The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 11: Beholding the Precious Stupa (3)
by Nikkyo Niwano
This is the eighty-eighth installment of a detailed commentary on the Threefold Lotus Sutra by the late founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano.
TEXT Then the great assembly, seeing the two Tathagatas sitting cross-legged on the lion throne in the Stupa of the Precious Seven, each reflected thus: "The Buddhas are sitting aloft and far away. Would that the Tathagatas by their transcendent powers might cause us together to take up our abode in the sky."
COMMENTARY The assembled believers feel a longing to attain the ideal state. "The Buddha is in a far loftier state than we are. We too wish to reach that lofty state"--this desire wells up spontaneously in their hearts. This is called "awakening the aspiration for enlightenment," and means taking a step along the path to realization. So, as stated in the following passage, the Tathagata Shakyamuni immediately lifts the multitude into the sky to stand before the Precious Stupa.
TEXT Immediately Shakyamuni Buddha, by his transcendent powers, received all the great assembly up into the sky, and with a great voice universally addressed the four groups, saying: "Who are able to publish abroad the Wonderful Law Flower Sutra in this saha world? Now indeed is the time. The Tathagata not long hence must enter nirvana. The Buddha desires to commit this Wonderful Law Flower Sutra so that it may ever exist."
COMMENTARY Now the multitude ascends into the sky, and the discourse is continued there. Until this point, the assembly has taken place on the summit of Vulture Peak (the Vulture Peak assembly). From this point to the end of chapter 22, "The Final Commission," it is held in the sky (the assembly in the sky). From chapter 23, "The Story of the Bodhisattva Medicine King," onward it is held again on the summit of Vulture Peak. Since the assembly of the Lotus Sutra is held three times in two places, it is called "the two places and the three assemblies."
There is a deep significance in this. When we learn something new, we must start from what we already know so that it is not too forbidding or hard to understand. If we are shown the ideal state at the very beginning and told to reach it in one leap, we will only be bewildered. The same applies to teachings of human liberation. At first we learn how to attain peace of mind in our daily lives: how to escape suffering, how to part from delusion, and how to gain mental equilibrium. To do this we must cultivate the wisdom of seeing things as they really are and the wisdom of discerning such issues as how the world is formed, what it means to be human, and how we should interact with others. The Lotus Sutra, too, begins in this way, with the teaching that is given on the summit of Vulture Peak.
As we assimilate this wisdom, we are shown that true liberation is to become one with the Eternal Original Buddha. Furthermore, when all human beings have attained this state, the Land of Tranquil Light will manifest itself in this world. That is, we are taught to realize the power of the great compassion of the Eternal Original Buddha and faithfully follow it to become one with the Buddha. Such a state is difficult to attain within the realities of everyday life. Unless we become devoid of self and enter the world of the Buddha, we cannot realize that state. In other words, this is the absolute state to be attained by rising into the sky. This is the meaning of the discourse in the sky.
Once we have realized the great compassionate power of the Buddha, however, we must return to the earth and put our realization into action in daily life and use this realization to influence other people. Unless we do so, nothing will be achieved: The Land of Tranquil Light will not appear in this world, and personal liberation will not be perfected. Enlightenment must be actualized, put into practice in everyday life, and transmitted to all. This is the significance of the assembly's return to the summit of Vulture Peak.
We should not think of this simply as the sequence applying to the assembly of the Lotus Sutra. We must attempt to do the same in our everyday lives. We must hear the Dharma, study it, and cultivate wisdom. We must also make it an important daily task to enter concentration (samadhi) for a time and experience the mental state of oneness with the great compassion of the Buddha, and then, with the mind enhanced through such religious practice, we must work to enrich our daily lives. In this way, even in the course of everyday life we must repeat "the two places and the three assemblies," that is, the first assembly on Vulture Peak (acquiring wisdom), the assembly in the sky (becoming one with the Buddha's compassion), and the second assembly on Vulture Peak (practicing wisdom and compassion).
To return to the main text, on opening the assembly in the sky, Shakyamuni asks, "Who are able to publish abroad the Wonderful Law Flower Sutra in this saha world?" By doing so he is encouraging actual practice on earth. He seeks people to whom to commit the Lotus Sutra. The Chinese compound for "commit" is fu-shu, meaning "commit" and "entrust." It goes without saying that Shakyamuni wishes to entrust the sacred task not to a specific person but to all people.
TEXT At that time the World-honored One, desiring to proclaim this meaning over again, spoke thus in verse: "The holy world-honored lord, / Albeit for long extinct / And in his Precious Stupa, / Yet comes [to hear] the Law. / How [then] should anyone not be / Zealous for the Law's sake?
COMMENTARY Thusness exists constantly, eternal and undying. Unless there is someone who teaches it, bears witness to it, and makes it live, however, it is as if it were extinct. Such has long been the case in the human world. Thus the sutra says "albeit for long extinct." Even so, this "extinct Thusness" is due to the fact that people are unable to see Thusness because of their delusions; Thusness is actually eternal. Furthermore, Thusness itself always desires to be taught, witnessed, and put into practice, and so when one who preaches it appears, it immediately reveals itself in living form in that place. If people only realized that, they would be keen to hear the Buddha's teaching of Thusness and would devote all their efforts to practicing the teaching. This is the meaning of the Tathagata Shakyamuni's ringing declaration, "How [then] should anyone not be zealous for the Law's sake?"
TEXT This buddha has been extinct / For countless kalpas, / [Yet] in place after place he hears the Law / Because of its rareness. / That buddha made a vow: / 'After my extinction, / I will go anywhere / Forever to hear this Law.' / And innumerable buddhas / Emanated from my body, / As the sands of the Ganges, / Have come to hear the Law / And to behold the extinct Tathagata / Abundant Treasures. / Each, leaving his wonderful land / And his host of disciples, / Gods, men, and dragons, / And all their offerings, / Has come here to this place / So that the Law may long abide.
COMMENTARY As already mentioned, the emanated buddhas refer to the sages preaching their own doctrines in all parts of the universe. Some have appeared in Greece, others in China, the Middle East, and Europe, expounding their teachings and instructing people in those countries or cultural spheres ("wonderful land[s]"). These refer not only to places on earth but to all places in the universe where there are living beings. These sages have direct followers as well as the many who receive their teachings indirectly ("host of disciples"). These sages are venerated by countless people ("gods, men, and dragons, and all their offerings").
Nevertheless, when there is one who preaches the complete aspect of Thusness, these sages have to listen, for their own teachings are a part of Thusness, that is, the "emanated body" of Thusness, which is not separate from the entire body of Thusness itself. Just as blood flows in a stream, not drop by drop, the blood of Thusness is linked. And just as blood flows away from and then back to the heart, no drop missing, so do all teachings flow from Thusness, their source. All the sages, therefore, gladly leave their wonderful lands where they have taught, their followers, and people's respect and gratitude, to come see the complete aspect of Thusness and listen to the true teaching.
This is the ideal of religion. Differences of religious school, focus of devotion, ritual, and custom seem vast, but in reality they are minute problems. If people can avoid concentrating on these small differences and make a thorough investigation of the true meaning of religion, they should be able to reach Thusness, the one ultimate truth.
Shakyamuni here portrays the ideal aspect of religion. Yet he also points out in graphic form that it is not a mere ideal but something that can be realized. His words are magnificent, and at the same time precise.
TEXT In order to seat these buddhas, / By my transcendent powers / I have removed innumerable beings / And cleared [my] domain. / The buddhas, one by one, / Have arrived under the jewel trees, / As lotus flowers adorn / A clear and cool pool. / Under those jewel trees, / On the lion thrones, / The buddhas are seated, / Brilliant and resplendent, / As, in the darkness of night, / Great torches gleam.
COMMENTARY This is a beautiful verse. In unparalleled splendor, the emanated bodies of Thusness gather together to reveal the complete aspect of Thusness and manifest it in the world.
TEXT From them proceeds a mystic fragrance / Spreading afar over all lands; / All beings perfumed thereby / Are beside themselves with joy; / It is just as when a great wind / Blows over the [fragrant] bushes. / By this expedient / They cause the Law long to abide.
COMMENTARY The "mystic fragrance" proceeding from the buddhas' bodies signifies of course the true teaching (Thusness). This teaching is not cold and off-putting but joyful and fascinating, like a fine perfume. This is as it should be, for this is the teaching that tells us that originally all human beings are buddhas. Thus, wherever the fragrance of the teaching wafts all living beings tremble with joy, as the branches of trees bend before a great wind. As stated above, to move living beings in the worlds of the ten directions through the great merit and virtue of the Dharma is a means to eternally maintain the Dharma as the true teaching in the worlds of living beings. To intimidate living beings or force the Dharma on them, saying, "Heaven will punish you if you do not believe in the Dharma," is no way to make the Dharma eternal. This is shown quite clearly in this passage.
TEXT To this great assembly I say: / 'After my extinction, / Whoever is able to guard and keep, / Read and recite this sutra, / Let him before the Buddha / Himself declare his vow!' / The Buddha Abundant Treasures, / Albeit extinct for long, / By [reason of] his great vow / [Will sound forth] the lion's roar. / Let the Tathagata Abundant Treasures / And also me myself / And my assembly of emanated buddhas / Know this resolve. / Of all my Buddha sons, / Let him who is able to protect the Law / [Sound] forth a great vow / To make it long abide! / He who is able to protect / The Law of this sutra / Will be deemed to have worshiped / Me and Abundant Treasures,
COMMENTARY Let the Tathagata Abundant Treasures and also me myself and my assembly of emanated buddhas know this resolve. The Sanskrit text is quite different here, and goes like this: "The Tathagata Abundant Treasures, I myself, and all the buddhas emanated from me must understand thoroughly the meaning of these three." The Chinese version is probably Kumarajiva's free translation. In other words, he has translated the spirit rather than the words.
? Let him . . . [sound] forth a great vow. The Buddha's exhortation to make a great vow appears three times in the verse section. This is the first.
? He who is able to protect the Law of this sutra will be deemed to have worshiped me and Abundant Treasures. Here too we find that "worship through deeds" is deemed the highest form of veneration (see the November/December 2003 issue of DHARMA WORLD). Here, "protect" does not mean just implanting the teaching firmly in one's mind. If that were all, the teaching would be lost when one died. Unless we transmit the teaching to others and implant it firmly in their minds, it will not continue to exist eternally. We must realize that protection always connotes the positive, forward-looking action of preaching for the sake of others.
TEXT This Buddha Abundant Treasures, / Who abides in the Precious Stupa / And ever wanders everywhere / For the sake of this sutra. / He will moreover have worshiped / All my emanated buddhas here, / Who adorn and make resplendent / All the worlds. / If he preaches this sutra, / Then he is deemed to have seen me / And the Tathagata Abundant Treasures, / Also my emanated buddhas.
COMMENTARY To preach this sutra is to see the Tathagata Abundant Treasures (the perfect aspect of Thusness), Shakyamuni Buddha (he who teaches the perfect aspect of Thusness), and the emanated buddhas (those who teach a part of Thusness according to different environments). These three elements are contained in the Lotus Sutra. This will be confirmed for you if you consider the Lotus Sutra as a whole.
? Emanated buddhas. This term here refers to the transformed bodies of the Buddha that appear in the world in various forms in order to bring living beings to liberation. They are called "incarnations" or "temporary manifestations."
TEXT All my good sons! / Let each carefully ponder that! / This is a difficult task, / Needing the taking of a great vow.
COMMENTARY This is the second exhortation to make a great vow. The great vow is of course the vow to preach the Lotus Sutra in order to save people. The Buddha says, "This is a difficult task," and goes on to expound how difficult it is below, using various metaphors. Nine apparently impossible things are described, and then are said to be easy in comparison to preaching the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha's extinction. Then the practice of receiving and keeping the Lotus Sutra and preaching it for the sake of others is divided into six aspects, whose practice is said to be truly difficult. This is termed "the doctrine of six difficulties and nine easy practices."
TEXT All the other sutras, / Numerous as the sands of the Ganges, / Though one expounded them, / It still could not be counted hard. / If one took up Sumeru / And hurled it to another region / Of numberless buddha lands, / Neither would that be hard. / If one were with his toes / To move a great-thousandfold world / And hurl it afar to another land, / That also would not be hard. / If one, standing on the Summit of All Beings, / Were to expound to all beings / The countless other sutras, / That also would not be hard. / But if one, after the Buddha's extinction, / In the midst of an evil world / Is able to preach this sutra, / This indeed is hard.
COMMENTARY From an ordinary point of view, all the things described as not hard seem impossible. Thus, preaching the Lotus Sutra perfectly in an evil world is more difficult than anything else. This is called "the difficulty of preaching the sutra." What makes it so difficult? Imagine you told people of old that their bodies were no more than temporary appearances and they were, in essence, buddhas. Very few would believe you; most would laugh at your "fantasies," and you would be persecuted by people of lesser teachings. This is because people as a whole had an extremely low capacity.
Today, however, conditions have changed greatly. Modern people have yet to realize true wisdom, but society as a whole has made great progress. It is one of the fruits of progress that most civilized countries recognize freedom of religion and equality of people, valuing life above all things. The advancement of science too has helped in the understanding of religion. Here, we must understand that "the difficulty of preaching the sutra" teaches us the difficulty of preaching it perfectly to all people, and we must renew our resolve to try to do so. The following five difficulties should be understood in the same way.
? Sumeru. This refers to Mount Sumeru, the highest mountain, believed by people in ancient India to be the center of the world.
? The Summit of All Beings. This phrase translates the Sanskrit Akanishtha, the highest heaven in the realm of form according to ancient Indian cosmology.
TEXT Though there be a man who / Grasps the sky in his hand / And wanders about with it, / That is still not hard. / But after my extinction, / Whether himself to copy and keep / Or cause another to copy it, / That indeed is hard.
COMMENTARY This is termed "the difficulty of copying and keeping the sutra." In modern terms it means the difficulty of thoroughly and correctly explaining the Lotus Sutra and of receiving it in faith.
TEXT If one took the great earth, / Put it on his toenail, / And ascended to the Brahma heaven, / That would still not be hard. / But after the Buddha's extinction, / In the midst of an evil world / To read aloud this sutra for but a moment, / That indeed will be hard.
COMMENTARY This is termed "the difficulty of reading the sutra for but a moment." Needless to say, anybody can read the sutra halfheartedly; the difficulty arises when one tries to read it with one's whole body and mind.
TEXT Though one, in the final conflagration, / Carried a load of dry hay, / And entered it unseared, / That would still not be hard. / But after my extinction, / If anyone keeps this sutra / And proclaims it but to one man, / That indeed will be hard.
COMMENTARY This is termed "the difficulty of preaching the Law." It is very difficult to get even one person to completely understand this teaching.
? The final conflagration. Buddhism divides the process of the formation, continuance, and destruction of a universe and the time until the next formation into four periods: the kalpa of formation, the kalpa of continuance, the kalpa of destruction, and the kalpa of emptiness. As explained earlier (see the September/October 2004 issue of Dharma World), it is said that a great fire arises at the beginning of the kalpa of destruction, which burns the world completely. Thus "the final conflagration" is expressed in Chinese as "the kalpa fire."
TEXT If one could keep the eighty-four thousand / Treasuries of the Law / And the twelve divisions of sutras, / Expound them to others, / And cause those who heard / To gain the six transcendent [powers], / Though he had such power as this, / That would still not be hard. / But after my extinction, if anyone / Hears and receives this sutra / And inquires into its meaning, / That indeed will be hard.
COMMENTARY This is termed "the difficulty of hearing and receiving the sutra." As we saw in chapter 2, "Tactfulness," "Only a buddha together with a buddha can fathom the true aspect of all things." Therefore the essence of the Lotus Sutra cannot be fathomed unless one realizes one's own buddha-nature and through that buddha-nature becomes able to see others' buddha-nature. Thus the Buddha says that hearing and receiving this sutra are very difficult.
? The eighty-four thousand treasuries of the Law. This refers to the entirety of the teachings that Shakyamuni expounded. "Eighty-four thousand" was used by people in ancient India to indicate a very large number, and so we have the expressions "eighty-four thousand years of life" and "eighty-four thousand defilements." In the same way, the Japanese talk about "the eight million deities."
? The twelve divisions of sutras. This refers to the division of the teachings of Shakyamuni into twelve kinds according to differences in literary form and doctrinal content; it is also called "the teachings in twelve divisions." (See the July/ August 1998 issue of Dharma World on "the teaching in nine divisions.")
? The six transcendent [powers]. See the discussion of "the six divine faculties" in the July/August 1992 issue.
TEXT If one could preach the Law / And cause thousands, myriads, kotis of, / Countless, innumerable beings, / As [many as] the sands of the Ganges, / To become arhats / And perfect the six transcendent [powers], / Even to confer such a benefit as this / Would still not be hard. / But after my extinction, / If anyone is able to keep / Such a sutra as this, / That will indeed be hard.
COMMENTARY The sutra says that it is far more difficult to retain the sutra for a long period and have deep faith in it than to merely understand and believe it. This is termed "the difficulty of reverently keeping the sutra."
Here the doctrine of six difficulties and nine easy practices finishes. Even though the Buddha says that these things are extremely difficult, we must not lose heart. We must understand his words as a teaching given to harden our resolve and arouse courage within us. Avoiding these things because of their difficulty indicates a weak spirit. Since the Lotus Sutra is a strong teaching, awakening the eyes of humankind to the truth and encouraging people to undertake the great task of building the ideal realm of peace in this world, weak-spirited people cannot possibly receive and keep it. All the same, there should be no misunderstanding of what I mean by a weak-spirited person. A weak-spirited person is one who prays to some image for happiness, thinking that such things can be easily achieved. However strong such people may look, it is only an appearance; they are weak because they have lost their courage to seek the true teaching and have succumbed to idolatry.
A true Buddhist may appear gentle and mild, even weak, but inside he or she cherishes an ardent determination to learn and practice the Buddha Dharma. This has been a characteristic of Buddhists since the time of Shakyamuni. We must not forget this. At present we are studying this sutra, receiving it in faith, practicing it, and preaching it to others as the days go by. We have gained a hold on one end of the difficult things and are maintaining our grip tenaciously. This proves that we can accomplish difficult things. I hope you will encourage one another as you strive in your sacred task.
TEXT I, on account of the Buddha Way, / In innumerable lands / From the beginning till now / Have widely preached many sutras; / But among them all / This sutra is the chief, and / If anyone is able to keep it, / Then he keeps the Buddha body.
COMMENTARY The Buddha's statement that he has widely expounded the teaching in "innumerable lands" does not sound much like an utterance of the Tathagata Shakyamuni as the manifest-body. By the same token, it can hardly have been the human Tathagata Shakyamuni who purified the world three times and summoned the emanated buddhas before him from the ten directions, these actions being beyond the scope of a human being. A little further on, in chapter 16, "Revelation of the [Eternal] Life of the Tathagata," it is revealed that the true form of the human-born Tathagata Shakyamuni is one neither arising nor perishing, the Tathagata Shakyamuni as the Eternal Original Buddha. That is already being taught here indirectly. Nichiren interprets the overall structure of the Lotus Sutra as follows: "The matter begins in the 'Precious Stupa' chapter, is revealed in the 'Springing Up' and 'Life of the Tathagata' chapters, and is brought to a close in the 'Divine Power' and 'Final Commission' chapters." That is, the most important teaching of the latter half of the Lotus Sutra shows signs of development in this chapter, "Beholding the Precious Stupa," is manifested clearly in the chapters "Springing Up out of the Earth" and "Revelation of the [Eternal] Life of the Tathagata," and is concluded in the chapters "The Divine Power of the Tathagata" and "The Final Commission." Thus the person who has "in innumerable lands from the beginning till now . . . widely preached many sutras" is the manifest-body Tathagata Shakyamuni and at the same time the Tathagata Shakyamuni of the reward-body and the Law-body. It would be most correct to consider that the three buddha bodies are expressed in one person.
? If anyone is able to keep it, then he keeps the Buddha body. Because this teaching embraces the whole body of the Buddha, the practice of those who receive and keep this teaching is that of reverently upholding the Buddha body. More deeply, a person who has realized the buddha-nature through the teaching of the Lotus Sutra attains a buddha body. This is a precious thing, for which we should feel gratitude.
TEXT All my good sons! / Let him who, after my extinction, / Is able to receive and keep, / Read and recite this sutra, / Now in the presence of the Buddha / Announce his own vow! / This sutra [so] difficult to keep, / If anyone keeps it a short time, / I shall be pleased, / And so will all the buddhas.
COMMENTARY Here the Buddha says for the third time that the keeper of the Lotus Sutra announces his own vow. These are precious words of encouragement.
TEXT Such a one as this / Will be praised by all the buddhas; / Such a one is brave; / Such a one is zealous; / Such a one is named precept keeper / And dhuta observer; / Speedily shall he attain / The supreme Buddha Way.
COMMENTARY Such a one is brave. I spoke above about the truly brave person. Here Shakyamuni testifies that the brave person is one who firmly keeps the Lotus Sutra (the true teaching), so we have only to strengthen our confidence.
? Such a one is zealous. "Zealous" here means to strive wholeheartedly along the original, correct path. "Effort" or "diligence" includes a variety of practices. There are those who strive intently to remain physically pure. But such effort is not yet the real practice; it is the so-called Hinayana practice. True religious effort is to devote oneself to, and strive for, the great purpose of saving oneself together with others and bringing true peace to the world. Receiving and keeping and practicing the teaching of the Lotus Sutra are directly related to that great purpose, and so the Buddha says that "such a one is zealous."
? Such a one is named precept keeper. "Precept" here means the morality and regulations given by the Buddha. People of later times have tended to regard the precepts as being only prohibitive and excessively binding, but the original intention was for them to provide a standard for a correct attitude toward life (see the November/December 1991 issue). As the number of disciples practicing under the leadership of the Buddha increased, there were some who made mistakes in their behavior. At such times the Buddha would admonish the offender, reminding him that such an action was not good. The other disciples would memorize each precept as it was spoken and strive to refrain from breaking it. Eventually there grew to be 250 precepts for ordained men and 348 for ordained women. These precepts took on a negative connotation, and though a handful of bhikshus and bhikshunis tried very hard to live a pure life keeping all those precepts, they could not purify the world as a whole and lead it to the correct path. Thus we must return to the original meaning of the precepts, understanding them positively as indications of a correct attitude toward life, keeping them ourselves and encouraging others to do likewise. Only when everybody acts according to the precepts will all become fine people.
Since the 250 and 348 precepts are the regulations governing ordained practitioners, and since lay life and ordained life are fundamentally different, it is impossible for lay followers to keep all of them. The short way, and the highway, to creating a correct attitude toward life is not to be preoccupied with keeping every single precept but to discern and develop the buddha-nature in oneself and in others. The teaching concerning realization and manifestation of the buddha-nature is the Lotus Sutra. Thus the text states that to receive and keep the Lotus Sutra is to follow the precepts.
? Dhuta observer. Dhuta originally meant to drive away material desires. Since bhikshus and bhikshunis can live by begging food, they may drive away material desires. But the case is very different for lay followers, who have to earn their daily food. For them the idea of dhuta has a far deeper spiritual meaning.
If one thinks, "I must drive away all material desires," the mind is already attached to the idea of those desires. It is impossible to drive away material desires when one is attached to them. If, however, through the teaching of the Lotus Sutra one becomes able to see the real aspect of all things and the buddha-nature and to realize that all is sustained by the Buddha, material desires will vanish of their own accord. What is necessary will be provided through the workings of the Buddha. The feeling of desiring things and greedily seeking them is gone. This is the true practice of dhuta.
The faith of lay followers, unlike that of ordained practitioners, is not harmed by a rich life. As long as the mind is rich, life itself is rich. And if life is rich, the mind is rich. The connection between the two is like the circulation of blood. To live a rich life is a basic human desire, and there is no need to forgo it. It is a mistake, however, to think that a rich life means riches beyond need. To be rich beyond need exerts a negative influence, as does too much fat on the body. As obesity puts stress on the heart and cholesterol prevents the blood flowing freely, too much wealth oppresses the human spirit and deprives a person of freedom.
From the point of view of the individual, the ideal is that wealth should come and go as sufficient, not too much and not too little, and do so smoothly, so that it does not corrupt the spirit. This is what "rich" really means.
TEXT He who, in coming generations, / Can read and keep this sutra / Is truly a Buddha son / Dwelling in the stage of pure goodness. / After the Buddha's extinction, / He who can understand its meaning / Will be the eye of the world / For gods and men. / He who, in the [final] age of fear, / Can preach it even for a moment / By all gods and men / Will be worshiped."
COMMENTARY In coming generations. Here the expression does not indicate the next life but the future in general.
? Pure goodness. "Pure" is used in the sense of unadulterated, genuine, docile, and unsophisticated. The state of goodness attained by study of the Lotus Sutra is not created by human discretion or wit, but is true and pure.
? Will be the eye of the world for gods and men. This too is an important phrase. In chapter 7, "The Parable of the Magic City," we found the verse "Now the buddha has appeared in the world / To become the eye of all living beings." A person who can truly understand the meaning of this sutra labors, in the same way as the Buddha himself, to cause all living beings to realize the true way of looking at things. Therefore he or she is called "the eye of the world." The Buddha says that one who preaches the Lotus Sutra in the final fearsome age will receive the gratitude and veneration of all beings in the human and heavenly realms.
It is certainly as the sutra foretold. Today is indeed "the age of fear," when missiles loaded with nuclear warheads can obliterate most of humankind. It is a time in which billions of people are daily exposed to that danger. There is an urgent need in such an age for the Lotus Sutra to be preached and spread widely. One who preaches and spreads the Lotus Sutra will therefore be a savior of humankind, and as such "by all gods and men will be worshiped."
To be continued
In this series, passages in the TEXT sections are quoted from The Threefold Lotus Sutra, Tokyo: Kosei Publishing Company, 1975, with slight revisions. The diacritical marks originally used for several Sanskrit terms in the TEXT sections are omitted here for easier reading.
This article was originally published in the October-December 2006 issue of Dharma World.
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