35 Day Practice Day 12

35 Day Practice Day 12

Read Lotus Sutra
M p. 144 “I will tell you a parable….(continue to p. 145)….I divide the One Vehicle of the Buddha into three only expediently.”
R p. 198 “Suppose there was a bad road…..(continue to p. 199)….made distinctions within it, and spoken of the three.”

Parable of A Magic City

After you have completed reading this short section from the Lotus Sutra spend the balance of your time split between reciting as much of Chapter 16 as you are able and chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. I hope that you are still trying to follow this model to the best of your ability. Remember we are trying to establish a daily practice regimen of both practice and study.

Eventually I hope that you will expand your time so that you can have more for study and more for practice, however at this point it is important to try to be as consistent as possible, that is what is important now. We want to remember the image of the water flowing constantly and through this constant gradual action slowly polishes the rocks smooth.

Today we read another of the famous and major parables found in the Lotus Sutra. This parable tells of a group of travelers who have heard of a fantastic city they wish to travel to. The road to this city is dangerous and they do not have the skill necessary to get there on their own. They learn of a skilled guide who can take them and so they contact him to do so. Along the way the group becomes tired and discouraged and even wish to return home.

Seeing that the group is becoming discouraged the guide conjures up a magic city where the people take rest and nourishment. Once the group is refreshed the guide tells them that where they are is not the real final destination, it is just so they can become refreshed. So the group then sets out for the final destination.

This story is given so that people will understand why all of the different teachings of Buddhism exist. They exist solely for the purpose, according to the Lotus Sutra, of preparing or leading to the one great truth presented within the Lotus Sutra, that of enlightenment of all living beings equal to that of the Buddha. Buddhas teach the various other teachings, much the same way the guide conjured up the magic city, as a way to encourage practitioners along the path to enlightenment.

If the Buddha had revealed his ultimate purpose early on people would have been discouraged thinking it too difficult. So then you might be wondering well what is different about people now and people then? Why are we given and encouraged to practice the Lotus Sutra first? Why is it taught in the Lotus Sutra that this sutra should be the single most important sutra in the age in which we live?

My feeling on this is because in this age the Buddha suspected that there would be an abundance of variations on his original teachings, that this abundance would present confusing choices for people of later ages. We see this hinted at in various portions of the Lotus Sutra when he talks about an age where there are many false teachings and false teachers.

Contained within the Lotus Sutra are all of the Buddha’s previous teachings, according to the studies of Nichiren this sutra represents not just the culmination of the purpose of the Buddha it also represents the complete teachings of the Buddha. There is nothing more and there is nothing missing in this one single teaching and no other teaching offers this. Therefore to have protected and transmitted this single sutra through the ages became important and continues to be so because of this completeness. I don’t believe it is so much that this is the only way to practice Buddhism, but that this way, this practicing the Lotus Sutra, is the most complete way and offers the way by which anyone can attain enlightenment equal to that of the Buddha.

Remember to continue working on the one Right Way you selected at the beginning of this second week of your practice. Also continue when possible to keep thinking of your connections to people as you engage in different activities throughout your day.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.