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LOTUS SUTRA CHAPTER 13 = LS.13 ENCOURAGING DEVOTION = LS.13ED

16 April 2015

LOTUS SUTRA: 13

ENCOURAGING DEVOTION

PP. 229 – 234

MYOHO-RENGE-KYO THIRTEEN ENCOURAGING DEVOTION

At that time the bodhisattva mahasattva Medicine King, along with the bodhisattva mahasattva Great Joy of Preaching and twenty thousand bodhisattva followers who were accompanying them, all in the presence of the Buddha took this vow, saying: “We beg the world-honored one to have no further worry. After the Buddha has entered extinction we will honor, embrace, read, recite, and preach this sutra. Living beings in the evil age to come will have fewer and fewer good roots. Many will be overbearingly arrogant and greedy for offerings and other forms of gain, increasing the roots that are not good and moving farther away than ever from emancipation. But although it will be difficult to teach and convert them, we will summon up the power of great patience and will read and recite this sutra, embrace, preach, and copy it, offering it many kinds of alms and never begrudging our bodies or lives.”

(…)

At that time the nun Mahaprajapati, the nun Yashodhara, and their followers were all filled with great joy, having gained what they had never had before. Immediately in the presence of the Buddha they spoke in verse form, saying:

The world-honored one, leader and teacher,
brings tranquillity to heavenly and human beings.
We have heard these prophecies
and our minds are peaceful and satisfied.
(…)

At that time the bodhisattvas joined their voices together and spoke in verse form, saying:

We beg you not to worry.
After the Buddha has passed into extinction,
in an age of fear and evil
we will preach far and wide.
There will be many ignorant people
who will curse and speak ill of us
and will attack us with swords and staves,
but we will endure all these things.
In that evil age there will be monks
with perverse wisdom and hearts that are fawning and crooked
who will suppose they have attained what they have not attained,
being proud and boastful in heart.
Or there will be forest-dwelling monks
wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement,
who will claim they are practicing the true way,
despising and looking down on all humankind.
Greedy for profit and support,
they will preach the Law to white-robed laymen
and will be respected and revered by the world
as though they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers.
These men with evil in their hearts,
p.233constantly thinking of worldly affairs,
will borrow the name of forest-dwelling monks
and take delight in proclaiming our faults,
saying things like this:
“These monks are greedy
for profit and support
and therefore they preach non-Buddhist doctrines
and fabricate their own scriptures
to delude the people of the world.
Because they hope to gain fame and renown thereby
they make distinctions when preaching this sutra.”
Because in the midst of great assemblies
they constantly try to defame us,
they will address the rulers, high ministers,
Brahmans, and householders,
as well as the other monks,
slandering and speaking evil of us,
saying, “These are men of perverted views
who preach non-Buddhist doctrines!”
But because we revere the Buddha
we will bear all these evils.
Though they treat us with contempt, saying,
“You are all no doubt buddhas!”
all such words of arrogance and contempt
we will endure and accept.
In a muddied kalpa, in an evil age,
there will be many things to fear.
Evil demons will take possession of others
and through them curse, revile, and heap shame on us.
But we, reverently trusting in the Buddha,
will put on the armor of perseverance.
In order to preach this sutra
we will bear these difficult things.
We care nothing for our bodies or lives
but are anxious only for the unsurpassed way.
In ages to come we will protect and uphold
what the Buddha has entrusted to us.
p.234This the world-honored one must know.
The evil monks of that muddied age,
failing to understand the Buddha’s expedient means,
how he preaches the Law in accordance with what is appropriate,
will confront us with foul language and angry frowns;
again and again we will be banished
to a place far removed from towers and temples.
All these various evils,
because we keep in mind the Buddha’s orders,
we will endure.
If in the settlements and towns
there are those who seek the Law,
we will go to wherever they are
and preach the Law entrusted to us by the Buddha.
We will be envoys of the world-honored one,
facing the assemblies without fear.
We will preach the Law with skill,
for we desire the Buddha to rest in tranquillity.
In the presence of the world-honored one
and of the buddhas who have gathered from the ten directions
we proclaim this vow.
The Buddha must know what is in our hearts.
FULL LOTUS SUTRA: 13 ENCOURAGING DEVOTION TEXT LINK: http://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/lsoc/Content/13

—-

Foreword

From early times the Lotus Sutra has been known as “the king of the sutras.” This is above all because it is “a scripture of great hope” that brings light to the hearts of all people.

The Lotus Sutra clearly and definitively reveals the buddha nature that is an integral part of the lives of all people. And it makes clear that the Buddha desires and acts so that all people, by opening up this buddha nature inherent within themselves, may attain the state of buddhahood for themselves. The sutra further stresses that the continued observance of such action is the true mission of the bodhisattva, and never ceases to praise the observance of this practice.

The buddha nature, which is inherent in all living beings, is a universal and fundamental source or fountain of hope. When it is fully brought to light, it allows all human beings to realize their highest level of personal development and to attain unparalleled happiness and good fortune. And the Lotus Sutra is the text that most forcefully asserts this truth.

The Lotus Sutra, which possesses the power to fulfill the hopes latent in the lives of human beings, spread from India to Central Asia, and from there to the countries of eastern Asia. In India and Central Asia various manuscripts of the sutra in Sanskrit and other languages of that area into which it was translated have been found. In the region of eastern Asia, it was translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva (344–413), and that is the version in which it has been read, recited, and best known by many people. In that form, we may say, it constituted one of the most important spiritual elements underlying the culture of China in the Six Dynasties, Sui, and Tang periods, and of Japan in the Heian period.

In particular, in China in the sixth century the Great Teacher Tiantai (538–597), on the basis of the Lotus Sutra, developed his system of interpretation known as “three thousand realms in a single moment of life,” which expounds the philosophy of hope embodied in the Lotus Sutra in a subtle and logically convincing manner. But although there had been, in the history of the transmission of the Lotus Sutra, efforts to transcend the barrier of cultural differences and bring out the universally valid nature of the sutra’s message, it would appear that the true worth of the Lotus Sutra had not, in this period before the appearance of Nichiren Daishonin (1222–1282), as yet been fully revealed.

Nichiren Daishonin in his writings states: “The heart of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is found in the ‘Never Disparaging’ chapter. What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 851–52).

By this the Daishonin means that the heart of the Lotus Sutra, the highest among all of Shakyamuni’s teachings, resides in the practice carried out by Bodhisattva Never Disparaging of respecting and paying reverence to all people. The life of each and every person is endowed with the buddha nature, the seed or potential for attaining buddhahood. So long as a person pursues the correct path, this seed will invariably sprout, blossom, and bear fruit. It was on the basis of this firm conviction that Bodhisattva Never Disparaging paid obeisance to every single person that he encountered.

To encourage and bring to fulfillment this practice of paying respect to others, we may say, constitutes the Buddha’s basic aim, the true message of the Lotus Sutra, and the true propagation of the Lotus Sutra. In order to achieve the ideals and spirit of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Daishonin made this most important practice the very core of his being. Moreover, he revealed Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws1 as the manifestation of his own life embodying the buddha nature, and for the sake of all people of the future, opened up the path that would lead to inner transformation, or human revolution, and the creation of a peaceful and ideal society.

In the seventy-nine years since its founding in 1930, the Soka Gakkai, obeying the final instructions of Nichiren Daishonin, has wholeheartedly carried out this most important practice of the Lotus Sutra. As individuals among the populace have succeeded in attaining their own personal victory and realized full satisfaction in life, a rich human culture has blossomed into being, and a path has been opened for the establishment of world peace. And this path is now being spread throughout the entire globe.

For humankind as a whole, the twenty-first century represents the crucial, the now-or-never moment for the establishment of peace. Therefore I firmly believe that now is the time to work more tirelessly than ever to propagate and establish this philosophy of hope set forth in the Lotus Sutra, a scripture that delves into the very fundamentals of human life, and that this opportunity must not be missed. For that reason it is with profound joy that, at the start of this, the twenty-first century, I greet the publication of this Soka Gakkai edition of The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras as it makes its way out into the world.

I would like in conclusion to express my thanks to Dr. Burton Watson for his painstaking English translation of the three sutras.

Daisaku Ikeda
President of Soka Gakkai International

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