Tag Archives: LS25

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month concluded Day 25’s portion of Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas, we return to the top and the opening of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva.

Thereupon the Buddha said to Great-Power-Obtainer Bodhisattva-mahāsattva:

“Know this! Anyone who speaks ill of or abuses or slanders the bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās or upāsikās who keep the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, will incur the retributions previously stated. Anyone [who keeps this sūtra] will be able to have his eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind purified, that is to say, to obtain the merits as stated in the previous chapter.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! Innumerable, limitless, inconceivable, asaṃkhya kalpas ago, there lived a Buddha called Powerful-Voice-King, 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. The kalpa in which he lived was called Free-From-Decay; and his world, Great-Achievement. Powerful-Voice-King Buddha expounded the Dharma to the gods, men and asuras of his world. To those who were seeking Śrāvakahood, he expounded the teaching suitable for them, that is, the teaching of the four truths, saved them from birth, old age, disease and death, and caused them to attain Nirvana. To those who were seeking Pratyekabuddhahood, he expounded the teaching suitable for them, that is, the teaching of the twelve causes. To the Bodhisattvas who were seeking Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, he expounded the teaching suitable for them, that is, the teaching of the six paramitas, and caused them to obtain the wisdom of the Buddha.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! The duration of the life of Powerful-Voice-King Buddha was forty billion nayuta kalpas, that is, as many kalpas as there are sands in the River Ganges. His right teachings were preserved for as many kalpas as the particles of dust of the Jambudvipa. The counterfeit of his right teachings was preserved for as many kalpas as the particles of dust of the four continents. The Buddha benefited all living being and then passed away. After [the two ages:] the age of his right teaching and the age of their counterfeit, there appeared in that world another Buddha also called Powerful-Voice-King, 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. After him, the Buddhas of the same name appeared one after another, two billion altogether.

See Respect for All Human Beings

Respect for All Human Beings

This story of Never-Despising Bodhisattva shows the spirit which lies at the heart of the Lotus Sutra: respect for all human beings.

Human history and culture have long sought an ideal society composed of ideal persons. The Buddha, who is revealed in Buddhism, expresses this image of an ideal human being—omniscient, omnipotent, and magnanimous to all. The ideal society is his Pure Land. Not only Buddhism, but all religions seek such an ideal.

In our modern age, however, many people think that revolutions in politics and economics, instead of religion, are the best ways to realize such an ideal. “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” acclaimed in the French Revolution, express this spirit, although it soon came to mean liberty, equality, and fraternity for us, but not for you. In the twentieth century, the Communist Revolution tried to realize the same ideal, also by brute force.

However, no such attempt can succeed without the spirit of Never-Despising Bodhisattva—venerating all living beings just as they are. This has been demonstrated by the recent collapse of communist countries in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Although they had high ideals, their revolution, which ignored the value of human beings, was doomed to fail. Never-Despising Bodhisattva teaches the most basic revolution of all: profound respect for each and every living person.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month witnessed the World-Honored One display his great supernatural powers, we conclude Day 25’s portion of Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas with the reaction of the gods in the skies of the worlds of the ten quarters.

At that time the gods in the skies [of the worlds of the ten quarters] said loudly:

“There is a world called Sahā beyond a distance of many hundreds of thousands of billions of asaṃkhyas of worlds. In that world lives a Buddha called Śākyamuni. He is now expounding to Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas a sūtra of the Great Vehicle, called the ‘Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the Dharma for Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Upheld by the Buddhas.’ Rejoice from the bottom of your hearts! Bow and make offerings to Śākyamuni Buddha!”

Having heard their voice from the skies, the living beings of those worlds joined their hands together towards the Sahā World, and said, “Namah Sakyamunaye Buddhaya, namah Sakyamunaye Buddhaya.” Then they strewed various flowers, various kinds of incense, various necklaces, streamers, canopies, personal ornaments, treasures, and other wonderful things to the Sahā-World from afar.

The strewn things came from the worlds of the ten quarters like gathering clouds and changed into a jeweled awning over the Sahā-World. The awning extended over the Buddhas staying in this world. At that time the worlds of the ten quarters became passable through each other without hindrance as if they had been a single Buddha-world.

Again when I read that the offerings gathered like clouds and changed into a jeweled awning, I’m reminded on the decorations that frame the altar at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church.

Decorations framing the altar at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month witnessed the Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas as many as the particles of dust of one thousand worlds vow to expound this sūtra, we see the World-Honored One display his great supernatural powers.

Thereupon the World-Honored One displayed his great supernatural powers in the presence of the multitude, which included not only the many hundreds of thousands of billions of Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas who had already lived in this Sahā-World [before the arrival of the Bodhisattvas from underground], headed by Mañjuśrī, but also bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās, upāsikās, gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṃnaras, mahoragas, men and nonhuman beings. He stretched out his broad and long tongue upwards until the tip of it reached the World of Brahman. Then he emitted rays of light with an immeasurable variety of colors from his pores. The light illumined all the worlds of the ten quarters. The Buddhas who were sitting on the lion-like seats under the jeweled trees also stretched out their broad and long tongue and emitted innumerable rays of light. Śākyamuni Buddha and the Buddhas under the jeweled trees displayed these supernatural powers of theirs for one hundred thousand years. Then they pulled back their tongues, coughed at the same time, and snapped their fingers. These two sounds [of coughing and snapping] reverberated over the Buddha-worlds of the ten quarters, and the ground of those worlds quaked in the six ways. By the supernatural powers of the Buddhas, the living beings of those worlds, including gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṃnaras, and mahoragas, men and nonhuman beings, saw the many hundreds of thousands of billions of Buddhas sitting on the lion-like seats under the jeweled trees in this Sahā-World. They also saw Śākyamuni Buddha sitting by the side of Many-Treasures Tathāgata on the lion-like seat in the stupa of treasures. They also saw that the many hundreds of thousands of billions of Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas and the four kind of devotees were surrounding Śākyamuni Buddha respectfully. Having seen all this, they had the greatest joy that they had ever had.

Ryusho Jeffus Shonin‘s Lecture on the Lotus Sutra offers this:

When the bodhisattvas who appeared from beneath the ground made their vow to carry out their practice of the Lotus Sutra in the Saha World after the death of the Buddha, immediately the Buddha gave his assent and praised their vow. There is no place in the sutra where the Buddha gives such a dramatic indicator of his pleasure. The Buddha immediately showed his supernatural powers to all present at the ceremony that is still continuing. His powers were displayed to the worlds of the universe in the ten quarters. He stretched out his long broad tongue, and he also emitted rays of light in various colors from the pores of his skin. All of this is not only seen in the other worlds but allows those in this world to see into those other worlds. All of this causes the other Buddhas, the replica Buddhas, to do the same, as well as coughing and snapping their fingers together. The snapping of fingers and coughing are devices employed by the Buddha to gain attention to an important teaching. And all of the various supernatural phenomena mentioned at this point in the Lotus Sutra serve to further demonstrate the importance of the Buddha accepting the vow made by the Bodhisattvas from Beneath the Ground.Lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month concluded the story of Never-Despising Bodhisattva, we move on to the Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Thereupon the Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas as many as the particles of dust of one thousand worlds, who had sprung up from underground, joined their hands together towards the Buddha with all their hearts, looked up at his honorable face, and said to him:

“World-Honored One! After your extinction, we will expound this sūtra in the worlds of the Buddhas of your replicas and also in the place from which you will pass away. Why is that? It is because we also wish to obtain this true, pure and great Dharma, to keep, read, recite, expound and copy [this sūtra], and to make offerings to it.”

I’ve been rereading Nichiren’s writings, and I came upon this quote today in the Shinkoku-ō Gosho (Doctrine 1):

Of the spotless mirrors of the holy teachings preached in His lifetime, the Lotus Sutra is the special divine mirror. A copper mirror can show the figure of a man but not his mind. The divine mirror of the Lotus Sutra shows not only a man’s figure but also his mind. Not only the current mind of a man but also his karma in the previous life and his reward and retribution in the future can clearly be spotlighted.

I, too, wish to “obtain this true, pure and great Dharma.”

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month repeated in in gāthās the retribution earned by those who abused Never-Despising Bodhisattva, we come to the big reveal and conclude the chapter.

Never-Despising [Bodhisattva] at that time
Was myself.
The four kinds of devotees,
Who were attached to views at that time,
Were able to meet innumerable Buddhas
After they heard
The words of Never-Despising [Bodhisattva]:
“You will become Buddhas.”
They are now present here
In this congregation.

They are the five hundred Bodhisattvas
And the four kinds of devotees
Including men and women of pure faith,
Who are now hearing the Dharma from me.

In my previous existence
I encouraged them
To hear this sūtra,
That is, the most excellent Dharma.
In all my previous existences
I taught them the Way to Nirvana.
But really this is the sūtra
I taught them to keep.

This Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma
Can be heard only once
In hundreds of millions of billions of kalpas,
That is, in an inconceivable number of kalpas.

The Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones,
Expound this sūtra only once
In hundreds of millions of billions of kalpas,
That is, in an inconceivable number of kalpas.

Therefore, anyone who hears this sūtra
And practices the Way
After my extinction,
Should have no doubts about [this sūtra].

He should expound this sūtra with all his heart;
Then he will be able to meet Buddhas
Throughout all his existences,
And quickly attain the enlightenment of the Buddha.

Underscore This Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma Can be heard only once In hundreds of millions of billions of kalpas, That is, in an inconceivable number of kalpas,” and consider our fortune today.

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month learned of the retribution earned by those who abused Never-Despising Bodhisattva, we begin again in gāthās.

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

There was once a Buddha,
Called Powerful-Voice-King.
His supernatural powers and wisdom
Were immeasurable.
Leading all living beings, he is honored
By gods, men and dragons with offerings.

Some time after the extinction of that Buddha,
His teachings had almost died out.
At that time there lived a Bodhisattva
Called Never-Despising.
The four kinds of devotees at that time
Were attached to views.

Never-Despising Bodhisattva
Went to them,
And said,
“I do not despise you
Because you will practice the Way
And become Buddhas.”

When they heard this,
They spoke ill of him and abused him.
But Never-Despising Bodhisattva
Endured all this.

Thus he expiated his sin.
When he was about to pass away,
He heard this sūtra,
And had his six sense-organs purified.
He prolonged his life
By his supernatural powers,
And expounded this sūtra
To many people.

Those who were attached to views
Were led into the Way
To the enlightenment of the Buddha
By this Bodhisattva.

Never-Despising [Bodhisattva] met
Innumerable Buddhas after the end of his life.
He expounded this sūtra,
And obtained innumerable merits,
He quickly attained the enlightenment of the Buddha
By these accumulated merits.

Nichiren Shu has an appropriate brochure that focuses on the lesson of Never-Despising Bodhisattva. The brochure begins:

When we press our palms together in gassho and bow to greet others, we are seeing the Buddha within them that is part of their true nature. Never-Despising Bodhisattva never met a man or woman he didn’t like. Within every person, he could see the divine Buddha nature or Buddha seed within waiting to be acknowledged and nourished. This is one of the most compelling teachings of Buddhism. We are all Buddhas. Everything we need is already inside us. It’s just a matter of our faith and practice to peel away layers to reveal what is already there.

You're A Buddha
Click on the image to read the brochure.

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month learned that Never-Despising Bodhisattva was Śākyamuni in a previous life, we come to the retribution earned by those who abused Never-Despising Bodhisattva.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! The four kinds of devotees: the bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās, and upāsikās at that time failed to meet the Buddha, hear the Dharma, and see the Saṃgha for twenty thousand million kalpas because they abused me with anger. They suffered much in the Avici Hell for one thousand kalpas. Having expiated their sin in this way, they met [me, who was] Never-Despising Bodhisattva again, and were led into the Way to Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! What do you think of this? The four kinds of devotees who always abused [me, who was] that Bodhisattva at that time are now present here in this congregation in the persons of the five hundred Bodhisattvas including Bhadrapala, the five hundred bhikṣunīs including Lion-Moon, and the five hundred upāsakās including Thinking-Of-Buddha. Now they do not falter in seeking Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi.

“Great-Power-Obtainer, know this! This Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma benefits Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas, and causes them to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. Therefore, they should keep, read, recite, expound and copy this sūtra after my extinction.”

This time through the Lotus Sūtra I’ve been caught by the various examples of Śākyamuni’s patience. It certainly makes the setbacks and apparent lack of progress I experience seem surreally insignificant.

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month learned of Never-Despising Bodhisattva’s abuse and his reward, we come to the big reveal.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! This Never-Despising Bodhisattva-mahasattva made offerings to those Buddhas, respected them, honored them, praised them, and planted the roots of good. After that, he was able to meet thousands of billions of Buddhas. He also expounded this sutra under those Buddhas. By the merits he had accumulated in this way, he was able to become a Buddha.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! What do you think of this? The Never-Despising Bodhisattva at that time was no one but myself. If I had not kept, read or recited this sutra or expounded it to others in my previous existence, I should not have been able to attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi so quickly. Because I kept, read and recited this sutra, and expounded it to others under those past Buddhas, I attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi quickly.

The Daily Dharma from Jan. 21, 2017, offers this:

The Buddha gives this explanation to Great-Power-Obtainer Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty of the Lotus Sūtra. The practice of Never-Despising Bodhisattva was to approach all beings and tell them, “I respect you deeply. I do not despise you. Why? Because you will be able to practice as a Bodhisattva and become a Buddha.” When the Buddha explains that Never-Despising Bodhisattva was one of his previous lives, he equates this respect for all beings with the practice of the Wonderful Dharma.

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

Day 25

Day 25 covers all of Chapter 20, Never-Despising Bodhisattva, and opens Chapter 21, The Supernatural Powers of the Tathāgatas.

Having last month meet Never-Despising Bodhisattva, we learn of his abuse and his reward.

Some of the four kinds of devotees had impure minds. They got angry, spoke ill of him and abused him, saying, ‘Where did this ignorant bhiksu come from? He says that he does not despise us and assure us that we will become Buddhas. We do not need such a false assurance of our future Buddhahood.’ Although he was abused like this for many years, he did not get angry. He always said to them, ‘You will become Buddhas.’

When he said this, people would strike him with a stick, a piece of wood, a piece of tile or a stone. He would run away to a distance, and say in a loud voice from afar, ‘I do not despise you. You will become Buddhas.’ Because he always said this, he was called Never-Despising by the arrogant bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas. When he was about to pass away, he heard [from a voice] in the sky the twenty thousand billion gathas of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, which had been expounded by the Powerful-Voice-King Buddha. Having kept all these gathas, he was able to have his eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind purified as previously stated. Having his six sense-organs purified, he was able to prolong his life for two hundred billion nayuta more years. He expounded this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to many people [in his prolonged life]. The arrogant bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas, that is, the four kind of devotees who had abused him and caused him to be called Never-Despising, saw that he had obtained great supernatural powers, the power of eloquence, and the great power of good tranquility. Having seen all this, and having heard the Dharma from him, they took faith in him, and followed him.

This Bodhisattva also taught thousand of billions of living beings, and led them into the Way to Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. After the end of his prolonged life, he was able to meet two hundred thousand million Buddhas, all of them being called Sun-Moon­light. He also expounded the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma under them. After that, he was able to meet two hundred thousand million Buddhas, all of them being called Cloud­Freedom-Light-King. He also kept, read and recited this sutra, and expounded it to the four kinds of devotees under those Buddhas so that he was able to have his natural eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind purified and to become fearless in expounding the Dharma to the four kinds of devotees.

The Daily Dharma from Jan. 9, 2017, offers this:

Although he was abused like this for many years, he did not get angry, He always said to them, ‘You will become Buddhas.’

The Buddha tells this story of Never-Despising Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty of the Lotus Sūtra. This Bodhisattva did not read or recite sutras. His practice was simply to tell all those whom he encountered, “I respect you deeply. I do not despise you.” Despite his pure intentions, the deluded minds of those who heard him caused them to be angry with him, beat him, and chase him away. While he did not stand fast and endure their abuse, he did not lose his respect for them. This is an example for us who aspire to practice the Wonderful Dharma to show us how we can learn to treat all beings.

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