35 Day Practice Day 14

35 Day Practice Day 14

Read Lotus Sutra
M p. 164 first two paragraphs Chapter IX
M p. 166 single paragraph “Good men! Ananda and I resolved….assured of his future Buddhahood.”
M p. 167 single paragraph “In your future life…..just as you are now mine.”
R p. 219 first paragraph Chapter IX
R p. 221 single paragraph “The World-Honored One,…So now he receives this assurance.”
R p. 221 last paragraph “Then the Buddha spoke to Rahula…” to end of paragraph on page 222

Ananda and Rahula

Congratulations! Today is the last day of your second week of practicing Nichiren Buddhism. You have come a long way, I hope you can celebrate this achievement.

After you finish reading the above passages I hope you will spend the balance of your practice time chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo with great joy and fulfillment. Remember as you chant to keep your mind focused on the chanting as much as you are able. If you find your mind straying remember to say something like ‘thinking’ to yourself and come back to the chanting.

Today we are formally introduced to Ananda, though he has been with us since we began reading the Lotus Sutra. Ananda, one of the Buddha’s 10 most important disciples was foremost in knowing the teachings of the Buddha and it is said that he was always with the Buddha whenever the Buddha taught. It is because of Ananda’s great memory and his devotion to the Buddha that we have the teachings of the Buddha today.

At the first Buddhist Counsel it was Ananda who recited from memory all that the Buddha taught. At the Beginning of Sutras appears the phrase “Thus have I heard” which indicates that the Sutra is being recounted or retold by Ananda. At the First Buddhist Counsel Ananda would recount the teachings and all the others would then commit them to their memory as well and so began the collecting and preserving the teachings of the Buddha.

Rahula was the Buddha’s son who also became an important disciple of Buddhism and the Buddha. It is the section concerning Rahula’s future enlightenment that I would like to spend a little time. As we read this paragraph we see the many titles that will be attributed to the Buddha he will become.

But notice that Rahula really does no specific noteworthy thing except make offerings to Buddha’s. He is the eldest son of those Buddhas just as he is now. Unlike many others noted in the Lotus Sutra who perform specific practices and accomplish various achievements Rahula does not. This is considered to be a Secret Practice or a practice as nobody special but a person who practices strenuously and thereby leads others to faith through friendship.

For many of us this is where the heart of our practice lies. We are not noteworthy people, most of us are rather ordinary living ordinary and mundane lives. Yet it is by carrying out our Buddhist practice in such a simple way that we are able to lead countless people we interact with daily to Buddhism. When we become happy, when we change our lives, as ordinary people, others around us who also are leading simple lives can be moved to praise Buddhism, which is the first step to faith.

As the son of the Buddha I imagine Rahula lived with a lot of stress and pressure and yet always in the shadow of his teacher, his father. It is not an easy place to practice in. If we think of the Buddha’s cousin, Devedatta we see that he succumbed to jealousy and even envy of the Buddha and sought to kill the Buddha. Rahula on the other hand lived quietly and meekly never causing problems and never seeking fame based upon his relationship to his father.

Being content with ourselves as we awaken to the Buddha residing in our lives is not easy. We may think that we are not doing enough for Buddhism, but we should never feel this way. It is the ordinariness of our lives and our ability to attain enlightenment that will be most encouraging to others.

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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.