35 Day Practice Day 33

35 Day Practice Day 33

Read Lotus Sutra
M p. 325 from beginning of Chapter Dharanis “Thereupon Medicine-King Bodhisattva rose…(continue on same page to)…Then he uttered spells:”
M p. 329 “Excellent, excellent! Your merits…(continue to end of chapter)…obtained the truth of birthlessness.”
R p. 381 from beginning of Chapter Incantations “At that time Medicine King…(continue on same page to)…Then he made the following incantation.”
R p. “The Buddha said to the ogress:…(continue to end of chapter)…accepted the non-arising of all things.”

Dharanis/Incantations

After you have finished with today’s reading selection please spend the remainder of your practice time divided between reading the Shindoku of Chapter 16 and chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. As you are chanting perhaps you might consider these two paragraphs and the merits they discuss that accrue to someone who practices the Lotus Sutra. Also consider the benefit to those who merely praise the Lotus Sutra.

For some people who are practicing they may be the only or main person in their household who is practicing. There may be a partner or a spouse or sibling or parent who does not practice. I would like for you to take a moment here and see if you can cause a great sense of appreciation to those other people who may not practice but upon whom you have a deep relationship with. Let the feeling of appreciation include their either direct or indirect support of you which enables you to practice.

I have frequently spoken with people who are the only practitioner in their household and sometimes they express concern that the other person doesn’t practice. To this I have to say, yes they do! By their indirect support of you as a person, and especially if they do not interfere with your belief in and practice of the Lotus Sutra, they are in fact indirectly having a deep relationship with the Lotus Sutra through your practice.

So, from this perspective their relationship with the Lotus Sutra deepens and grows as a direct consequence of your own deepening practice and relationship with the Lotus Sutra. It doesn’t make us better, it makes it more important for their happiness to ensure that we do our personal best to uphold and follow as closely as possible the teachings of the Buddha. Through you, they practice!

For those who live alone, you are not off the hook. Your very existence, as we have been working on throughout this series, is dependent upon countless other people so we should practice with appreciation to those people. It is almost as if when we chant or read or any way in which we carry out the Lotus Sutra, if we can do so with a deep sense of appreciation to all the things that make it possible to do this practice then we are in a sense bestowing the Dharma on these people through our humble efforts.

In this chapter there is a series of speaker who provide special prayers or incantations to protect those who practice the Lotus Sutra. Basically this means that without our personal practice and relationship to the Lotus Sutra, these offerings have no value, it is us who makes them powerful. Yesterday we read about World-Voice-Perceiver, Kanzeon. It is fundamentally the same in that case as well; our practice, our relationship with the Lotus Sutra determines the value of their promises and vows.

We can manifest all of the wonderful and splendid things contained in the Lotus Sutra only through our practice. I am often struck by those who would seek out select persons, Buddha emanations, Bodhisattvas, deities, and such, without connecting them to the teaching in which they belong. The promises and benefits, as has been stated numerous times, are directly related to our practice of the Lotus Sutra; which in this age amounts to chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.

Because the Lotus Sutra represents a collection of all the Buddha’s teachings and is understood to reveal the mind and heart and vow of the Buddha it is questionable when people think that they can somehow selectively ignore portions of this complete teaching. It fundamentally, I believe represents a mind of arrogance; thinking that perhaps we know more than the Buddha, or that he taught superfluous things.

So, you are probably wondering, if you have read further in this chapter, what some of those weird words mean. Let me say that these strange words are traditionally not translated within the text of the Lotus Sutra. By that I mean they appear as phonetic representations of the original Sanskrit. This isn’t to say they have no meaning or untranslatable.

The prayers fall into several groups. One group is those that are for the health and safety of the practitioner. Another group is those that cover the practitioner’s ability to spread the Lotus Sutra. There is one group that deals with wealth saying such things as no one is wealthier than a practitioner of the Dharma, or that there is no wealth greater than the Dharma. Another collection speaks to the compassion of the Buddha, which will benefit believers.

In all cases though these blessings are directly related to practice of the Lotus Sutra.

Finally as you continue throughout your day try to strengthen your efforts to live according to the Eight Right Ways. Also as you go through your day see if you can consider how you can live your life more effectively for the benefit of other living beings. Think of the ways in which you can either directly or indirectly cause other beings to rejoice.

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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.