35 Day Practice Day 21

35 Day Practice Day 21

Read Lotus Sutra
M p. 190 “Good men! Think this over clearly!…(continue to end of chapter)”
R p. 243 “All my good sons….(continue to the end of the chapter)”

Nine Difficult and Six Easy Things

After you finish reading today’s selection divide your time between chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo and reading Chapter 16 in Shindoku. Congratulations, today is the end of 3 weeks of practicing and studying the Lotus Sutra. I hope it hasn’t been too difficult for you.

Speaking of difficult, what did you think about the reading today? The portion we read today has two parts to it, though you may not have been aware of it. The first part is the Nine Difficult and Six Easy Things. The second part is called Hotoge or Difficulty of Retaining the Sutra. The first part begins where we began reading and ends at the top of page 193 in the Murano and end of third stanza on page 245 in the Reeves.

The Hotoge or Difficulty of Retaining the Sutra begins on page 193 with “It is difficult to keep this sutra…” in the Murano and page 246 with “This sutra is so difficult to embrace…” in the Reeves. Both continue to the end of the chapter.

In case it was not clear before reading this you should have a pretty good idea of three things. One is that it isn’t easy to practice and keep this teaching of the Buddha. The second thing is that among all the sutras the Buddha taught, of all the teachings of the Buddha this one is the most important and also the hardest to observe. Finally, the third thing is by practicing, by following and embracing this Sutra a person will be praised by all the Buddhas and be able to attain enlightenment.

I am always somewhat amused when I read the list of difficult and easy things, because to me none of the easy things are easy at all. Yet I do know that practicing the Lotus Sutra is hard to do, especially over a lifetime. But slowly and surely I have managed to do so and it seems, when looking back quite beneficial. It is because I know it can be difficult that I am hoping this 35 day practice will be helpful to you in establishing a pattern in your life to help you continue your practice long into the future.

Today, as you prepare for beginning the fourth week of practice I encourage you to write down some things that you may have noticed that appear to hinder your practice. Write down things like “I get busy”, or “I sleep too late” or “I am too tired”, or even “It is too confusing”. Whatever the obstacle is write it down, try to do so without guilt, and try not to have too much remorse. Just be honest, that is also a key practice in Buddhism, to get to know ourselves in a frank and honest manner so that we can begin to work on changing the things that are preventing us from becoming happy.

Once you have written down anything that stands in your way to daily practice you can confront it. Consider it as you go through your day. See if you can dig deeper into what about that thing is actually the cause of not practicing. Again try to engage in this exercise with honesty and with out shame or guilt. The facts are what they are, but by looking at them we can begin to change those things. If we ignore it then no change will occur.

As you consider the things that stand in your way to practice see if you notice a pattern. In the Nine Difficult and Six Easy Things you may have noticed that the nine difficult things are of a mental/spiritual nature and the six easy things are of a physical nature. This shows us that it is sometimes the most difficult of things to change, those things that reside in our mind, our spirit, or our emotions. Does this help you to see your obstacle differently?

As in the days before also continue to work on your two Right Ways as well as your connections to countless other beings.

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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.