35 Day Practice Day 25

35 Day Practice Day 25

Read Lotus Sutra
M p. 228 “No good men!…(continue to p. 230)…Do they not fatigue you?”
M p. 233 “These Bodhisattvas have…(continue to p. 234)…”Remove our doubts!”
M p. 236 “Ajita, know this, these great Bodhisattvas…(continue to p. 237)…”Since the remotest past.”
M p. 238 “It is not long…(continue to end of chapter)”
R p. 279 “Then the Buddha said…(continue to bottom p. 280)…make the World-Honored One tired?”
R p. 284 “In all four regions…(continue to end of p. 284)…Please dispel the doubts of this congregation!”
R p. 286 “Ajita, you should know…(continue to p. 287)…I have been teaching and transforming this multitude.”
R p. 289 “In the past the Buddha…(continue to end of chapter)”

Bodhisattvas From Underground

Today there was a lot to read. I asked you to jump around a bit in this chapter because I did not want to break up this into two days. I felt it would be better experienced as one days worth of reading. I hope it worked well for you. There is still much of the chapter that was not read but you were able to read the highlights, which for now is satisfactory, especially for the kind of exposure we are trying for in this short period.

As has been the practice in previous days please spend the remainder of your practice time chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. As you chant I would like for you to see if you can call up any images you may have in your mind that connect with the reading.

What did you think as you were reading the selections today? Did you have some of the same questions as the folks present in the congregation have? Who are these people who have now suddenly appeared rising from the ground?

There are a couple of things I would like to point out to you. The first is the four leaders who you read about on M p. 230 and R p. 280. These four leaders are also depicted on the Gohonzon either as statues or as calligraphic names on the paper Mandala. In statue form they are four identical statues with only slight differences in robe colors and in calligraphic form they appear on the first line flanking the names of Many Treasures Buddha and Shakyamuni Buddha.

A second thing I always like to point out is how these people who have risen from underground approach the Buddha. There is a stark contrast between their behavior and the behavior of the Buddha’s contemporary disciples. Unlike the Buddha’s contemporary disciples who have asked for personal predictions of enlightenment, these folks who came from underground ask the Buddha about his health and well-being.

The Bodhisattvas who arise from underground do not ask for things for themselves, their concern is for the Buddha. The contemporaries of the Buddha seek for their own selves and do not ask the Buddha how he is doing. There is a definite shift in concern. One group is concerned for themselves, the other is concerned for others. Did you notice that? Perhaps you didn’t since our reading has been jumping around so much, that is why I am pointing it out to you.

As we read about these new people who have just risen from beneath the ground we see that they are in many respects just like the Buddha. M p. 233 and R p. 284 we see many of the same phenomena that occurred as the Buddha began teachings this Lotus Sutra, the ground quaking. We also see that these Bodhisattvas have divine and supernatural powers, they are clearly different from the contemporaries of the Buddha.

We learn that these Bodhisattvas have a long term relationship with the Buddha, that they have been trained by the Buddha and have practiced diligently under the Buddha for countlessly long periods of time. The Buddha calls them his sons.

Finally among the things I would like to point you to today is the fact that the Buddha has now declined the offer of various folks to spread the Dharma in the future ages after his death and instead is giving that responsibility to this new group of people. This is a key point because of how it relates to those of us who practice the Lotus Sutra in this current day and age.

Since we are in the time after the death of the Buddha, and since we are practicing, studying and teaching this sutra, just as the Buddha instructs us, then who might we most be like of all the people in the Lotus Sutra? The Buddha says that it is the Bodhisattvas who have just appeared from underground will be the people who practice, study and teach the Lotus Sutra in the ages after his death, so might we just possible be representing these Bodhisattvas from underground? Might we not actually be the very people who the Buddha has trained to do this from the remotest past?

This process of asking these questions and finding the answers in our own lives is actually part of the transference of the responsibility for the protection of the Lotus Sutra that occurs here and in subsequent chapters of the Lotus Sutra. As we continue in our practice, as we develop a greater understanding of the Lotus Sutra our relationship to the Lotus Sutra changes from one of a historical perspective to one of a current contemporary relationship.

No longer is this an almost 3000 year old teaching and it now becomes a story of our own lives. This is part of the process of an ever deepening understanding and embracing of the Lotus Sutra. At first as we approach the Lotus Sutra it is as a study of what has happened in the past to an accounting of what is actually happening right now in our own lives.

This may escape you at the present time, but it is good to be aware of the fact that the Lotus Sutra is really a story about your own life and your long term relationship to the Buddha that spans past, present, and future.

There is a lot to absorb today. And this is a life long process, one of an ever deepening realization.

Today as in days past continue your chanting of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo as you engage in your daily activities and continue to work on now three of your Right Ways as well as your connections to others for your life.

In many ways today begins the arising of your own life, even though you have been practicing chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo up until today you may have not known of your actual place within the Lotus Sutra. You are actually written about in this chapter of the Lotus Sutra your story is here.

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.