35 Day Practice Day 15

35 Day Practice Day 15

Read Lotus Sutra
M p. 171 “If after my extinction anyone rejoices…(continue to p. 173 end of first paragraph)…be able to attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.”
R p. 225 “Again addressing Medicine King,…(continue to p. 227 end of first paragraph)…they attain supreme awakening.”

Five Practices

After you finish reading this section of the Lotus Sutra spend the remainder of your practice time chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. Congratulations, you are beginning your third week of practicing and studying the Lotus Sutra. This is noteworthy!

You may have noticed as you read the Sutra today that a change has taken place here. One thing, now we see exactly how we are supposed to practice the Lotus Sutra, and another is a shift in tense from those present to those who will come after the death of the Buddha.

I heard once that there is a belief that this chapter, Chapter X is perhaps the oldest part of the Lotus Sutra. I don’t know for certain the truth of this statement but we can see the emergence of ideas that appear in other chapters begin in this chapter.

The five practices of the Lotus Sutra are; to keep, to read, to recite, to expound, and to copy.

By keep it is meant that we try to observe all the teachings found in the Lotus Sutra, we try to hold them in our heart and manifest them in our lives. Last week I asked you to focus on trying to practice one of the Eight Right Ways. I wonder how you did? Were you able to make any changes in the way you live based on trying to follow the one you selected? I hope you had some success, remember even a little success is better than nothing. This week, continue to try to observe the Right Way you selected and then add one more to your efforts this week. So now you will begin focusing on observing or keeping Two of the Eight Right Ways.

To read means to do exactly as you have been doing these past two weeks. Reading is different than reciting in that one is from a study perspective and the other is from a ritual perspective, that is one way of looking at it. Every day I have suggested short sections for you to read over and think about. As you can see there is much more that we have not read, but you can come back to that gradually after you finish the 35 days of practice here.

To recite, as I mentioned above is more of a ritual formal practice. Reciting is doing things like reading the Shindoku of Chapter 16 you have been working on mastering. Recite, in the context of our formal service also includes reciting a portion of Chapter II which I had you read early on in this activity. Recite also includes the chanting of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, which is the Sacred Title of the Lotus Sutra. We believe, as Nichiren taught, that by reciting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo we are in fact reciting the entirety of the Lotus Sutra. If you think of your favorite book, and some one mentions the title to that book, many images, thoughts, memories, emotions can occur in your mind just by saying the title of your favorite book. So too with Namu Myoho Renge Kyo especially as we learn more about what is contained within the Lotus Sutra.

To expound means to teach or to tell others of the great truths found in the Lotus Sutra, as well as to share the joys you experience as a result of your ongoing practice. It is important to understand that it isn’t necessary to be a scholar in order to share what you have learned and experienced through your practice, all you need is your sincere heart. There is a story of one of the Buddha’s disciples who had only met the Buddha a few short days before. While traveling on a road he came upon a stranger to whom he extolled the greatness and joy of Buddhism. The man asked him to explain more and the disciple said he had only met the Buddha but he would take the man to see the Buddha. The man accepted the offer but declared that he would take faith in Buddhism based upon the disciple’s sincere heart.

To copy means to actually write out the Lotus Sutra. In Nichiren Shu we actually have a meditative practice called Shakyo, which means to write out the Lotus Sutra. I will encourage you to do this activity a little bit later in the 35 day practice. I’ll provide copy sheets for you to trace out the characters of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo and provide some basic instructions on how to do this meditative practice.

Finally, let me close today by pointing out, as I mentioned earlier, that in this section we read we are now looking forward into the future to a time after the Buddha has died. We see the great promise of enlightenment given to those who practice and have faith in the Lotus Sutra at this time. We see that they, meaning us, will be born in an evil world, a world where Buddhist ideals are not widely observed. We see that the people who appear after the Buddha’s life and practice the Lotus Sutra actually have given up rewards of good karma just so we can practice in this time and lead countless people to faith in the Lotus Sutra.

We are doing the work of the Buddha; we are the Buddha’s messengers. The Buddha even says that a person who speaks ill of the Buddha in his presence is not as bad as a person who speaks ill of people who practice in the ages after the Buddha has died. We can see by this that the Buddha places special great importance on the people who appear after the Buddha and maintain faith in the Lotus Sutra.

Congratulations again to you!

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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.