35 Day Practice Day 24

35 Day Practice Day 24

Read Lotus Sutra
M p. 221 “Manjusri! I will tell you a parable…(continue to p. 222)…Now I expound it to you today for the first time.”
R p. 271 “Majushri, it is like a powerful…(continue to p. 272)…Today for the first time I lay it out for all of you.”

Gem In The Top-Knot

At the conclusion of your reading today continue to split your time remaining between chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo and reading the Shindoku of a the portion of Chapter 16 we have been working on. Also, you guessed it, keep working on the Right Ways you have selected to focus on. Throughout your day I also hope you are continuing to chant Namu Myoho Renge Kyo to yourself whenever you are able.

Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo silently to yourself may seem like it is a superfluous or unimportant practice, but I don’t think this is true. There are several benefits to be obtained by doing this practice. One obvious one is that it constantly brings to your mind that you are trying to practice Buddhism with your whole life, not just as some temporary or intellectual activity.

A further benefit is that you are ever more deeply embracing the heart and core of the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, even in ways you may not be fully aware of yet. Just as it isn’t necessary for you to fully understand the complexities of many devices you use daily such as TV or phone or even radio or the internet in order to benefit from them, so too with Buddhism. Your internal practice of chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo connects you with the spirit, or as I mentioned the core, of the teaching of the Lotus Sutra.

Also, chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is a meditative practice so it has physiological benefits as well, such as lowering your blood pressure and heart rate. It also helps to clear the mind of many distracting thoughts enabling your innate wisdom or your Buddha wisdom to rise to the surface. So please do your best to chant whenever possible.

Today the reading covered a short little parable called gem in the top-knot. At first reading you may wonder what a king going to war has to do with the Buddha. As we read further though we see that indeed the Buddha was like this king, because he fought the forces of Mara, the king Devil.

Right before the Buddha attained his enlightenment as he sat under the tree he was confronted with the demon forces of Mara who tried to prevent him from becoming enlightened, and thereby enabling all mankind to break the bonds of suffering. The Buddha was able to defeat the vast resources Mara threw at him, and finally attained enlightenment.

We too, must overcome our own Mara, those things that arise in our minds to try to become discouraged and give up our Buddhist practice. Previously I talked about those things that occur in our environment to try to prevent us from practicing, today we deal with the obstacles occurring in our mind. These obstacles may be in the form of doubts such as our self-worth or our personal ability to become enlightened. It also may be doubts about the truth of Buddhism, or doubts about the value of practicing. We all experience these moments when we may think things impossible or not worth it.

Being aware of the workings of our minds is the first step to overcoming these kinds of difficulties. Mara isn’t so much of a real thing as it is a figurative example or a personification of those things in our mind that prevent us from becoming happy or enlightened.

The Buddha says in this portion of the Sutra that up until this point he has held back, he has kept in reserve the most valuable, the most important teaching of Buddhism; that being the Lotus Sutra. He tells us that this Sutra is where the greatest treasure of the Buddhas is kept, that it is superior to all the other Sutras ever taught.

This may seem like a bold statement, but there is merit to it, if for no other reason than contained within the Lotus Sutra are teachings that have not occurred previously in any of the other Sutras. Yet we have not even reached the last of those unique and first teachings. Some of those firsts that we have read so far include; the size of the congregation, the numerous deities in attendance, the predictions of enlightenment for people who had previously been denied enlightenment, the enlightenment of plants and animals, and the enlightenment of women.

Regarding the enlightenment of women, the day before we read of the daughter of the Dragon King. Yesterday, in a portion that we did not read, there was also the enlightenment of Gautami and Yasodhara, the aunt of the Buddha and the Buddha’s wife, thus women are clearly included in enlightenment where before they had been excluded. This was a very revolutionary teaching!

I hope you have a joy filled day. Tomorrow we have something very exciting happening and something with great implications to our lives.

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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.