Lotus Sutra in Our Daily Life
June 11, 2005
Lord Buddha’s Children
Lord Buddha is our infinite Father.
We are Buddha’s children.
Chapter 2 Expedients
Chapter 3 A Parable
THE PARABLE OF THE THREE CARTS AND THE BURNING HOUSE (P. 61, L2 – P.53, L.21)
A long time ago, a rich man lived in a village. His wealth was immeasurable. He possessed many paddy fields, houses and servants. His manor was large, but it had only one gate. In that house lived several hundred people. The building was in decay, the fences and walls were falling apart, the bases of the pillars were rotten, and the beams and ridgepoles were tilted and slanted.
All of a sudden, a fire broke out and spread all throughout the manor. In this house lived many children of the rich man. He was very frightened at the great fires and thought, “I am able to get out of the burning house safely, but my children are still inside. They are engrossed in playing. They do not know that the fire is coming towards them. They are not frightened or afraid. They do not realize what fire is.”
“This house has only one gate. Worse still, the gate is narrow and small. My children are too young to know this. They are attached to the place where they are playing. They may get burned. I had better tell them of the danger. They must come out quickly, so as not to be burned to death.”
“Come out quickly!” He warned them with good words of compassion, but they were too engrossed in playing to hear the words of their father. They did not wish to come out. They ran about happily. They only glanced at their father occasionally. If they and I do not get out at once, we shall be burned. I must save them from this danger with an expedient.
He said to them, “The toys you wish to have are outside the gate. There are sheep-carts, deer-carts and bull-carts. You can play with them. Come out of this burning house at once!”
The children rushed quickly out of the burning house, pushing one another, as each child strives to be first. The rich man, who saw they had come out safely, was relieved and danced with joy. They said to their father, “Father! Give us the toys! Give us the sheep, deer and bull carts you promised us!”
Then the rich man gave each of them a LARGE WHITE OX-CART of the same size. The cart was tall, wide and deep, adorned with many treasures, and had bells hanging on the four sides. This great man gave one of these carts to each of his children because his wealth was so immeasurable that his various store houses were full of treasures.
The children rode in the large carts, overjoyed as they had never before experienced riding in carts such as these, and had never expected to receive such a luxurious gift.
This parable explains that Buddhism is a teaching for us to eliminate unhappiness and enjoy happiness. True happiness is joyful to help others and to give happiness to others. This is the practice of the One-Buddha Vehicle.
Three Virtues of Sakyamuni Buddha:
Chapter 4 Understanding by Faith
THE PARABLE OF THE RICH MAN AND HIS POOR SON (P. 89 L.9 – P.92, Last Line):
A poor little boy ran away from his father when he was very young. He lived in another country for many years. He wandered about in all directions, seeks food and clothing. Many years later while wander here and there, he happened to walk towards his home country.
At that time his father stayed in a city in the countryside. He had been vainly looking for his son ever since he first ran away. The Father was now very rich. He had innumerable treasures. His storehouses were filled with gold, silver, coral, and crystal. He had many servants, carts, cows, and sheep. He dealt with many merchants and customers.
The poor son happened to come to the city where his father was living. The father had been thinking of his son ever since he had first lost him. He thought, “I am old and decrepit. I have many treasures. But I have no son other than the missing one. When I die, my treasures will be scattered and lost. Therefore, I am always yearning for my son.”
At that time the poor son happened to stand by the gate of the wealthy man’s house. Seeing the rich man, the poor son was frightened and thought, “Is he a king or someone like a king? This is not the place where I can get some work to get food and clothing easily. If I stay here any longer, I shall be forced to work.” He tried to run away.
The rich man recognized him at first sight as his son. He was delighted. He immediately dispatched a man standing beside him to quickly bring back the poor son. The messenger ran up to the poor son and caught him. The poor son was frightened and cried, “I have done nothing wrong. Why do you stop me?” The messenger pulled him by force. The poor son thought, “I have been arrested though I am not guilty. I shall be killed.” Becoming more and more frightened, the poor son fainted and fell to the ground.
Seeing all this in the distance, the father said to the messenger, “I don not want him any more. Do not bring him forcibly! Pour cold water on his face to awaken him!” The father said this because he had realized that his son was too base and mean to meet a noble man. He knew that the man was his son, but expediently refrained from telling others that this was his son.
Waking up, the poor son stood up and went to a village of the poor to get food and clothing. The wealthy man dispatched messengers in secret. He said to two men looking worn-out, powerless and virtueless, “Go and gently tell the poor man that he will be employed here for a double day’s pay. If he agrees, bring him here and have him work together with you to clear dirt.”
The poor son drew his pay in advance and cleared dirt. Seeing him, the father felt great compassion towards him and took off his necklace, his garment and other ornaments. He put on tattered and dirty clothing. He approached the workers and said, “Work hard! Do not be lazy!”
Seeing this poor man working hard, the father told him, “Do not hesitate to take the trays, rice, flour, salt and vinegar – as much as you need! Make yourself comfortable.”
Years later, the rich man gave the poor man a name and called him son. The son was glad to be treated kindly, but still thought that he was an humble employee.
Still more years passed. After that the father and the son trusted each other. Now the son felt no hesitation in entering the house of his father, but still lodged in his old place.
Now the rich man became ill. After a while the father noticed that his son had become more at ease and peaceful, that he wanted to improve himself, and he felt ashamed of the thought that he was base and mean. As the moment of death for the father drew near, he told his son to call in his relatives, the king, ministers and members of his house hold. When they were all assembled, he said to them, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is my son, my real son. I am his real father. He ran away from me when I lived in a certain city, and wandered with hardships for more than fifty years. His name is so-and-so. All my treasures are his now.”
At that time the poor son was very glad to hear these words of his father. He had the greatest joy that he had ever had. He thought, “I never dreamed of having this store of treasures myself. It has come to me unexpectedly.”
The wealthy man is the Eternal Buddha while the poor son is those of us who do not realize that we are indeed the Buddha’s children. We often ask the Buddha, “Give me this! Give me that!” This is still a stage of the shomon, those who just want to end their own suffering, who are base and mean. Through the advice of the Buddha, if we put forth continuous effort without giving up, although it may take time, we will receive the precious treasure of Buddhahood without expectation.
Chapter 16 The Duration of the Tathagata
THE PARABLE OF THE EXCELLENT PHYSICIAN
There was once an excellent and wise physician. He was good at dispensing medicines and curing diseases. He had many children. One day he went to a remote country on business.
After he left home, the children accidentally took some poison. The poison passed into their bodies, and the sons writhed in agony, rolling on the ground. At that time the father returned home. Some of his children had already lost their senses while others still had not. All of them begged him to cure the poison sickness and said, “We were ignorant. We took poison by mistake. Cure and give us back our lives!”
Seeing his children suffering so much, he compounded a medicine by pounding and sieving the herbs, and gave it to them, saying, “It has a good color, smell and taste. Take it! It will remove the pain at once. You will not suffer any more.”
Those who had not lost their right minds took it at once, and were cured completely. But the rest of them, who had already lost their right minds, did not consent to take the remedy given to them, because they were so perverted that they did not believe that this medicine having a good color and smell had a good taste.
The father thought, “These children are pitiful. They are so poisoned that they are perverted. Although they rejoice at seeing me and asked me to cure them, they do not consent to take this good medicine. Now I will have them take it with an expedient.”
Then he said to them, “Now I am old and decrepit. I shall die soon. I am leaving this medicine here. Take it. Do not be afraid, you will be cured!” Having advised them, he went to a remote country again. Then he sent home a messenger to tell them, “Your father has just died.”
Having heard that their father had passed away leaving them behind, they felt extremely sorry. They thought, “If our father were alive, he would love and protect us. Now he has deserted us and died in a remote country.”
They felt lonely and helpless because they thought that they were parentless and shelterless. Their constant sadness finally caused them to remember what the father had said in his last words, “Take this remedy!” Then they took it and completely recovered from the poison.
On hearing that they had recovered their health, the father returned home and showed himself to them.
“What do you think of this? Do you think that anyone can accuse this excellent physician of falsehood?” The answer is “No!”
The Buddha is like the father. It is many hundreds of thousands of billions of kalpas since he became the Buddha. In order to save the perverted people in the world after the Buddha’s death, he says expediently, “I shall pass away.” A kalpa is a very long time. There have been many stories to explain how long this is. One has us imagine a block of the hardest marble a mile on each side. Every thousand years a heavenly being flies past it and brushes it with here garment. It would take one kalpa for this rock to be worn away completely by the garment of this deity.
Although Sakyamuni Buddha has been gone from this world for almost 2500 years, his teachings exist even today and will exist forever. Just as the physical body of the doctor could not cure the sickness but rather it was the remedy that cured the poor children, the Buddha’s teachings, the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, is continuing to cure people in the declining latter age of the law.
Note: “This is my favorite proverb. It explains why we chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.” – Bishop Kanai
Note: “Treat what is sacred as sacred. Never put the Lotus Sutra or a book containing the Lotus Sutra on the floor. Show the same respect for all sacred works…the Bible, the Koran, etc.” Bishop Kanai
ODAIMOKU AS THE GOOD REMEDY
Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, said the title of the Lotus Sutra, which is the Odaimoku, “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,” is just like the remedy of good color, taste, and fragrance. Nichiren Shonin also said, “Chant the Odaimoku. It is the only way to attain Buddhahood in the latter age of the law.”
By chanting “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,” you will the four powers of the Odaimoku at least. They are to cure some physical an spiritual illness, to protect practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, to erase one’s bad karma, and to attain the truth or Enlightenment.
Now, I would like to explain about “Myo-Ho,” which literally means wonderful laws in the universe. The law symbolizes the harmony and perfect balance of the universe. For instance, it takes 365 and one quarter days for the earth to rotate around the sun while the moon takes 28 and a half days to go around the earth. Because of these universal harmonies, there is day and night, four seasons and high and low tide. All of these phenomena affect our daily lives. When we act against these universal laws such as not wearing protective clothing in the hot summer or cold winter, we often become sick or mentally unbalanced.
When everyone follows the traffic rules, it is safe for us to drive. If someone acts against the rules, there will be a big accident and may result in the loss of one’s life.
We are alive because of the law of dependent origination that everything comes and goes depending on others. We survive because of water, air, soil, food, energy, and people. It is the teaching of the Ten Suchnesses or “Ju Nyoze” in Chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra.
Therefore, when you chant the Odaimoku, these laws will be balanced and harmonized without you even noticing it.
These days I am practicing prayers that go deep into my sub-consciousness. It is very effective. So I would like to share it with you. Before you sleep at night and before you get up in the morning, tell yourself in bed, “Because we are Buddha’s children, we are going to be better,” or “We are improving little by little everyday.” Then chant the Odaimoku, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, a few times. By doing so, your prayers will go deep into your inner self and the prayers wake up the Buddha Nature in your deep sub-consciousness while you sleep. When you do this in the morning, it is better to do it soon after you wake up in bed, before you are fully awake. Please continue it, then you will find yourself harmonized with others and universal laws.