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Inside the Lotus Sutra


By Stephen L. Klick Introduction This book is intended to clarify the teachings hidden in the text of "The Lotus Sutra." It opens with the Introduction to "The Lotus Sutra," called "The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings," and then a commentary on it. The next section is a commentary on "The Lotus Sutra" itself, and then the text of "The Sutra on the Meditation of the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue" is presented, as well as commentary on it. You will notice that the commentaries are written almost as a kind of personal letter, this is because it was originally written for one of Mr. Klick `s students. Also "The Lotus Sutra" is a very personal document, filled with practical teachings that directly apply to your life. This book is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to learn the meaning of "The Lotus Sutra."
Bartholomew M. Klick BIONA Webmaster

Inside The Lotus Sutra


Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

This Commentary should be read with the Sutra under discussion in your hand. The Introductory and concluding Sutras are provided with this material. "The Lotus Sutra" can be downloaded from the sutra section of our library. I am very Excited and happy about writing this lecture because it means that some of the people I study with are ready to properly understand The Lotus Sutra the same way Chih-i or Nichiren understood it. You are about to read the sutra with your life. Now is the time. You have already worked through a nine tape series on The

Lotus Sutra but you are not satisfied. Perhaps the material was so dry that you did not finish it. None of that matters, the first series was not intended to answer your questions on the inner nature of The Lotus Sutra, it was intended to show you the outside of something very intricate, something very beautiful. If you have not encountered this nine tape series you can get much the same effect by reading The Lotus Sutra several times. I will not say that you cannot understand this sutra by looking at the outside, but you would have to be someone very special like Chih-i or Nichiren, or in more modern times, Mr. Makiguchi, or Mr. Toda. Mr. Makiguchi died in prison to keep our Buddhism pure, and he is the man I admire more than anyone else in the world. I know Mr. Makiguchi attained enlightenment and what he did for us was to demonstrate that we must live this teaching, not just talk about it. I know Mr. Toda was enlightened because I have read his Lecture on the Sutra, which was based on his seven years of teaching on the second and sixteenth chapters of The Lotus Sutra. More importantly, Mr. Toda inspired a growth period for this Buddhism that began our modern Kosen Rufu movement. Now, we must develop the wisdom Mr. Makiguchi found within himself in prison. We must also decide to have the perseverance Mr. Toda displayed when spreading these teachings. We must look inside this sutra if we really want to understand. Think about what weve been doing together in our studies. Weve looked at Theravada sutras because this is where the Buddha started. Look at The Lekha Sutra for example. The teaching style is simple and direct, the meaning is easy to understand, but the reality we are supposed to comprehend in The Lotus Sutra is too subtle for this type of teaching. The provisional Mahayana sutras, which were taught shortly after The Lekha Sutra are quite different in style and please remember that Shakyamuni began his teaching career with a Mahayana sutra that absolutely nobody understood. After only three weeks he switched to talking about the four noble truths and the eightfold path. At about the same time he was teaching lay people to aspire to rebirth in the western pure lands. We

have already analyzed the similarities of these teachings, please; refer back to Buddhism For Lay People in our series Dharma For Lay People. If you look at the Amida Sutras you see the beginning of the Mahayana style of teaching. The Buddha is trying to expand your consciousness, to make you look beyond the stuff we think we see in our everyday life. The way we know things is by understanding its limits. It is this, not that. It is this way, and it is never that way. It couldnt be that way or it wouldnt be this! This works great in small ways but it isnt ultimately real. You can say that a bud, a flower, and a fruit are three different things (And we do!) but the bud becomes the flower, and the flower becomes the fruit. In the same way, Theravada becomes Provisional Mahayana, which becomes True Mahayana when the time is right. Nichiren says: If one is speaking to persons who one knows have the capacity to become wise, then one should first instruct them in the Hinayana (or Theravada) teaching, then instruct them in provisional Mahayana teachings, and finally instruct them in True Mahayana. This comment can be found on page 49 in Gosho #7 entitled; The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country. So, lets look now at True Mahayana, lets read this sutra with our life. This process begins with The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings. In his work Lectures on the Sutra Mr. Toda tells us; After teaching provisionally for 42 years, (The Buddha saw) his disciples were qualified for the teaching of actual Mahayana and Shakyamuni taught it for eight years until he passed away at age eighty. During this eight-year period, the introductory sutra to The Lotus Sutra came first, entitled The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings, followed by the twenty-eight chapters of The Lotus Sutra. The concluding Sutra was The Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue.

The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings is known as The Muryogi Sutra in Japan. In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings Nichiren said, The character Ryo [of Muryogi] represents the essential teaching so right at the beginning, in the title, we are told that this will be a very important teaching. Four sentences into the work we encounter gods, dragons, yakshas (demons), gandharvas (or gods of music who lived on fragrance), asuras (angry demons), garudas (giant birds who eat dragons), kimnaras (or gods with beautiful voices), and mahoragas (a kind of spirit). For the moment, it is enough to understand that the presence of these mythological beings means that this teaching is universal, applying not just to humans, but all thinking life everywhere. Also present, monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, various political figures, rich people, regular people and various Bodhisattvas. After naming these Bodhisattvas we are told what a Bodhisattva actually is by their description. A Bodhisattva: Knows the capacity of the people he studies with, using a complete grasp of the Dharma (Dharanis) and the power of discourse they teach just as the Buddhas do. They begin with the lesser vehicle, move into the provisional teachings, and finally pour abundantly the supreme (or actual) Mahayana, which makes everybody put forth the spirit of Buddhahood. Moving on to the next page, we see: At that time the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva (or a perfect Bodhisattva) [named] Great Adornment, seeing that all the groups sat in settled mind, rose up from his seat, went up to the Buddha and honored him, made offerings to him, and then praises him: Great! The Great Enlightened, in him there is no defilement, no contamination, serene is his wisdom, calm his emotion, and stable his prudence his body is neither existing, nor non-existing, without cause or condition Thats wonderful, isnt it? That is the outside of the sutra.

Now, let us look inside. Go back to the top of the page, and read these passages the way Nichiren did. At that time the perfected Bodhisattva, seeing that the groups sat in settled mind, OR the Buddha realized the ten worlds in his mind (Gods, demons, animalsall the ten world states) calmed himself, and then praised this life condition, which allows you to enjoy good things (notice that all the pleasures of the Saha world, including playthings are everywhere). Go down to his body neither existing, nor non-existing, without cause or condition, without self or others and look inside. It is not his body neither existing nor non-existing, it should be read as My life is neither existing nor non-existing, my life is without cause or condition, without self or others This is a very personal document and while Shakyamuni is talking about his life, his practice, this sutra is also talking about your life directly, and you should read it that way if you want to understand it. This list of negatives is given because the Buddha is describing reality and this reality cannot be grasped in our usual fashion. Returning to the text we see My life is neither that nor this, my life is neither going nor coming. My life is real, I am here, but no one can describe life to you. It is not blue, yellow, or red; it is not any color at all. This wonderful life condition, this Buddhahood, comes from correct morality, practice, wisdom, and knowledge. This life condition will make you free from suffering, and cleanse your six senses. The roots of this goodness are benevolence and compassion, the ten powers, and fearlessness. All Buddhas share the ten powers:

1.

The power to know right and wrong states. 2. The power to know the consequences of karma. 3. The power to know all meditations and contemplations. 4. The power to know the various capabilities of living beings.

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The power to know what living beings understand. 6. The power to know the basic nature and actions of living beings. 7. The power to know the causes and effects of beings in all worlds. 8. The power to know the results of karmas in the past. 9. The power of knowledge through insight. 10. The power of being free from error. Next comes a portrait of the Buddha that was based on the ideals of the Brahman culture. These descriptions cannot be understood in a literal manner. The Buddha was not ten feet, six inches tall, nor was he purple gold in color. On the next page we resume, he preaches (we preach) the four noble truths, the twelve link chain of dependant origination, or the six paramitas Depending on the capacity of the student. He benefits (we benefit) the minds of other beings. You do not hear him without attaining some level of safety, from Srota-apanna (or someone who is a stream enterer) to Buddhahood. The Buddhas law is pure, boundless, and unthinkable, so again, we are told that our usual thought process will not work. Moving on in the text, we make ourselves obedient to the law of causes, truths, and paramitas. The paramitas are:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Charity Proper Morality Perseverance To be constant in the application of these teachings Buddhist practice, which leads toWisdom.

The law that we are making ourselves obedient to is the law that runs the entire universe. Nichiren identified it as Myoho Renge Kyo. The rest of the page is a description of the actions of a Buddha. You should practice virtue, benefit all beings, abandon attachment, not spare yourself to aid others, do no harm, Keep your mind peaceful through practice, and study the law through the sutras. Chapter Two Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter two begins with the perfected Bodhisattva Great Adornment asking, If we want to accomplish perfect enlightenment quickly, what doctrine should we practice? The Buddha tells us that we should learn the doctrine called Innumerable Meanings. The text reads A Bodhisattva should observe that all laws were originally, will be, and are in themselves void in nature and form. Please read this as: I should observe that my life, and everything else as well, is void in nature and form. My life is non-dualistic, just emptiness. Untrained minds discriminate falsely: It is this, or It is that and This is advantageous or This is disadvantageous; they then have evil thoughts which produce evil Karmas and thus They transmigrate within the six lower worlds, hell, hunger, animality, anger, tranquility and heaven. If they cannot raise their life condition then they are forced to experience only the causes they have made. They are prisoners of their own karma. The sutra continues: Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas (or I) seeing this correctly, should develop compassion, vow to save others, and always continue to study and learn.

We are then given a sort of physics lesson. The sutra reads, a law (or phenomena) emerges, settles, changes, and vanishes according to its nature. According to the nature (or karma) of phenomena, it will have good or bad circumstances driven by its actions, good or bad. Change is inevitable (or phenomena emerge, settle, change, and vanish instantly) theres two thoughts here, as I said, change is always constant. This is important to realize because it reduces suffering and attachment. No matter what situation I am in, it is only temporary. We know this is important because the last words of the Buddha were, I say to you: all conditioned things are of a nature to decay. The other thought is subtler. Each moment is the cause of the next moment of your life. After such observation, we see all manner of natural desire in living beings. The sutra says these desires are innumerable, or there are so many that they are beyond counting. Because the desires are varied, so must the style of teaching be different to reach or even interest people. Because the styles are different, the content is also greatly varied because the needs of the people involved are so different. But all of the content comes from one law. This law is, we are told, non-form. We are now being introduced to the concept of the one law that runs everything, the law that Nichiren identified as Myoho Renge Kyo. At the moment, though, we are only told that this law is non-form and that is true. This law is beyond description, just like your life. You are the Buddha. Never seek Myoho Renge Kyo (or the Gohonzon) outside of yourself. Your life is without self or other, not square, or round, without birth or death, in fact, your life and everything else is empty or void because everything is dependent on causes. The mercy you display after your life condition becomes calm and stable from understanding the nature of reality will help you teach this wisdom to others, who will also stop this unnecessary form of suffering. Notice here, that even after beings have gained this relief from suffering you continue to preach the law because beings obtain pleasure from your doing so.

The next paragraph says, If you practice this doctrine of innumerable meanings, you will soon accomplish perfect enlightenment without fail. This statement astonishes the students with him. In essence they say, for forty years you have taught the four noble truths, the eightfold path, emptiness, the chain of dependant origination, and compassion, and we understood that a Bodhisattva would have to practice for billions of years to attain enlightenment! Now you say that that a Bodhisattva can attain enlightenment quickly by practicing the doctrine of innumerable meanings. What is the difference between these teachings in the law? How is this possible? The Buddha responds, because you are learning the meaning of this law you will benefit beings and relieve them of their suffering. It is truly the great kindness, the truth with no falsehood. For this reason you will quickly become enlightened and will help all living beings in the future. The Buddha now says, Good Sons! After seeking truth for six years, I found enlightenment. With Buddha wisdom I saw the laws and understood that they would not be easy to teach. Why? Because I saw the many different nature of living beings and I saw that their desires were very different. As their natures and desires are different, so was the aspect of truth that I taught them. It was with tactful power that I preached these various teachings so that the minds of students could understand them and put them into practice. In the packet we sent you are two sutras from the same era, and from the same teacher. The Lekha Sutra is in a style intended for one type of mind, and The Amida Sutra is in another. This is why Chih-i, the Buddha for the middle period of the law, wrote, as for attaining Nirvana there are many paths of entry into it. The next line is most important, In forty years or more, I have not yet revealed the truth. Shakyamuni is telling us that everything he has taught up until this point has been only part of the truth. The truth he was to reveal would be a unifying truth,

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showing that the different paths of Buddhism all lead into one road. All of these teachings are like water that washes away our impurities, but a ditch with water in it is shallow compared to a pond. The two sutras, The Lekha Sutra and The Amida Sutra are shallow when compared to The Heart Sutra and would be likened to the ditch, while The Heart Sutra would be viewed as the pond. However The Heart Sutra must be seen as shallow when compared to The Threefold Lotus Sutra where the Buddha finally revealed the truth that he was enlightened to. A pond is deeper than a ditch but must be viewed as shallow when compared to the ocean. All of these sutras have the water of truth in them, but you will not remove your impurities by splashing around in a ditch. I like this example because you can see for your self that The Lekha Sutra and The Amida Sutra are very shallow and easy to understand. The Heart Sutra is more profound and will require more than one reading until you are familiar with the concepts. The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings tells us that we will master the law and then interpret it for people extensively as occasion calls. The concepts are very profound in this teaching, and unless you are an enlightened being, somebody has to take you inside The Lotus Sutra if you are going to understand it. The Buddha then says, At the beginning I preached the four noble truths for those who wanted to be voice hearers (Shoman), but some students raised the desire for enlightenment. In the middle, I preached the twelve-link chain of dependant origination for those who wanted to be Pratyekabuddhas (Engaku) and some students remained in the state of voice hearer but some raised the desire to become enlightened. Next even though I preached the Bodhisattva path some students remained Pratyekabuddhas and some raised the mind of enlightenment. For this reason it is known that the preaching is the same but the understanding of living beings is different. As the understanding of living beings is different, the fruits of your practice is different, or you cannot wash yourself very clean in the water found in a ditch. But water has a way of finding the ocean eventually, and in the same way, these small bodies of

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water, The Four Noble Truths, and the Twelve Link Chain of Dependant Origination, can be found in The Threefold Lotus Sutra. Our Teacher writes: Once they enter the great ocean of The Lotus Sutra, the teachings preached before the Lotus are no longer shunned as provisional. It is the mysterious virtue of the great ocean of The Lotus Sutra that, once they are encompassed in the single flavor of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo there is no longer any reason to refer to the distinct names nenbutsu, (The founder of Jodo Shu or Pure Land sect was Honen {1133-1212CE} who taught that the nenbutsu contained the three bodies of Amida Buddha, his ten powers and four fearlessnesses.} Precepts, shingon, or Zen. Thus the commentary states, When the various rivers enter the sea, they assume the same unitary salty flavor. When the various kinds of wisdom {represented by the provisional teachings} enter the true teaching, they lose their original names. Nichiren frequently urged his students to study the sutras. Buddhas will never lie to you. They have one central truth to teach everyone, but they offer many different paths to this truth because one approach would not work for everyone. When you understand this sutra, your Three Thousand Great Thousand Fold World will also shake in the six ways, or your life, which has three thousand possible states from moment to moment [The Ten Worlds contain within themselves the Ten Worlds, The Ten Factors of Life, and the three realms {10X10=100X10=1000X3=3000} Please refer to the tape entitled The Eyes of Enlightenment If you have questions.] and your six senses will be purified and good things will be produced in your environment. Your celestial bowls and bins will be filled with whatever good things you need. Also Notice that the Buddha-Worlds, or the pure land will be created by you as your practice grows and this purification continues. After hearing this teaching, the students listening had various realizations, some became voice hearers, some became Pratyekabuddhas, and others reached various stages of Development on the Bodhisattva path.

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Chapter Three Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

At that time the perfected Bodhisattva Great Adornment said to the Buddha, This sutra is very profound. Why? Because any living being that hears this sutra will always attain Dharanis, which means (in this sense) to grasp something completely; The Three Laws, which are the four noble truths, the twelve link chain of dependant origination, and the six paramitas, the four merits, which are stages of development for Buddhist students and The desire to attain enlightenment. So hearing this sutra means that you will understand the teaching of the Buddha, make definite spiritual progress, and want very much to attain enlightenment. Why? Because you have made the proper causes to now encounter this truth. When we move into the main body of the work, The Lotus Sutra you will receive a prediction of Buddhahood. This is very special. Realize that millions of people live and die, never even hearing of these teachings. If you have chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo even once then you have a connection with The Lotus Sutra that can never be broken. The Buddha makes a point of repeating that if you hear this sutra even only one time, you will quickly attain enlightenment because hearing it means that you have made enough good causes to encounter and practice the teachings. Shakyamuni also points out that there is no suffering in practicing this great direct way. This is because we have understood the methods of our teacher. When you are awake you understand that suffering is delusion. There are a number of tapes available on the subject so we wont talk about that here. The Buddha says that this sutra has ten merit powers. They are:

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1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

This teaching will raise your life condition. If you are merciless, you will discover the joy of mercy. If you are lazy you will discover the joy of work. If you are ignorant you will discover the joy of wisdom. If you hear this teaching only once you will begin to understand many things and you will keep the law, or obey it instinctively. Hearing this sutra is like planting one seed that produces one hundred thousand seeds. These seeds give rise to even more seeds and the process continues until the seeds cannot be counted. Your delusions, although they exist, will become as nonexistent. You will develop the mind of great compassion, obey the laws, and you will have no fear when moving between birth and death. The student will help others attain realizations even though he is not enlightened himself. He will interpret the law for people when necessary. The example used for number four is very important. The Buddha (or your Buddha wisdom) understands this sutra and you become a Bodhisattva who will purify his life (or shake his Three Thousand Great Thousand fold World). Number five is the beginning of a giant change in the thought process of the Buddhist student. Go back to the top of this list (in the text): it reads, Good Sons, first this sutra Now look at number two, If a living being can hear this sutra a small change, but significant. Number five reads, If good sons or good daughters This is the first time that women are included in the possibility of attaining Buddhahood; Indian society was very prejudiced against women and the Buddha would address this issue in the main text of The Lotus Sutra, which is where we will also talk about it. Number five says that if good sons or daughters keep, read, recite, and copy The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings they will become Great Bodhisattvas even though they have faults and are still deluded. If these same good sons or good daughters keep, read, recite, and copy this sutra they will preach the law and help beings end their suffering and delusion.

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7.

If good sons or good daughters hear this sutra and rejoice, believe, raise the mind of faith, keep, read, recite, copy and teach it, if they practice properly, want to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, then the six paramitas will be naturally present in them, even thought they are not advanced enough to practice them. They will have a realization on death, ending that suffering, and their delusions will be instantly destroyed. 8. Good sons and good daughters will help raise the life conditions of others who are looking for the truth, leading to the creation of more pure lands, this is how Kosen Rufu will be established. 9. If good sons and good daughters explain these sutras (The Threefold Lotus Sutra) widely but discriminatingly, (not teaching it before the student is ready) they will instantly destroy negative karma, become pure, acquire eloquence, realize all paramitas, wholly grasp the Dharma, and rise to the upper stages of practice quickly with strenuous efforts. 10. Goods sons and good daughters will lead all suffering beings to the Buddha Way.

This sutra causes ordinary men to develop the way of the Bodhisattvas. The Buddha has preached it for us because of his great compassion. Having read the introductory sutra, you have planted a wonderful cause in your life that will spread benefit to all the people around you. The sutra concludes with the Buddha telling us to practice these teachings as the law, teach all who are interested, and propagate it to those who are honest seekers. This is the great mercy and great compassion! Because you do this, you will attain enlightenment quickly. The sutra ends with the Buddha telling us to give the benefit of this law to everyone. We will discuss what law the Buddha means in the next part of the lecture. We will deal with the central text of The Lotus Sutra one chapter at a time and then end with The Sutra of Meditation on The Bodhisattva Universal Virtue.

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I am very happy to present you with this teaching. You have worked hard to arrive at this point and my heart ached for you when you told me that you had not understood The Lotus Sutra. Please do not feel bad or think that you have in some way failed. The fault is mine because I did not make my intentions clear. I am sorry if you have suffered from my lack of thoughtfulness. While it is true that we have seldom spoken to one another, this does not change in any way the karmic connection that we share. Once before we stood together on Eagle Peak with many others and now we are together again. Please continue to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo so that together we may bring benefit to all beings in the future.

The Lotus Sutra


Chapter One
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Good Afternoon, I would like to begin by talking about the historical background of The Lotus Sutra. In the years after Shakyamunis death his students began to organize and preserve his teachings. Around the first century CE these oral teachings began to be recorded in various written forms that came to be called sutras. Monastic students were the first to accomplish this but they only recorded material that they felt had value. Lay teachings were still oral at this point and the sutras identify the people who spread and preserved these teachings as Dharma-Bhanakas. Dharma means law and Bhanaka means one who memorizes and recites the scriptures. In the sutras that mention them Dharma-Bhanakas

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are described as musical performers, who either dance or play musical instruments. (Dharma music was being written and performed in China and Japan well into the medieval period of Buddhist history.) Theravada practitioners were forbidden to be around music or dancing so the groups had minimal contact with each other. As the Theravada movement became more formalized, and rituals were invented, many lay practitioners felt that the message of equality taught by the Buddha was being forgotten. The special costumes and invented ranking systems left the lay practitioners little to do but support the growing monastic organization. The Mahayana movement began around this time and the split in the Buddhist world became permanent. There are Theravada practitioners who say that the Buddha did not write the Mahayana sutras. This is, at best, bad scholarship, for none of the sutras were recorded until hundreds of years after the Buddhas death. Before the Mahayana sutras were recorded, Theravada monks were claiming that Dharma-Bhanakas were not preaching the Buddhist teachings properly. There were no recorded comments that what they were teaching was wrong, only that proper reverence was not being displayed by the laity. After the Mahayana sutras were recorded on paper the comments changed, and these works were all dismissed as frauds. However a close reading of the Pali sutras reveals the same teachings, up to a point. Theravada teachings are never as profound even when they deal with the same subjects. This is as it should be, and as students of the Buddha it is not good for us to judge other people. Never try to decide if anyone else is Buddhist, just make very sure that you are. Now that you know about the Dharma-Bhanakas you can understand why The Lotus Sutra was preserved in the form it now has. To be fair, think about how this must have seemed to these Theravadan monks. They are trained in silence, they practice quiet sitting techniques, eat one meal a day, and dress uniformly. Lay people were trained to make NOISE! They were told, the voice does the Buddhas work. Notice as we read this sutra that when the Buddha says something really important we are

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immediately told of the many virtues of just hearing this teaching! The lay movement was involved in the real world. Their practice was often colorful, and always noisy. What the Theravadan monks do not understand is the similarity of these practices. Yes, the outward forms are very different, but the inward transformations and the realizations are exactly the same. Theravada practitioners stop this process before it is finished but that is the way it has to be. It should surprise no one that the youngest students doing beginning teachings do not behave like Buddhas! We should worry about our behavior, our actions, our speech; you do not abuse a baby because it misbehaves or wets on you. The next time a fellow student misbehaves, remember that he is acting like a child and respond with kindness; set an example for him to follow. The diversity of the many practices devised by the Buddha illustrates his brilliant grasp of the human condition. A good way to see for yourself why Buddhism is called the eighty four thousand teachings is to visit the many different centers in Kansas City. If you visit the Vietnamese group in Downtown KC, MO, you could spend the first hour of your visit doing a walking meditation; Zen students prefer to sit facing a blank wall; The Laotian Temple will teach you to observe or count your breaths; SGI, representing the Lotus, or Nichiren school of Buddhism, practice the highest form of mindfulness meditation using chanting and an object of focus called the Gohonzon; and the Tibetans use many different methods, chanting, sutra recitation, quiet sitting meditation, walking meditation and tantric practices which they put into a Buddhist format. I am in a good position to discuss such a matter, because I once lived the life of a monk and now I am a layperson. Monastic life was very peaceful, and I like spending time in quiet contemplation, but Ive done so much more, Ive helped so many more people as a layperson. It seems easier to have realizations as a layperson because you live the teachings in the real world, not some controlled environment. Before we move on, weve said The Lotus Sutra was recorded in the form we are familiar with because it was preserved by laypeople. The form was used because it was colorful, dramatic,

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and easy to remember, and because it was memorable the teaching process was greatly simplified. Please remember, the student had to memorize the sutra before the study process could begin. As we begin our study of chapter one you will encounter a story about Sun Moon Bright who was a Buddha in the far distant past. This Buddha preached a form of The Lotus Sutra and so did twenty thousand other Buddhas all in the same lineage and also bearing the name Sun Moon Bright, other chapters also mention Buddhas preaching this Lotus Sutra. The outer forms of these various Lotus Sutras would doubtlessly be startlingly different but the inner content would always be the same because The Lotus Sutra teaches a universal message. The version of the sutra I will use for this part of the lecture is the Burton Watson Translation from Columbia University Press. This is what I heard; the tradition is that sutras begin with this opening because all of the Buddhas sutras came from the memory of his personal attendant, nanda. These teachings were then compared with what the other people present remembered. However, nanda means Joy, so I believe the message here is that we should receive these teachings with Joy. At one time the Buddha was in Rajagriha, staying on Mount Sacred Eagle (Eagle Peak or Grdhrakuta). This mountain was named Eagle Peak because the top of it resembles an Eagles Head, and also in olden times a great many eagles lived there. Eagle Peak is of course a real place that people visit every year. There are organized tours for those who want to stand on the spot where the Buddha gave so many of his teachings. The sutra continues, Accompanying him were a multitude of leading monks numbering twelve hundred persons. This is not possible, so you cant take it literally. Eagle Peak might hold one hundred students at most, and without modern sound equipment most of them wouldnt be able to hear anything. A few paragraphs later we are told that Eighty thousand bodhisattvas were also present, as well as gods, dragons kings, kimnara kings, gandharva kings, asura kings, and garuda kings. All of these kings had retinues so the number involved must have been around a

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million. However, these beings represent the ten worlds that exist within the Buddhas life, so the number of people actually involved was around twenty or thirty.
Look at the list of names. It is not surprising to find the major disciples listed, men like Shariputra, Maudgalyayana, Subhuti, or nanda, but it must have been startling to see female students listed, Mahaprajapati and Yashodhara are prominently mentioned, and when king Ajatashatru is mentioned he

is said to be the son of his mother. So right from the very beginning the equality of women is being taken for granted. Many people point to the Devadatta chapter as the place where the Buddha stated that women could attain enlightenment, but they are ignoring this introductory chapter and the Encouraging Devotion chapter where Mahaprajapati is told that she will become a Buddha named Gladly Seen By All Living Beings and Yashodhara will become the Buddha, A Thousand, Ten Thousand Glowing Marks. Two final points about this list of names remains to be discussed. Notice the first name on the list, it is Ajnata Kaundinya who was the very first disciple of the Buddha, and the last one mentioned is King Ajatashatru who is considered the final follower of the Buddha. In other words, the first and last followers of the Buddha are listed to symbolically include all of the people who followed Shakyamuni. Examine the bodhisattva names: Other than Manjurshi, Maitreya, and Bodhisattva Medicine King, (who are all well Known figures), The list is comprised of beings never heard of before. When we analyze the names, it becomes apparent that they represent ideals for bodhisattvas. Bodhisattva Jeweled Palm means A Bodhisattva Holding a Treasure, Bodhisattva Constant Exertion and Never Resting point to the eternal struggle for Kosen Rufu, The three bodhisattvas Jeweled Moon, Moonlight, and FullMoon symbolize the wisdom that brings enlightenment. Bodhisattva Brave Donor means that we will become people who practice charity. Bodhisattva Jeweled Accumulation means you should become the source of treasure for other people, Bodhisattva Guiding Leader means we should be teachers for those who seek the way, and Bodhisattva Maitreya is worth a second mention. His name means Compassionate Teacher! He is supposed to be the

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next Buddha on this planet after we have turned it into a Buddhist pure land. Of course if everyone were working some kind of spiritual practice why would we need another Buddha? I believe that Maitreya is not one person, but rather symbolizes all of the teachers of the law who help bring about Kosen Rufu, thus making our world a pure land. In this sense I am Maitreya and so are you because we are teachers of the law, or training to be teachers of the law. Returning to the text, we see that the Buddha received offerings and for the sake of the bodhisattvas preached the sutra called Innumerable Meanings, which we examined in the previous lecture. (See above). He then entered Samdhi, his mind became peaceful and focused, and his six senses were purified. Samdhi is a state of concentration brought about by uniting body and mind. There have been many methods taught to accomplish this but the best one to talk about is the approach Nichiren designed for us. When you chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for any length of time, from five minutes to five hours, you are in a state of Samdhi. It is important to unite body and mind into one and keep it that way all day long. The Daishonin wrote: The inseparability of body and mind is called the supreme philosophy. Mr. Toda in his work entitled Lecture on the Sutra wrote, Ones body and mind should be always in perfect harmony, but in actuality it is sometimes extremely difficult. The perfect oneness of body and mind is what Buddhism calls Shikishin Funi. Next the sutra tells us that the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the tuft of hair between his eyebrows. This is called the third eye, and it symbolizes wisdom. So the Buddhas wisdom lit up all the eastern worlds, and there is not one place where his wisdom did not penetrate, from the lowest hells, to the highest heavens. Eastern Worlds symbolize all the worlds, so the Buddhas wisdom is present in all the ten worlds, which means that Buddhahood is available to anyone in any life condition. At this time Maitreya, having doubts in his own mind, and seeing the same questions in the faces of the other people present,

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wants to know what it all means. Since they cannot ask the Buddha, they turn to the wisest practitioner present, Manjurshi, who tells them that the Buddha is about to teach the great law. Manjurshi then recounts the story of the Buddha Sun Moon Bright which we already talked about in the introduction. The purpose of this long story is to show that The Lotus Sutra is a universal teaching preached by all the Buddhas in some form. Notice that in every case the Buddha teaches this sutra shortly before his death and then it is widely preached afterwards for the benefit of the beings that are born in later periods. We skipped over the first verse section of this chapter because these sections repeat the prose sections. This repetition was helpful when students were memorizing the texts but do not ignore the verse sections, because they are often more detailed then the prose sections. Examining this expansion pays off when you look at the second verse section on page seventeen of this version of the sutra. The Buddha preaches The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings and then enters samdhi, the heavens rain flowers, and heavenly drums sound of themselves. This means that the Buddha preached without being asked, (because no one knew what to ask) it also refers to what will happen in chapter two when the Buddha leaves his meditative state and begins to speak without being questioned. There is another meaning that applies directly to us. Nichiren writes, Heavenly drums indicate Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, of themselves means without obstacle and sounded means the sound of your voice when chanting. So Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, when chanted by the bodhisattvas of the earth, will spread everywhere without obstacle in the latter day of the law is the interpretation that Nichiren used when reading this sutra with his life. I am a bodhisattva of the earth, and so are you, or you would not be hearing this teaching. At the end of World War II only a few hundred people practiced this Buddhism, but three thousand, five hundred years ago Shakyamuni said that these teachings would spread all over the world in the latter day of the law. The SGI organization has grown from a minor Buddhist movement to the largest Buddhist group in the world, so we are seeing this ancient prediction fulfilled in our lifetimes.

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Chapter Two
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter Two is entitled Expedient Means in the Burton Watson Translation of The Lotus Sutra, and it is called Tactfulness in The Threefold Lotus Sutra. The Japanese version reads Myoho Renge Kyo Hoben Bon and is, perhaps, more helpful. Myoho Renge Kyo is your ninth level of consciousness, and Hoben Bon represents your lower eight levels. In other words, your Buddha nature, or ninth level of consciousness is not separate from the other eight levels, which are places of delusion. Keeping this in mind, we begin our examination of the third longest and one of the most important chapters in The Lotus Sutra. At that time the Buddha ends his meditation and speaks for the first time, saying to Shariputra, The wisdom of the Buddhas is very profound and could never be measured. It is difficult to realize this; no one with the understanding of a voice hearer or Pratyekabuddha can comprehend it. This was not good news for Shariputra! The other students living in learning or realization must have felt even worse. If Shariputra, foremost among them in wisdom could not grasp this teaching, how could they? The Buddha continues by explaining that he has purified his life over a long period of time and he has realized the one law that runs everything in the universe. He preaches this law to people in various ways so that they can use these teachings in practical ways to improve their lives. Yet, because his goal is to improve every

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students life, he teaches according to the capacity of the student and this can be difficult to understand. But Stop, Shariputra, I will say no more. Why? Because what the Buddha has achieved is the rarest most difficult to understand law. The true nature of everything can only be understood by Buddhas. This reality is the ten factors we discussed in The Eyes of Enlightenment. The ten factors are: Appearance, or the way you look-Nature, or your disposition or potential-Entity, which is the way your appearance and nature are expressed in the world-Power, your latent potential, which is expressed through Influence! If you think of Inherent Cause (or Internal Cause) as the ability to change, then relation is the internal and external causes that make you want to change. Latent Effect is the direct effect of change and Manifest Effect is the visible sign of that change. Inherent Cause, relation, Latent and Manifest all belong to the category of cause and effect. These ten factors make up the material and spiritual aspects of your life. Every living being has the two things; cause and effect in both their spiritual and material parts, and these are constantly changing. Mr. Ikeda writes, The true reality (true entity) of all phenomena is that each possesses Latent Potential (Nature and Power) and an openness to change (Internal cause, Relation, Latent Effect and Manifest Effect). Moreover, each Phenomenon is a self-consistent whole. (This is their consistency from beginning to end). Phenomenon depends upon each other, are open to each other, yet remain consistent and unified. The True nature means that, while every living thing has superficial outer differences, all living things are part of, or connected to, the mystic law.

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Let me explain this differently. All beings have the ten worlds. A Buddha lives in Buddhahood, but has the other nine worlds present; we live in the nine worlds and have access to the world of Buddhahood when we practice. However, Buddhas and common mortals always have these same ten factors so there is no basic difference between them. Mr. Toda wrote, The life of the universe is itself Myoho Renge Kyo. In other words, the universe is alive; it is a great cosmic life force, and all life is a manifestation of that life force. We look at life and only see the manifestations around us, but the Buddha perceived the underlying principles. You can never see winter, for example, but you do see the ice and snow, you feel the cold, and so you know that it is winter. Tradition tells us that Nichiren stated in The Record of The Orally Transmitted Teachings, That all living things are the Buddha of the true entity of all phenomena is a wonderful thing, an unfathomable thing! You are the Buddha! This is why you should never seek the Gohonzon outside of yourself. I am Myoho Renge Kyo, you are Myoho Renge Kyo and so is every living thing; (barking in background) The dogs that live with me, the trees outside, the planet, and the entire universe pulses with Myoho Renge Kyo! The Buddha then repeats this all in verse form and again we benefit from looking at the expansion. The Buddha says: The World Honored One has long expounded (or taught) his doctrines and must now reveal the truth The Buddha through the power of expedient means has shown them (The Buddhas students) the teachings of the three vehicles ({1 Voice Hearer [Learning], {2 Pratyekabuddha [Realization], and {3 Bodhisattva) to pry living beings loose from attachments and allow them to attain release from suffering. At this point the people present do not understand why the Buddha is saying this and they ask him to resolve their doubts. The Buddha refuses to teach because the students present might doubt, and doubting, slander the law. Shariputra asks for the teaching two more times, which is an ancient formula used to show a students sincerity, and the importance of the teaching, which follows.

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The Buddha then says, youve asked me three times to teach, how can I refuse? As soon as he says this, five thousand monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen get up from their seats, bow to the Buddha, and leave. We have already realized that only twenty or thirty people were present at this teaching, so how could five thousand people leave? Well, they couldnt, of course, in fact, nobody left at all. Notice that all categories of students are listed, monastic and Laypeople alike, it was not people who left it was the impurity of their five senses that left, and this purification worked for all classes of students equally. Shakyamuni states that every Buddha in the universe preaches this law at certain times but that these times are rare, so hearing this teaching is a special opportunity. He explains, again, that he teaches students according to their capacity to understand. This makes sense. The same teaching cannot reach everybody, and the Buddha would never leave anybody outside the circle of his compassion. The sutra states, The Buddhas appear in the world for one great reason alone. What is this reason? The Buddhas want to open the door of Buddha wisdom to all living beings, to allow living beings to purify their lives. Shariputra, the Buddhas have only a single Buddha vehicle which they use to teach the law to living beings. There is no second or third vehicle. This is one of the major themes of The Lotus Sutra. Voice hearers wanted to learn and master the four noble truths because they yearned to free themselves from illusion and desire. If they attained the realization of Arahant (or Saint) they believed that they would never be reborn into the word. They wanted to crawl into Nirvana and stay there, and thus avoid the sufferings of the world. {This was the first vehicle} The more advanced of these students added the twelve link chain of dependant causation to their realization and became Pratyekabuddhas but still wanted out of the world system, because they were afraid to face suffering. {This was considered to be the second vehicle.} The third vehicle that was supposed to carry the practitioner to the other side of Nirvana (Enlightenment) was called the way of the bodhisattva. A bodhisattvas practice was centered on compassion; he

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did not want to attain enlightenment until everyone else in the universe had stopped suffering. However, the Buddha is saying that none of these are the actual vehicle or teaching that he wants to impart. Buddhas come into the world to help everyone become enlightened, that is the one Buddha vehicle. The message is that everyone has this Buddha potential inherent in their life, and that is why the Buddha points out to us the ten factors that all beings, enlightened or not, share in common. The ten worlds exist in all living beings, and because the ten worlds all contain the ten worlds, a person in the ninth world, Bodhisattva, is no closer to enlightenment, than a person in hell. Either one off them could manifest their Buddha nature at the next moment, so anybody can attain enlightenment because everybody has the Buddha potential, or Nature. Why did the Buddha teach this way? Doesnt it lead to unnecessary confusion? Why didnt he just sit down and say these things right off? The Buddha is the only teacher in history to teach this way. Other teachers with spiritual messages taught using only one method. Some people hear this message, are attracted by it, and benefit from it. Other people encounter the same teaching and sneer, considering it nonsense. The Buddha saw that there many ways to express truth and that it would be necessary to employ them to reach all the different types of people. These teachings may seem to have innumerable meanings, but actually, they all come from one great law. The Buddha is the only spiritual teacher that I have encountered who would not exclude anyone, even If theyve practiced extreme forms of evil. Yet these various teachings must help people to improve their life conditions and grow into beings who could understand the Buddhas ultimate teaching. The Buddhas goal was to lead all beings to enlightenment, he did not want to offer these teachings to people who were not ready to understand them because this would lead them to terrible suffering. The Lotus Sutra is the unifying teaching of the Buddha. When you understand the meaning of this sutra all the puzzle pieces come together, and Buddhism is revealed as a single set of teachings with many beautiful facets. The Buddha tells us that any student who claims

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to have any level of realization must understand his teaching method and comprehend this law revealed in The Lotus Sutra. If they do not have this understanding when they are persons of Overbearing Arrogance. The sutra also tells us that if a being makes any kind of sincere offering to the Buddha-- from ornate towers made of precious metals and Gems to mud pies--that person is not far from enlightenment. They will pile up merit over a period of time, develop great compassion, and benefit many sentient beings. Finally, let us again consider the title of this chapter, specifically, Hoben, or Means. This word can be understood to mean that all of Shakyamunis provisional teachings are intended to lead to the one vehicle of The Lotus Sutra, but it also indicates that the nine worlds are the means that lead to Buddhahood. When Chih-i of Tien Tai Monastery interpreted the chapter title Hoben, he said that there were three categories of it. The first is called Hoyo Hoben which means matching the teachings to the peoples ability to understand them. Teachings in this category emphasize non-attachment and the impermanence of all phenomena. These teachings are Theravada and Early Mahayana. The second category is called Notsu Hoben. This higher level Mahayana tells us not to be attached to the earlier teachings, and puts the Bodhisattva ideal in the place of the quest for some personal heaven like realm. The first two categories are meant to raise peoples ability to understand the truth without leaving anyone out. This truth is revealed in the third category, Himyo Hoben and this Hoben is the ultimate meaning of the chapters title. As I said moments ago, the nine worlds are the means that lead to Buddhahood. The sufferings and problems we encounter every day are the fuel that powers our desire to practice. On a deeper level, however, it must be pointed out that Buddhahood cannot exist without the nine worlds. Correct practice will cause the other nine worlds of your life to function in ways that will benefit yourself and the beings around you.

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This chapter ends with the Buddha telling us that since we now understand, there will be no more doubts or confusion; our minds will be filled with great joy because we know that we will attain Buddhahood.

Chapter Three
Dedicated To Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter three begins with Shariputra understanding that the three vehicles of Learning, Realization, and Bodhisattva are just an expedient means that lead to the one Buddha vehicle. His mind dances with joy because he has been suffering with the fear that he would never attain enlightenment. As he wandered, practicing and teaching, the question bothered him, why did the Buddha teach us the lesser vehicle, trapping us in the level of voice hearer or Pratyekabuddha? All students come to him seeking help, but some have been given teachings that lead to the Bodhisattva path and from there to Buddha hood. Shariputra does not say so, but it must have seemed strange, perhaps even cruel to him that this was the case. He had served the Buddha loyally for many years and he was the man Shakyamuni wanted to lead the Buddhist community after the Buddhas death. Shariputra has concluded that this is his fault; he cant bring himself to blame the Buddha because he knows the Buddha to be the most compassionate being he has ever met. Therefore there must be something wrong or missing within himself. Then, chapter two is preached and Shariputras mind, as I said, dances for joy, as he understands that he hasnt been left out. He says, Today at last I understand that I am truly the Buddhas son, born from the Buddhas mouth, (or his teachings), born through the conversion to the law, gaining my share of the Buddhas law!

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This is repeated in the verse section, and then the Buddha tells Shariputra that they have been together numerous times in the past and that Shakyamuni has always served as his teacher. This is a very profound observation that applies to all of us. The people we are born around are connected to us from causes we have made in the past and these are the people we need to help the most. Your life will have the same cast of Characters that the Buddha had in his. As you grow to become a teacher of the law you will find your own Shariputra, for example, but the face, name, and even gender may be different. You must find a way to benefit all of these beings equally. Returning to the text, the Buddha tells Shariputra that he has forgotten the vows he made in previous lives to attain Buddhahood. Now, the Buddha preaches this Lotus Sutra to remind him. He tells Shariputra that in ages to come he will become the Buddha Flower Glow. His world will be called Free From Stain because any Buddhist pure land is free from stain. Interestingly, we see that Shariputra will not be a Buddha that teaches in an evil age. (So maybe there will be another Buddha in the future who will appear in this world after it has become a pure land!) This is one of the passages that can be read on many levels. For example, we can say that the disciple Shariputra was given a prediction of Buddhahood, and that is true. You could also say that Shariputra represented the people of the two vehicles, Learning and Realization, and that the prediction of his Buddhahood was meant that all students in that class would also attain enlightenment. That is certainly true as well. However, I am Shariputra, and you are Shariputra, and so is anyone who reads The Lotus Sutra. Does this mean that Buddhahood is in your future? Yes, it does. The Buddha makes a point of telling us again, that everything he does has this one single purpose, to make other people realize that they can also become enlightened. The Buddha Then offers what is surely one of the most, if not the most, famous parable ever taught. The Parable of the Burning House is another way of saying the same thing we have been talking about since chapter two. The house on fire is this Saha world and the children at play are normal average people who spend their time seeking fame and fortune, while ignoring their spiritual growth. There is nothing wrong with

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money or fame but if you ignore your spiritual needs money and fame will only produce different forms of suffering. The Buddha tells people, This world is a place of suffering, develop your mind correctly, and you can eliminate this needless pain. Moved by pity, the Buddha tries to help us reach safety by giving good words of instruction. But we ignore him and pursue our childish goals. We chase after dreams and ignore reality. We have, as the sutra says, no alarm, no fright, and no mind to change the situation. The average western person considers it normal to be educated and spend the rest of whatever life you have chasing after better material objects. It is not unusual for people to work at jobs that they detest because it pays well. When you have a job that you love every day is Great! You look forward to work and you hate to leave. But when you work at a job that you hate, you cannot wait to leave, and every day is hell. You dont want to go to work, you cannot wait to leave, and every day is a horror. We have forgotten the joy that work produces because, for some reason, we have come to believe that it is important to have trivial things that do not produce value in our lives. If every single material desire you have ever had was given to you, right now, you will still get older, you will still get sick, and you will still die. None of these precious possessions will ever be seen again; as far as you are concerned they vanish at your death, somebody else will be using them. Nobody really owns anything; you merely have the use of certain objects until you move on to another life. Lifetime after lifetime you have been doing things your way and this is where that path has led you. Why not, this one time, try the path of wisdom? Nichiren Writes, Now, if you wish to attain Buddhahood, you need only to lower the banners of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of The Lotus Sutra. Worldly Fame and profit are mere baubles of your present existence, and arrogance and prejudice are the ties that will fetter you in a future one. Ah, you should be ashamed of them! And you should fear them too!

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The Buddha sees that we are in this terrible situation so he devises a method to rescue us: knowing the minds of the various beings in the world, he offers the vehicle of the voice hearer, or the goat cart, Pratyekabuddha, or deer cart, and bodhisattva, or regular oxen drawn carts. But these are just expedient means to cause you to wake up and want out of the burning house, which is the Saha World. Although he offers his students three different types of carts, he never gave them any of them, because they do not exist and never did. There is no place to escape to; Nirvana is not some mystic pure land, it really means that you live in this world system without suffering. You will never be re-born in some Buddhist pure land; you must create your own Pure Landwhere you are now! It is also not necessary to practice bodhisattva methods for trillions of years, but that is the level of devotion you should have to helping others. Instead of the lesser carts, the Buddha gives each of us the great oxen drawn carriage of enlightenment, which is what he intended to do from the beginning. The verse section tells us that the reason the Buddha appears in the world is to bring peace and safety to all of us. But we must not recklessly teach this law to just anyone, because everyone is not ready to receive it. If the person is not ready, he may slander the teachings, and this is a cause that will lead to horrific suffering. No sane person would wish such a thing on others. If there is someone who hears this teaching and responds with joy then you should know that this person is someone who will never regress, they will always follow the Buddha way, lifetime after lifetime. The law taught in this sutra will benefit our life when we practice in front of the Gohonzon. This is because we are opening and developing our own Buddha wisdom. There is no outside agency bestowing blessings on us for our good behavior. The same is true if you slander the law. Demons wont appear to plague you, your name will not be written down in some mystic book, but you will not develop wisdom and you will suffer from numerous problems. Your life and death will be meaningless. This is probably the most pitiful fate any being can experience

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Chapter Four
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny
Chapter four begins with the famous voice hearer disciples having the same realization Shariputra experienced after chapter two was preached. Subhuti, Mahakashyapa and Maha Maudgalyayana realize the one Buddha Vehicle in chapter three. Shakyamuni had ten Great Voice Hearer Disciples. They are divided into three categories because of their different capacity to understand the teachings. Shariputra is in the superior class because he heard the principles expounded in chapter two and knew that they applied to him. Subhuti and the others are the intermediate class because they heard the same teaching, saw Shariputra realize the truth, receive a prediction of Buddhahood, but still had to hear the parable in chapter three before coming awake to the fact that all of this applied to them as well. At this point something unprecedented happens. The four disciples preach a parable to show that they understand the teaching. This parable is interesting, but it says nothing new. Chapter four is important because students who saw themselves as inferior suddenly realized that they were the same as the Buddha. They preach and the Buddha listens along with every one else. At this point, The Buddha had completed his task with these students. This does not mean that these disciples knew everything that there was to know, you should always continue to study and learn. But they had become teachers of the Law, and there was, in that sense, no remaining difference between teacher and student. Shakyamuni wanted for his students the same thing any good teacher wants: he wanted his pupils to reach his level and then exceed him. They could not gain any more wisdom than he had, there is no distinction between Buddhas, and they all realize the same truth. What he wanted was for them to teach and reach more people than he could at that time and place. He wanted this world to become a Buddhist Pure land, and for that to happen his teachings needed to be preserved practiced and taught.

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I want the same thing for everybody who studies with me. My goal is for every one of you to become teachers of the law and exceed anything I manage to accomplish. You must become Teachers if you ever want to grasp this Sutra! You can listen to endless lectures, read all the books you can find but you will never understand until you teach this sutra! You should begin this process now. Please begin to organize and write down your ideas for teaching this Sutra to someone else. It doesnt matter if anybody wants to study with you now, you will find someone when you are prepared. Often they will seek you out. Always think of yourself as a student, but take on the role of teacher. You dont know what you think you know until you begin to teach this sutra.

Chapter Five
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter five begins with the Buddha praising Kashyapa, Subhuti, Katyayana, and Maudgalyayana for the Parable they preached in chapter four. Shakyamuni then states that he has led people to develop their own wisdom so that they can understand that they have a Buddha nature. He used various methods to achieve this. As the parable in the last chapter points out, until now his students were content to see themselves as inferior to the Buddha. However, Shakyamuni did not want his students to remain cleaning out stables (or following the lesser paths), he wanted them to realize that they could also attain enlightenment. An Apprentice carpenter is a carpenter. An Apprentice electrician could only be classified as an electrician, therefore it follows that a student of the Buddha (or apprentice Buddha) is a Buddha. Shakyamuni then offers The Parable of The Medicinal Herbs which is the third of seven parables to be found in this Sutra. Chapter two presented the teaching of the One Buddha Vehicle and chapters

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three, four, and five, present parables to make understanding possible for everyone. The story is telling us that the Buddha offers the law through teachings to everyone equally, like rain that falls from the sky. There is only one kind of water in the rain, and it falls on everyone equally, but the way people understand it varies in accordance to their capacity. Chih-i of Tien Tai monastery wrote that the lesser medicinal herbs are people who live mostly in humanity or heaven, the intermediate medicinal herbs are people of learning and realization, and the superior medicinal herbs are the Bodhisattvas. The rain that falls from the sky is the one law revealed in The Lotus Sutra and it falls on all of these beings equally. The resulting benefits differ because the nature of beings is different. I take care of two Bonsai Trees and a cactus. When they are outside the rain falls on all three but they grow and develop according to their natures. The same is true when we practice in front of the Gohonzon. All of us are part of the mystic law, we receive benefit from practice equally, but these benefits will be expressed differently according to our natures and the causes we have made. You should never compare yourself to others; your life and your benefits will be different because you are unique. You cannot compare bonsai trees to cacti because the comparison makes no sense. Confucius wrote, When we see men of worth we should think of equaling them, when we see men of contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves. Looking for faults in others makes us bitter inside. It is worse than swallowing poison because exalting yourself while seeing faults in others will make you suffer mentally and spiritually, not just physically. We are so used to looking for flaws in the people around us, and we become outraged at their evil, while our own faults are minor, easily understandable, and always done for a good reason. However, whatever is right or wrong with some other person cannot send you to hellish states, while minor flaws of your own, most certainly will.

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This chapter concludes by telling us that whatever vehicle of the Buddhas teaching that you think you are practicing, you are really a bodhisattva and will attain enlightenment. I have said that Shakyamuni had ten great voice hearer disciples who are divided into classes; Shariputra belongs to the superior class because he understood the teaching in the first cycle of preaching, which consisted of chapter two. Chapter two states that the True aspect of all phenomena is present in all things, that this true aspect is ultimate reality. It was not until the parable in chapter three that the four disciples realized this, making them the intermediate class. The second cycle of preaching began with chapter threes parable, chapter four is the disciples preaching to show their understanding, and this chapter begins with the Buddha praising the understanding of the intermediate class and offering a supportive parable. The second cycle of preaching does not conclude however, until chapter six, which we discuss in just a moment.

Chapter Six
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter Six concludes the second cycle of preaching with Shakyamuni predicting the enlightenment of the five disciples. Kashyapa will become the Buddha Light Bright, Subhuti will be the Buddha Rare Form, Katyayana Jambunada Gold Light, and Maudgalyayana will become the Buddha Tamalapatra Sandalwood Fragrance. Chapter Six Ends with the Buddha Predicting enlightenment for all of his Voice Hearer Disciples. However, some of them still do not understand so a third cycle of teaching begins in chapter seven. The Final Statement Sets the stage or this new cycle when the Buddha Says: concerning the causes and conditions of past existences as they pertain to me and you I will now preach.

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Chapter Seven
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

This chapter begins with Shakyamuni revealing the relationship he formed with his disciples in the remote past. The Buddha announces that there was an enlightened being named Great Universal Wisdom Excellence who lived billions of years ago. We can be certain that there was a Buddha at that time, but his name was probably not Great Universal Wisdom Excellence. It might have been a title or name Shakyamuni used to show the qualities of that teacher. Tradition tells us that Nichiren stated in The record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings that the votaries who chant 'Nam Myoho Renge Kyo' are the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence. The Sutra tells us that before he attained enlightenment this ancient Buddha sired sixteen sons, all royal princes, who renounced everything to become his followers. The Buddha first taught the four noble truths, the chain of dependant origination, and other provisional teachings before finally preaching The Lotus Sutra. He then enters a quiet room, where he enters a meditative state. During this time his sixteen sons preach "The Lotus Sutra" and lead countless living beings to enlightenment. Shakyamuni states that those who heard "The Lotus Sutra" from one of those sixteen princes were always reborn with their teacher. He also said that the sixteen princes were all alive at the time when the sutra was taught and that they were preaching it in various worlds. He identifies himself, as the youngest of these sons and the people he is preaching to now are the people who heard him in the past and that is why they are his disciples now. This revelation serves as a prelude to chapter sixteen where the Buddha reveals that he did not attain enlightenment for the first time in India, rather, he has been a Buddha since the remote past. It also serves as a way to emphasize that Buddhas are eternally seeking to lead others to the path that ends suffering. Past, present, or future, all Buddhas

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want their students to attain the same level of understanding that they possess. The Sutra states; The Buddha in his use of expedient means penetrates deeply into the nature of living beings. He knows how their minds delight in petty doctrines and how deeply they are attached to the five desires. And because they are like this, when he teaches Nirvana, he does so in such a way that these persons hearing it can readily believe in and accept it." The last part of chapter seven is the parable of the Phantom City, which is intended to clarify this teaching. A band of travelers are on a long journey to a place where a vast amount of treasure can be found. However the path is difficult and halfway to their destination the travelers lose heart and decide to go back. The Guide uses magical powers to create a phantom city for them in the wilderness so that they can rest. Rejoicing, the travelers are convinced that they have been saved. When they are rested and restored, the city vanishes and the guide tells them that the treasure is close at hand. The Buddha of course is the guide and he teaches the three vehicles as a phantom city to students because other wise they would think that the path to Buddhahood is too long and too difficult. All of the sutras lead to The Lotus Sutra and are called provisional teachings. The provisional teachings constantly state that all phenomena, mental or physical, are impermanent and subject to change. The Lotus Sutra, however, teaches that these Phenomena are impermanent but that they constantly exist.

Chapter Eight
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter Eight begins with the disciple Purna realizing the one Buddha Vehicle. Purna was foremost at preaching the law to others. Although he thought of himself as a voice hearer student, his activities were those of a Bodhisattva. When Purna preached, people had realizations, they

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advanced in their practice and understanding of the Dharma. After hearing about his relationship with Shakyamuni in the past, Purna 'wakes up' and understands that this teaching also applies to him, and Shakyamuni tells him that he will become the Buddha "Law Bright. The Sutra then tells us that twelve hundred saints (or four highly realized voice hearer students) rejoice as they also realize that they are Bodhisattvas. They ask for predictions of Buddhahood for themselves and Shakyamuni uses the monk Kaundinya as an example. This monk Kaundinya is better known to us as Annasi Kondanna, considered to be the first student of the Buddha: he will become the Buddha "Universal Brightness" and the monks with him will also bear the same title, one after another. These students then mentally dance for joy and preach a parable to show that they understand. Just like the disciples in chapter four, these students comprehend the dharma and immediately become teachers of the law. The parable they preach is the famous Gem in the Robe. For us, the gem hidden in the robe is the Gohonzon, which allows any student to attain enlightenment in the latter day of the law. The wine we are drunk on is ignorance and when we wake up, we take faith and begin to practice.

Chapter Nine
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter Nine predicts enlightenment for nanda and Rahula. This prediction of Buddhahood ends this part of the teaching, for all of the disciples of lesser capacity have realized the one Buddha Vehicle. nanda Will become the Buddha "Mountain Sea Wisdom Unrestricted Power King" and Rahula will be known as "Stepping On Seven Treasure Flowers." This chapter, like all of "The Lotus Sutra, can be understood on different levels. On the surface, it can be read as a prediction of

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Buddhahood for the two remaining major disciples. Interestingly they were saved for last because they both were closely related to Shakyamuni (nanda was his cousin, and Rahula was his son). On a deeper level this chapter should be read in terms of your own life. "The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings" tells us that "There is no nanda apart from us, the votaries of 'The Lotus Sutra". nanda means Joy. When you truly understand the teaching of this sutra, you will experience joy, the joy of awakening to the truth about your own life. Your mind is the Buddha! Ultimate reality and your life is the same thing, there is no difference or separation. Finally, the message of this part of "The Lotus Sutra" is that voice hearer disciples can and should be bodhisattvas. From this point on we will be introduced to various bodhisattvas and voice hearers will fade into the background.

Chapter Ten
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter Ten begins a new part of "The Lotus Sutra. The Sutra is divided into two halves, the theoretical part, and the essential teachings. We are now dealing with the transmission section of the theoretical half of 'The Lotus Sutra". This transmission section begins with chapter ten and ends with chapter fifteen, and it deals with the method of practice and how this Sutra should be spread during the evil latter day of the law. Up until now, Shakyamuni has been talking about Bodhisattvas to his voice hearer disciples, who felt that Bodhisattvas were above them. In essence he spent nine chapters telling these voice hearers that they are Bodhisattvas. Now he turns from talking about bodhisattvas to talking to bodhisattvas. Chapter ten begins with the Buddha speaking to Bodhisattva Medicine King and through him to all of the people present who now realize that they are also Bodhisattva students. The Buddha states that anyone who hears a single verse or phrase of "The Lotus

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Sutra" and rejoices for a single moment will become a fully Enlightened Buddha. These persons are voluntarily born into this world even though they have the Karma to be born into much better situations. They are born here because of their Great Compassion and pity for the sufferings of living beings in this realm. If a good man or Good Woman is able to teach one person just a single verse or phrase of "The Lotus Sutra" then he or she is a messenger of the Buddha, he has been sent by the Buddha, and she carries out the Buddha's work. If there is an evil person who is born into this world constantly, and spends his time, up to billions of years, cursing the Buddha's name, this is a bad cause, but it must be seen as light when you compare it to a person who speaks even one evil word about a practitioner of "The Lotus Sutra". This part of the chapter ends with the Buddha telling Bodhisattva Medicine King about the Great Merit of Giving Gifts to practitioners of "The Lotus Sutra. A wonderful practice can be developed by not slandering, or saying anything bad, about people who practice this sutra. When someone in the practice says something bad about you, or is hostile in any way, the best way to respond is by giving that person a gift. This is a practice I have used for years and the benefits are wonderful. Please practice wisely by sharing with others when you see that they are in need and find some way to support the Dharma centers in your community. Giving to others will help you grow, it is important to your personal development. The Final section of Chapter Ten Begins with the Buddha stating that he has preached innumerable sutras. However, "Among the sutras I have preached, now preach, and will preach, "The Lotus Sutra" is the most difficult to believe in and the most difficult to understand. This sutra is the storehouse of the secret teachings of the Buddha. If you meet a person who is trying to practice the way of the bodhisattva, and they are not willing to see, hear, read, recite, copy, embrace and offer alms to "The Lotus Sutra", then you should know that such persons are not yet practicing the Bodhisattva way.

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The most important part of this chapter is the section that tells you how to teach this sutra in the latter day of the law. Any student who teaches this sutra should enter the Buddha's room, put on the Buddha's robe, and sit in the Buddha's seat. The sutra tells us that the Buddha's room is the mind that shows compassion for all living beings, The Buddha's robe is the mind that is gentle and forbearing, and the Buddha's seat is the emptiness of all phenomena. The chapter ends by telling us to have a close relationship with a teacher of the law. If you follow and learn from a teacher of the law then you will meet innumerable Buddhas!

Chapter Eleven
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny
At the beginning of chapter eleven a Treasure Tower appears before the Buddha. The tower is a kind of Stupa, which is a shrine, built in India to house the bodies of a Buddha or a great saint. The stupa that appears is enormous! The Sutra tells us that that it is five hundred yojanas high and two hundred and fifty yojanas wide. Buddhist Scholars do not agree on an exact definition of a yojana. Some claim that it is forty miles; others write that seventy-five miles is more accurate. This tower is called a treasure tower because it is made of jewels and precious metals. It also emits a fragrance from the finest incense in the world. A voice is heard from inside the tower saying, "Well Done! Shakyamuni with great wisdom you preach for the sake of beings the sutra of the wonderful law by which the bodhisattvas are instructed and which the Buddhas watch over and keep in mind. The students marvel at the sight and wonder what it means. A Bodhisattva named "Great Joy in Preaching" asks the Buddha, "for what reason has this treasure tower risen up out of the Earth? Why does this voice come from within it? Shakyamuni responds that there was a Buddha named "Many Treasures" (or Taho) who took a vow to appear

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anywhere "The Lotus Sutra" was preached so that he could listen, testify to the truth of this sutra and praise it's excellence. Bodhisattva Great Joy in Preaching asks Shakyamuni if the people present can see the body of Taho Buddha. Shakyamuni responds that part of Taho's original vow was that the Buddha preaching "The Lotus Sutra" must first assemble in one place all the Buddhas in the ten directions because they are all emanations or reflections of the Buddha who is preaching. The assembly expresses the desire to see these emanations of Shakyamuni, so the Buddha emits a ray of light from his third eye (which means he expresses great wisdom). This light illuminates a vast number of worlds where Buddhas are preaching to countless millions of beings. Shakyamuni purifies the Saha world three times before the Emanations can join him. When this purification is finished only the Four Noble Worlds remain, the six lower realms are banished. In other words, this practice will cause you to spend your time in the Four Upper Worlds (Learning, Realization, Bodhisattva, and Buddhahood) and the triple purification means that you are freed from the three kinds of fundamental illusions--or greed, anger, and ignorance. The Buddhas in the rest of the Universe are shown to be reflections of Shakyamuni which means that all Buddhas come from an original Buddha, a concept further developed in chapter sixteen. The reflections gathering in one-place shows that "The Lotus Sutra" is the unifying teaching of the Buddhas and that all truths are reflections of one truth or law. After all the emanations of Shakyamuni arrive he opens the door of the treasure tower. The practitioners see the body of Taho Buddha who praises Shakyamuni's preaching of "The Lotus Sutra" and invites him to share his seat. The students now feel that they are too far away to see the Buddhas so Shakyamuni uses his mystic power to lift the entire assembly into the air. What does all this mean? Nichiren wrote that the appearance of the treasure tower means that the three groups of Shakyamuni's disciples attained enlightenment only when they heard "The Lotus Sutra" and saw the Treasure Tower in their own lives. In the latter day of the law there is no treasure tower other than the beings who embrace this

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"Lotus Sutra. It follows that the men and women who chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo are themselves the treasure tower and Taho Buddha. When we take faith in the Gohonzon the treasure tower hidden in the depths of our own lives is revealed. The appearance of the treasure tower means the discovery of the Buddha nature within you. Nichiren wrote that to behold the treasure tower means that we realize that the changing condition of our body and mind, just as they are, manifest the eternal law. The two Buddhas seated together indicates the fusion of reality and wisdom. They also symbolize life and death. This ceremony in the air has long been regarded as a symbolic way of expressing Shakyamuni's Enlightenment. However, since everyone has a Buddha Nature this enlightenment is available to everybody. Please notice that the Buddha lifted the people to his levelhe did not talk down to them. The ceremony in the air has not ended, it never will end. This chapter concludes with Shakyamuni urging his students to propagate this "Lotus Sutra" three times. He gives examples of how difficult it will be to do so after his death, but he also makes it clear that this is the best thing we can do to help ourselves and others.

Chapter Twelve
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny
As we gain understanding of this teaching, chapter twelve becomes almost everybody's favorite, because it deals with our enlightenment. Up until now, the message of this sutra is that the one Buddha vehicle is available to all of Shakyamuni's students. That's wonderful until you really start to think about it and you realize you are talking about man and women who have practiced millions of years under the guidance of highly realized teachers. None of these students started practicing yesterday and this is not really very encouraging for people who did just start practicing yesterday. The Devadatta chapter appears here as encouragement to all students.

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Devadatta was nanda's brother; both men were first cousins to the Buddha. While nanda spent his time helping Shakyamuni spread his teachings, Devadatta tried to do the exact opposite. Devadatta directly tried to compete with the Buddha, and even tried to kill him. He is used as an example of the worst kind of person. In other words you can look at Devadatta's life and say, no matter how bad my life seems, no matter what evil acts I have committed, at least I didn't try to destroy the Buddha's life work or try to murder him! In fact, it is written that Devadatta committed three of the five cardinal sins, yet he received a prediction of Enlightenment. This chapter is about discriminative thinking, as I have said in other lectures, we tend to put things into categories, and of course you have to do that to a certain extent in this world, you have to discriminate between poison and non-poison, for example, when selecting food items, but ultimately, this kind of thinking is not real. We look at Devadatta and see an "Evil Man" so it is shocking that he would be able to attain enlightenment. To be absolutely certain that we do not miss this point, the most extreme example is given. The Dragon Kings Daughter was not only Female she was also non-human and if the men of India knew anything, they KNEW that that you must be a human male to become enlightened! However, these things are only categories they are not ultimately real. It was Shakyamuni's ability to see the "Suchness" of reality that enabled him to predict Buddhahood for his cousin. He knew Devadatta was a person, not a "good person" or a "bad person; a human person who possessed the Ten Worlds. The section of this chapter that deals with Devadatta sets a Wonderful example for us to follow. Shakyamuni praised Devadatta and said that even though my cousin felt he was my enemy, he was really my great friend because he caused me to practice patience and tolerance. We all need someone like him to help our practice develop. I like to think of this chapter as the "Me too" chapter because it includes me, too! If you are anything at all like me you are not some highly realized saint but you are not guilty of the numerous crimes

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committed by Devadatta. Even if you are guilty of numerous crimes, you now have a connection with "The Lotus Sutra" and after your debts are purified or paid you will attain enlightenment!

Chapter Thirteen
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter Thirteen begins with the Bodhisattva's Medicine King, Great Joy of Preaching, and their followers taking a vow to benefit all beings by propagating "The Lotus Sutra". Other students also swear they will spread this teaching but only the two Bodhisattvas and their followers vow to teach the sutra in this Saha world. The other students declare that they will preach this sutra `far and wide in other worlds because it is far too difficult to teach the people of this world. At this point the Buddha confirms that female followers will attain enlightenment. Shakyamuni's aunt, who became known as Maha (or 'the great') Prajapati was the first woman accepted into the Buddhas religious community: She will become the Buddha "Gladly Seen By All Living Beings" and Yashodhara will become the Buddha "Endowed With A Thousand, Ten Thousand Glowing Marks". Both of these women and their followers vow to propagate this sutra on other Worlds. The students who are present wait for the Buddha to tell them to spread "The Lotus Sutra" in this world but he remains silent. The Buddha does not speak because these are not the students who will preach "The Lotus Sutra" in this world system. It would be far too difficult of a task for them because they do not have the background to endure the abuse that any teacher of the law would repeatedly encounter. The chapter concludes with a verse section that is often quoted. It is know as the twenty line verse, and no doubt in Chinese calligraphy it is only twenty lines long, However it is somewhat longer in English. This

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verse was enormously important to Nichiren because it described his life and helped him realize that he was the votary of "The Lotus Sutra" in the latter day of the Law. We beg you not to worry. After the Buddha has passed into extinction, in an age of fear and evil we will preach far and wide. There will be many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill of us and will attack us with swords and staves, but we will endure all these things. In that evil age there will be monks with perverse wisdom and hearts that are fawning and crooked who will suppose they have attained what they have not attained, being proud and boastful in heart. Or there will be forest-dwelling monks wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement, who will claim they are practicing the true way, despising and looking down on all humankind. Greedy for profit and support, they will preach the law to white-robed laymen and will be respected and revered by the world as though they were arahants who possess the six transcendental powers. These men with evil in their hearts, constantly thinking of worldly affairs, will borrow the name of forest-dwelling monks and take delight in proclaiming our faults, saying things like this: "These monks are greedy for profit and support and therefore they preach non-Buddhist doctrines and fabricate their own scriptures to delude the people of the world. Because they hope to gain fame and renown thereby they make distinctions when preaching this sutra." Because in the midst of the great assembly they constantly try to defame us,

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they will address the rulers, high ministers, Brahmans and householders, as well as other monks, slandering and speaking evil of us, saying, "These are men of perverted views who preach non-Buddhist doctrines!" But because we revere the Buddha we will bear all these evils. Though they treat us with contempt, saying, "You are all no doubt Buddhas!" All such words of arrogance and contempt we will endure and accept. In a muddied kalpa, in an evil age there will be many things to fear. Evil demons will take possession of others and through them curse, revile and heap shame on us. But we, reverently trusting in the Buddha, will put on the armor of perseverance. In order to preach this sutra we will bear these difficult things. We care nothing for our bodies or lives but are anxious only for the unsurpassed way. In ages to come we will protect and uphold what the Buddha has entrusted to us. This the World-Honored One must know. The evil monks of that muddied age, failing to understand the Buddha's expedient means, how he preaches the Law in accordance with what is appropriate, will confront us with foul language and angry frowns; again and again we will be banished to a place far removed from towers and temples. All these various evils, because they keep in mind the Buddha's orders, we will endure. If in the settlements and towns of those who seek the Law, we will go to wherever they are and preach the Law entrusted by the Buddha. We will be envoys of the World-Honored One,

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facing the assembly without fear. We will preach the law with skill, for we desire the Buddha to rest in tranquility. In the presence of the World-Honored One and of the Buddhas who have gathered from the ten directions to proclaim this vow. The Buddha must know what is in our hearts.

Chapter Fourteen
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny
Chapter Fourteen is also called "Peaceful Practices" and it concludes the 'theoretical teachings' or first half of The Lotus Sutra. Chapter fourteen is rarely mentioned in Nichiren's writings because he lived at a time when the Shakabuku method of propagation was the most appropriate to use when spreading these teachings. 'Shakabuku' is a term that has become loosely used by SGI students to mean 'introducing other people to this practice', but it literally means to strictly rebuke someone's incorrect understanding of the Buddha's teachings. The other method of propagating Buddhist teachings is called 'shoju'. Shakabuku is appropriate when someone has mistaken or prejudiced views about Buddhist teachings. For example, you meet a person who tells you that you should be practicing the highest teaching of the Buddha, which he tells you is chanting the name of Amida Buddha, so that you can be reborn in the western pure land. In this case it would be appropriate to Shakabuku him because it can be shown that the Pure Land Sutras are introductory Mahayana teachings. This can be demonstrated by internal evidence within the Sutras. And it can also be shown that historically, Buddhist teachers used the Amida sutras as introductory material. However most people in North America are not familiar with ANY level of Buddhist teaching, so the practice of Shakabuku is inappropriate. In our present situation, the only logical approach would be that of shoju. We believe that spreading Buddhist teachings will give the people of North America the opportunity to aspire to a

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higher way of life. This country will be a wonderful place when most of the people living in it want to become human beings. It cannot be honestly said that Buddhist practice is the ONLY way to develop your humanity, but I know from personal experience that it is a good way to achieve that end. This chapter begins with a Bodhisattva asking how we should teach this sutra in the period after the Buddhas death. Shakyamuni responds by listing the four rules of peaceful practice. They are: 1. Peaceful deeds 2. Peaceful Practice 3. Peaceful Thoughts 4. Peaceful Vows Peaceful deeds means that Bodhisattvas should be careful of who they associate with. This does not mean that practitioners should not be around the types of people listed but it does mean that Buddhist students should practice self-discipline. Peaceful words begin with the students viewing things the way the actually are empty because everything is dependant on causes, and conditions to exist. A teacher of the law, or YOU should never delight in looking for the faults of others. You should never point out the flaws of other teachers or other sutras. You should never speak of the faults of others and not ever let your mind be filled with hatred or resentment. Peaceful thoughts means that you should empty your mind of envy and deceit. Of course, bad things will "pop up" in your mind from time to time; just notice that this emotion arises lingers for a moment (we don't encourage it to stay) and then disappears. We do not want to hold other Buddhists in contempt, even if they are following some lesser vehicle! We should never engage in frivolous disputes over Buddhist doctrine! Peaceful Vows means that you should feel compassion for everybody. All of us are just like you, we want happiness and do not want

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suffering. Vow everyday to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. Each one of these four rules are discussed in prose and then repeated in the verse section. The difference between this chapter and the previous chapter has troubled practitioners with shallow understanding. There is no discrepancy between chapter thirteen telling you to boldly persevere in the face of persecution and this chapter telling you not to preach in an offensive manner. It is simply a matter of common sense. You must also understand the times and circumstances that you live in. A good example of a teacher who practiced Shoju was Chih-i of T'ienT'ai monastery, while Nichiren is probably the most famous practitioner of the shakabuku Method. However, Chih-i did not always use the shoju method and Nichiren did not always preach shakabuku. Chapter Fourteen ends with the parable of the Gem in the topknot, one of the seven parables of The Lotus Sutra. On a deeper level, Nichiren tells us in "The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings" that when you propagate this sutra correctly you will encounter obstacles and persecutions. These obstacles and persecutions should be regarded as Peaceful and should instill a sense of comfort in you because it means that you are practicing correctly. So, meeting these obstacles and persecutions should be regarded as Peaceful Practices.

Chapter Fifteen
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny
The Buddhas body of teaching can easily be understood if it is divided into five periods. The first period lasted only three weeks, the Buddha taught "The Flower Ornament Sutra" and saw that his students did not understand, so the second period (The Agama Period) began-and lasted for twelve years. The Theravada Teachings come from the

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Agama Period; Early Mahayana Sutras were taught during the next eight-year period, which led to the fourth 'Praja period'. This 'Praja period' lasted twenty- two years, during this time Shakyamuni taught the various Wisdom Sutras like "The Heart Sutra" and "The Diamond Sutra. The last eight years of his teaching career were devoted to preaching "The Lotus Sutra until the final day of his life when tradition tells us that he taught "The Nirvana Sutra. "The Lotus Sutra" is divided into two halves, the theoretical, and the essential teachings. The theoretical teaching ended with chapter fourteen. This first half of the Teaching tells us that all people possess the ten worlds. People live in the nine worlds, but anyone of these worlds has the potential to express Buddhahood at the next moment. The essential teachings tell us that this Buddhahood always expresses itself through the nine worlds. As this chapter begins, the Bodhisattva's from other worlds stand up and as a group offer to spread "The Lotus Sutra" throughout the Saha World. If you would, please look back at chapter eleven; right before the end of that chapter the Buddha asks for people to come forward and vow to spread this teaching to the people of this world. Now the Bodhisattvas from other worlds are offering to do that very thing, but the Buddha tells them not to bother! He said that after his death Bodhisattvas beyond count will appear and "spread, protect and preach" this sutra. As he says this, the ground opens up and millions of Bodhisattvas appear. The text reads, "Previously they have been dwelling in the world of empty space underneath the Saha world. Dwelling in the world of empty space means that these Bodhisattvas understood truth. In fact, they were so highly realized that they lived in the 'world' of truth! It could not possibly be a coincidence that the Buddha spent twenty-two years preaching emptiness. It is very important for your individual welfare to understand this truth. How can you set an example for others if you are seriously afflicted yourself? Understanding the dependant nature of everything will help you train your mind and begin the process of ending suffering. The sutra tells us that these millions of Bodhisattvas had four leaders: the first was named "Superior Practices", the second was named "Boundless Practice", The third was "Pure Practice", and the fourth was "Firmly Established Practices".

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Now, this is one of the advantages of living in the latter day of the law; this is one of the reasons that many famous Dharma teachers lamented the fact that they had not been born in the latter day. We are living in an era when these predicted happenings are supposed to occur! The Buddha taught, over three thousand years ago, that this sutra would spread everywhere in the latter day of the law. Have the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth appeared? For that matter, have the Bodhisattvas of the earth appeared? Has this sutra spread everywhere? Nichiren was born at the beginning of the latter day and he left us his ideas and teachings concerning proper Buddhist study and practice for those who want to follow the Buddha way in this era. There is no question that he was Bodhisattva Superior Practices. While it can be great fun to speculate about the other three leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, not nearly enough time has passed to allow any other firm conclusion. Nichiren wrote (The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind) that these Bodhisattvas represent the world of bodhisattva within ourselves. There can be no doubt that the bodhisattvas of the earth have been appearing and spreading the teachings. At the end of the Second World War there were very few Nichiren Buddhists anywhere. Then, the Kosen Rufu movement 'sprang up' and exploded across the world. The SGI is the largest Buddhist group in the world and they are growing every year. They teach nothing but devotion to "The Lotus Sutra, can there be any doubt that they are the Bodhisattvas of the Earth? It is because of their efforts that "The Lotus Sutra" is spreading all across the planet. These ancient predictions are being fulfilled right in front of us! At this point in the chapter, the followers of Shakyamuni turn to him and inquire about the identity of these many Bodhisattvas because they do not recognize any of them! What Buddha did they study under? What Practice do they do? Shakyamuni responds that they are his students and that he has been teaching and converting them since the distant past. His current followers find this inexplicable because they know that the Buddha attained enlightenment only forty years before. They say it is as if a young man of twenty-five should point to a hundred year old man and say, "This is my son! The people present beg the Buddha to make this clear so that all students can free their

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minds of doubt. The chapter ends with that question, which sets up chapter sixteen, the most important section of the entire work.

Chapter Sixteen
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny
The chapter begins with the Buddha telling the assembled students to "believe and understand" the words of their teacher. He repeats this three times because belief leads to understanding, and you must understand to develop faith. Faith is the only entrance to this teaching. Remember back in chapter two the Buddha tells us, "The true entity of all phenomena can only be shared and understood between Buddhas"? He also said, "Towards the law preached by the Buddhas you must cultivate a great power of faith. Faith is developed by our questioning and testing any practice taught by the Buddhas. Also, as I said earlier, this is an ancient formula that shows how important the teaching that followed actually was and it demonstrated the sincerity of the student asking the question. Shakyamuni then tells the Bodhisattvas that it has been billions of kalpas since he attained enlightenment. Most scholars agree that a kalpa is approximately 16 million years, so the Buddha attained enlightenment so far back in the past that the number cannot be calculated. Ever since that time in the ancient pre-historical past, Shakyamuni has been in the Saha World, on this planet and others, preaching and teaching in various ways to benefit sentient beings. The 'Saha world' means this universe, this reality that we live in. Provisional sutras refer to this world as Saha, they call it the endurance realm, but then say that Buddha lands, or pure lands are found else where. Shakyamuni is telling us that the pure lands are created by each one of us who live in the higher realms. There is no other realm to be born into; there is just this Universe. The theoretical half of "The Lotus Sutra" shows that all people have the potential to become Buddhas, they can attain enlightenment in

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theory; the essential teachings demonstrate that, even though Shakyamuni was already enlightened, he was born as a common mortal because Buddhahood can only be manifested in the nine worlds. This is the essential teaching because at this point the Buddha has discarded his provisional identity of Shakyamuni to reveal the eternal nature of enlightenment. This means that all of the teachings that came before this were preached by a provisional Buddha. His prior teachings show that long, hard work at your practice is necessary for you to make progress. The Pre-Lotus teachings suggest that you gradually rid yourself of the nine worlds and eventually grow into a fully enlightened Buddha. However, the essential teachings clearly show that the nine worlds are all present in Buddhahood. The Buddha understands the true nature of the six lower realms that humans who do not practice inhabit. He knows there is no such thing as birth and death, you do not exist in this universe and then later not exist at all. This universe is dependant on causes and it is not what those who live in the six lower realms perceive it to be. All these things are seen clearly by the Buddha, there is no error in this perception. Living beings have so many different natures and personalities! They have different desires, for what makes one person deliriously happy will drive another person completely crazy. It is because of these vastly different personalities, with their many needs and desires, that countless activities are carried out every day. There are so many different ways of thinking among these various people--how could one single doctrine satisfy them all? The Buddha wants to help all of these beings plant the roots of goodness in their lives. This is his work and he never neglects it. This work never fails or falters because of the Buddhas great compassion. Again Shakyamuni tells us that he is always here in the Saha world and then he makes a statement that has been interpreted in different ways. The Burton Watson Translation reads, "Good Men, originally I practiced the Bodhisattva way, and the life span that I acquired then has yet to come to an end but will last twice the number of years that have already passed. The "Threefold Lotus Sutra" reads differently; "Good sons! The lifetime I attained by pursuing the Bodhisattva way is not even yet accomplished, but will still be twice the previous number of

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kalpas. However the Buddha is not talking about "Life" in the normal sense of the word or everything he said before hand would be nonsense. If there is no birth or death, no coming and going for any of us, then what kind of life could he mean? Senchu Murano's translation of "The Sutra of The Lotus Flower of The Wonderful Law" reads, "I became the Buddha countless eons ago by practicing the what I still practice--The Way of The Bodhisattva. The life span, which I attained, has not yet expired. It is twice as long as previously stated." If we accept this version of the text then the Buddha is saying he is immortal, a restating of the idea above and below (in the text). This makes sense to me. You could also say that Shakyamuni attained enlightenment somewhere in the distant past and the life acquired was the world of Bodhisattva, which would show that the Buddha mutually possessed the ten worlds. Shakyamuni then tells us that he allows people to believe he enters extinction as an expedient means that is meant to teach us to long for the Buddha! It is very difficult to meet an Enlightened Being. Some people are born again and again, over billions of years on numerous planets, and still do not see the face of a Buddha. You should hunger and thirst for the opportunity to meet and make connections to the Buddha. To do so you must fill your life with good causes, make as many connections to the dharma as possible by studying all of the sutras that you can find. Make a karmic connection with as many Dharma teachers as possible by reading their works, studying with them, or meeting them in person. The sutra continues, all of the Buddhas in the universe preach a law like this. Their actions are intended to save living beings, so what they do is always true, never false. The chapter concludes with the parable of the good physician. We are the children in this parable. It is almost always because our lives are suddenly emerged in the 'ocean of disaster' that we start practicing Buddhism. We seem to need to suffer from the poison in our mind a long time before we are willing to take the medicine we need. Anger, envy, greed, lust, all of these things are anti-life, that is what makes them poison. When we begin to take the medicine of practice and study, when we advance to the point where we can embrace the law, we discover that Buddhahood has always been with us. This is like the

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father in the parable returning after the children take the medicine he left for them. The second half of "The Lotus Sutra" is directed towards us, the people of the latter day of the law who chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. The reason Shakyamuni would not allow the Bodhisattva's who had been trained by him in his current lifetime to make a vow to spread this teaching in the latter periods was because they had not formed a connection the law expressed by Myoho Renge Kyo. In chapter fifteen the Buddha stated "ever since the distant past I have been teaching and converting the multitude. Part of that multitude is you. I am there and so are all of the people who chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. We have been students of the Buddha for a long time and we should remember that as we go about our daily life. Shakyamuni was not born an enlightened Buddha; he had to spend years of practice before he realized enlightenment in his lifetime. Why would it be different for you? You are the living embodiment of an ancient lineage, look beneath the surface garbage of your mind and see who you really are. The chapter concludes with Shakyamuni declaring: "At all times I think to myself: how can I cause Living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?"

Chapter Seventeen
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

After hearing the Buddha describe the length of his life span the students present received many rich benefits. You will also enjoy benefits because when you hear this teaching you are at Eagle Peak. When we speak of people who are present at the ceremony in the air both of our names must be included. This chapter tells us that we will gain various abilities depending on what our individual mission is and what we need to fulfill it successfully. The sutra states that students reached the state of

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irrevocability and this means that you will never slide back into the six lower paths. Bodhisattvas at this time now gain various abilities. At the earliest opportunity you should ascertain what your ability is and use it to benefit as many beings as possible. You may gain the ability to understand and interpret difficult sutras and texts. You may gain great eloquence when preaching the Dharma. This is not just eloquence when speaking, what you say will please people because your preaching will help them to have realizations; it will reach them at a level that makes them feel "this is real". Many of the Bodhisattvas realized that they would attain enlightenment within a certain number of lifetimes. Some knew that it would take eight more rebirths, while some only had one or two more rebirths before they would attain Buddhahood. Where do we stand? Our teacher has told us that we will attain enlightenment but is there anyway of knowing when that will be? T'ien T'ai wrote that there are six stages of practice for the students of "The Lotus Sutra, they are; 1. The Stage of being a Buddha in theory 2. The stage of hearing the name and words of the truth 3. The stage of perception and action 4. The stage of resemblance to enlightenment 5. The stage of progressive awakening 6. The stage of ultimate Enlightenment. Nichiren stated in the "Gosho Zenshu" that, "One who believes in the Gohonzon is in the stage of myoji-soku or the second stage. After repeating this in verse form the Buddha tells us that any person who hears the life span chapter of "The Lotus Sutra" and believes it for even a moment will gain immeasurable benefit. As a means of showing just how great this benefit actually is the Buddha compares hearing this truth to someone who practices five of the six paramitas for billions of years. The merit of hearing is far greater! The paramita left out of this

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calculation is the wisdom or Praja paramita because if you include it the being would be an enlightened being. Here again, we are told that if you have heard this truth and believed it, then you will never fall into the lower realms, it would be unthinkable for you not to attain enlightenment. The next prose section begins by telling us that if you understand the meaning when hearing about the length of the Buddhas lifespan, the merit you earn cannot be cannot be measured. The sutra says that the benefit is without limit. It is even better to listen to the sutra, or cause others to listen to it. In more modern times it is also good to read the sutra, or cause others to read it. We should make this teaching part of our life and we should help others to see why it would help them to do the same. You should also make whatever kinds of offerings to "The Lotus Sutra" that are available and affordable as often as possible. I make incense offerings all the time that I am awake. I always try to have an offering to the sutra on the Butsudan. Every day we make water offerings but fresh fruit is always nice when it is in season. Many local Nichiren Buddhists also offer full bottles of Sake as well. The chapter also tells us that if you practice and study to understand the life span chapter you will live in the upper worlds and see your environment as a Buddhist Pure Land. If you practice these teachings it is not necessary for you to build towers or temples; you do not need to build monasteries or offer alms to monks or priests. However, if you can erect towers or temples, supply your local dharma center with some kind of needed support, observe the precepts, practice patience and tolerance in the face of hostility or aggression, practice constantly on a daily basis, attain profound meditative states and develop your inherent wisdom than you are very close to becoming fully enlightened. The chapter ends by telling us that if we do these things and dwell in the higher worlds the Buddha will accept you as one of his family. He will also use you to benefit all the beings around you, and constantly will be in your presence.

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Chapter Eighteen
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter eighteen begins with the perfected Bodhisattva Maitreya asking, if practitioners hear this teaching and respond with joy what amount of benefit do they acquire? The Buddha responds with an easily understood example. Suppose you hear this teaching on "The Lotus Sutra" from someone and you realize that the law also applies to you. Naturally, you respond with joy: here, at last, is the doorway to freedom, the end of needless stupid suffering. What do you do? The Buddha says that you practice, grow through the realizations you naturally have, and then you spread the law by becoming a teacher to the people you are karmically connected to. This chapter tells us that beings will benefit out to fifty people, which is a way of saying everybody, or anybody on this planet will benefit if they hear you preach. It is not possible to find anybody on this planet who you do not have a connection to because of activities you have engaged in since the beginning-less past. Western science discovered this a few years ago and it has been superficially discussed in the newspapers, although they drew no conclusion from the knowledge they obtained. Actually you can find a connection to anyone within seven or eight people, so you could never extend this to fifty persons that have no previous karma with you, anywhere in the universe. This is also why Dharma teachers tell you that everybody has been your mother or father in the past. If you could gather all of these beings, every one from all the planets in the Universe, and I mean ALL beings, no matter what shape or form they are in; not just gather them, but provide them with endless amusing treasures and then preach the law to them and save them ALL, the benefit you gain will not be as great as hearing this sutra and responding with joy! The merit will be even greater if you practice and study the way the sutra teaches.

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Chapter Nineteen
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter eighteen is about the merit any student gains when they first encounter the teachings of "The Lotus Sutra. Chapter Nineteen is directed at the average practitioner who is expected to preach, copy, read, recite and live by the teachings of this sutra. When you do this, your six senses will be purified. These practitioners are all people just like you or me. They have problems just like we do, although the details will vary, but we all want happiness and do not want suffering. As our senses become purified we begin to see the such-ness of things and you no longer wonder why good or bad things happen to you. You can see very clearly the results of various causes you have made. When you uphold this sutra you will dwell safely on rare ground, you will be loved by sentient beings, and your preaching will improve as you become skillful.

Chapter Twenty
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

The last three chapters have dealt with the merit any student will obtain if he hears this teaching, responds with joy, and practices as the sutra teaches. Chapter twenty begins by telling us that slandering practitioners of "The Lotus Sutra" leads to severe forms of suffering. Shakyamuni then tells us about a Buddha named "Awesome Sound King" who lived many millions of years ago. When his life ended and his teaching periods had concluded another Buddha was born who took the same name and title because he was the same Buddha. The sutra records that this happened twenty thousand million times, but that cannot be read as an exact number because the root word here is "Kotis"

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and there is no exact definition for that word. It really means something like "too many to count. We will come back to this eternal Buddha in just a moment but first the sutra tells us that in the counterfeit period of the first Buddha "Awesome Sound King" there was a Bodhisattva named "Never Disparaging. His practice consisted of showing reverence and respect to the monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen who practice "The Lotus Sutra. The reverence that he showed to these beings is the very heart of "The Lotus Sutra. There were people who treated "Never Disparaging" with hatred and contempt, and these beings suffered terribly for many lifetimes before the debt was paid. At that time they once again encountered "Never Disparaging" who served as their teacher. Shakyamuni identifies himself as Bodhisattva "Never Disparaging" and said that some of the people that he preached this sutra to were the beings who mocked him in the distant past. So, Shakyamuni studied under a Buddha named "Awesome Sound King" when he was Bodhisattva "Never Disparaging. The school of Buddhism that I practice in seems to want to speculate that Nichiren was the Eternal Buddha who taught Shakyamuni in the far distant past. I have never seen any evidence to support that theory. Nichiren wrote "Above all, follow no one but your original teacher and go on to attain Buddhahood. Shakyamuni is the original teacher for all people, as well as their sovereign and parent. In a work entitled "Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism", the Author (J. Stone, University of Hawaii Press) quotes Nichiren as saying, "the people of Japan as well as all of [the world] should as one take Shakyamuni, master of the teachingsas their object of worship--that is to say, Shakyamuni and "Many Jewels" (Taho) within the jeweled stupa along with all the other Buddhas, flanked by "Superior Conduct" and the others of the four bodhisattvas". That seems to be in harmony with the above quotation but then another passage reads:

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Question: What should ordinary worldlings in the evil day of the last age take as their object of worship? Answer: They should make Nam Myoho Renge Kyo their object of worship... Question: ...why do you not take Shakyamuni as the object of worship, but instead take Nam Myoho Renge Kyo of "The Lotus Sutra? Answer: ...this is not my interpretation. Lord Shakyamuni and T'ien Tai both established "The Lotus Sutra" as the object of worship... The Reason is that "The Lotus Sutra" is the father and mother of Shakyamuni and the eye of all Buddhas. Shakyamuni, Dainichi, and The Buddhas of the ten directions were all born of "The Lotus Sutra. Therefore I now take as object of worship that which gives birth to Buddhas. Pointing to what appears to be a contradiction Stone adds, "These two views at first appear to be contradictory. However, if Shakyamuni in the passage first cited is understood to be the Eternal Buddha, the apparent contradiction dissolves. The eternal Shakyamuni and the dharma are two aspects of an identity; the three thousand worlds in one thought moment as actuality' for Nichiren describes both insight of the original Buddha and the truth by which that Buddha is awakened." While this appears to solve Stone's problem it doesn't help us. Shakyamuni could not be both Bodhisattva "Never Disparaging" and the Buddha "Awesome Sound King" at the same time; the idea does not deserve serious consideration. If Nichiren had been the Buddha "Awesome Sound King" would he have felt the reverence that he showed to Shakyamuni? Nichiren's attitude is that of a student who felt great love for his teacher. Nichiren was given a statue of Shakyamuni during his first exile (See "The Life Of Nichiren"), which he used for the rest of his life. This statue was enshrined wherever he lived. It was listed in his effects after his death. Many modern students of Buddhism do not realize that religious ideas were somewhat different in our teachers era. The idea of a unified object of worship for a school did not exist in those times and Nichiren clearly did not see himself as the founder of a "new" or different kind of Buddhism. Nichiren taught that "The Lotus Sutra" was the pinnacle of the Buddha's teaching and that all the other sutras should be seen from that perspective. This concept of

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different schools in Buddhism is a device created by students. Ultimately these "schools" are empty and probably do more harm than good. We sit and watch the spectacle of "spiritual" students all denigrating and hating one another and doubt that the Buddha smiles on such pitiful antics. All Buddhist teachers talk about tolerance and respect for others or they are not Dharma instructors. This era seems to be full of teachers who have 'high realizations' but then dismiss other groups as 'non-Buddhist'. Let me tell you the truth about realizations. Sit down and estimate just how great your 'pile' of realizations are and then cut that 'pile' in half. As soon as you cut into the pile, POOF, half of it vanishes because it was just so much hot air. The half you are left with isn't real either, you are left with a mostly empty container with a few nuggets of treasure to show for your honest effort--if you have made any honest effort. We are an arrogant group of beings playing at enlightenment like little children dressing up to play adult. But we are Children and we should try to generate humility if we really want to follow the Buddha way. If these teachers you are following are so "highly realized" why is the Buddhist world so full of hate? As bad as the animosity can be between schools in different traditions, nothing anywhere is as filled with hostility as our own Nichiren sects. Someone told me recently that this was an embarrassing time to be a Nichiren Buddhist. I could not agree. This is a wonderful time to be a follower of Nichiren! Any time you have a chance to make a difference, no matter how small, it is an opportunity to advance. Make this advance for yourself and all the beings who live here, or who will live here. I didn't wander off the point. One of the problems between the various Nichiren schools is just who Nichiren was and how you should practice as his follower. Everyone seems to agree that he was the leader of the Bodhisattvas of The Earth, who appear in chapter fifteen. The difference becomes apparent when some students refer to Nichiren as Shonin (sage) and others call him Daishonin (Great Sage). (This is very similar to the egg controversy found in Gullivers Travels.) If Nichiren is called Daishonin then you are saying he is the Buddha of the latter day of the law. Every student should treat his teacher as though he were an enlightened being so the argument is pointless. It may very

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well be that this reverence for our teacher is the reason SGI is the Nichiren organization that successfully spread these teachings around the world. If the SGI interpretation of the dharma is so incorrect why are they doing the work the Buddha asked the Bodhisattvas of the earth to do? It is not possible to know who Shakyamuni's teacher was from the evidence I have seen. The best conclusion I can reach is that Nichiren as "The Original Buddha" is a case of misplaced enthusiasm by students who assert the superiority of their teacher and his teachings. This type of Fascist-like Buddhism is appalling and we should keep it out of America. Nichiren certainly doesn't need to be glorified by pointless speculation. If you try this practice it will definitely change your life for the better. That is real; and it is what Buddhism is about. Some students want our teacher to be the "deified founder" with some great mystical background which makes him more important than the Buddha who came here and taught us the way out of suffering. This is misguided enthusiasm at best. About five months ago I started to receive phone calls from people who wanted to ask if Nichiren was the first person to chant NamMyoho-Renge-Kyo. How could he be? Why would it matter anyway? The fact that long time practitioners where shocked by what they considered 'revelations' points squarely to the woefully undereducated state of many Nichiren students. (For more information read "Day By Day") From my own experience I can tell you that if you do this practice, raise your life condition but then somehow become distracted and stop practicing, you will act like a crazy person. You won't be acting, however, you will really be crazy! It is a nasty, hate filled kind of insanity that causes you to behave like a demon. I tell you this because it explains many things that otherwise seem inexplicable when you study the history of the Fuji School and the Nichiren movement in general.

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If you continue to practice and study, you will naturally become a teacher of the law. This chapter ends telling us that age after age we will encounter Buddhas and quickly attain the Buddha Way.

Chapter Twenty-One
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny
The next two chapters deal with spreading these teachings in the world after the Buddhas death. The chapter begins with the Bodhisattva's of the Earth vowing to preach this teaching "far and wide. As they point out, this is the path that leads to freedom. This chapter directly transmits these teachings to us, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Before he empowers us to preach, Shakyamuni displays 'supernatural' powers to show the importance of "The Lotus Sutra. First, he extends his long, broad tongue out to the heavens, which means that his words are true. Notice that all the Buddhas in the Universe present in the assembly testify to the truth of this sutra making it the only teaching to be supported by all enlightened beings. The Buddha also radiates light from his body, which means his wisdom enters everywhere. All of the Buddhas display these two 'mystic' signs for 'a hundred thousand years, which is an early Mahayana way of expressing the eternal nature of the Buddha's teachings. After displaying these powers the Buddhas all make noise in unison, which is heard in all the worlds, and again the six senses are purified for those present. At this point all beings in the six lower worlds are suddenly able to see the Buddhas of the Universe and the treasure tower with Shakyamuni and Taho seated together. They also see the Bodhisattvas, as well as the monastic and lay followers. The paragraph directly above this is a wonderful description of the Gohonzon and this chapter is, no doubt, where Nichiren got the idea for the Mandala.

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When the people who lived in the six lower worlds see this 'living Gohonzon' they are filled with joy as they realize that they, too, can become an enlightened being. Then they chant "Hail (or Namu) Shakyamuni Buddha" and make offerings. These offerings fill the sky "like clouds gathering together" and then become a covering that shelters the area where the Buddha is teaching. Since these offerings came from everywhere (or the Ten Directions) this means that all people will come to understand and practice in accordance with the mystic law, no matter what name they call it by. Then, the ten worlds open and become a single Buddha land, or the world of Buddhahood becomes available to all people when the correct practice is revealed. Shakyamuni then tells the Bodhisattva 'Superior Practices' (or Nichiren) that the benefits of practicing this sutra are innumerable. He adds: this sutra contains all the doctrines; all the supernatural powers; all the most profound matters of the Buddha-- in fact, this sutra is the secret storehouse of what is essential to Buddhist practice if your goal is to attain enlightenment for the benefit of sentient beings. At this point, the transmission to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth is actually made: "For this reason, after the Buddha has entered extinction, you must single-mindedly accept, uphold, read, recite, explain, preach, and transcribe it, and practice it as directed. This statement is directed at you and me. What is proper practice? It is important to do Gongyo everyday because we must recite the sutra to follow the Buddhas directions. We must study, or we will be guilty of shallow understanding. We must also chant everyday, at least for a few minutes. When we are in front of the Gohonzon chanting, it is okay to ask for things that you need or want, this is prayer, and every prayer that you make will be answered, but it is also necessary to empty your mind and chant in devotion to the sutra. This is called practice. The chapter concludes by telling us that anywhere this sutra is practiced is a sacred place where you can proceed on the road to enlightenment.

Chapter Twenty-Two

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Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

The previous chapter is concerned with the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, who must propagate "The Lotus Sutra" in the evil later day of the law. To them Shakyamuni gives the practice of Nam-Myoho-Renge- Kyo. Chapter Twenty-Two is called the general transmission chapter because it included all of the practitioners, Shakyamuni's current disciples, and even Bodhisattvas from other worlds. The Buddha transmits this teaching to every Bodhisattva telling them: "For billions of years I have practiced this hard to attain law. Now I entrust it to you. You must single mindedly propagate this law abroad, causing it's benefits to spread far and wide. He repeats this three times, a formula used to demonstrate the importance of the message. Many of these Bodhisattvas appeared in the former and middle period and did spread these teachings. Shakyamuni then tells us that he is "a great giver of gifts to all living beings. How should you, the student, respond? The sutra reads: "You for your part should respond by studying this law of the Buddha. You must not be stingy or begrudging!" In future ages if you find someone with faith in the wisdom of the Buddha you should teach her "The Lotus Sutra, so that she can understand it and gain Buddha wisdom. If you meet beings who do not believe or accept this sutra, teach them the other profound doctrines of the Buddha that you might bring joy and benefit to them. "If you do all this then you will have repaid the debt of gratitude that you owe to all the Buddhas." All of the Bodhisattvas vow three times to carry out the wishes of the Buddha. Shakyamuni ends the ceremony in the air by causing the Buddhas from other worlds to "return to their original land"; the treasure tower also returns, "To it's former position. This ends the ceremony in the air, the rest of the sutra is preached at "Eagle Peak. The chapter concludes with all of the practitioners being filled with joy.

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Chapter Twenty Three


Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

In chapter Twenty Two Shakyamuni instructs us to teach this "Lotus Sutra" to people so that they can follow the Buddha way. However, the person must have faith in the wisdom of the Buddha to receive this teaching. Faith is based on experience, and many people don't have this necessary experience. They are still developing the tools to practice in this world system. Nichiren wrote, in "The Four Debts of Gratitude, "...this world is called the Saha World, Saha meaning Endurance. This is why the Buddha is also called "One Who Can Endure. If we want to follow the Buddha, we too must endure many things. We have to persevere even when "common sense" would tell most people to stop. This world is the place where people grow spiritually. "The Nirvana Sutra" reads, "All of the non-Buddhist scriptures and writings in society are themselves Buddhist teachings, not non-Buddhist teachings. In "The Opening of the eyes" Nichiren stated, "And yet the main point of these non-Buddhist teachings constitutes an important means of entry into Buddhism." Chapter Twenty-Two also told us to preach other doctrines of the Buddha to people who will not (or cannot) believe in "The Lotus Sutra. However chapter Twenty One tells us that this "Lotus Sutra" is "The great storehouse of all the secret essentials of the Buddha. It contains and deals with "all the most profound matters of the Buddha. If we don't teach these people the truths contained in "The Lotus Sutra, what else is left? Chapter Twenty-Three is the kind of devotional instruction that will benefit the people who can't grasp advanced teachings. At this level of development the student needs to feel that 'someone' 'out there' loves them and is looking after them.

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On a deeper level, we can study the actions of the Bodhisattvas we encounter in the next four chapters because they are teaching us how to behave. Although this chapter is similar in some ways to introductory Mahayana teachings like "The Amida Sutra, the difference is where the student's focus is directed. As you read this chapter, notice that the students are encouraged to understand and practice "The Lotus Sutra. You are also constantly reminded of the superior nature of "The Lotus Sutra. Chapter Twenty Three is a more advanced practice than previous 'pure land' teachings because it gives the student a connection to "The Lotus Sutra" that will benefit him now, and in future lives. There could be a Buddha in "the west, his name could even be "Amida", but he never came here to teach us and we have no connection to him at all. However, most of the people who advanced to this practice started by learning the Amida Teachings. These Students are told that if they practice as "The Lotus Sutra" teaches they will "immediately go to the world of peace and delight where the Buddha Amida dwells surrounded by the assembly of great Bodhisattvas and there will be born seated on a jeweled seat in the center of a Lotus Blossom. As this pupil advances, he will find that the pure land he is seeking can only be found within himself. However, by then, the Buddha will have helped you escape from the 'burning house' of suffering and you will be grateful. To show just how valuable this teaching can be, the Buddha of the middle period (Tien Tai) experienced his "Great Awakening" while reading and studying this chapter. I found that interesting because this is the chapter that had the biggest impact on me when I first began to study "The Lotus Sutra. I mentioned that I make constant incense offerings to the sutra unless I am asleep. The Bodhisattva "Gladly Seen By All Living Beings" offered incense, but then realized that it was necessary to totally dedicate himself to this sutra. He "caught fire" which means that he worked tirelessly to benefit the beings around him. It is unfortunate that occasional misguided students have taken this lesson literally and actually set themselves on fire, either as an "offering" or as way of protesting social injustice.

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The chapter tells us that those who wish to attain enlightenment "would do well to burn a finger or one toe of their foot as an offering..." but this means that you should not be stingy when spreading the dharma. It means that you give of yourself.

Chapter Twenty Four


Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter Twenty Three is a devotional chapter, included because "at all times I think to myself: how can I cause all living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha? Nobody is left out. No matter what the capacity of the student the Buddha taught a path that will benefit a person if they really want to help themselves. Chapter Twenty Three is a different entrance to the highest teaching of the Buddha. For many students, chapter Twenty Three is Chapter One of "The Lotus Sutra. Chapter Twenty Four immediately begins to educate these students by expanding their limited concept of pure lands. Shakyamuni gives a short discourse on a Buddhist pure land to the east. As you know, this is a way of saying that pure lands exist in all ten directions. The Buddha of this pure land tells Bodhisattva "Wonderful Sound, you must not look with contempt upon the Saha World, or think of it as inferior. Why? Because every pure land must be built in the Saha world, and you do it one person at a time. When Kosen Rufu is established on this planet the people here will be living in a 'pure land'. Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound is a good example for us to follow. His ability to assume different forms means that he has great empathy for all beings and can mentally put himself on their level to the point where he seems to be one of the people he is talking to. If he is speaking to a voice hearer, he seems to be a voice hearer, with slightly higher realizations. If you need him to be a Pratyekabuddha, then he assumes that role if by doing so he can lead you to higher realizations. He will be seen as a Bodhisattva, or even a Buddha if that is necessary. His

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physical form will depend on the circumstances of his mission. He may be born as anyone of any gender, and he will use even his death as a teaching for the beings around him. Compassion is what motivates any Bodhisattva. You can develop your compassion to higher levels by practice and study.

Chapter Twenty Five


Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter Twenty Five deals with the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (which is translated here as "Perceiver of the Worlds Sounds"). Why are these stories about Bodhisattvas part of the essential teaching? First we are taught that we are actually Bodhisattvas, even though most of us actually think of ourselves as worthy to only haul dung. We are really the rich man's sons but our heads are filled with nasty little "secrets" that we are convinced makes us evil. These Bodhisattvas show us something real that we can aspire to. If the form seems a little theatrical at times, remember that it was presented as a kind of 'musical' for centuries. This chapter tells us that we can call on Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in times of trouble and that if we do we will always receive aid. This is one of the most important statements in the latter half of "The Lotus Sutra. You are Avalokiteshvara! When there is a situation that you have mistakenly labeled "a problem, you can call upon the power inside of yourself to achieve understanding. The three poisons of lust, hatred, and ignorance can all be conquered by calling on this power! The Buddha taught us what a Bodhisattva is with stories. Our teachers tell us that this is the 'essential' half of "The Lotus Sutra" so that we begin to understand the importance of these teachings. We talk about Bodhisattva behavior all the time but in spite of all the effort we still do not often recognize real bodhisattvas when they live among us.

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Bodhisattva Kenny lived with us for years but was seldom appreciated by us until he was gone. Bodhisattva Kenny was a simple man who came to this practice with problems, just like you and me. He practiced and struggled and when he saw what could be done, he wanted to teach others. Bodhisattva Kenny might have been simple, but he wasn't stupid, he knew he was supposed to teach and he had something important to teach us. The people who should have helped him do that, who had undertaken the responsibility to do that very thing for all of us... well, they didn't see it that way. So they gave him minor things to do to keep him quiet. I think that hurt him more then we will ever be able to understand but he did every little chore with grace and dignity. Sometimes, if you look, you actually see. It doesn't happen often enough. I was fortunate to have one second of clarity around this man and it changed me forever. That's teaching. Bodhisattva Kenny wanted to teach. He gave me so much that I have to say that we are doing this together. These are the thirty teachings of Bodhisattva Kenny. The Good parts are his. The errors are mine. I have always been a little slow.

Chapter Twenty Six


Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny
This Chapter is critical to our understanding. Dharani is a Sanskrit word that means "To Totally Endorse" or "Completely Support. We are told to read this sutra but we are also told to recite it as well. To recite something you must have it memorized. When you memorize something you add it to your mental makeup. When you pronounce "Dharanis" you activate the protective forces (Shoten Zenjin) within yourself. The Gongyo ceremony is where we recite the sutra. If you don't think Dharanis are important, skip a few days of Gongyo and watch your life start to unravel. When you make a cause, you always get an effect.

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This 'cause', good or bad, is energy and it will never dissipate on it's own. If you don't find a way to purify this energy, then you must experience it. Shakyamuni Buddha taught us methods to use that enable us to not only understand why things happen to us but also allow us to change these circumstances. If you do not purify your Karma then you must experience all of it. You are a prisoner of the causes you have made in the past. The only method that I know of to break out of this prison is Buddhist practice. When you practice, do so for the sake of others, but don't leave yourself out completely. If you spend months on end practicing only for others you should not be shocked at the miserable condition of your own life!

Chapter Twenty Seven


Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny
This Chapter is about teaching this sutra to people who are close to you. You can use logic, quote the sutras, or attract people in various ways provided they are not someone who knows you intimately, like a Family Member. It is said that no one is a saint in their hometown. If you are preaching Dharma and your brother is in the audience, he does not see what others see. To him, you are the person who punched him in the nose when he broke your model ship. You are the idiot he was forced to argue with on long car trips. To reach someone who knows you that well you must display actual proof. The father in this story was not moved by demonstrations of "Magic Powers. Instead he saw the transformation that his wife and two sons experienced, and naturally wanted the same for himself. We all know that there are saints, and even Buddhas in the world, but they are somehow 'different' or 'special'. They live in caves or on mountaintops; they are never members of your family!

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The people in your household will never be persuaded by mere words. They've heard you use too many of them in negative ways to believe that you are some sort of "holy person". Few people actually see "you" when you are giving a Dharma lecture. While your brother sees the guy who flushed his goldfish down the toilet, other people hear the wisdom of the Buddha's teachings and attribute it to you. Reality is to be found somewhere in-between these two extremes. You must become a teacher of the law. This chapter explains that different methods must be used to reach the people closest to us. Even the hardest hearts can be opened if you actually do this practice well because your entire life will change and the people closest to you will eventually notice.

Chapter Twenty-Eight
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

Chapter Twenty-Eight deals with Bodhisattva "Universal Virtue, who is referred to as "Universal Worthy" in the Burton Watson translation, and as "Universal Sage" in the English translation by Senchu Murano. This Bodhisattva arrives from the east, or from everywhere in the sense that the "Powers" of Universal Virtue comes from within you. The final words of the Buddha repeat one of the most important themes of "The Lotus Sutra", "... if you see a person who accepts and upholds this sutra, you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha." As you continue to study "The Lotus Sutra" you will hear various statements about the validity of some, or even all of this teaching. This is another reason that practice is so important. As you continue your daily practice the realizations that you have will show you if this

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teaching is true or not. Once you have direct experience no one will ever convince you that this is wrong, or foolish. This is one of the chapters that even some SGI Scholars have suggested was added at a later time. Rather than argue each individual case, I would simply point out that this is a lack of proper research. To those who say Shakyamuni only preached some of these of these chapters, and to those who assert that the Buddha never taught any of this sutra I would like to respond by asking them to return to the study of a sutra they can trust. The "Maha Parinibbna Sutta" is a sutra from the Pali canon. I have never heard anyone suggest that this is not a teaching of the Buddha. In this work we are told: "Suppose a monk were to say 'in such and such a place there is one elder who is learned... I have heard and received this from the elder's lip's... this is the dharma, this is the disciple, this is the master's teaching' then, monks, you should neither approve nor disapprove his words. Then, without approving or disapproving, his words and expressions should be carefully noted and compared to the of the Suttas and reviewed in the light of the discipline... where on such comparison and review they are found to conform to the Suttas or the discipline, the conclusion must be, "Assuredly this is the word of the Buddha, it has been rightly understood by this monk." The Buddha is telling us to look at any teaching and determine for our self if it is real. If it is real, you can see it, prove it by your actions, and demonstrate this truth in your life and environment. The Buddha is not telling us to compare everything to the Pali Canon because there was no such thing at that time. The Buddha certainly did not teach the sutras of the Pali Canon in the form that they exist in today. The exotic extravagance of the Mahayana style is a direct response to the dry, repetitive style of the Theravada. Shakyamuni preached to people and they where attracted to what they heard. Both Theravada and Mahayana sutras are feeble imitations of what the man must have been really like. ... Do not go upon by what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning;

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nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk has been our teacher... When you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed; these things lead to benefit and happiness, enter on and abide in them." Shakyamuni was a teacher who always preached 'common sense'. If one form of practice did not work for a student he gave him another. The purpose of practice is to advance along the path of liberation. Since this meditation of "The Lotus Sutra" will change your life it must have been taught by a highly realized teacher. If not Shakyamuni, then who could have taught it? I say these things to you so you can hear them and think about them. Please don't believe any of this! Find out for yourself. Realize for yourself. That is the path to victory and we must settle for nothing less.

Inside The Lotus Sutra


The Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue
Dedicated to Bodhisattva Kenny

The final chapter of The Lotus Sutra tells us that if we correctly practice the meditation of The Lotus Sutra, Universal Virtue will manifest in our lives and we will be protected as we continue on the path to enlightenment. The concluding sutra gives us techniques that will help us develop our humanity. This sutra was preached at the assembly hall in the great forest monastery. The Buddha announces that he will enter parinirvana in three months. Then he is asked; after your death how can living beings attain the level of Bodhisattva and ponder the world of one reality

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with right thought? How can they purify themselves and destroy their sins without cutting off their earthly cares or renouncing their five desires? A Bodhisattva must live in the world if he is going to benefit anyone, and if you live in the world you will have earthly cares. Although the early teachings focused on renouncing desire, this can only be viewed as introductory level teachings. When you are learning to behave it is good to renounce anger, greed, and lust. However, you will always have the ten worlds within you, it is not possible to completely renounce all desires. The Buddha taught us out of the DESIRE to help us. Just having the desire to renounce desires is a desire! Desire is a good thing when it is focused in the right areas. What we want to abandon are the things that lead us to hellish suffering. The Buddha said, There are unwholesome things that have not yet been abandoned, [they are], fearful, productive of painful results in the future It is for the abandonment of these things that I teach Dharma. If you practice accordingly, these things will be abandoned, and the things that make for purification will develop and grow, and you will all attain to and dwell, in this very life, by your own insight and realization, in the fullness of perfected wisdom. Returning to the text, the Buddha addresses nanda, Listen, and remember! On Eagle Peak and other places I have explained the way of one reality. I will now make clear to you how you may purify yourself no matter what level of development you are presently at. Anyone, in any state within the ten worlds can perform this meditation of The Lotus Sutra. If you look at this entire teaching, one of the more subtle themes is sound. Accordingly, sound is the major tool of this meditation. It consists of the Gongyo ceremony, chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo in the manner we have discussed, and frequent study. If you learn this meditation your six senses will be purified and your entire life will change for the better. The sutra also tells us that this practice will free you from things that injure your mind and make you mentally sick. It will also allow you to see excellent forms. Many times we look at the people around us and see only the reflection of our own mind. Many people looked at

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Bodhisattva Kenny and saw only limits. These limits exist in their own mind and caused them to miss the incredible potential that he possessed. To see excellent forms means to see people for what they really are potential Buddhas. To see Bodhisattva Universal Virtue you must purify your life and move into the higher worlds. When you live in these worlds most of the time, you will see Universal Virtue when you look in a mirror, or simply see people walking on the street. Universal Virtue is usually pictured on a white elephant. He represents practice and study. His Elephant has six tusks, which symbolically shows the purification of the six senses. (The six Senses are, eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.) This elephant also has seven legs, which shows that the seven evils have been removed from his mind. (The seven evils are, hypocrisy, lying, slander, improper language, killing, stealing, and adultery.) The elephant is the symbol of the Bodhisattva and it also represents the vehicle he practices. Next we are presented with a Mandala-like imagery, painted vividly with words, that means your senses will be purified, a major theme of this sutra. The three transformed men are Buddhas when they teach the Bodhisattvas there is immediate growth (or movement). The Bodhisattva does not walk on the ground because it would make him impure. Yet, he is not some mythic figure only found in other worlds, because he leaves his mark on the environment he lives in by helping the beings around him. We are reminded to salute the Buddha 6 times a day (another reason for those incense offerings) and are told that we MUST practice the law of repentance, which is the other main theme of this sutra. The Buddha tells us that we must read the teachings he is leaving us, and also recite them. We should think of the meaning of the Mahayana teachings and reflect on why we practice. We should revere those who keep and spread the teachings because they are a precious resource. When you look at people, you should see the Buddha, and all people should be treated as family. When you have finished this reflection your bodhisattva nature will be active and you will see elephants everywhere you look. As you continue this type of practice you will suddenly notice that the dharma is everywhere and everything is dharma. You will begin to see certain

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practitioners as Buddhas, and then realize that everyone is a potential Buddha. The Key to this kind of growth is repentance. At every opportunity, apologize deeply for the evil acts of this and past lives. Evil is not just stupid, it is boring in its repetition. Once you realize that evil is habit energy, it becomes simple to turn your back on it. This does not mean that evil will disappear completely from your mind but it does mean that you will not seek it out. It also means that you will not encourage evil thoughts to stay in your mind when they do appear. The sutra tells us the Buddhas of the universe will stretch out their hands to you and pat you on the head saying, Good! Good! You are a follower of the great vehicle one who keeps the great vehicle in his mind. When of old we aspired for Buddhahood, we were also like you. Do you be zealous and do not lose the great vehicle Do you now be diligent and not lazy! These great vehicle sutras are the law treasury of the Buddhas, and also the seed, which produces [Buddhas] in the past, present, and future. He who keeps these sutras has the body of a Buddha and does the work of a Buddha; know that such is the apostle sent by the Buddhas; such is covered by the robe of the BuddhasThis passage ends with us being told to behold the Buddhas in the eastern quarter! Buddhas can be seen in the ten directions when you know how to see the such-ness of the universe. The sutra also tells us that we will see pure lands everywhere we look. When you develop your mind to this level you will live in a Buddhist Pure Land. You will see a jewel tree with lion thrones beneath them, which means that you realize there is one central law that will always produce value in your life if you practice in harmony with it. These lion thrones are places of practice and teaching. From these places of practice come numerous Bodhisattvas all named Universal Virtue mounted on white elephants. When you practice in accord with these teachings, you are Universal Virtue and so is anyone else who sincerely repents and learns to follow the Buddha. When you begin to see everyone as a Bodhisattva, or potential Bodhisattva, it is a short step to realize that all beings can also be Buddhas. If you view people this way you will not want to mistreat or abuse anyone, no matter how bad their behavior is.

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The best way to attain realizations is to pray for them when you are in front of the Gohonzon. If, for example, you still do not have a realization on emptiness, this is the best way to attain it quickly. You still have to study and contemplate, but no prayer to the Gohonzon goes unanswered. Please notice how we are continually reminded of our connection to Shakyamuni Buddha. Earlier we are told that in dreams the student will see the seven Buddhas of the past, but that ONLY Shakyamuni will preach the law to him. Tradition tells us that there were six Buddhas on the Earth before Shakyamunis time, but their teachings have been lost. It was Shakyamuni and the beings associated with him that we made karmic connections to at some time in the far distant past. Nichiren tells us that Shakyamuni is our father. Therefore, if you want to offer respect to the other Buddhas in the universe, you should first offer respect to your father. Gratitude is an important quality to develop. Nichiren didnt tell people to disrespect other Buddhas; his point was that it couldnt be proper behavior to ignore the being that came here to help you. Nichiren wrote: Only after chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo sixty thousand, a hundred thousand or even ten million times a day, may women who put their faith in The Lotus Sutra, if they still have some time to spare, now and then murmur to herself the name of Amida or one of the other Buddhas. As we realize this in our practice and our life, the sutra tells us we will develop wisdom. With this wisdom we will see Shakyamuni and his teachings as the guiding force of our advancement. The sutra says that Shakyamuni emits rays of light from his body and that billions of Buddhas dwell in that light. When we attain enlightenment we will be one of these Buddhas because it was the light of Shakyamunis wisdom that taught us to become fully human. When we teach, the light of our wisdom will be directed at Shakyamuni, or we will teach that he is our father. We then also emit rays of light and other Buddhas will dwell in this wisdom. As we continue to practice, we are told that we will acquire virtue and start to see the pure land around us. The world looks very different when you live in the six lower states of existence. However,

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this world really is a pure land when we reside in the upper four worlds. We are reminded to reflect on the triple gem of Buddha, Dharma, and the community of believers. This is the only refuge you will ever find that you can always count on. The sutra tells us to reflect on proper morality, it mentions gift giving, which is something we have already talked about, and then we are told to ponder the heavens. In this case to ponder or reflect on the heavens means to develop wisdom. Again, we are told to repent our previous errors and acts of evil. In the innumerable past your eyes have seen many forms, some of these forms have caused you to be attached. This attachment leads only to suffering. Purify your eyes and see things the way they really are. The world is a beautiful place, please ask yourself, do I add to the beauty of the world? As you continue to improve your life condition you will see the Treasure Tower appear in your life. You must also purify your ear-organ or hearing. This sense organ has led you to suffer and filled your mind with illusions. These illusions lead to perverted and nasty karmic entanglements. Now, you are reciting and hearing the great-vehicle teaching, which leads only to merit and the end of suffering. The sense of smell has also led us to suffer through improper, foolish attachments. The sutra reads, During the innumerable kalpas of my former lives, I yearned after odors, flavors, and contacts and produced all manner of evils. You must continue to recite the sutra and, again, we are told to teach this law of the great-vehicle. With your own tongue you should denounce your evil karma caused by improper speech. You should do this privately, when you are practicing in front of the Gohonzon. The sutra tells us that The errors of this tongue are numerous and boundless. If you are anything at all like me this is certainly true! It took years for me to realize that I can always keep quiet when others behave in ways that I consider improper. If you manage to train your mind, even a little, hatred will vanish from your life.

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If you learn anything at all in your first years of practice, learn that your mouth is either going to be your best friend or your worst enemy. The sutra tells us, All the thorns of evil karmas come from the organ of the tongue. In the southern quarters there is a Buddha who teaches The Lotus Sutra. Please notice that this sutra will extinguish sins and evils. This gives us a good indication of how we will purify ourselves of all the negative causes made in the past. The sutra repeatedly tells us that we must sincerely repent, practice the meditation of The Lotus Sutra, and build on the innumerable good causes you have also made in the past. The sutra tells us that as we grow in this practice we will naturally feel joy in body and mind, which is an excellent way to express it. Anyone who continues to practice these teachings will reach this point. You will also raise the mind of great mercy which means that you will develop extraordinary compassion for all beings. You will learn, as well, that it is far easier to love humanity then than it is the person whom we have decided we dislike. Evil behavior is stupid! It is also self-destructive, that is why it is animal behavior. It is anti-life. It takes time and patience to develop your humanity. The truth pervades all places. The Buddha is said here to dwell in emptiness or truth. The truths the Buddha teaches are based on permanent law. The Bodhisattva practice is not to cut off binding and driving nor to abide in the ocean of driving This mysterious sounding statement is talking first about defilement, because defilement binds you to transmigration and drives you to the world of suffering. If you cut off binding and driving you are practicing austerities, usually for [misguided] reasons of purification. Shakyamuni tried these practices and determined that they only led to suffering and death. If you abide in the ocean of driving then you are trying to eliminate suffering by filling your life with luxuries. This is a path that also has no ultimate value, because the luxuries you acquire do not go with you into your next life. They immediately become the property of someone else.

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To practice the way of the Bodhisattva you must follow the middle way. You cannot meditate on mind because your concept of mind is an illusion based on perverted thought. (See The Eyes of Enlightenment). The mind presenting such a form rises from ones false imagination like the wind in the sky, which has no foothold. Your mind neither appears at birth nor disappears at death. When you reach this stage of non-attachment you realize that everything is empty, because everything is dependant on causes. Merit and destruction, love and hate, your own mind, and all laws are equally empty. Even the law of dependant origination is empty, which means that there never was a first, or original cause. To practice this meditation of The Lotus Sutra means that you are entering into the real Bodhisattva standing. To practice in this manner is called repentance. As you perform Gongyo everyday please notice that you are guided to Expiate my negative Karma caused by my slander of the law in this life and in the past The sutra states: After the extinction of the Buddha, if all his disciples should repent their evil karmas, they must only read and recite the great vehicle sutras. These sutras are the eyes of the Buddhas because they lead you to see the such-ness of things. At our present level of development, we see small flashes of reality. A Buddha lives in that state of total clarity all the time; this is expressed as the five kind of eyes. We are told, the three kinds of the Buddhas bodies grow from these teachings. The three bodies of a Buddha, also known as Trikaya in Sanskrit, are: (1) Dharmakaya, or the true nature of the Buddha which is identical with the essence of the universe. This truth body also represents the teachings or dharma. (2) Sambhogakaya or delight body which means they enjoy the truth they exist in, and (3) Nirmanakaya or the body with which they appear in the world. All Buddhas become enlightened through these principles, this is the path to liberation. The great law taught in these sutras opens the seal of nirvana. The sutra tells us, If there be any who recite and read the sutras of great extent, the great vehicle, know that such are endowed with the Buddhas merits, and, having extinguished their longstanding evils, are born of the Buddhas wisdom.

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Much of this is repeated in the verse section. The text continues, All sins are just as frost and dew, if you reflect on reality and practice as we are taught our senses will be purified and these sins will melt away. After repeating most of this again, we are told to take refuge in the triple gem. Also, we must receive or embrace the six-fold laws. They are (1 do not kill, (2 do not steal, (3 do not lie, (4 do not speak of other peoples faults, (5 do not engage in improper sexual activity, which means you should honor you marriage vows and the marriage vows of others, and (6 do not drink intoxicants. Practicing moral behavior will lead you to two more rules which makes this the eightfold-laws, the two rules are, (7 do not conceal your own faults, and (8 always emphasize peoples good points instead of what you consider to be their faults. Moral behavior is always common sense. A student who practices this meditation of The Lotus Sutra does not need ceremonies, or transmissions from teachers because these sutras are the eyes of the righteous law of the Buddhas in the ten directions. He will be able, through practicing this law, to receive the effects of ceremonies, or transmissions without any outside empowerments. If you commit evil, bad, or foolish acts after you have begun to practice, you must remember the profound doctrine of sutras and the void of the first principle. One who thinks of this law is called one who practices the first repentance. To practice the second repentance you must discharge your duty to your father and mother and respect your teachers and seniors in faith. The third repentance is not to oppress people unjustly. The fourth repentance is not to kill, and not to let people under your authority kill. The fifth repentance is to understand cause and effect, to realize emptiness, and understand the eternity of life. The final words of the Buddha tell us, If, in future worlds, there be any who practices these laws of repentance, know that such a man has put on the robe of shame, is protected and helped by the Buddhas, and will attain perfect enlightenment before long.

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Karen, you must develop patience. You will probably not attain enlightenment tomorrow or even the day after but you will get there. The Buddha wrote, let an intelligent [person] come to me who is sincere, honest and straightforward, and I will instruct [them], I will teach [them] dharma. If you practice what you have been taught, then within seven years you will find what you are looking for by your own knowledge and realization. (Udumbarika-Sihanada Sutta)
We would like to thank you for taking the time to listen to this. If you are studying on the Internet, we thank you, as well. Please feel free to copy this, or any document on our site. We want to benefit as many beings as possible. Free copies of this lecture are available on audiocassette as well. In the Kansas City area you can reach us at (913) 722-0900. The rest of North America can call (800) 576-9212. You can e-mail us at svark@kc.rr.com or post messages on our home web site at www.buddhistinformation.com. Lets dedicate the merit we have obtained for the benefit of all sentient beings. May all beings, everywhere, find the path that leads to freedom and nirvana, NamMyoho-Renge-Kyo, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, may all beings benefit. Thank you.