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 learned that Never-Despising Bodhisattva encountered the twenty thousand billion gāthās of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, we learn Śākyamuni’s connection to Never-Despising Bodhisattva.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! This Never-Despising Bodhisattva-mahāsattva 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 sūtra 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 sūtra or expounded it to others in my previous existence, I should not have been able to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi so quickly. Because I kept, read and recited this sūtra, and expounded it to others under those past Buddhas, I attained Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi quickly.

See Ideal Bodhisattva Practice

Ideal Bodhisattva Practice

It is said that the dirtier the pond from which it grows, the more beautifully a lotus blooms. The flower is itself pure and unaffected by the mud from which it has sprung. The Sutra tells us that the method of Bodhisattva-practice should be similar to that of a lotus flower. It can be said that “lotus flower,” which is part of the title (Daimoku) of the Lotus Sutra (“The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law”), symbolizes this ideal Bodhisattva practice.

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 encountered the arrogant bhikṣus, Never-Despising Bodhisattva encounters the the twenty thousand billion gāthās of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

“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 bhikṣu come from? He says that he does not despise us and assures 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 bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās and upāsikās. When he was about to pass away, he heard [from a voice] in the sky the twenty thousand billion gāthās of the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, which had been expounded by the Powerful-Voice-King Buddha. Having kept all these gāthās, 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 Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to many people [in his prolonged life]. The arrogant bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās and upāsikās, that is, the four kinds 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 thousands of billions of living beings, and led them into the Way to Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. After the end of his prolonged life, he was able to meet two hundred thousand million Buddhas, all of them being called Sun-Moon-Light. He also expounded the Sūtra 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 Cloud-Freedom-Light-King. He also kept, read and recited this sūtra, 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.

See Purification of Never-Despising Bodhisattva

Purification of Never-Despising Bodhisattva

Purification of the six senses, which we discussed in the previous chapter, “Merits of the Teacher of the Law,” means purification of the bodily senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and mind. Once Never-Despising had purified his six senses, he was able to extend his lifetime for many years, and teach the Sutra to others. Thanks to his teaching, the same arrogant and conceited priests who had persecuted him before, now came to believe in the Lotus Sutra, themselves. In this way, he led many people to supreme enlightenment, and he himself became a Buddha.

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 been introduced to Never-Despising Bodhisattva, we encounter the arrogant bhikṣus.

“There lived arrogant bhikṣus in the age of the counterfeit of the right teachings of the first Powerful-Voice-King Tathāgata, that is, after the end of the age of his right teachings which had come immediately after his extinction. [Those arrogant bhikṣus] were powerful. At that time there lived a Bodhisattva called Never-Despising. He took the form of a bhikṣu.

“Great-Power-Obtainer! Why was this bhikṣu called Never-Despising? It was because, every time he saw bhikṣus, bhikṣunīs, upāsakās or upāsikās, he bowed to them and praised them, saying, ‘I respect you deeply. I do not despise you. Why is that? It is because you will be able to practice the Way of Bodhisattvas and become Buddhas.’

“He did not read or recite sūtras. He only bowed to the four kinds of devotees. When he saw them in the distance, he went to them on purpose, bowed to them, and praised them, saying, ‘I do not despise you because you can become Buddhas.’

See Age of Counterfeit Teachings

Age of Counterfeit Teachings

The terms, “Age of Right Teachings” and “Age of Counterfeit Teachings,” express the Buddhist view of history. It is believed that for a while after a Buddha has entered Nirvana, people will remember his teachings correctly, put them into practice, and attain enlightenment. However, as time passes, those teachings will become mere academic formalities. People will know about them and be able to discuss them, but they will no longer practice them diligently and attain enlightenment. This second period is called the Age of Counterfeit Teachings. Finally, the teachings will decay altogether. People will neither practice them, understand them, nor attain enlightenment. This is the Age of Degeneration, when Buddhism declines and finally fades away. It is believed by most scholars that the first and second periods last for a thousand years each. The Age of Degeneration can drag on for as long as 10,000 years. In any case, Never-Despising Bodhisattva lived during the second of these three periods, an Age of Counterfeit Teachings.

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 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