore, Ajita! Anyone who goes to a monastery in order to hear this sūtra and hears it even for a moment while he is sitting or standing, in his next life will be able to go up to the palace of heaven, riding in a beautiful and wonderful elephant-cart or horse-cart or in a palanquin of wonderful treasure by his merits. Anyone who, while sitting in the place of the expounding of the Dharma, persuades another per on to it down or shares his seat with him to hear [the Dharma] when he sees him coming to the place, in his next life by his merits, will be able to obtain the seal of King Sakra, of the Brahman Heavenly-King or of a wheel-turning-holy-king.

“Ajita! Anyone who[, while he is staying outside the place of the expounding of the Dharma,] says to another person, ‘Let us go and hear the sūtra called the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma which is being expounded [in that place],’ and cause him to hear it even for a moment, in his next life by his merit , will be able to live with the Bodhisattvas who obtain dharanis. He will be clever and wise. He will not be dumb throughout thousands of millions of his future existences. His breath will not be foul. He will have no disease of the tongue or the mouth. His teeth will not be defiled, black, yell w, few, fallen out, uneven or crooked. His lips will not be pendulous, shrunk, chapped, cracked, broken, distorted, thick, large, yellow-black or loathsome. His nose will not be flat or awry. His face will not be black, long, distorted or displeasing. His lips, tongue and teeth will be well-shaped; his nose, long, high and straight. His face will be full; his eyebrows, thick and long; and his forehead, broad and even. In a word, he will have all the good features of a man. He will be able to see the Buddhas, hear the Dharma from them, and receive their teachings by faith throughout his future existences.

“Ajita, look! The merits of the person who causes even a single man to go and hear the Dharma are so many. It is needless to speak of the merits of the person who hears [this sūtra] with all his heart, reads it, recites it, expounds it to the great multitude, and acts according to its teachings.

See The One Sutra with the Power to Save Everyone

The One Sutra with the Power to Save Everyone

Many sutras other than this one contain excellent teachings for Bodhisattvas of great ability and “hearers” who abandon the world and join monastic brotherhoods or sisterhoods. However, such sutras are not suitable for ordinary people like us who have no special vocation or ability. The Lotus Sutra is suitable not only for great Bodhisattvas and ascetic Sravakas, as we might expect. This is for ordinary people who have no special abilities. This is the one Sutra with the power to save everyone.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month opened Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, we consider the 50th person’s reward.

“Suppose the Jambudvipa was filled with wonderful treasures such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, shell, agate, coral and amber; elephant-carts and horse-carts; and palaces and stately buildings made of the even treasures. Suppose a man who was seeking merits gave all those pleasing things [filling the Jambudvipa] to the living beings of four hundred billion asaṃkhya worlds according to their wishes. A world consists of the six regions. The living beings [of the six regions] are of one or another of the four kinds of births: oviparous, viviparous, from moisture, or without any medium. Some of them have form while others do not. Some have desire while others do not. Some have no feet while other have two feet or four or more. Having continued giving those alms to them for eighty years, this great almsgiver thought, ‘I gave those pleasing things to them according to their wishes. Now they are old and decrepit. They are more than eighty years old. Their hair is grey; and their face , wrinkled. They will die before long. I will lead them by the Dharma of the Buddha.’

“Then he collected them. He propagated the Dharma to them, led them by the Dharma, showed them the Dharma, taught them, benefited them, and caused them to rejoice. He caused them to attain in a moment the enlightenment of the Srota-āpanna, of the Sakrdāgāmin, of the Anāgāmin or of the Arhat, eliminate all āsravas, practice deep dhyāna-concentration without hindrance, and obtain the eight emancipations. What do you think of this? Do you think that the merits obtained by this great alms giver were many or not?”

Maitreya said to the Buddha:

“World-Honored One! I think that his merits were many, immeasurable and limitless. His merits were already immeasurable when he gave all those pleasing things to them. Needless to say, so were his merits when he caused them to attain Arhatship.”

The Buddha said to Maitreya:

“Now I will tell you clearly. The merits of the person who gave all those pleasing things to the living beings of the six regions of four hundred billion asaṃkhya worlds, and caused them to attain Arhatship are less than the merit of the fiftieth person who rejoices at hearing even a gāthā of this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma. The merits of the former person are less than a hundredth or a thousandth of the merits of the latter person, or less than the merits of the latter person divided by a hundred thousand billion. [The superiority of the merits of the latter person to those of the former person] cannot be explained by any calculation, parable or simile.

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

The Buddha gives this explanation to Maitreya (whom he calls Ajita – Invincible) in Chapter Eighteen of the Lotus Sūtra. He compares the benefit created by someone who teaches innumerable beings and makes exorbitant offerings through following the pre-Lotus sūtras to the benefits of finding joy in the Buddha’s Highest teaching. This joy is not the same as just getting what we want, or being relieved from what we do not want. It is the joy of seeing the world for what it is, and our place in it as Bodhisattvas who exist for the benefit of all beings.

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

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month concluded Day 23’s portion of The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma, we start again with The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra.

Thereupon Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahāsattva said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One! How many merits will be given to a good man or woman who rejoices at hearing this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma?” He sang in a gāthā:

How many merits will be given
To a person who rejoices
At hearing this sūtra
After your extinction?

Thereupon the Buddha said to Maitreya Bodhisattva-mahāsattva: “Ajita! Suppose a bhikṣu, a bhikṣunī, an upāsakā, an upāsikā, or some other wise person, whether young or old, rejoices at hearing this sūtra in a congregation after my extinction. After leaving the congregation, he or she goes to some other place, for instance, to a monastery, a retired place, a city, a street, a town, or a village. There he or she expounds this sūtra, as he or she has heard it, to his or her father, mother relative, friend or acquaintance as far as he or she can. Another person who has heard [this sūtra from him or her], rejoices, goes [to some other place] and expounds it to a third person. The third person also rejoices at hearing it and expounds it to a fourth person. In this way this sūtra is heard by a fiftieth person. Ajita! Now I will tell you the merits of the fiftieth good man or woman who rejoices at hearing [this sūtra]. Listen attentively!

This brings to mind Ven. Kenjo Igarashi’s Sept. 3 sermon in which he said:

“Practice and study the Lotus Sūtra, then if you understand only just a little bit you have to talk to other people and try to save them. That’s why we are born into this world. Now we can chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and chant the Lotus Sūtra so we don’t waste our time. We try to get enlightenment and don’t end up regretting after we pass away. …”

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month heard the 1,200 merits of the ears, we conclude Day 23’s portion of The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma with the 1,200 merits of the ears in gāthās.

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

Their ears given by their parents will be purified, not defiled.
With their natural ears,
They will be able to recognize the sounds of voices
Of the one thousand million sumeru-worlds.

They will be able to recognize
The voices of elephants, horses and cows;
Th sounds of carts, gongs, bells, conch-shell horns,
And of drums, lyres, harps, reed-pipes and flutes.
Although they recognize pure and sweet songs,
They will not be attached to them.
They also will be able to recognize
The countless kinds of voices of men.

They will be able to recognize
The voices of gods,
The wonderful songs [of gods],
And the voices of men, women, boy and girls.

They will be able to recognize
The songs of kalavinkas, of jivakajivakas,
And of the other birds in mountains,
And on rivers and ravines.

The expounder of the Dharma
Will be able to recognize from afar,
While he is staying in the world [of men],
The cryings and shriekings
Of the denizens in hell,
The shoutings of hungry and thirsty spirits
Who are seeking food and drink,
And the voices of asuras
Bellowing to each other
[As they pound] on the seacoasts.
Even when he recognizes all this by hearing,
His organ of hearing will not be destroyed.

The expounder of the Dharma will be able to recognize,
While he is staying [in this world],
The voices of birds and animals calling each other
In the worlds of the ten quarters.

The teacher of the Dharma will be able to recognize,
While he is staying [in the world of men],
The voices of the gods of the heavens
Above the Heaven of Brahman,
[That is,] of the Light-Sound Heaven,
Of the Universal-Pure Heaven, and of the Highest Heaven.

The teacher of the Dharma
Will be able to recognize,
Without moving about,
The voices of the bhikṣus and bhikṣunīs
Who read or recite sūtras
Or expound them to others.

He will be able to recognize
The voices of the Bodhisattvas
Who read or recite sūtras
Or expound the meanings
Of quotations from them
To others.

Anyone who keeps this Sūtra
Of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Will be able to recognize the voices of the Buddhas,
That is, the voices of the Great Honorable Saints
Who teach all living beings,
And who expound the Wonderful Dharma in great congregations.

He will be able to recognize
All the sounds and voices
Inside and outside the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds,
[Each being composed of the six regions]
Down to the Avici Hell and up to the Highest Heaven.
And yet his organ of hearing will not be destroyed.
He will be able to recognize everything by hearing
Because his ears are sharp.

Anyone who keeps
This Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Will be able to obtain these merits with his natural ears
Although he has not yet obtained heavenly ears.

I’m always struck by this description of of what “The expounder of the Dharma Will be able to recognize from afar, While he is staying in the world [of men]:”

“The cryings and shriekings
Of the denizens in hell,
The shoutings of hungry and thirsty spirits
Who are seeking food and drink,
And the voices of asuras
Bellowing to each other
[As they pound] on the seacoasts.
Even when he recognizes all this by hearing,
His organ of hearing will not be destroyed.

Having been raised in Southern California, not far from the beach, the pounding on the seacoasts is quite recognizable.

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month singing in gāthās of the merits of the eyes, we hear of the 1,200 merits of the ears.

“Furthermore, Constant-Endeavor! The good men or women who keep, read, recite, expound or copy this sūtra, will be able to obtain twelve hundred merits of the ear. With their pure ears, they will be able to recognize all the various sounds and voices inside and outside the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds, [each of which is composed of the six regions] down to the Avici Hell and up to the Highest Heaven. They will be able to recognize the voices of elephants, horses and cows; the sounds of carts; cryings and sighings; the sounds of conch-shell horns, drums, gongs and bells; laughter and speech; the voices of men, women, boy and girls; meaningful voices, meaningless voices; painful voices, delightful voices; the voices of the unenlightened ones, the voices of the enlightened ones; joyful voices, joyless voices; the voices of gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṃnaras and mahoragas; the sounds of fire, water and wind; the voices of hellish denizens, animals and hungry spirits; and the voices of bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. In a word, with their pure and natural ears given by their parents, they will be able to recognize all the sounds and voices inside and outside the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds, although they have not yet obtained heavenly ears. Even when they recognize all these various sounds and voices, their organ of hearing will not be destroyed.”

The Daily Dharma for Feb. 21, 2017, offers this:

The Buddha gives this explanation to Constant-Endeavor Bodhisattva in Chapter Nineteen of the Lotus Sūtra, describing those who keep the Lotus Sūtra. As we shed our delusions and see the world more for what it is, we begin to see and understand things not visible or comprehensible to those still mired in their suffering and attachment. Knowing the suffering we have left behind, we may be lured into abandoning this world and those in it. In this chapter, the Buddha shows that all of the sense organs we have in this life, sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and thought, all of these can be used either to increase our delusion or bring us towards awakening. The Buddha reached enlightenment in this world, and so do we.

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

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month begun the Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma, we repeat what we said and sing in gāthās of the merits of the eyes:

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

Listen! I will tell you of the merits
Of those who fearlessly expound
To the great multitude
This Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

They will be able to obtain the excellent yes
Adorned with eight hundred merits.
Their eyes will be pure
Because of this adornment.

With their eyes given by their parents,
They will be able to see Mt. Meru, Mt. Sumeru,
The Surrounding Iron Mountains,
And the other mountains,
And the forests, oceans and rivers
Inside and outside the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds.

They will be able to see the living beings
Of those worlds [each being composed of the six regions]
Down to the Avici Hell and up to the Highest Heaven.
Although they have not yet obtained heavenly eyes,
They will be able to see all this
With their natural eyes.

Underscore with this first of the sense organs They will be able to see all this With their natural eyes.

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month concluded the merits of the Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, we move on to the Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Thereupon the Buddha said to Constant-Endeavor Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva:

“The good men or women who keep, read, recite, expound or copy this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, will be able to obtain eight hundred merits of the eye, twelve hundred merits of the ear, eight hundred merits of the nose, twelve hundred merits of the tongue, eight hundred merits of the body, and twelve hundred merits of the mind. They will be able to adorn and purify their six sense-organs with these merits.

All of which, as we will find out, with the six natural sense-organs our parents gave us. Here’s to imagining obtaining the heavenly sense-organs.

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month concluded the merits of the 50th person who rejoices at hearing the Lotus Sutra in gathas, we conclude the Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra.

Anyone who persuades even a single person
To hear the Sutra of the Lotus Flower
Of the Wonderful Dharma, saying:
“This sutra is profound and wonderful.
It is difficult to meet it
Even during ten million kalpas,”
And causes him to go and hear it even for a moment,
Will be able to obtain the following merits:

In his future lives, he will have no disease of the mouth.
His teeth will not be few, yellow or black.
His lips will not be thick, shrunk or broken.
There will be nothing loathsome [on his lips].
His tongue will not be dry, black or short.
His nose will be high, long and straight.
His forehead will be broad and even.
His face will be handsome.
All people will wish to see him.
His breath will not be foul.
The fragrance of the utpala-flowers
Will always be emitted from his mouth.

Anyone who visits a monastery to hear
The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
And rejoices at hearing it even for a moment,
Will be able to obtain the following merits:

He will be reborn among gods and men.
He will be able to go up to the palace of heaven,
Riding in a wonderful elephant-cart or horse-cart,
Or in a palanquin of wonderful treasures.

Anyone who persuades others to sit and hear this sutra
In the place where the Dharma is expounded,
Will be able to obtain the seat of Sakra or of Brahman
Or of a wheel-turning-holy-king by his merits.
Needless to say, boundless will be the merits
Of the person who hears this sutra with all his heart,
And expounds its meanings,
And acts according to its teachings.

Another promise to add to my list of reasons why I rejoice in hearing the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

Day 23

Day 23 covers all of Chapter 18, The Merits of a Person Who Rejoices at Hearing This Sutra, and opens Chapter 19, The Merits of the Teacher of the Dharma.

Having last month concluded the merits of the 50th person who rejoices at hearing the Lotus Sutra in prose, we now repeat what was said in gathas.

Suppose a man rejoices at hearing this sutra
Or at hearing even a gatha of it
In a congregation,
And expounds it to a second person.

The second person expounds it to a third person.
In this way it is heard by a fiftieth person.
Now I will tell you of the merits
Of the fiftieth person.

Suppose there was a great almsgiver.
He continued giving alms
To innumerable living beings
For eighty years according to their wishes.

Those living beings became old and decrepit.
Their hair became grey; their faces, wrinkled;
And their teeth, fewer and deformed.
Seeing this, he thought:
‘I will teach them because they will die before long.
I will cause them to obtain the fruit of enlightenment.’

Then he expounded the truth of Nirvana to them
As an expedient, saying:
‘This world is as unstable
As a spray of water,
Or as a foam, or as a filament of air.
Hate it, and leave it quickly!’

Hearing this teaching, they attained Arhatship,
And obtained the six supernatural powers,
Including the three major supernatural powers,
And the eight emancipations.

The superiority of the merits of the fiftieth person
Who rejoices at hearing even a gatha [of this sutra]
To the merits of this [great almsgiver]
Cannot be explained by any parable or simile.

The merits of the [fiftieth] person
[Who hears this sutra] are immeasurable.
Needless to say, so are the merits of the first person
Who rejoices at hearing it in the congregation.

The Daily Dharma from Nov. 25, 2016, offers this:

The Buddha sings these verses to Maitreya Bodhisattva in Chapter Eighteen of the Lotus Sutra. This chapter includes a story of a person who hears the Wonderful Dharma, then explains it to the best of their ability to someone else. In this way there is a chain of fifty people who hear versions of this teaching modified by the capacities of those transmitting it. The effectiveness of this teaching does not depend on who delivers it. No matter what our capacity, any of us can teach the Lotus Sutra and practice it in our lives.

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