35 Day Practice Day 1

35 Day Practice Day 1

Today we begin with reading the Lotus Sutra. For the purpose of this series I will give the pages as found in the current, Second Edition: 1991, Murano (noted as M) translation. I will also provide corresponding pages from the Revees (noted as R) translation, First Edition: 2008. I will provide a beginning initial quote and then a partial ending quote. Please read from the beginning of the quote to the ending. I hope this is not too confusing, if so please comment offering what you think might be better. Please understand that because of copyright issues I can not actually quote the entire passages.

If you do not have either of these two translations and are using another I will not be able to personally assist in locating the corresponding passages. At the temple it is my policy to only quote from the Murano translation, but for this project I will offer the single alternative passages from the widely available and reasonably priced Reeves version (no I do not make any commission or kickback or compensation from the sales of either or any version of the Lotus Sutra).

Ok let us begin. Today please read the following:
M p. 5 “Manjusri…Those worlds look golden-colored”
M p. 13 “Thereupon Manjusri said….the most difficult teaching in the world to believe”
R p. 56 “Manjushri….Are colored in gold”
R p. 64-65 “Then Manjushri said…That is why he displayed this omen”

Yesterday I asked you to decide on a time of day you can reasonably do this consistently every day. Today I would like for you to set a goal for the amount of time you will spend each of these days in practice. If you are just new I would recommend at least 15 minutes to not much more than 20. Remember that following through with this for the entire 35 days is critical, so don’t bite off more than you can chew (is that really a good expression for this endeavor).

Another thing please do this as one entire practice without interruptions. So, please do not read at one time of day and then do the practice at another time. We are trying to develop a pattern of practice here. Later on you can separate the reading from practice but for now try it this way.

I selected these passages today because while they ignore the important information concerning the size and make up of the congregation at this teaching, they do convey that something important is happening. We have some pretty impressive phenomena occurring at this point and we want to know what is the reason for these things happening. Simply put, what’s going on and why.

The Buddha through these phenomena is causing a seeking mind to develop in the congregation, this seeking mind is important to us all the time as we engage in our Buddhist practice. The Buddha wants us to ask questions.

The phenomena also herald the beginning of an important teaching, and as we read a very difficult teaching.

Now immediately after reading this passage I suggest that you spend the remainder of your goal time chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo out loud. As you chant try to clear your mind of all thoughts other than the awareness of the sound of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. This is a meditative practice equal to silent meditation, a practice that is as old as Buddhism and one of the foundational practices of Nichiren Buddhism. Actually, all branches of Buddhism practice this kind of vocal practice. Don’t worry we won’t ignore silent meditation during this 35 days, but we will focus on this key practice as specified in the Lotus Sutra.

For those who are further along in your practice and are already reciting the Sutra passages please continue to engage in this, just add the readings and the chanting instructions to your already established practice.

One note on how you should sit. If you are sitting on the floor, sit as erect as you can. Breathe in through your nose and you will exhale through your mouth as you chant. Gently lower your eyelids till there is just a little sliver of light at the bottom. You may gaze upon the Omandala Gohonzon if you have one, though it really isn’t necessary to do so. If you are sitting in a chair, please slide forward so you are sitting on the edge of your chair, this will encourage you to sit erect and not curve your spine thereby compressing your lower lungs.

As you chant if you find your mind wandering, thinking, processing, angry, resentful, tired, anxious, or anything gently bring your concentration back to Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. You may employ this little technique if it helps. Gently say to yourself the word ‘thinking’ and come back to your chanting.

After you have completed gradually bring yourself back to your reality, to your space. Bow and rise.

Today was long on instruction but don’t worry I’ll return to my 300-500 word normal format.

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About Ryusho 龍昇

Nichiren Shu Buddhist priest. My home temple is Myosho-ji, Wonderful Voice Temple, in Charlotte, NC. You may visit the temple’s web page by going to http://www.myoshoji.org. I am also training at Carolinas Medical Center as a Chaplain intern. It is my hope that I eventually become a Board Certified Chaplain. Currently I am also taking healing touch classes leading to become a certified Healing Touch Practitioner. I do volunteer work with the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (you may learn more about them by following the link) caring for individuals who are HIV+ or who have AIDS/SIDA.