Tag Archives: LS27

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month considered what happened after Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings burned his arms, we learn that Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva was no one but Medicine-King Bodhisattva of today.

The Buddha said to Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva:

“What do you think of this? Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva was no one but Medicine-King Bodhisattva of today. He gave up his body in this way, offered it [to the Buddha], and repeated this offering many hundreds of thousands of billions of nayutas of times [in his previous existence]. [He knows that he can practice any austerity in this Sahā-World. Therefore, he does not mind walking about this world.]

“Star-King-Flower! Anyone who aspires for, and wishes to attain Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, should offer a light to the stupa of the Buddha by burning a finger or a toe. Then he will be given more merits than the person who offers not only countries, cities, wives and children, but also the mountains, forests, rivers and ponds of the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds, and various kinds of treasures. But the merits to be given to the person who fills the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds with the seven treasures and offers that amount of the seven treasures to the Buddhas, to the Great Bodhisattvas, to the Pratyekabuddhas, and to the Arhats, are less than the merits to be given to the person who keeps even a single gāthā of four lines of this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

See The Spirit of Giving One’s Whole Self

The Spirit of Giving One’s Whole Self

The offering of burning the body, which plays such a prominent part of this chapter, should not be taken literally. It symbolizes the spirit of giving one’s whole self, believing wholeheartedly, embracing the Most-Venerable-One, and offering to serve the truth with all one’s body and soul.

Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month witnessed Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva’s reaction to Sun-Moon-Pure-Bright-Virtue Buddha’s entry into parinirvana, we consider what happened after Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings burned his arms.

“Having seen him deprived of his arms, the Bodhisattvas, gods, men, asuras and others were overcome with sorrow. They said, ‘This Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva is our teacher. He is leading us. Now he has burned off his arms. He is deformed.’

“Thereupon Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva vowed to the great multitude, saying, ‘I shall be able to obtain the golden body of the Buddha because I gave up my arms. If my words are true and not false, I shall be able to have my arms restored.’

“When he had made this vow, his arms were restored because his merits, virtues and wisdom were abundant. Thereupon the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds quaked in the six ways, and the gods rained down jeweled flowers. All the gods and men had the greatest joy that they had ever had.”

Underscore here his arms were restored because his merits, virtues and wisdom were abundant.

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month heard of Sun-Moon-Pure-Bright-Virtue Buddha’s plans to enter parinirvana, we witness Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva’s reaction.

“Having given these instructions to Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva, Sun-Moon-Pure-Bright-Virtue Buddha entered into Nirvana in the last watch of that night. Having seen the extinction of the Buddha, Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva was overcome with sorrow. He adored the Buddha all the more. He made a pyre of the candana grown on this shore of the sea, offered it to the body of the Buddha, and burned it. After it burned up, he collected the śarīras. He made eighty-four thousand stupas of treasures[, and put the śarīras therein]. He erected eighty-four thousand stupas[, and enshrined the urns therein]. The stupas were higher than the Third Dhyana-Heaven. They were adorned with yastis. Many streamers and canopies were hanging down [from the stupas]. Many jeweled bells also were fixed [on the stupas].

“Thereupon Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva thought again, ‘I have now made these offerings, yet I do not think that they are enough. I will make another offering to the śarīras.’

“He said to the Bodhisattvas, to the great disciples, and also to all the other living beings in the great multitude including gods, dragons and yakṣas, ‘Look with one mind! Now I will make another offering to the śarīras of Sun-Moon-Pure-Bright-Virtue Buddha.’

“Having said this, he burned his arms adorned with the marks of one hundred merits, and offered the light of the flame to the eighty-four thousand stupas for seventy-two thousand years. [By doing so,] he caused innumerable seekers of Śrāvakahood and many other asaṃkhyas of people to aspire for Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi, and obtain the samadhi by which they could transform themselves into the other living beings.

Following the transmission, the Lotus Sūtra offers examples of how followers of the Sūtra should behave. While I don’t endorse self-immolation, Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva’s offering “caused innumerable seekers of Śrāvakahood and many other asaṃkhyas of people to aspire for Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi,” and that’s a fine example of the Bodhisattva goal worth emulating.

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month reached the end of Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva, we begin again at the top of Day 27.

“Having sung this gāthā, Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, ‘World-Honored One! You do not change, do you?’

“Sun-Moon-Pure-Bright-Virtue Buddha said to Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva, ‘Good man! The time of my Nirvana is near at hand. The time of my extinction is coming. Prepare me a comfortable couch! I shall enter into Parinirvana tonight.’ “Then he instructed Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva, saying, ‘Good man! I will transmit all my teachings to you. [I also will transmit] to you all the Bodhisattvas and all my great disciples. [I also will transmit] to you my teachings for Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi. I also will transmit to you the one thousand Sumeru worlds made of the seven treasures, the jeweled trees, the jeweled platforms, and the gods attending on me. I also will transmit to you the śarīras to be left after my extinction. Distribute my śarīras far and wide and make offerings to them! Erect thousands of stupas [to enshrine them]!’

The Daily Dharma from May 29, 2017, offers this:

Having sung this gāthā, Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, ‘World-Honored One! You do not change, do you?’

This description of the life of Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva comes from Chapter Twenty-Three of the Lotus Sūtra. In a previous existence, this Bodhisattva had given up his body and his life for the sake of teaching the Wonderful Dharma. He was then reborn into a world in which the Buddha he served previously was still alive and benefitting all beings. Recognizing this unchanging aspect of the Buddha despite his changing appearances helps us see into our own capacity for enlightenment.

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

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month covered the merits to be obtained, we conclude the chapter.

“Therefore, Star-King-Flower! I will transmit this chapter of the Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva to you. Propagate this chapter throughout the Jambudvipa in the later five hundred years after my extinction lest it should be lost, and lest Mara the Evil One, the followers of Mara, gods, dragons, yakṣas, and kumbha]das should take advantage [of the weak points of the people of the Jambudvipa].

“Star-King-Flower! Protect this sūtra by your supernatural powers! Why is that? It is because this sūtra is a good medicine for the diseases of the people of the Jambudvipa. The patient who hears this sūtra will be cured of his disease at once. He will not grow old or die.

“Star-King-Flower! Strew blue lotus flower and a bowlful of powdered incense to the person who keep this sūtra when you see him! After strewing these things [to hi.ml, you should think, ‘Before long he will collect grass [for his seat], sit at the place of enlightenment, and defeat the army of Mara. He will blow the conch-shell horn of the Dharma, beat the drum of the great Dharma, and save all living beings from the ocean of old age, disease and death.’

“In this way, those who seek the enlightenment of the Buddha should respect the keeper of this sūtra whenever they see him.”

When the Buddha expounded this chapter of the Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva, eighty-four thousand Bodhisattvas obtained the dharanis by which they could understand the words of all living beings. Many-Treasures Tathāgata in the stupa of treasures praised Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva, saying:

“Excellent, excellent, Star-King-Flower! You obtained inconceivable merits. You asked this question to Śākyamuni Buddha, and benefited innumerable living beings.”

The Daily Dharma from April 5, 2017, offers this:

Star-King-Flower! Strew blue lotus flowers and a bowlful of powdered incense to the person who keeps this sūtra when you see him! After strewing these things [to him], you should think, ‘Before long he will collect grass [for his seat], sit at the place of enlightenment, and defeat the army of Māra. He will blow the conch-shell horn of the Dharma, beat the drum of the great Dharma, and save all living beings from the ocean of old age, disease and death.’

The Buddha gives this explanation to Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty-Three of the Lotus Sūtra. Māra is the deity who creates confusion and delusion in the world. His army consists of those who reinforce these delusions and reward those who share them. Such rewards do not benefit those who receive them. They only serve to produce fear and attachment which creates misery in the world. With our practice of this Lotus Sūtra, we learn to recognize delusion for what it is, and reject the superficial benefits that come with it.

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

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month covered the predictions of salvation, we come to the merits to be obtained.

“Star-King-Flower! Anyone who hears [especially] this chapter of the Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva also will be able to obtain innumerable merits. The woman who hears and keeps this chapter of the Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva will not be a woman in her next life. The woman who hears this sūtra and acts according to the teachings of it in the later’ five hundred years after my extinction, will be able to be reborn, after her life in this world, [as a man sitting] on the jeweled seat in the lotus flower blooming in the World of Happiness where Amitayus Buddha lives surrounded by great Bodhisattvas. He [no more she] will not be troubled by greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, jealousy, or any other impurity. He will be able to obtain the supernatural powers of a Bodhisattva and the truth of birthlessness. When he obtains this truth, his eyes will be purified. With his purified eyes, he will be able to see seven billion and two hundred thousand million nayuta Buddhas or Tathāgatas, that is, as many Buddhas as there are sands in the River Ganges. At that time those Buddhas will praise him, saying simultaneously from afar, ‘Excellent, excellent, good man! You kept, read and recited this sūtra, thought it over, and expounded it to others under Śākyamuni Buddha. Now you have obtained innumerable merits and virtues, which cannot be burned by fire or washed away by water. Your merits cannot be described even by the combined efforts of one thousand Buddhas. Now you have defeated the army of Mara, beaten the forces of birth and death, and annihilated all your enemies. Good man! Hundreds of thousands of Buddhas are now protecting you by their supernatural powers. None of the gods or men in the world surpasses you. None but the Tathāgatas, none of the Śrāvakas or Pratyekabuddhas or Bodhisattvas surpasses you in wisdom and dhyāna-concentration.’ Star-King-Flower! [He is a Bodhisattva.] This Bodhisattva will obtain these merits and the power of wisdom.

“Anyone who rejoices at hearing this chapter of the Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva and praises [this chapter], saying, ‘Excellent,’ will be able to emit the fragrance of the blue lotus flower from his mouth and the fragrance of the candana of Mt. Ox-Head from his pores, and obtain these merits in his present life.

I take the promises of the Lotus Sutra in faith and try to ponder the meaning beyond the literal. First we have “The woman who hears this sūtra and acts according to the teachings of it in the later’ five hundred years after my extinction, will be able to be reborn, after her life in this world, [as a man sitting] on the jeweled seat in the lotus flower blooming in the World of Happiness where Amitayus Buddha lives surrounded by great Bodhisattvas. He [no more she] will not be troubled by greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, jealousy, or any other impurity…” And then we have “Anyone who rejoices at hearing this chapter of the Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva and praises [this chapter], saying, ‘Excellent,’ will be able to emit the fragrance of the blue lotus flower from his mouth and the fragrance of the candana of Mt. Ox-Head from his pores, and obtain these merits in his present life.” As promises go, I think I’d rather be a woman.

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month covered the litany of comparisons illumining just how great is this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, we come to the predictions of salvation.

“Star-King-Flower! This sūtra saves all living beings. This sūtra saves them from all sufferings, and gives them great benefits. All living beings will be able to fulfill their wishes by this sūtra just as a man who reaches a pond of fresh water when he is thirsty, just as a man who gets fire when he suffers from cold, just as a man who is given a garment when he is naked, just as a party of merchants who find a leader just as a child who meets its mother, just as a man who gets a ship when he wants to cross [a river], just as a patient who finds a physician, just as a man who is given a light in the darkness, just as a poor man who gets a treasure, just as the people of a nation who see a new king enthroned, just as a trader who reaches the seacoast. Just as a torch dispels darkness, this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma saves all living beings from all sufferings, from all diseases, and from all the bonds of birth and death. The merits to be given to the person who, after hearing this Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, copies it, or causes others to copy it, cannot be measured even by the wisdom of the Buddha. Neither can the merits to be given to the person who copies this sūtra and offers flowers, incense, necklaces, incense to burn, powdered incense, incense applicable to the skin, streamers, canopies, garments, and various kinds of lamps such as lamps of butter oil, oil lamps, lamps of perfumed oil, lamps of campaka oil, lamps of sumanas oil, lamps of pāṭala oil, lamps of vārṣika oil, and lamps of navamālikā oil [to the copy of this sūtra].

The Daily Dharma from Feb. 25, 2017, offers this:

The Buddha gives this description of the merits of the Lotus Sūtra to Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty-Three of the Lotus Sūtra. The comparison of our bodily desires to our desire for enlightenment shows the kind of joy we can expect when we realize what this teaching can accomplish. Anyone whose thirst is quenched is sure to become thirsty again, now matter how pleasant it is to drink. The Buddha Dharma fulfills a thirst of which we may not even be aware. We are certain that things in this world of conflict will bring us joy. When we realize they can only bring us pleasure, and know the difference between joy and pleasure, we become aware of our true wishes and what this sūtra does for us.

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

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month covered the big reveal about Medicine-King Bodhisattva and some more flaming offerings, we come to the litany of comparisons illumining just how great is this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

“Star-King-Flower! Just as the sea is larger than the rivers, this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma is more profound than any of the other sutras expounded by the Tathagatas. Just as Mt. Sumeru is the largest of all the mountains including earth mountains, black mountains, the Small Surrounding Iron Mountains, the Great Surrounding Iron Mountains, and the Ten Treasure Mountains, this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma is above all the other sutras. Just as the Moon God is brighter than the stars, this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma gives us more light than any of the other sutras numbering thousands of billions. Just as the Sun God dispels all darkness, this sutra drives away all the darkness of evils. Just as the wheel-turning-holy-king is superior to the kings of small countries, this sutra is more honorable than the other sutras. Just as King Sakra is the king of the thirty-three gods, this sutra is the king of all the sutras. Just as the Great Brahman Heavenly-King is the father of all living beings, this sutra is the father of all the sages and saints, of the Sravakas who have something more to learn, of the Sravakas who have nothing more to learn, and of those who aspire for Bodhisattvahood. Just as Srota-apannas, Sakrdagamins, Anagamins, Arhats, and Pratyekabuddhas are superior to ordinary men, this sutra is superior to any of the other sutras expounded either by Tathagatas or by Bodhisattvas or by Sravakas. The person who keeps this sutra is superior to any other living being. Just as Bodhisattvas are superior to Sravakas or to Pratyekabuddhas, this sutra is superior to any other sutra. Just as the Buddha is the king of the Dharma, this sutra is the king of all the sutras.

I was struck today by the line: Just as the Sun God dispels all darkness, this sutra drives away all the darkness of evils. It reminded of the importance of the light in reducing the number people who go the lower realms and increase the number who go to the higher realms.

Day 27

Day 27 concludes Chapter 23, The Previous Life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva.

Having last month covered the sacrifice and restoration of Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva, we come to the big reveal about Medicine-King Bodhisattva and some more flaming offerings.

The Buddha said to Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva:

What do you think of this? Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva was no one but Medicine-King Bodhisattva of today. He gave up his body in this way, offered it [to the Buddha], and repeated this offering many hundreds of thousands of billions of nayutas of times [in his previous existence]. [He knows that he can practice any austerity in this Saha-World. Therefore, he does not mind walking about this world.]

Star-King-Flower! Anyone who aspires for, and wishes to attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, should offer a light to the stupa of the Buddha by burning a finger or a toe. Then he will be given more merits than the person who offers not only countries, cities, wives and children, but also the mountains, forests, rivers and ponds of the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds, and various kinds of treasures. But the merits to be given to the person who fills the one thousand million Sumeru-worlds with the seven treasures and offers that amount of the seven treasures to the Buddhas, to the Great Bodhisattvas, to the Pratekabuddhas, and to the Arhats, are less than the merits to be given to the person who keeps even a single gatha of four lines of this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.

The Daily Dharma from Sept. 7, 2016, offers this:

What do you think of this? Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva was no one but Medicine-King Bodhisattva of today. He gave up his body in this way, offered it [to the Buddha], and repeated this offering many hundreds of thousands of billions of nayutas of times [in his previous existence]. [He knows that he can practice any austerity in this Sahā-World. Therefore, he does not mind walking about this world.]

The Buddha gives this explanation to Star-King-Flower Bodhisattva in Chapter Twenty-Three of the Lotus Sūtra. The story of the previous life of Medicine-King Bodhisattva shows us the capacities we have already developed and are not aware of. When we see ourselves as choosing to come into this world of conflict to benefit all beings, rather than stuck where we do not want to be and just making the best of it, then it is much easier to let go of our delusions.

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