Nichiren Pardoned from Izu Exile 1263
The irregular rhythm in particular is meant to remind us of the waves of the ocean at the time Nichiren was cast out of the boat carrying him to shore. The boat was unable to reach the shore and so Nichiren was cast out of the boat and he found a rock outcropping on which to stand until it was safe to wade to shore.
With that image of water I would like to transition to water as it falls from the sky; rain. For those here in the temple you can see a new decoration hanging on the wall near the side altar where incense offerings are made, and for those reading the blog it is the image featured with today’s blog entry.
This piece of artwork was created by a Sangha member who practices in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Patty Musgrove. The art piece is a very intricate bead and fabric creation inspired by the Chapter V, a Simile of Herbs.
In this Chapter the story is told of a great rain cloud that provides rain which falls evenly on the mountains, valleys, ravines, forests and thickets. The rain falls on the plants, trees, and grasses and waters them. This rain is absorbed by all the various growing things according to the unique capacity of each.
In this simile the Buddha is the rain cloud and the Dharma is the rain. That Dharma is absorbed and understood and benefits each person according to the basic nature of the individual. The benefit provided while equal in potential will appear different in actuality since each person has a unique capacity and capability. You might think about how an various artists might reproduce and illustrate the same thing in different ways. In this case Patty has expressed her vision of this Simile of Herbs through the use of fabric and beads. She did not illustrate this in the same way that others may have, yet the truth is accurately represented in her creation.
I once did an experiment with the Chaplains in my peer group where I presented a typed dialogue between a patient and myself. I had each Chaplain in the group read the story and then retell it out loud. As each Chaplain retold the story they had read it came out different. We all perceive and are impacted differently similar events.
In the case of the Dharma taught in the Lotus Sutra, the Dharma is the same yet we each will benefit differently according to each of our unique capabilities and capacities. The Dharma is not different; it is we who will manifest it differently. One of the beauties of this simile and its use of rain is that regardless of our differing natures and capacities the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra is broad enough, it is complete enough, and it is large enough to be able to provide nourishment to anyone and also everyone.
In closing today I would like to express deep gratitude to Patty for the donation of this beautiful creation inspired by the Lotus Sutra. This piece of art will prove to be a very valuable teaching tool, which I think was part of what Patty may have been motivated by. Because of Patty’s deep connection to and love of the Lotus Sutra, she wanted to be able to share that and to help others find a connection to this great teaching given to us by the Buddha.